— poem by Rumi, taken from The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
What is a saint? One whose wine has turned to vinegar. If you’re still wine-drunkenly
Brave, don’t step forward. When your sheep becomes a lion, then come. It is said
of hypocrites, “They have considerable valor among themselves!” But they scatter when
a real enemy appears. Muhammad told his young soldiers, “There is no courage before
an engagement.” A drunk foams at the mouth talking about what he will do when he gets his sword
drawn, but the chance arrives, and he remains sheathed as an onion. Premeditating
he’s eager for wounds. Then his bag gets touched by a needle and he deflates. What sort of
person says that he or she wants to be polished and pure, then complains about being
handled roughly? Love is a lawsuit whose harsh evidence must be brought in. To settle
the case, the judge must see evidence. You’ve heard that every buried treasure has a snake
guarding it. Kiss the snake to discover the treasure! The severe treatment is not toward
you, but the qualities that block your growth. A rug beater doesn’t beat the rub, but
rather the dirt….
When a mother screams, “Get out of here!” she means the mean part of the child.
Don’t run from those who scold, and don’t turn away from cleaning conflict, or you will
remain weak. Also, don’t listen to bragging. If you go along with self-importance, the work
collapses. Better a small modest team. Sift almonds. Discard the bitter. Sour and sweet
sound alike when you pour them out on the rattling tray, but inside they’re very different.
Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014
Soul and the Old Woman
What is the soul> Consciousness. The more awareness, the deeper the soul, and when
essence overflows, you feel a sacredness around. It’s so simple to tell one who
puts on a robe and pretends to be a dervish from the real thing. We know the taste
of pure water. Words can sound like a poem but not have any juice, no flavor to
relish. How long do you look at pictures on a bathhouse wall? Soul is what draws
You away from those pictures to talk with the old woman
who sits outside by her door
in the sun. She’s half blind, but she has what soul loves to flow into. She’s kind; she weeps.
She makes quick personal decisions, and laughs so easily. —Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks