What Is the Benefit of This Existence? (part three)

Mathnawi II: 1106-1130

1106 How can they not come (to) this place where I am? For I
am (like) the radiant sun in [the presence of] this (Divine)

(Although) the rising place of the (physical) sun is the
pitch black area of sky,2 my Sun3 is beyond (any) rising

His "rising place" (exists only) in regard (to the
location) of His motes (of dust)-- (since) His Essence has
not (ever) risen , nor has it (ever) descended.

(Although) I am (one) who is kept behind His motes,4
(still) I am (like) a shadowless sun in this world and the

1110 Again, (how) amazing5 (it is that) I am revolving
around the (Divine) Sun, (And) also, (how) the Glory of the
Sun is the cause of this!6

The Sun is aware of (all) causes, (while) the rope of
causes is detached from (having any hold on) Him..7

I have broken off hope a hundred thousand times. Of
whom? Of the Sun? Believe this (if you will)!8

In regard to me, don't believe that I can endure (apart)
from the Sun or (that) the fish (can endure apart) from the

And if I become hopeless, my hopelessness is (caused by)
the essential Action of the Sun,9 O good-natured (man).

1115 The essential action cannot be severed from the self of
the doer.10 (And) an existent being can never "graze" from
(anywhere) other than (Divine) Existence.

All existent beings are "grazing" from this Meadow
whether they are the miraculous steed (of the Prophet)11 and
Arab horses or even if they are donkeys.12

1116(b) But the "blind" horse grazes in a blind manner (and)
doesn't see the Meadow because of that hindrance.13

And the one who doesn't view (all) changes (as coming)
from that Ocean turns (his) face to a new orientation every

He drank salt water from the Sea of sweet-tasting water
until the salt water made him blind.

The Sea continues saying, "Drink of My Water with (your)
right hand,15 O blind (one), so that you may obtain vision."

1120 (The term) "right hand" here is (a symbol for) right
thinking, which knows (the difference between) good and evil
(and) from where they are (originating).16

O spear, there is a Spear-Holder,17 so that at times you
become straight, (and) at times (bent) double.

(But) due to love for Shams-i Din,18 I am without
(strength to) grasp19-- or else I would produce
clear-sightedness for this blind one.20

(O) Husamuddin,21 the Light of Truth, take care (and)
quickly apply the remedy to him-- against the will of the

(Apply) the quick-acting collyrium23 of (Divine)
Grandeur, the darkness-killing medicine for the
stubborn-acting (one)--

1125 The (medicine) which, if rubbed onto the eyes of the
blind one will eradicate the blindness of a hundred years
from him.

Cure all the blind ones, except the envious, who is
bringing denial against you out of envy.24

In regard to your envier, don't give (him spiritual)
life, even if I am (such a one as) that, so that I may
suffer the tearing out of the soul25 just like (him)--

The one who is envious of the Sun and the one who is
offended because of the existence of the Sun.26

Consider this: it is an affliction without cure which he
has. What a pity! Consider this: he has fallen to the bottom
of the deep pit forever.

1130 His demand (is) the non-existence of the Sun of
Eternity.27 Tell (me), when will this wish of his will come
to be (realized)?

--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 1926 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (yahoogroups.com), 2/28/02

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (1106) For I am (like) the radiant sun in [the presence
of] this (Divine) Glory: Nicholson translated, "for in this
(spiritual) glory I am the shining Sun."
Nicholson wrote about this verse and the one following: "It
is possible that this and the following verse are supposed
to be spoken by God (so Fa [= Anqaravi]); but I think they
are better understood as referring to the unitive experience
of the saint." (Commentary)

2. (1107) he pitch black area of sky: Nicholson translated
more literally, "the pitch-coloured tower (of heaven)..."

