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the Message Continues ... 12/93


Newsletter for May 2009

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Which one am I ?
by Rumi

Of these two thousand "I" and "We" people,
which am I?

Don't try to keep me from asking!
Listen, when I'm this out of control!
But don't put anything breakable in my way!

There is an original inside me.
What's here is a mirror for that, for you.

If you are joyful, I am.
If you grieve, or if you're bitter, or graceful,
I take on those qualities.

Like the shadow of a cypress tree in the meadow,
like the shadow of a rose, I live
close to the rose.

If I separated myself from you,
I would turn entirely thorn.

Every second, I drink another cup of my own blood-wine.
Every instant, I break an empty cup against your door.

I reach out, wanting you to tear me open.

Saladin's generosity lights a candle in my chest.
Who am I then?
      His empty begging bowl.

Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

I wonder
from these thousands of "me's",
which one am I?
Listen to my cry, do not drown my voice
I am completely filled with the thought of you.
Don't lay broken glass on my path
I will crush it into dust.
I am nothing, just a mirror in the palm of your hand,
reflecting your kindness, your sadness, your anger.
If you were a blade of grass or a tiny flower
I would pitch my tent in your shadow.
Only your presence revives my withered heart.
You are the candle that lights the whole world
and I am an empty vessel for your light.
Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
"Rumi: Hidden Music"
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001


       Of these two thousand I's and we's I wonder, which one am I?
Give ear to my babble, do not lay your hand on my mouth.
       Since I have gone out of control, do not put glass on my path,
for if you do I will stamp and break all that I find.
       Because every moment my heart is confused with your fantasy,
if you are joyous I am joyful, if you are sorrowing I am sorrowful.
       You give bitterness and I become bitter, you give grace and I
become all grace; with you it is pleasant, O my sugar-lipped,
sweet-chinned idol.
       You are the original-what person am I? A mirror in your
hand, whatever you show, that I become, I am a well proved
       You are like the cypress of the meadow, I am like your
shadow; since I have become the shadow of the rose, I have
pitched my tent beside the rose.
       If without you I break off a rose, it will become a thorn in my
hand, and if I am all thorn, through you I am all rose and
       Every moment I drain a bloody beaker of the blood of my
heart; every instant I break my own pitcher against the saki's
       Every second I reach out my hand towards the skirt of an idol,
that he may scratch my cheek, that he may rend my shirt.
       The grace of Salah-i Dil u Din shone in the midst of my heart;
he is the heart's candle in the world; who am I? His bowl.

             -- Translation by A. J. Arberry
                "Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
                The University of Chicago Press, 1968

Why Good and Bad!

by Rumi

"The Sufi said to the judge, "He whose aid is

sought has the ability to to make our trading without loss.

                      He who turns fire into trees and rose gardens

can also make this world a place without harm.

                      He who produces roses from the midst of thorns

can make our December into spring.

                      He from whom every cypress grows straight and

free can turn our grief into joy.

                      He from whom every nonexistent thing has

come into existence--how would He be any less if He made

that thing everlasting?

                      He who gives the body a spirit so that it may

live--how would He lose if He did not cause it to die?

                      After all, what would happen if that Generous

One gave each servant his soul's desire without toil,

                      And kept far from His weak creatures the wiles

of the ego and the temptations of the devil waiting in


                      The judge replied, "If there were no bitter

commands, beauty and ugliness, stones and pearls,

                      If there were no satan and ego, and self-will,

and if there were no blows, battle and war,

                      Then by what means would the King call His

servants, oh abandoned man?

                      How could He say, 'Oh patient man! Oh

forbearing man!'? How could He say, 'Oh brave man! Oh wise


                      How could there be the patient, the sincere and

the spending without a highwayman and accursed


                      Rustam, Hamzah and a catamite would all be

one.* Knowledge and wisdom would be useless and abolished.

                      Knowledge and wisdom exist to distinguish the

right from the wrong: if everything were the right way, then

wisdom would be useless.

                      Do you consider it permissible to destroy both

worlds for the sake of keeping open the shop of your

worthless natural disposition?

                      Of course, I know that you are pure, not unripe,

and that your question is for the sake of the vulgar."

-- Mathnawi VI: 1739-55

              Translation by William C.  Chittick 

              "The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi"

              SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

*Rustam is the archetypal heroic champion of ancient Persia,

immortalized by Firdawsi in the Book of Kings ("Shahnameh"






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