“In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo; In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad”

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
through goldsmithing,
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
eventually, somehow!

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?”
God says,
“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
suffer disappointment
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.
“Wait!
I can explain!”
“Tell me.”
“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.
Passion
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!'”
Without knowing,
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!”

-Rumi

Ode to an Eastern Blossom

image

An ode to a lost girl and a lost country, both of whom I know will one day find their peace.

Willower, widower, dreamer of dreams,
Weeper and waterer, filler of streams,
Will rose blossoms grow from the earth where you’ve been,
Jasmine flowers white, scented, and Damascene?

Walk our streets, a stranger now you are,
Walls that make even dwellers not at home,
Carrying and crumbling you into palms that scar,
Littering streets with mem’ry of home.

And how I wanted to be that hand that held,
Gently curling fingers over,
Folding love on gentle flowers,
Dying in that gentle hold.

So pardon me, for none had spoken,
To me of truths that love to lie,
The words, that flowers only open,
When they are just about to die.

Do old, dead cities, still bury you,
Grim gardens in a once-happy town?
Will old, dead places, still carry you,
When I’ll need one to help me down?

These wars have a way around humanity,
They’ve torn my walls beyond my pace,
And I am a warzone beyond my sanity,
To lay you even inside me, I have no place.

And if you ever come to visit, you should know,
That my rooms are full of coffee stains on wooden floors,
Covered with pages of torn books and scores,
Riddled with dried roses that never left the door.

Floral prints and silk lace sheets,
All torn and faded,
Teatime talks in the summer heat,
Now teacups cold and summer shaded.

(Somewhere across the Eastern wall, you’ll also find gunshots,
The only place where daylight pierces me, in dispersed polka-dots.)

And you see, even in all this misery,
And because of all this misery,
The death of one woman, I still find time to remember,
If only because her life lived on like sun in December.

And from the Ommayad Mosque,
Her body, like incense is burning,
Floating over the dawn and the dusk,
Ever and homeward returning.

(Dec. 2014)

Homeward-Bound

image

“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.”
-Rumi

This road keeps getting stranger and stranger. This path has gone through the pits of hell and the heights of heaven, thrown me into too many incredible people, broken me, mended me, stripped me of everything, given me everything, tossed me and turned me in all its own unimaginable ways, and it has made me.

Truth is, nothing has gone quite according to plan. I am not entirely the person I expected myself to become.

Somehow this path has twisted and turned so many times, and life has given me so many unnecessary, but essential, stops. It’s made me who I am, and I am somehow happy with that.

My only one certain truth, is that I am still walking this road, and wherever it takes me, I hope I’m heading home.

There is this energy greater than hope; something inside me knows I’m heading home.

We all carry this truth inside us.

Somehow we all carry this memory of home. Something inside you reminds me of the home I’d left so long ago, maybe eighteen years ago, and maybe many years before. (Funny that we try to measure these things with our own blurred concept of time.)

Something inside us is walking towards the same destination; clear your road that I may find you there, and perhaps, with any luck, we can walk together.

On Caring, a Little Too Much

I don’t know when it started, and I’m sure as the heavens I could never exactly pin-point it, but at some point in this short intense life of mine, I started caring, a little too much.

Here’s how it goes: it’s both universal and person-specific, both internally and externally displayed, though more internally devastating (but I can think of times where it really was physically devastating as well), and both fulfilling and depressing with res

ults ranging from “saving a fellow man” to simply scaring people off.(I bear-hug, a lot, for that matter, haha)

Universally, I’m a great believer in the power of good men (hence this blog’s name; if you’ve yet to notice that). I’m also a great believer in what I like to call social responsibility, wherein a person is inherently entitled to help and be kind to other people. That’s good I guess, it’s not that bad; makes me sound naïve to a bunch of moral indifferents but I never minded them.

I never minded anyone too much really. But there are people I do mind, and these are the ones I make the too-often-fatal mistake of individually caring for and loving.

See there’s a fine line here, a fine line between caring for people because that’s just what you do, and caring for people because somewhere inside, you’ve made an either intentional or unintentional link between your two souls, and tied a rope a little too tight around something that’s supposed to be sturdy enough to hold the bonding and breaking of a myriad lives’ courses in an endless cycle of love-and-leave or an undetermined and emotionally detached cycle of live-and-serve.

The problem is when you stumble upon a person, and you give in to the temptation of love. For a man of service, that indeed, is a tragedy, both dear and dire.

Perhaps it is that they expect a man of service to love without attachment, to offer of himself without holding to another. Perhaps it is that true care and love can only be expressed in their most raw sense, attachment.

But then, what is such a man to do when the love of one precludes the active service of another?

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No-Names Hall

Let not the wild of bad men rise,
Out through the mouths of good men wise,
And not the feats of good men stay,
Mere compensation for worse yet day.

If t’will not come on good man’s day,
To say a word and nations call,
There’ll come a time where good lands may,
Honor such in no-names hall.

