Idle AmusementExcerpted from “In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo; in Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad” by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks:
The Prophet has said
that a true seeker must be completely empty like a lute
to make the sweet music of Lord, Lord.
When the emptiness starts to get filled with something,
the one who plays the lute puts it down
and picks up another.
There is nothing more subtle and delightful
than to make that music.
Stay empty and hold
between those fingers, where where
gets drunk with nowhere.
This man was empty,
and the tears came. His habitual stubborness
dissolved. This is way with many seekers.
They moan in prayer, and the perfumed smoke of that
floats into heaven, and the angels say, “Answer
this prayer. This worshipper has only you
and nothing else to depend on. Why do you go first
to the prayers of those less devoted?”
“By deferring my generosity I am helping him.
His need dragged him by the hair into my presence.
If I satisfy that, he’ll go back to being absorbed
in some idle amusement. Listen now how passionate he is!
That torn-open cry is way he should live.”