If you do not understand,
things are just as they are.
- Zen proverb
A mouse and a frog meet every morning on the riverbank.
They sit in a nook of the ground and talk.
Each morning, the second they see each other,
they open easily, telling stories and dreams and secrets,
empty of any fear or suspicious holding back.
To watch, and listen to those two is to understand how,
as it’s written, sometimes when two beings come together,
Christ becomes visible.
The mouse starts laughing out a story
he hasn’t thought of in five years,
and the telling might take five years!
There’s no blocking the speech flow
river-running-all-carrying momentum that true intimacy is.
Bitterness doesn’t have a chance with those two.
The God-messenger, Khidr, touches a roasted fish.
It leaps off the grill back into the water.
Friend sits by Friend, and the tablets appear.
They read the mysteries off each others foreheads.
But one day the mouse complains,
“There are times when I want conversation
and you’re out in the water, jumping around
where you can’t hear me.
We meet at this appointed time, but the text says,
Lovers pray constantly. Once a day, once a week,
five times an hour, is not enough.
Fish like we are need the ocean around us!”
Do camel bells say, “Let’s meet back here Thursday night?”
Ridiculous! They jingle together continuously,
talking while the camel walks.
Do you pay regular visits to yourself?
Don’t argue or answer rationally.
Let us die, and dying, reply.--Rum
(1498 - 1565?)
English version by Robert Bly
Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening,
Kissing his feet, resistance broken, tears all night.
If we could reach the Lord through immersion in water,
I would have asked to be born a fish in this life.
If we could reach Him through nothing but berries and wild nuts,
Then surely the saints would have been monkeys when they came from the womb!
If we could reach him by munching lettuce and dry leaves,
Then the goats would surely go to the Holy One before us!
If the worship of stone statues could bring us all the way,
I would have adored a granite mountain years ago.
Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.
(1926 - 2001)
I know if I find you I will have to leave the earth
and go on out
over the sea marshes and the brant in bays
and over the hills of tall hickory
and over the crater lakes and canyons
and on up through the spheres of diminishing air
past the blackset noctilucent clouds
where one wants to stop and look
way past all the light diffusions and bombardments
up farther than the loss of sight
into the unseasonal undifferentiated empty stark
And I know if I find you I will have to stay with the earth
inspecting with thin tools and ground eyes
trusting the microvilli sporangia and simplest
and praying for a nerve cell
with all the soul of my chemical reactions
and going right on down where the eye sees only traces
You are everywhere partial and entire
You are on the inside of everything and on the outside
I walk down the path down the hill where the sweetgum
has begun to ooze spring sap at the cut
and I see how the bark cracks and winds like no other bark
chasmal to my ant-soul running up and down
and if I find you I must go out deep into your
and if I find you I must stay here with the separate leaves
one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one:
which halves reintegrating, shall occur
no death and any quantity; but than
all numerable mosts the actual more
minds ignorant of stern miraculous this every truth
beware of heartless them
(given the scalpel, they dissect a kiss;
or, sold the reason, they undream a dream)
one is the song which fiends and angels sing;
all murdering lies by mortals told make two.
Let liars wilt, repaying life they’re loaned;
We (by a gift called dying born) must grow
deep in dark least ourselves remembering
love only rides his year.
All lose, whole find
e. e. cummings