A hall so wide and stretching long,
‘Tis no man’s hall and all men’s place,
All good men’s hall and bad men’s fall,
And suffers not the bad man’s chase.

And in the hall the incense burns,
To honor those who’ve come and gone,
Left a life in spec or seed,
And come unto the holy one.

The holy one, he looks on all,
The greatest name in no-names hall.

The holy one, whose angels call,
The greatest name in no-names hall.

on the 14th of December, 2013

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My Daily Prayer: “Lord, Call Me Again”

Below is my daily prayer which was written on a whim after I had practically been singing it all morning one day.

It does not follow a specific rhyme scheme (though I did eventually tweak a few parts). It’s really just something I like to go back to every once in a while.

The reason why this prayer of mine is so dear to me is because it often serves as a reminder of my calling and purpose: reminiscent of the time I first found God, when everything fell into place, when all suddenly made perfect sense, and when I learned that if there were anything worth devoting oneself to, it was the humble service of good, and the faithful service of the God of the good.

Therefore I share this with you, in the hope that it may inspire, guide, or help at least one person out there in the honest pursuit of God. (P.S: if you happen to be that person: contact me right away!)

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Lord, Call Me Again

Lord, Heavenly Father,
Lord, Light of my day.

Lord, there is no greater,
Than your heavenly name.

Lord, Father almighty,
Lord, Tender and right.

Lord, I have no worry,
For you bless me with grace.

Lord, I ask you nothing,
But to serve in your name.
But to fight in your battles,
Till the end of my days.

Lord, Call me again,
Lord, To serve in your glory,
For the glory of faith.

God, Serve me not comfort,
God, Serve me not wine,
But serve me to serve you,
Oh father of mine.

Lord, I hear you breathing,
With every breath I take.
Lord, As the sun rises,
Lord, I thank you today.

Lord, Call me again,
Lord, Guide me, Command me,
I, your faithful slave.

God, there is no greater,
Than to serve in the name,
Of a master so righteous,
Of a master so dear.

Lord, father of every,
Living creature and man,
Lord, Look at your people,
That look to you this day.

Lord, Help me to serve you,
Lord, Call me by name.
Christ, I want to know you,
More everyday.

Lord, Call me again,
To be by your people,
Serve them more each day.

Lord, I hear you breathing,
With every breath I take.
Lord, All that I ask you,
Is to bless my day.

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Hello dear readers and fellow pursuers of God!

I hope you have enjoyed this short prayer.

Feel free to share this with a friend and also like, comment, reply, tweet, post, share, reblog, or even start a side-talk with me on the matter!

Always a pleasure hearing from you!
God Bless your day!

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The Three Layers of Self: A Personal Doctrine

“The Three Layers of Self” is the title of a basic personal theological concept I live by.

To illustrate, man’s drives can be arranged into three categories:

Socio-Spiritual Morality/Interaction (the domain of the soul),
Intellectual Curiosity (the domain of the mind),
Somatic Pleasure (the domain of the body).

The three layers are thus, and in the divine unalterable order:

1)Soul
2)Mind
3)Body

The soul longs for God and human companionship, and in its longing for God also longs for God’s morality and thus sets the moral law for the rest of the self.

The mind longs to share in God’s glory, and thus seeks to understand the creation of God, and in the case of theologians, to understand God himself. Also, not only does the mind marvel at the work of God, but it sets out to mimic Creation itself through its own God-given innovative power. Also, it provides practical solutions to trivial worldly problems. In other words, the mind is the mediator between the earth and the heavens, the body and the soul. It spreads over the abstract and the concrete.

The body longs to maintain itself through nutrition and other needs, also longing to achieve pleasure through fulfilling those needs. However, the true function of the body is to fulfill the righteous longings of the soul and mind.

I find that any change in the priority of one over the other would spell disaster.

The mind and body must always remain subordinate to the soul.

A mind insubordinate to a soul is catastrophe served on a silver plate.

For example, it was, disregarding morality, very logical to force slaves into picking cotton and starving them to death back in the darker days of America. Nevertheless, after the restoration of Government morality under the guidance of Lincoln, slavery was later abolished.

That is an exact example of why the soul must always rule over the mind.

In whatever we commit to, we must place first, our entire souls, second, our entire minds, and finally, our bodies.

The three layers of the self must always remain in perfect harmony; any conflict between the three must be resolved under the light of a moral code, the soul.

Conflict between the desires and longings of man is the most basic cause of psychological disorder.
To make a reference to Lincoln:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
-Abraham Lincoln

I find this applies perfectly not only concerning society but also and most importantly concerning the individual.

I firmly state, nevertheless, that an internal discrepancy between the three must often be fought. Thus we must possess the courage to wage an internal war, regardless of the confusion it is sure to immerse us in, in the hope of restoring and establishing a better person within ourselves.

In the end, remember to always place your morality before your practicality, and your thought before your actions.

The true value of any thought is its relevance under the light of a supreme moral code, and the true value of any action is its relevance under the guidance of the mind and the supremacy of the soul.

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
-Abraham Lincoln

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