Thursday, May 15, 2008

the uses of fear

a Rumi poem, translated by Coleman Barks

The Uses of Fear

A donkey turning a millstone is not trying

to press oil from sesame seed. He is fleeing the blow

that was just struck and hoping to avoid the next.

For the same reason, the ox takes a load

of baggage wherever you want him to.

Shopkeepers work for themselves,

not for the flow of communal exchange.

We look to ease our pain, and this keeps civilization

moving along. Fear is the architect here.

Fear keeps us working near the ark.

Some human beings are safe havens.

Be companions with them. Others may seem to be friends,

but they are really consuming your essence

like donkeys lapping sherbet. Detach from them,

and feel your flexibility returning.
The inner moisture that lets you bend

into a basket handle is a quickening inside
that no one is ever afraid of.

Sometimes though, it is fear, a contracting,

that brings you into the presence.


Anonymous said...
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Ginnie said...

It just doesn't ever get better than Rumi, Ruth:

"The inner moisture that lets you bend
into a basket handle is a quickening inside
that no one is ever afraid of."

Anet said...

This sort of reminds me of the fear that the government likes to fuel in us. Just to keep us in check.
I do like the image of donkeys lapping sherbet. lol

Loring Wirbel said...

This not only applies to post-9/11 government use of fear, but also to the "energy vampire" people Rumi talks about who consume your energy, and the institutions in the workplace and the neighborhood who control behavior through fear rather than hope. And I don't mean fear through intimidation, but the more subtle fear of change, of losing a job, etc. Many people have become way too comfortable with western luxurious ways of life that turn silly toys into necessities, and allow us to become trapped in behavioral webs of fear. Cut the strings, cut the strings, throw it up in the air, it has no weight if you let it be weightless.

Ruth said...

Boots, that image just sends me too. I mean, if everyone, every institution, everyone, had that inner moisture, imagine the world.

O ~ O ~ O

Anet, I grew up with that fear in the context of Church too. What would happen if we weren't in check? That's the big question.

O ~ O ~ O

Loring, "Cut the strings, cut the strings, throw it up in the air, it has no weight if you let it be weightless." You gave me another poetic image that stirs me. Ah, the emotions of these days have me feeling raw - open to the pain, and open to the healing. No boundaries!!! Memes memes memes, I wanna cut the strings.

Sharon said...

"Some human beings are safe havens.
Be companions with them."

That is so beautiful....that we can find that kind of connectedness with each other

Unfortunately it's the cruel marriage of the opposites that allow us to fully appreciate the companionship of those who are our safe havens by first having to experience those "who consume your essence like donkeys lapping sherbet"..... (what a funny image, I wonder if donkey's even like sherbet?)

Thanks Ruth, I LOVE Rumi. (especially his line about Love Dogs and giving your life to be one of them.) Safe Havens, Love Dogs, and donkey's lapping sherbet, all great images and soothing. words.....

Sandy said...

Ruth this is lovely and the photo is so beautiful! I love my visits here.


Loring Wirbel said...

Hey! Where's Rauf??

Ruth said...

Sharon, it's such a challenge of balancing, how to not be too attached to either the safe havens or the essence drainers, no?

I had to look up the Love Dogs poem! So glad you brought it to my attention. I'll copy it here:

Love dogs

One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing
you express is the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.

Ruth said...

Sandy, that makes me very happy.

O ~ O ~ O

Loring, yeah, thanks for asking! Poor rauf moved from his temporary apartment back into the house where he lived 45 years, after it was refurbished. Well the refurbishment isn't complete, and also a completely new Internet connection had to be installed since the area was full. It's been over a month for him without Internet, and it could be another month before they do the job! He tried going to a Browsing Centre, but it was so hot and crowded, he had to sometimes wait 2 hours for a computer. I hope he'll be back soon. I miss him tons.

Gwen Buchanan said... of this reminds me of parts of the Desiderata...

Ruth said...

Yes, I can see that, Gwen. Thanks for noticing it.