Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Indian Parrot

There was a merchant setting out for India.

He asked each male and female servant
what they wanted to be brought as a gift.

Each told him a different exotic object:
A piece of silk, a brass figurine,
a pearl necklace.

Then he asked his beautiful caged parrot,
the one with such a lovely voice,
and she said,
"When you see the Indian parrots,
describe my cage. Say that I need guidance
here in my separation from them. Ask how
our friendship can continue with me so confined
and them flying about freely in the meadow mist.

Tell them that I remember well our mornings
moving together from tree to tree.

They them to drink one cup of ecstatic wine
in honor of me here in the dregs of my life.

Tell them that the sound of their quarreling
high in the trees would be sweeter
to hear than any music. "

This parrot is in the spirit-bird of all of us,
that part that wants to return to freedom,
and is the freedom. What she wants
from India is herself!

So this parrot gave her message to the merchant,
and when he reached India, he saw a field
full of parrots. He stopped
and called out what she had told him.

One of the nearest parrots shivered
and stiffened and fell down dead.

The merchant said, "This one is surely kin
to my parrot. I shouldn't have spoken."

He finished his trading and returned home
with the presents for his workers.

When he got to the parrot, she demanded her gift.
"What happened when you told my story
to the Indian parrots?"

"I'm afraid to say."
"Master, you must!"

"When I spoke your complaint to the field
of chattering parrots, it broke
one of their hearts.

She must have been a close companion,
or a relative, for when she heard about you
she grew quiet and trembled, and died."

As the caged parrot heard this, she herself
quivered and sank to the cage floor.

This merchant was a good man.
He grieved deeply for his parrot, murmuring
distracted phrases, self-contradictory--
cold, then loving--clear, then
murky with symbolism.

A drowning man reaches for anything!
The Friend loves this flailing about
better than any lying still.

The One who lives inside existence
stays constantly in motion,
and whatever you do, that king
watches through the window.

When the merchant threw the "dead" parrot
out of the cage, it spread its wings
and glided to a nearby tree!

The merchant suddenly understood the mystery.
"Sweet singer, what was in the message
that taught you this trick?"

"She told me that is was the charm
of my voice that kept me caged.
Give it up, and be released!"

The parrot told the merchant one or two more
spiritual truths. Then a tender goodbye.

"God protect you," said the merchant
"as you go on your new way.
I hope to follow you!"

~ Rumi I 1814-1833, 1845-1848

Give up your charm to keep yourself in motion and your spirit-bird winging its way to freedom. Drink the ecstatic wine. Don't be self-contradictory. I love you tonight and always.

The 'Kan EWA

Friday, October 15, 2010

We're well into the season here at Bellemaison and all kinds of change fill the air. I'm hopeful, have to be, yet I've come through enough of these toss arounds to know that things are never, ever the same even after you land upright and can walk away. Guess that's the point, right?

I continue to be grateful, humble with gratefulness, and will tell you one more time that there is no one who is luckier than me. There are things that elude me, that I do not have and now it's obvious, never will have. But there are some things I do have things I will never be without, and in that, I am rich, rich, rich.

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One-Handed Basket Weaving

There was a dervish who lived alone in the mountains,
who made a vow never to pick fruit from the trees,
or to shake them down,
or to ask anyone to pick fruit for him.

"Only what the wind makes fall."
This was his way
of giving in to God's will.

There is a traditional saying from the Prophet
that a human being is like a feather in the desert
being blown about wherever the wind takes it.

So for a while in the joy of this surrender
he woke each dawn with a new direction to follow.

But then came five days with no wind,
and no pears fell.

He patiently restrained himself,
until a breeze blew just strong enough
to lower a bough full of ripe pears
close to his hand, but not strong enough
to detach the pears.

He reached out and picked one.

Nearby, a band of thieves were dividing
what they had stolen.

The authorities surprised them and immediately
began the punishments: the severing
of right hands and left feet.

The hermit was seized by mistake
and his hand cut off.
but before his foot could be severed also,
he was recognized.

The prefect came. "Forgive these men.
They did not know. Forgive us all!"

The sheikh said, "This is not your fault.
I broke my vow, and the Beloved
has punished me."

He became known as Sheikh Aqta,
which means, "The teacher
whose hand has been cut off."

One day a visitor entered his hut without knocking
and saw him weaving palm leaf baskets.
It takes two hands to weave!

"Why have you entered without warning!"

"Out of love for you"

"Then keep this secret which you see
has been given to me."

But others began to know about this,
and many came to the hut to watch.

The hand that helped
when he was weaving palm leaves
came because he no longer had any fear
of dismemberment or death.

When those anxious, self-protecting
imaginations leave, the real,
cooperative work begins.

(Mathmawi III, 1634-1642, 1672-1690, 1704-1720)

I write to you with happiness and anticipation today; that your counterproductive imaginations begin a hiatus that simultaneously launches the most productive period of this part of your life. Be well. I love you.

The 'Kan EWA