Where Do You Really Live?

Mathnawi IV: 3628-3636

3628 A man who is (living for) years in a certain city (finds that)
the moment when (his) eyes go into a [kind of] sleep,1

He sees a different city full of good and evil, (and the recollection
of) his own city never comes (back) to his memory

3630 So that he thinks [correctly], "I have been (a resident) of that
place [all my life], (so) this new city is not my own, and I am a
captive in this place."

No, he "knows" [differently] like this: that he has always been in
this "same" city (as his) origin and habitual (life).

How (is it) surprising if the (recollections of) the spirit (about) its
dwellings, which were its residence and birth place before,

Do not come (back) to (its) memory? For this world, like a dream,
is covering over [those recollections] as the clouds (cover over) the

Especially (since the spirit) has tread upon (so many) cities such
as these2 (before so that) the dust has not been swept from its

3635 (And) it hasn't made fervent efforts so that (its) heart might
become pure and see past situations,

3636 (So that) its heart might stick out (its) head from the hole of
the mystery (and) see the beginning and the end with open eyes.

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of
Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1930 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (yahoogroups.com), 9/2/99

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (3628) sleep: "The nafs [= ego], though it may repent by fits and
starts, soon falls back into its habitual unconsciousness of God
(khwáb-i ghaflat) [= sleep of negligence, forgetfulness]. This leads
up to a passage-- one of the finest in the Mathnawí-- which recalls
the familiar lines: 'Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;/ The
Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,/ Hath had elsewhere its
setting/ And cometh from afar.' So long as Man is unaware of the
world of Reality whence he came, his state resembles that of a
dreamer, who cannot possibly escape from the illusion that his
dream-world is permanent and real." (Nicholson, Commentary)

2. (3634) cities such as these: "The 'cities' are the planes of being or
phases of experience through which the soul must pass in its
journeys from and to God before it can attain to gnosis."
(Nicholson, Commentary) These past "cities" are not to be
understood as referring to reincarnation. Nicholson points out
(regarding the following lines, IV: 3637-3655 ["First he came into
the clime of inorganic things and... he passed into the vegetable
state....And... he passed... into the animal state.... Again, the
Creator, whom thou knowest, was leading him (Man) from the
animal (state) towards humanity.... He hath no remembrance of his
former intelligences (souls); from this (human) intelligence also
there is a migration to be made by him...."]: "As it happens, the
question whether Rúmí believes in transmigration of souls
(tanásukh) is answered shortly and conclusively by the poet
himself (V 2594): "andar-ín ummat na-bud maskh-i badan, lík
maskh-i dil buvad ay dhú 'l-fiTan" ["In this community there has
never been metamorphosis of the body, but there is metamorphosis
of the spirit, O man endowed with perception"]. Here he lines up
not only with orthodox Moslems but with philosophers like
Avicenna, and all reputable Súfís."
(Nicholson, Commentary)


3628 sâl-hâ mardê ke dar shahrê bow-ad
yak zamân ke chashm dar khwâbê raw-ad

shahr-é dêgar bîn-ad ô por nêk-o bad
hêch dar yâd-ash na-y-ây-ad shahr-é khwad

3630 ke man ân jâ bûda-am, în shahr-é naw
nêst ân-é man, dar-în-jâ-am geraw

bal chon-ân dân-ad ke khwad paywasta ô
ham dar-în shahr-ash bod-ast ibdâ`-wo khô

che `ajab gar rûH mawaTin-hây--é khwêsh
ke bod-ast-ash maskan-o mîlâd pêsh

mê-na-yâr-ad yâd k-în dunyâ chô khwâb
mê forô pôsh-ad chô akhtar-râ saHâb

khâSa chand-în shahr-hâ-râ kôfta
gard-hâ az dark-é ô nâ-rôfta

3635 ijtihâd-é garm nâ-karda, ke tâ
del shaw-ad Sâf-o be-bîn-ad mâ-jarâ

3636 sar berûn âr-ad del-ash az buksh-é râz
awwal-o âkhir be-bîn-ad chashm-bâz

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)