alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Don't think about getting off from work" (and I don't think he means my 9-5 job)

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my office window




The Sunrise Ruby


In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.

She asks, Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.

He says, There is nothing left of me.
I am like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight. The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don't think about getting off from work.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who's there.


- Rumi


So. What is "the work"? Somehow (apologies to non-American friends who don't follow our political soap operas) I don't think it's trashing and bashing Martha Coakley for being an idiot or Scott Brown for being the male version of Sarah Palin or John Edwards for being a slimy bastard, or any other number of my responses to the frustrations of the last week. Maybe Haiti has brought out the work in a lot of us. But I think that work is far away - as good as it is and present in my heart - and still not what Rumi is talking about. How to bring it closer to home? When he talks about lovers, is he talking about sexual love? I don't think so, even though that's the language he uses. You have to get even closer than that intimacy. He's talking about quarrying out divine love inside, through the rock of the ego. When I manage to dig, listen, knock, and see the joy look out, that's when I stop seeing the difference between me and someone else, when I stop saying in my head, "Oh I would so not have done what you just did." I can think I am so much better than a lot of people. But when I stop saying and feeling that, tension and exhaustion just disappear - becoming one, like the physical act of lovers, but on the inside.

This digging isn't for sainthood. It's not applying for doormat status. It's not la·di·da·ing oblivious to evil and stupidity. I think it's realizing that I am capable of everything I see behaved by humans - from the top of the chain to the bottom - as the parade goes by. Not seeing someone else as the other. That's the work. If it weren't hard, we'd all be there. But when you see joy look out to see who's there, it's ecstasy, and worth digging for again.

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55 comments:

Shari Sunday said...

I enjoyed the poem which I have not seen before. I share many of your sentiments, but as I read I could only think of a saying that is well known in recovery groups. "If you spot it, you got it." A hard concept to accept sometimes.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It's a very sad existence that awaits someone who shies away from doing the inner work.

Shaista (Lupus in Flight) said...

"The way is full of genuine sacrifice.
The thickets blocking the path are anything
That keeps you from that, any fear
that you may be broken to bits like a glass bottle.
This road demands courage and stamina,
yet its full of footprints! Who are
these companions? They are rungs
in your ladder. Use them!
With company you quicken your ascent'
-Rumi

With company like you, I quicken my ascent. Much love from a fellow digger xxx

Mary Ellen said...

Ruth, this is a lovely sharing of insight and beauty - and speaks to my condition on this weary, gray day. It's helpful to be reminded of the point of the "work".

♥ Kathy said...

beautiful poem Ruth!

The Bug said...

Just yesterday at work we were having a discussion with another coworker about how "she would never do" this particular thing. We said, "really? not under any circumstance?" "Well, maybe if I were 20 I would do it."

I'm a flash in the pan - flare up all angry, but then when I cool off I see the other side. It's kind of annoying when you want to hang onto all that righteous indignation. But oh so much more healthy!

Loring Wirbel said...

OK, sing along,
"Our life is more than our work,
and our work is more than our job."
-- Charlie King

I have a two sided T-shirt that has one part of the saying on each side of the shirt.

CottageGirl said...

Love the poem! It is work!

*jean* said...

ahh another level of enlightenment...worth working for...i love it when you are provoking thought, ruth

Oliag said...

This is why I love coming to your salon...I always leave a little more enlightened than when I arrived. I will continue digging...I am waiting for the open window...Now I'm going to look up Charlie King...

I still can't believe MA citizens voted for Steve Brown...

Anna said...

Ruth thanks for the enlightenment - 'Not seeing someone else as the other. That's the work.' - I wanted to say you made my day, but it is still night here, lol. Anna :)

Sidney said...

Not easy to achieve...

Vagabonde said...

