Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Thursday, July 5, 2007

What say Rumi and Gibran about Divine Wrath?

Often, when we find ourselves caged in by the wisdom of the scholars of Islam, it bespeaks an invitation and an opening for the poets to speak to us; to turn the phrases that bring insight and solace. Rumi's poem on the conversation between the Chickpea and the Cook captures the essence of the alchemical relationship between the human project and the Divine Chef:

"A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it's being boiled.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

"Don't you try to jump out.
You think I'm torturing you.
I'm giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this."

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,

"Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can't do this by myself.

I'm like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn't pay attention
to his driver. You're my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking."

The cook says,
"I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher."

~ from "The Essential Rumi" - translations by Coleman Barks.

Beloved Rumi,
I am so glad you found Shams i Tabriz and Shams cooked you!

Let's hear your take now, Kahlil!

"Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one
who commits a wrong as though he were
not one of you, but a stranger unto you
and an intruder upon the world.

But I say that even as the holy and the
righteous cannot rise beyond the highest
which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall
lower than the lowest which is in you also.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but
with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong
without the hidden will of you all.
Like a procession you walk together
towards your god-self.
You are the way and the wayfarers.
And when one of you falls down he falls
for those behind him, a caution against the
stumbling stone.
Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him,
who though faster and surer of foot, yet
removed not the stumbling stone."

~ From "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran.

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