Desire and the Importance of Failing
A window opens.
A curtain pulls back.
The lamp of lovers connect,
not at their ceramic bases,
but in their lightedness.
No lover wants union with the Beloved
without the Beloved also wanting the lover.
Love makes the lover weak,
while the Beloved gets strong.
Lightning from here strikes there.
When you begin to love God, God
is loving you. A clapping sound
does not come from one hand.
A thirsty man calls out, ‘Delicious water,
where are you?’ while the water moans,
‘Where is the water drinker?’
The thirst in our souls is the attraction
put out by the Water itself.
We belong to It,
and It to us.
God’s wisdom made us lovers of one another.
In fact, all the particles of the world
are in love and looking for lovers.
Pieces of straw tremble
in the presence of amber.
We tremble like iron filings
welcoming the magnet.
Whatever that Presence gives us
we take in. Earth signs feed.
Water signs wash and freshen.
Air signs clear the atmosphere.
Fire signs jiggle the skillet,
so we cook without getting burnt.
And the Holy Spirit helps with everything,
like a young man trying to support a family.
We, like the man’s young wife, stay home,
taking care of the house, nursing the children.
Spirit and matter work together like this,
in a division of labor.
Sweethearts kiss and taste the delight
before they slip into bed and mate.
The desire of each lover is
that the work of the other be perfected.
By this man-and-woman cooperation,
the world gets preserved.
Roses and blue arghawan flowers flower.
Night and day meet in a mutual hug.
So different, but they do love each other,
the day and the night, like family.
And without their mutual alternation
we would have no energy.
Every part of the cosmos is draws toward its mate.
The ground keeps talking to the body,
saying, ‘Come back! It’s better for you
down here where you came from.’
The streamwater calls to the moisture in the body.
The fiery aether whispers to the body’s heat,
‘I am your origin. Come with me.’
Seventy-two diseases are caused
by the various elements pulling inside the body.
Disease comes, and the organs
fall out of harmony.
We’re like four different birds,
that each had one leg tied in
with the other birds.
A flopping bouguet of birds!
Death releases the binding, and they fly off,
but before that, their pulling is our pain.
Consider how the soul must be,
in the midst of these tensions,
feeling its own exalted pull.
My longing is more profound.
The birds want sweet green herbs
and the water running by.
I want the infinite! I want wisdom.
These birds want orchards and meadows
and vines with fruit on them.
I want a vast expansion.
They want profit and security
of having enough food.
Remember what the soul wants,
because in that, eternity
is wanting our souls!
Which is the meaning of the text,
They love That, and That loves them.
If I keep on explaining this,
the Mathnawi will run to eighty volumes!
The gist is: whatever anyone seeks,
that is seeking the seeker.
No matter if its animal,
or vegetable, or mineral.
Every bit of the universe
is filled with wanting,
and whatever any bit wants,
wants the wanter!
This subject must dissolve again.
Back to Sadri Jahan and the uneducated peasant
who loved him, so that gradually Sadri Jahan
loved the lowly man. But who really
attracted who, whoom, Huuuu?
Don’t be presumptuous and say one or the other.
Close your lips. The mystery of loving
is God’s sweetest secret.
Keep it. Bury it. Leave it here
where I leave it, drawn as I am
by the pull of the Puller
to something else.
You know how it is. Sometimes
we plan a trip to one place,
but something takes us to another.
When a horse is being broken, the trainer
pulls it in many different directions,
so the horse will come to know
what it is to be ridden.
The most beautiful and alert horse is one
completely attuned to the rider.
God fixes a passionate desire in you,
and then disappoints you.
God does that a hundred times!
God breaks the wings of one intention
and then gives you another,
cuts the rope of contriving,
so you’ll remember your dependence.
But sometimes your plans work out!
You feel fulfilled and in control.
That’s because, if you were always failing,
you might give up. But remember,
it is by failures that lovers
stay aware of how they are loved.
Failure is the key
to the kingdom within.
Your prayer should be, “Break the legs
of what I want to happen. Humiliate
my desire. Eat me like candy.
It’s spring and finally
I have no will.”
– Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (Mathnawi, III, 4391 – 4472)
From ‘Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion’
Translated by Coleman Barks