Wednesday, March 9, 2011

moses and the shepherd


Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying. 
"God, where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes 
and comb your hair. I want to wash your clothes 
and pick the lice off. I want to bring you milk 
and kiss your little hands and feet when it's time
for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and goats are yours. 
All I can say remembering you is aaayyyyy
and aaahhhhhhhhhhhh."
Moses could stand it no longer. 
"Who are you talking to?"
"The one who made us and made
the earth and made the sky."
"Don't talk about shoes 
and socks with God! And what's this with your little
hands? Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you're chatting with your uncles. Only something 
that grows needs milk. Only someone with feet 
needs shoes. Not God!" 
The shepherd repented
and tore his clothes and wandered out into 
the desert. A sudden revelation came then to Moses:
You have separated me from one of my own. 
Did you come as a prophet to unite or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him. 
What is poison to one is honey to someone else. 
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to me. I am apart from all that. 
Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better 
or worse. Hindus do Hindu things. The Dravidian
Muslims in India do what they do. It's all praise, 
and it's all right. I am not glorified in acts
of worship. It's the worshipers! I don't hear 
the words they say. I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the reality. Forget
phraseology! I want burning, burning. Be friends
with your burning. Those who pay attention to ways
of behaving and speaking are one sort. Lovers who
burn are another. Don't impose a property tax
on a burned-out village. Don't scold the lover. 
The "wrong" way he talks is better than a hundred
"right" ways of others. 
Inside the Kaaba
it doesn't matter which way you point 
your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn't need snowshoes!
The love-religion has no code or doctrine. 
Only God. 
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn't need markings. 
God began speaking
deeper mysteries to Moses, vision and words, 
which cannot be recorded here. Moses left himself
and came back. He went to eternity and came 
back here. Many times this happened. 
It's foolish of me 
to try and say this. If I did say it, 
it would uproot human intelligence. 
Moses ran after the shepherd, following the bewildered 
in one place moving like a castle
across a chessboard. In another, sideways, 
like a bishop. 
Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish, 
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand, 
recording his
wandering state. 
Moses finally caught up with him. 
"I was wrong. God has revealed to me that there are
no rules for worship. Say whatever and however
your loving tells you to. 
Your sweetest blasphemy
is the truest devotion. Through you a whole world
is freed. 
Loosen your tongue and don't worry 
what comes out. It's all the light of the spirit."
The shepherd replied, "Moses, Moses, 
I've gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip, 
and my horse shied and jumped out of itself.
The divine nature and my human nature came together. 
Bless your scolding hand.
I can't say what has happened.
What I'm saying now is not my real condition.
It can't be said."
The shepherd grew quiet.
When you look in a mirror, you see yourself, 
not the state of the mirror. 
The flute player
gives breath into a flute, and who makes the music?
The flute player!
Whenever you speak praise
or thanksgiving to God, it's always like
this dear shepherd's simplicity.

~ Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks



Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog, eapecially – now – this.