Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi: "Zero Circle"



















Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
     to gather us up.

We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
If we say we can, we're lying.
If we say No, we don't see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.

So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.



"Zero Circle" by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. Text as published in Ten Poems to Change Your Life, edited by Roger Housden (Harmony, 2001). Poem translated from the original Farsi by Coleman Barks.

Curator's note: Confronted by the terrible news out of Beirut, Lebanon, and Paris, France, I've set aside today's scheduled post and turned to Rumi. As I watch the coverage of these tragedies, it strikes me that the attacks were deliberate assaults not only on public places but on beauty—the beauty of cookery (restaurant), the beauty of drama (theater), the beauty of music (concert hall), the beauty of sport (stadium), the beauty of learning (school), and more generally, the beauty of human fellowship. Let us grieve the dead and wounded together, and in the name of beauty and our shared humanity, let us join together to be "a mighty kindness" in a world torn by the ugliness of violence and hatred.

Art credit: "Mysterious Blue Tunnel to the Light, Way to Another World," image by unknown photographer.

 

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