I think you are trying to get over your desperation at the state of this country and hoping that there is still some good in the people who vote for more corporation power and less health care. It is very sad the way everything is turning out. Tea Baggers are against the kind of heath care Europe has and think it is their patriotic duty to stop any health care bill. They are overjoyed that their candidate won in Massachusetts. Last year lack of preventable health care killed 45,000 US citizens – including 17,000 children. In 2008 almost 2300 US veterans died for lack of healthcare as well. 46.3 millions here are without health insurance and 50 million people (including 1 in 4 children) struggle to eat. 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed and many are denied basic freedom. So, indeed, let’s try to find the good in corporatist Christian fundamentalists who are destroying this beautiful country – let’s – but it is hard for me to watch it.

Susan said...

My mother's favorite saying (and she had many) was "Never say never, because you may have to eat those words". Of course when I was young, I blew off that statement, being cock-sure and thinking I knew all the answers. As we all know, for most people, wisdom comes with age. And I've learned a lot of hard lessons about judging what other people do. I believe that judging other people by what you think you wouldn't do often comes back and bites you in the butt. Humans are capable of doing anything, given the right circumstances. I'm not saying that one would go against ones moral code, but that there are many shades of gray. Having said that, I'm pretty sure that some people's (coughJohnEdwards) moral codes are pretty shady.

I'm not really sure if this relates to the beauty of your post, Ruthie, but you know I'm not as deep as you are. :)

Ginnie said...

Clearly, Ruth, I need to catch up on the news, which I have not done in over a week, with my missing laptop and then Astrid's accident. BUT you have said some powerful words here. I think you're really getting at something important!

Bagman and Butler said...

Yep- if you spot it, you got it. Seeing ourselves in others, particularly those we don't want to see. And without judging. That is really the work.

Ruth said...

Shari, thank you. I wasn't aware of that 12 steps quote. When I googled it I found Michael Z and his The Wisdom of the Rooms - quotes from the 12 steps.

I found this from him:

"Oh how quick I am to judge and find fault in others. Before the program I was quite self righteous - I could see and tell you what you and others were doing wrong, but I was largely blind to my own faults. It was so easy to point my finger, but in the program I learned that when I do, there are four fingers pointing back to me.

As I worked my program and became more self aware, what I learned was that the reason it's easy to find specific faults is because I often have the very same faults as well. In other words, if I can spot it, I got it. That was quite a revelation.

The longer I'm in recovery, the more true I find this to be. In fact nowadays, if I curse at someone for not using their turn signal, I find I'm doing the same thing moments later. The lesson here is humility. No one is a saint. We're all doing the best we can, and my job is to work on myself and spot and correct my own faults - not yours."

Ruth said...

Pamela, I am introspective to a fault, and it drives some around me nuts. But I think everyone can scan themselves before pointing a finger.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Shaista.

I hesitated to post this post. I dislike how the whole enlightenment topic can be construed as so full of self that those around us lose importance. For me it is the opposite. Being aware of what is in me shows me that I am no different from others. I hate moralistic ideals. I also dislike having a goal of being on a lofty mountaintop if it means I'm leaving someone behind. It's about keeping our feet muddy while we try to be free of ego. It's a crazy hard balance to learn, but I think it gets easier to see with much practice.

Thank you for the footprints, my friend.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Ellen. Your current post gave me some very good food for thought along these lines. How to find oneself and also lose oneself.

Insert image of yin-yang here.

Oh said...

Just right, that is, everything about this entry, from its title to poem to last paragraph.

Onward, to opening the door.

Ruth said...

Thank you, ♥ Kathy.

Vagabonde said...

Ruth I reread my earlier comments and see now that it was presumptuous of me to say that you were upset about the political turmoil in this country when you talked about understanding other people. It was after 1:00 am and I had had a long day (got up at 5:00 am) and also had just read a story about a family whose child died because they did not have health care. I have always felt that everyone should be treated as equal – people in our countries and other countries, of our faith other faith or no faith, our friends and our foes. My father was very strong in that feeling and taught me that. His family had been hurt by war and abuse in the middle east and he was injured in World War II which kept him an handicapped man, but he never spoke badly either of Turkish people or Germans, actually he was the first man in our town in suburban Paris to buy a WV in the 50s (everyone was upset there with him.)

Ruth said...

