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Listening to Rumi Pages

Poem for meetings on July 7, 2013, and July 22, 2013.
The Question

One dervish to another, What was your vision
of God's presence? I haven't seen anything,
but for the sake of conversation, I will tell you a story.

The presence is there in front of me.
A fire on the left, a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire.
Another toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly
in the stream. A head goes underwater
and that head pokes out of the fire.

Most people guard against going into the fire
and so end up in it. Those who love the water
of pleasure and make it their devotion
are cheated with this reversal. The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the truth, saying
I am not fire. I am fountainhead.
Come into me and don't mind the sparks.

If you are a friend of the presence,
fire is your water.
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets
of mothwings, so you could burn them away, one set a night.

The moth sees light and goes into fire. You should see fire
and go to the light. Fire is what of God is world-consuming.
Water, world-protecting.

Somehow each gives the appearance of the other.
To these eyes you have now, what looks like water burns.
What looks like fire is a great relief to be inside.

You have seen a magician make a bowl of rice
seem a dish of tiny, live worms. Before an assembly, with one
breath he made the floor swarm with scropions
that were not there. How much more amazing God's tricks.
Generation after generation lies down defeated, they think,
but they are like a woman underneath a man, circling him.

One molecule-mote-second of considering
this reversal of comfort and pain
is better than any attending ritual.

That splinter of intelligence is substance.
The fire and water themselves?
Accidental, done with mirrors.
Translation Coleman Barks in the Essential Rumi.

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