3. (1107) my Sun: i.e. the Divine Essence, of which the
manifestations (tajallíyát) are without beginning or end: it
neither 'rises' nor 'sets' except in relation to the
phenomenal forms in which it is revealed." (Nicholson,

4. (1109) (Although) I am (one) who is kept behind His
motes: the "motes" are the angels and the prophets.
Nicholson translated, "I who am left behind (surpassed in
eminence) by His motes." And he explained: "I.e. 'although I
am inferior in spiritual rank to the prophets (who
themselves, from an external point of view, are but "motes"
irradiated by the Divine Sun), yet I too (like them in their
real nature) am one with the Essential Light'." (Commentary)

"In other words, 'I am (in) the group of the saints
which, in relation to the angels of nearness (to the Divine
Throne) and the prophets-- may the blessings of God be upon
the prophets and upon all of them, are among the motes
remaining behind those exalted presences.'" (Anqaravi, the
17th century Turkish commentator, translated here into
English from a Persian translation)

5. (1110) (how) amazing: "i.e. 'the marvel is that I, not
being essentially other than the Divine Sun, should revolve
round it and seek union with it'." (Nicholson, Commentary)

6. (1110) also, (how) the Glory of the Sun is the cause of
this: "i.e. the saint, though invested with all the Divine
attributes, is not God: he is a reality (haqq), but not
'the' reality (al-Haqq." (Nicholson, Commentary)

7. (1111) (while) the rope of causes is detached from
(having any hold on) Him: Nicholson translated, "at the same
time the cord of (all secondary) causes is severed from
him." And he explained, "I.e. He is independent of them."

8. (1112) Believe this (if you will): Nicholson translated,
"Do you believe this?" And he later explained: "The verb is
imperative, i.e. 'believe this (if you can', meaning, 'it is
incredible that I have ever lost hope of God, who is my very
life'." (Commentary)

"In other words, 'I say: "A hundred thousand times I
have broken off hope." Will you ask, "Broken off hope) of
whom?" (But) if I say, "Of the Sun of Reality," will you
believe this?'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

9. (1114) my hopelessness is (caused by) the essential
Action of the Sun: Nicholson translated, "my despair is the
objective manifestation of the Sun's work..." Nicholson
later expressed dissatisfaction with this translation: "I.e.
'if I were to despair, it would essentially be His doing
(`ayn-i sun`); and since "doing" is an essential attribute
of the Doer, even despair could not separate me from Him'.
`Ayn [= essential] in these verses has not the meaning
'objective manifestation' in which it is often used by Ibnu
'l-`Arabí [= a sufi master, died 1240] and which I have
wrongly attached to it in the Translation." (Commentary)

10. (1115) The essential action cannot be severed from the
self of the doer: refers to Actions of God. Nicholson
translated, "How should the objective manifestation of the
work be cut off from the very self of the Worker?"

11. (1116) the miraculous steed (of the Prophet) [burâq]: a
miraculous animal which arrived from Heaven to carry the
Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and then straight
up into the Heavens.

12. (1116) and Arab horses or even if they are donkeys: "Of
course the animals mentioned in this verse are merely
emblems of spirituality and sensuality." (Nicholson,

13. (1116b) But the "blind" horse grazes in a blind manner
(and) doesn't see the Meadow because of that hindrance: This
verse is not in Nicholson's text, but was written in the
margin of the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi, indicated
for this place. Anqaravi commented on this verse, saying,
"In other words, the ignorant ones who are like blind ones."

14. (1117) And the one who doesn't view (all) changes (as
coming) from that Ocean turns (his) face to a new
orientation every moment: "Those who do not perceive that
God is the Author of all existence look to His creatures for
the help and guidance given by Him alone; consequently that
which, if seen in its real light, would become a means to
salvation, leads them blindfolded to perdition. The 'sweet
Sea' of Divine Reality appears to them under the terrible
aspect of Jalál (Wrath) and turns, as it were, to brine [=
salt water] in their mouths." (Nicholson, Commentary)

"Hazrat-i Mawlana-- may God sanctify his precious
spirit-- in the preceding verses has applied (the term)
'Meadow' to the level of the Divine. In this verse, he has
also interprets it with the term 'Ocean.'" (Anqaravi,

15. (1119) Drink of My Water with (your) right hand: In
Islam, the right hand represents righteousness, and many
actions are to be done with this hand: to eat, shake hands
with another Muslim man, to hold ones prayer beads, etc. (In
contrast, the left hand is used to wipe oneself after
defecating, then rubbed in the dirt or washed.) Rumi here
contrasts drinking Divine "water" with the different hands
in a way which is similar to the Qur'anic account of how the
Children of Israel drank pure water from the Red sea, while
it turned to blood when the Egyptian followers of Pharaoh
tried to drink from it.

