I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Friday, 16 January 2015

Placeless, Traceless

The final chapter of Nicholas Shrady's book Sacred Roads describes his pilgrimage to the tomb of Rumi in Konya, Turkey. After recent events in Europe this inclusive poem by Rumi is particularly resonant. He strips away superficial, artificial divisions to reveal what we all are:

Only Breath

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human beings.

Rumi also wrote this:

Cross and Christians, end to end, I examined. He was not on the Cross. I went to the Hindu temple, to the ancient pagoda. In neither was there any sign. To the heights of Herat I went, and Kandahar. I looked. He was not on height or lowland. Resolutely, I went to the top of the Mountain of Kaf. There only was the place of the Anqa bird. I went to the Kaaba. He was not there. I asked of his state from Ibn Sina: he was beyond the limits of the philosopher Avicenna . . . I looked into my own heart. In that place I saw him. He was in no other place . . .

4 comments:

George said...

Yes, these words are especially poignant in the context of the unfolding events in Europe, including today in Belgium. There will be no peace until people get beyond their egos, their religions, and their national origins. Our cultural differences pale in comparison to the more fundamental human traits that we all share. As Rumi understood so well, we are One, and there is no greater need than to reconnect and repair the world we have broken.

Anonymous said...

I have been a vicarious traveler following in your footsteps for many years, just a thank you for all the journeys, near and far, and hope they last, for my forever.
rrfjr

After Reading T'ao Ch'ing, I wander Untethered Through the Short Grass

Dry spring, no rain for five weeks.
Already the lush green begins to bow its head and sink to its
knees.

Already the plucked stalks and thyroid weeds like insects
Fly up and trouble my line of sight.

I stand inside the word here
As that word stands in its sentence,
Unshadowy, half at ease.

Religion's been in a ruin for over a thousand years.
Why shouldn't the sky be tatters,
lost notes to forgotten songs?

I inhabit who I am, as T'ao Ch'ing says, and walk about
Under the mindless clouds.
When it ends, it ends. What else?

One morning I'll leave home and never find my way back—
My story and I will disappear together, just like this.

Charles Wright
US poet laureate

Sabine said...

Perfect reminder, humbling. Thank you.

The Solitary Walker said...

I am glad of your visits, George and Sabine... and Anonymous, thanks so much for coming along.