Guest poem sent in by Rishidev Chaudhuri
(Poem #841) Emptiness
Consider the difference in our actions and God's actions. We often ask, "Why did you do that?" or "Why did I act like that?" We do act, and yet everything we do is God's creative action. We look back and analyse the events of our lives, but there is another way of seeing, a backward-and-forward-at-once vision, that is not rationally understandable. Only God can understand it. Satan made the excuse, "You caused me to fall, whereas Adam said to God, "We did this to ourselves." After this repentance, God asked Adam, "Since all is within my foreknowledge, why didn't you defend yourself with that reason?" Adam answered, "I was afraid, and I wanted to be reverent." Whoever acts with respect will get respect. Whoever brings sweetness will be served almond cake. Good women are drawn to be with good men. Honour your friend. Or treat him rudely, and see what happens! Love, tell an incident now that will clarify this mystery of how we act feely, and are yet compelled. One hand shakes with palsy. Another shakes because because you slapped it away. Both tremblings come from God, but you feel guilty for the one, and what about the other? These are intellectual questions. The spirit approaches the matter differently. Omar once had a friend, a scientist, Bu'l-Hakam, who was flawless at solving empirical problems, but he could not follow Omar into the area of illumination and wonder. Now I return to the text, "And He is with you, wherever you are," but when have I ever left it! Ignorance is God's prison Knowing is God's palace. We sleep in God's unconsciousness. We wake in God's open hand. We weep God's rain. We laugh God's lightning. Fighting and peacefulness both take place within God. Who are we then in this complicated world-tangle, that is really just the single, straight line down at the beginning of ALLAH? Nothing. We are emptiness. ---- When you are with everyone but me, you're with no one. When you are with no one but me, you're with everyone. Instead of being so bound up with everyone, be everyone. When you become that many, you're nothing. Empty.
It is always very interesting to look at how mystical experience is reflected in different traditions. The Sufis stand out for many reasons, among them the context in which they arose, their influence on both Indian and Middle Eastern thought and literature, and particularly for their view of the world, very different in expression (though not, I believe in spirit) from some of the earlier Indian traditions, but bearing very strong resemblances to Mahayana Buddhist and Tantric thought. This poem could very easily pass off as one written by a Zen Buddhist, particularly for its statement of paradox and trans-rational, trans-verbal view. The concept of emptiness or the pregnant void (sunyata) at the heart of things is also a very common Buddhist concept. And Sufism has, of course, produced some lovely poems and celebrations of union with the divine. This poem is rather more intellectual than much of what Rumi has written, but his sheer exuberance and spirit is very apparent and quite charming. Rishidev Links: Rumi poems we've run before: Poem #472, 'Spring Giddiness' Poem #513, 'The Tavern' There's an excellent Rumi site at http://www.rumi.org.uk including a biography: http://www.rumi.org.uk/life.html