16. (1120) which knows (the difference between) good and
evil (and) from where they are (originating): "On this
level, the right hand is an expression of right opinion, the
intended meaning which is the knowledge of certainty [`ilmu
'l-yaqîn]-- the same knowledge of certainty which knows from
where good and evil are (originating) and determines the
difference between truth and falsehood." (Anqaravi,

17. (1121) O spear, there is a Spear-Holder: Means God, who
shapes us to be straight if we think and act rightly, or
makes us crooked if we think and act unjustly. Nicholson
translated, "O lance, there is a Lancer..." And he
explained: "Literally, 'one who turns or wields the lance.'"
(Footnote) He also referred to his note on Mathnawi IV:
153-155: "...with everything that moves there is a mover. If
you do not see him visibly, apprehend him by means of the
manifestation of the effect. The body is moved by the
spirit: you do not see the spirit; but from the movement of
the body know the spirit (to be its mover)."

"In other words, 'O one who is ignorant of the Real
Actor, you are in the hand of the Absolute Doer, like a
spear. There is a spear-turner who is God. O spear, you
become bent and curved. See clearly (that) these states of
your are from the control of the Two Fingers of God.'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

18. (1122) due to love for Shams-i Dîn: Rumi's spiritual
master and dearest friend. Here Shams-i Dín (Shams-i Tabríz)
is a type of the Divine Beloved, in whom the poet says he is
so naughted (fání) that he cannot concern himself with
caring for the spiritually blind." (Nicholson, Commentary)

19. (1122) I am without (strength to) grasp: "in other
words, 'I have become overwhelmed and annihilated by the
intensity of (my) love for him. And in this state, the
diligent attention (necessary) for spiritual guidance is not
possible. Otherwise...'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

20. (1122) or else I would produce clear-sightedness for
this blind one: Nicholson later changed his translation,
based on the earliest manuscript of the Mathnawi, to "else I
would make that blind one see" (from, "else would not I make
this blind one see?"). "The work of the spiritual masters
[murshidîn] is this: that the minds of the blind-hearted
ones are made to shine with the collyrium of mystical
knowledge." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

21. (1123) Husamuddin: Husamuddin Chelebi was Rumi's closest
companion during the time of the composition of the
Mathnawi. He dictated the verses of the Mathnawi to
Humsamuddin and appointed him to train all the disciples. He
became Rumi's first successor after the latter's death.

22. (1123) against the will of the envious [kôriy-é chashm-é
Hasûd]: an idiom: literally, "(despite) the blind eye of the
envious." Nicholson referred, here, to his note on I:
1012-13, in which he explained that the meaning is derived
from the phrase, "May my enemy become blind." The envious
means those who wish evil upon the righteous. There is a
prayer in the next to last chapter in the Qur'an which
involves seeking refuge in God "from the evil of the envious
one who practices envy." ( 113: 5).

23. (1124) collyrium [tôteyâ]: literally, "tutty." A medicine, here used
to increase sight in the eyes. "...oxide of zinc and other mineral
substances used in the treatment of ophthalmia, which are applied
to the eye in the form of powder." (Nicholson, Commentary)

24. (1126) who is bringing denial against you out of envy:
see note on line 1123. That the eyes of the envious should
not be healed may relate to the association of the "evil
eye" as belonging to the envious. "The blindness of
ignorance may be cured by a spiritual teacher, but the
blindness arising from envy of the saints and disbelief in
them is irremediable." (Nicholson, Commentary)

25. (1127) so that I may suffer the tearing out of the
soul: Nicholson translate, "so that I may be suffering the
agony of (spiritual) death..."

