A story from Rumi. Strange how all who ask questions are sent to Cairo.
No more muffled drums!
Uncover the drumheads!
Plant your flag in an open field!
No more timid peeking around.
Either you see the beloved,
or you lose your head!
If your throat’s not ready for that wine, cut it!
If your eyes don’t want the fullness of union,
let them turn white with disease.
Either this deep desire of mine
will be found on this journey,
or when I get back home!
It may be that the satisfaction I need
depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone
and come back, I’ll find it at home.
I will search for the Friend with all my passion
and all my energy, until I learn
that I don’t need to search.
The real truth of existence is sealed,
until after many twists and turns of the road.
As in the algebraical method of “the two errors,”
the correct answer comes only after two substitutions,
after two mistakes. Then the seeker says,
“If I had known the real way it was,
I would have stopped all the looking around.”
But that knowing depends
on the time spent looking!
Just as the sheikh’s debt could not be paid
until the boy’s weeping, the story we told in Book II.
You fear losing a certain eminent position.
You hope to gain something from that, but it comes
from elsewhere. Existence does this switching trick,
giving you hope from one source, then
satisfaction from another.
It keeps you bewildered
and wondering, and lets your trust in the unseen grow.
You think to make your living from tailoring,
but then somehow money comes in
which had never entered your mind.
I don’t know whether the union I want will come
through my effort, or my giving up effort,
or from something completely separate
from anything I do or don’t do.
I wait and fidget and flop about
as a decapitated chicken does, knowing that
the vital spirit has to escape this body
This desire will find an opening.
There was once a man
who inherited a lot of money and land.
But he squandered it all too quickly. Those who inherit
wealth don’t know what work it took to get it.
In the same way, we don’t know the value of our souls,
which were given to us for nothing!
So the man was left alone without provisions,
an owl in the desert.
The prophet has said
that the true seeker must be completely empty like a lute
to make the sweet music of Lord, Lord.
When the emptiness starts to get filled with something,
the one who plays the lute puts it down
and picks up another.
There is nothing more subtle and delightful
than to make that music.
Stay empty and held
between those fingers, where where
gets drunk with nowhere.
This man was empty,
and the tears came. His habitual stubbornness
dissolved. This is the way with many seekers.
They moan in prayer, and the perfumed smoke of that
floats into heaven, and the angels say, “Answer
this prayer. This worshiper has only you
and nothing else to depend on. Why do you go first
to the prayers of those less devoted?”
“By deferring my generosity I am helping him.
His need dragged him by the hair into my presence.
If I satisfy that, he’ll go back to being absorbed
in some idle amusement. Listen how passionate he is!
That torn-open cry is the way he should live.”
Nightingales are put in cages
because their songs give pleasure.
Whoever heard of keeping a crow?
When two people, one decrepit and the other young
and handsome, come into a bakery where the baker
is an admirer of young men, and both of them
ask for bread, the baker will immediately
give what he has on hand to the old man.
But to the other he will say, “Sit down and wait awhile.
There’s fresh bread baking in the house. Almost ready!”
And when the hot bread is brought, the baker will say,
“Don’t leave. The halvah is coming!”
So he finds ways of detaining the young man with,
“Ah, there’s something important I want to tell you about.
Stay. I’ll be back in a moment. Something very important!”
This is how it is when true devotees
in the good they want to do,
or the bad they want to avoid.
So this man with nothing, who had inherited everything
and squandered it, kept weeping, Lord, Lord!
Finally in a dream he heard a voice, “Your wealth
is in Cairo. Go there to such and such a spot
and dig, and you’ll find what you need.”
So he left on the long journey,
and when he saw the towers of Cairo,
he felt his back grow warm with new courage.
But Cairo is a large city,
and before he could find the spot,
he had to wander about.
He had no money, of course, so he begged
among the townspeople, but he felt ashamed doing that.
He decided, “I will go out at night
and call like the night-mendicants that people
throw coins into the street for.”
Shame and dignity and hunger
were pushing him forward and backward and sideways!
Suddenly, he was seized by the night patrol.
It so happened that many had been robbed recently
in Cairo at night, and the caliph had told the police
to assume that anyone out roaming after dark
was a thief.
It’s best not to let offenders go unpunished.
Then they poison the whole body of society. Cut off
the snakebitten finger! Don’t be sympathetic
with thieves. Consider instead
the public suffering. in those days
robbers were expert, and numerous!
So the night patrol grabbed the man.
I can explain!”
“I am not a criminal.
I am new to Cairo. I live in Baghdad.” He told the story
of his dream and the buried treasure,
and he was so believable in the telling that
the night patrolman began to cry. Always,
the fragrance of truth has that effect.
can restore healing power, and prune the weary boughs
to new life. The energy of passion is everything!
There are fake satisfactions that simulate passion.
They taste cold and delicious,
but they just distract you and prevent you
from the search. They say,
“I will relieve your passion.
Take me. Take me!”
Run from false remedies
that dilute your energy. Keep it rich and musky.
The night patrol said, “I know you’re not a thief.
You’re a good man, but you’re kind of a fool.
I’ve had that dream before.
I was told, in my dream,
that there was a treasure for me in Baghdad,
buried in a certain quarter of the city
on such and such street.”
The name of the street
that he said was where this man lived!
“And the dream-
voice told me, ‘It’s in So-and-so’s house.
Go there and get it!'”
he had described the exact house,
and mentioned this man’s name!
“But I didn’t do
what the dream said to do, and look at you,
who did, wandering the world, fatigued,
and begging in the streets!”
So it came quietly
to the seeker, though he didn’t say it out loud,
“What I’m longing for lived in my house in Baghdad!”
He filled with joy. He breathed continuous praise.
Finally he said,
“The water of life is here.
I’m drinking it. But I had to come
this long way to know it!”