Dana, I think you're saying it's more healthy to get the anger out quickly, right? I agree, there's not a thing wrong with getting angry! Holding grudges isn't healthy, but I learned midway through this life of mine that feelings are friends. It's just good to be aware of them, and ask myself, why? Like doing a brain scan - but more like a heart scan.

Ruth said...

Loring, so I googled your quote and guess what? The second hit was your EETimes article from 1998.

Ruth said...

Thanks, CottageGirl. Maybe mothers know that it is work more than anyone.

Ruth said...

Jean, that's good, because I almost always hesitate to post something like this, a look at the process I go through inside. It feels vulnerable.

Ruth said...

Oliag, I'm pretty sure the Charlie King Loring is referring to is found here.

Thank you for your kind words, I think feeling enlightened is sometimes half the battle. But sometimes just when I feel enlightened something happens pretty quickly to show me I'm not so much.

Loring Wirbel said...

Ruth, Wrong Charlie King! The one who wrote those words has been singing around New England since the late 1970s. He's here: http://www.charlieking.org/

And that was weird seeing that column from the 1998 height of the fake-yuppie (fake everything) Internet boom. Them was different times.

Gwen Buchanan said...

it is always a challenge to try to be, the person we most wish to see... oh if even someday I could hope to be a mere fraction of that person...

Ruth said...

Hi Anna, I'm very far from this. Just last night I was complaining once again about a couple of people, with the same attitude: I would so not do what they did.

Ruth said...

Sidney, I think it's a luxury to have this much freedom and introspection. If I were living every day just looking how to survive, would I still be like this?

Ruth said...

Cher Vagabonde, you and I have a treasure: parents who modeled openness to everyone as equals. This could be the most supreme gift my parents gave me. You were right that the health care fiasco, and the Supreme Court Corporate lock-in, and many such things were haunting me when I wrote this. But the digging I mean is cutting through my own crap of feeling that I am superior to all that, to any person involved in it, or to any person anywhere who made choices I think I wouldn't have. Eckhart Tolle said that if you were born with the same genes into the same circumstances as any other person, you would make the same choices. How can we ever prove or disprove that? Well we can't. But the statement itself humbles me as a daily mantra, because I remember that I have not walked in anyone's shoes but my own.

Ruth said...

Susie, your mother had seen a few things, the way you have now. You are one of the smartest people I know, please don't sell yourself short. What is deep? I feel things deeply in my heart, and you do too. I leave depth of mind to others who follow a topic down to its core (think PhDs).

Your comment is spot on. I might sound like I think I should never disagree with someone, or criticize, or suggest a different route. (I don't mean you thought that.) If we didn't offer each other advice along the way, there would be no mentors and students. We need people of all kinds - especially of an opposing kind I think! - to challenge our comfort and shake us up. Sometimes I think George Bush was the best thing that could happen to our country, since he helped elect Barack Obama. Now, one year later, how do we feel about President Obama? What are we learning about the political and corporate worlds, and damn! I think as soon as a President walks through the White House door they learn things that complicate things forever. It's not that we shouldn't criticize our government, for instance (oh god), but maybe, just maybe, we don't know the whole story. Yet, we have to keep fighting for what we think is right with all our might.

Phew!

shoreacres said...

Rumi is becoming one of my favorites. His words here seem so simple and so true.

Lover and beloved are one. Ruby and sunrise are transformed into one another. Work and reward are inseparable. Loyalty to daily practice is the ring on the door.

I hear Rumi speaking of an integrity - a wholeness - so complete that thought, calculation, even self-reflection are unnecessary. Waking, drinking, digging, knocking - the mundane disciplines of life - are all that are needed to attract the attention of joy.

It makes sense to me in a way I hardly can express.

Ruth said...

Boots, well as always the media goes nuts with every interesting story, ad nauseum.

You know, this is so not about looking for the good in everything. Remember how Mom never wanted us to be unhappy? I didn't want her to tell me everything would be all right. I had to go through the process of working something out, being angry, being frustrated, whatever.

Ruth said...

You know, B&B, it took me like half a day to realize what that meant, "if you spot it, you got it." I first thought it meant that if you recognize your flaw, that's the beginning of fixing it. But no! If you spot it in someone else, you more than likely have the same trait.

