Tuesday, January 4, 2011

contemplation on On Gambling & If you want what visible reality

As promised I contemplated these two poems when I did my sitting practice this morning.  Here are some of my thoughts -


to a frog that's never left his pond the ocean seems like a gamble.
Look what he's giving up: security, mastery of his world, recognition!
The ocean frog just shakes his head. "I can't really explain what it's
like where I live, but someday I'll take you there."

This poem makes me think about the practise of meditation itself. It cannot be read about or discussed because the discursive mind cannot articulate what meditation is. It is an ocean of awareness that cannot be explained - but someday someone might take you there. To leave your cocoon of this and that - the material known world for something so unknown is of course a gamble. You do lose mastery of your world, your security, recognition - your very ego is at risk.

~     ~       ~

If you want what visible reality
can give, you're an employee.

If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.

Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy.

I love this poem. I kept reciting it as I sat. I especially like the first two lines. An employee is such a bizarre term for what Rumi meant but yet it is so perfect. You are an employee of the material world if you are attached to what you can hold and own. You think you are buying things or peace of mind or recognition but you are enslaving yourself to a very grasping boss.  The next two lines are a little more difficult - how can you be not living your truth to want the unseen world? I think it is the notion of spiritual materialism here - I am going to separate myself from the world and live in a cave. Or I'm going to live for my next life in heaven. Doesn't quite work either way. So both wishes are foolish - the one for samsara or the one for nirvana - but we will be forgiven for thinking so - for wanting this and that when really it is love's confusing joy we want. I remember that Rumi is a mystic - the love he speaks of is not only the love for another although it includes that - it is the ecstatic love of the divine within and without that I think he is writing about.

Next Poem:

The Cat and The Meat
There was once a sneering wife
who ate all her husband brought home
and lied about it.

One day it was some lamb for a guest
who was to come. He had worked two hundred days
in order to buy that meat.

When he was away, his wife cooked a kabob
and at it all, with wine.

The husband returns with his guest.
The cat has eaten the meat, she says.
Buy more, if you have any money left.

He asks a servant to bring the scales
and the cat. The cat weighs three pounds.
The meat was three pounds, one ounce.

If this is the cat, where is the meat?
If this is the meat, where is the cat?
Start looking for one or the other.
If you have a body, where is the spirit?
If you are spirit, what is the body?

This is not our problem to worry about.
Both are both. Corn is corn grain
and cornstalk. The divine butcher
cuts us a piece from the thigh
and a piece from the neck.

Invisible, visible, the world
does not work without both.

If you throw dust at someone's head,
nothing will happen.

If you throw water, nothing.
But combine them into a lump.

That marriage of water and earth
cracks open the head,
and afterward, there are other marriages.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a thoughtful oasis here, Jan! I'm a poetry fan. Love your thoughts on these poems, too.