Saturday, October 6, 2012

the grammatist and the boatman

A grammatist once got into a boat.
That self-regarding man looked at the boatman

And said, 'Do you know grammar?'  'No,' he said.
'And half your life has gone!' he chided him.

The boatman's heart was broken by the pain,
but for the moment made his answer silence.

The wind then blew the boat into a whirlpool.
The boatman hollered to the grammatist,

'Do you know how to swim at all, please tell me?'
He said. 'Our boat is sinking in these whirlpools.'

Absorption's needed here, not grammar, see!'
If you're absorbed, jump in.  There is no danger.

The ocean wave will raise the dead aloft.
How can the living man escape the sea?

And if you've died to human qualities,
the sea of secrets sets you at its summit.

And you who've called the people asinine,
now you're the one who's like an ass on ice.

World's greatest scholar of your time you may be,
but note this world is passing - watch the time!

~ Rumi
from the Masnavi-ye Ma'navi
art by Theodore Clement Steele