Brilliant.

Ruth said...

Loring - Doh! Ok, that does it, I have got to stop being sure about anything!

Them was different times. Them was EE Times.

Bada boom.

Ruth said...

Gwen, and I don't want to go leaden because I keep falling short of my ideal self!

Just have to keep plowing and hope something grows.

Ruth said...

Linda - hear hear!

I went back and forth on this post: Should I write any commentary, should I just leave it at Rumi's poem? I went with the commentary, because I think it gets the juices going for someone else. I know a lot of people don't connect with poems at all.

So anyway, my first response to your superb comment - so to the point - comes from Rumi's story with Shams. Rumi was reading with a big stack of books, and Shams walked by, stopped and asked what he was doing. Rumi replied: "something you can't understand." Shams shoved the books into a nearby pool of water, when Rumi asked Shams: "What is this!" and Shams said, "Something you cannot understand."

Ruth said...

Oh Oh OH!! I skipped you. Me so sorry. Your comment is so kind.

Keep knocking. Keep listening.

C.M. Jackson said...

Ruth
this is the hardest of all work--the nine to five stuff is easy. Your post reminds me of what I must do to accomplish my goals--thank you-c

Ruth said...

Hi, C.M.. I haven't figured it out. I keep failing.

João said...

Keep knocking, Ruth, you're close.

Ruth said...

Thanks, João. I don't know about that, but I keep knocking all the same.

dutchbaby said...

Even though Rumi was not Buddhist, there are elements in this poem that reflect the teachings of Buddha.

I cling to the promise that if you keep digging your well and keep knocking that you will find the joy inside, but dang, getting there takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

I hope that the Massachusetts election is a wake-up call for the Democratic Party but I'm not sure they are signed up to do "the work". Though many politicians may start their careers with valiant intentions, Washington has a way of chipping away at one's integrity. I can only wish that the Republicans will over-play their hand in the November election. It is a travesty and an embarrassment that so many citizens in the US can not afford proper health care.

I thank you for encouraging us to look inward. How great the world would be if we all did this with honesty.

Jeanie said...

What a thought-provoking post, Ruth. And thanks for sharing the Rumi piece. That's new to me. Sometimes I think we look out and never see. Perhaps looking inward is the best way to reveal something new.

Shattered said...

"That's the work. If it weren't hard, we'd all be there. But when you see joy look out to see who's there, it's ecstasy, and worth digging for again."

I SO want you to be right. Because this digging is very hard work. I hope that one day all these blisters will be worn over and worth the ecstasy that I want to find...

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, I heard that at least two of my students who are graduating this spring will be taking classes next year so that they can stay on their parents' insurance. One of them has a pre-existing condition: a hole in her heart. It's cheaper for her to just not get a job and do it this way. It's ridiculous, because she has so much, so much to offer the world.

Ruth said...

Dear Jennifer, I hope so too, with all my heart.

xoxo

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jeanie.

Peter said...

Another remarkable post, including the comments part! Yes, we all have a lot "work" to do ... and I have a feeling that you have understood it better than many of us! ... and now I have less excuses, as my 9am to 5pm (actually mor often 8am - 10pm) work is finished. :-)

ds said...

Oh, Ruth, where to begin? I knew it was Rumi (see what you have taught me!) and it was so nice to rest--for he is restful-and at the same time think--because he requires it--in his words. And in your commentary. I believe that is a quality that some folks have named "mindfulness." You, my friend, live in a perpetual state of mindfulness, and it is a good thing. Thank you so much for this post and its truth.

As my mom says, in a different context, "Dig we must!" Even if it is with a tin spoon against granite...

Ruth said...

Peter, please don't sell yourself short. You are a loving emissary to many of us around the world. You make the world smaller and much, much better.

Ruth said...

DS, thank you, but it is far from perpetual.

You're right about Rumi rest and thinking. It's the kind of thinking that is mindless - and mindful - at the same time. I hear it or read it, and I wonder how I never thought of it before, its truth is so evident but also new.