26. (1128) because of the existence of the Sun: "i.e. the
Perfect Man" [= a term used in the mystical philosophy of
Ibnu 'l-`Arabi, died 1240, according to which the completed
saint reflects all the attributes of God]. (Nicholson,

27. (1130) the Sun of Eternity: "The intended meaning of the
'Sun of Eternity': it is the Perfection by which Its Light
is Everlasting." (Anqaravi, Commentary)


1106 chûn na-mê-ây-and în-jâ ke man-am
k-andar-în `izz âftâb-é rôshan-am

mushriq-é khworshêd burj-é qîr-gûn
âftâb-é mâ ze-mashriq-hâ berûn

mashriq-é ô nisbat-é Zarrât-é ô
na bar âmad, na forô shod Zât-é ô

mâ ke wâ-pas mânda Zarrât-é way-êm
dar dô `âlam âftâb-é bê-fay-êm

1110 bâz gerd-é shams mê-gard-am `ajab
ham ze farr-é shams bâsh-ad în sabab

shams bâsh-ad bar sabab-hâ muTTali`
ham az-ô Habl-é sabab-hâ munqaTi`

Sad hazâr-ân bâr be-b'rîd-am omêd
az ke az shams în shomâ bâwar kon-îd

tô ma-râ bâwar ma-kon k-az âftâb
Sabr dâr-am man-o yâ mâhî ze-âb

w-ar shaw-am n-ômêd, n-ômêdîy-é man
`ayn-é Sun`-é âftâb-ast ay Hasan

1115 `ayn-é Sun` az nafs-é Sâni` chûn bor-ad
hêch hast az ghayr-é hastî chûn char-ad.

jumla-yé hastî-hâ az-în rawZa char-and
gar burâq-o tâziy-ân w-ar khwad khar-and

1116(b) lêk asp-é kôr kôrâna char-ad
mê-na-bîn-ad rawZa-râ z-ân-ast rad

w-ân-ke gardesh-hâ az ân daryâ na-dîd
har dam âr-ad rô ba-miHrâbê jadîd

ô ze-baHr-é `aZb âb-é shôr khward
tâ ke âb-é shôr ô-râ kôr kard

baHr mê-gôy-ad ba-dast-é râst khwar
z-âb-é man, ay kôr tâ yâb-î baSar

1120 hast dast-é râst în-jâ Zann-é râst
k-ô be-dân-ad nêk-o bad-râ k-az kojâ-st

nêza-gardânê-st ay nêza ke tô
râst mê-gard-î gahê, gâhê dô-tô

mâ ze-`ishq-é shams-é dîn bê-nâkhon-êm
w-ar-na bâ în kôr-râ bînâ kon-êm

hân Ziyâ' 'l-Haq Husâmu 'd-dîn tô zûd
dârow-ash kon kôriy-é chashm-é Hasûd

tôteyây-é kibriyây-é têz-fa`l
dârôy-é Zulmat-kosh-é estêz-fa`l

1125 ân-ke gar bar chashm-é a`mî bar-zan-ad
Zulmat-é Sad sâla-râ z-ô bar-kan-ad

jumla-yé kôr-ân-râ dawâ kon, joz Hasûd
k-az Hasûdî bar tô mê-âr-ad JuHûd

mar Hasûd-at-râ agar che ân man-am
jân ma-dêh tâ ham-chon-în jân mê-kan-am

ân-ke ô bâsh-ad Hasûd-é âftâb
w-ân-ke mê-ranj-ad ze-bûd-é âftâb

în-at dard-é bê-dawâ k-ô-râ-st âh
în-at oftâda abad dar qa`r-é châh

1130 nafy-é khworshêd-é azal bâyest-é ô
kay bar ây-ad în marâd-é ô be-gô

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)