In today’s Wisdomism, I ruminate on Rumi once again. Enjoy!
AN EMPTY GARLIC
You will miss the garden,
because you want a small fig from a random tree.
You don’t meet the beautiful woman.
You’re joking with an old crone.
It makes me want to cry how she detains you,
stinking mouthed, with a hundred talons,
putting her head over the roof edge to call down,
tasteless fig, fold over fold empty
as dry-rotten garlic.
She has you by the belt,
even though there’s no flower and no milk
inside her body.
Death will open your eyes
to what her face is: leather spine
of a black lizard. No more advice.
Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love. The Essential Rumi, p. 50
How often do we find ourselves distracted from the fullness of life by the old crone? How often do we miss out on the grand design because we are focused on one unimportant fig?
In this poem, I believe the crone represents hollow pursuits, including material gain. The crone has the young man “by the belt”. She has his full attention, even though there is “no flower and no milk” (she is lifeless, dried up.) in her. Meanwhile, the beauty of life passes us by until finally death takes us and we realize just how much time we wasted joking with the crone. We live in a world now where the crone has us distracted nearly 100% of the time. So often we must forsake the stronger pull of what we really love in order to survive. The crone holds all the keys and she constantly dangles them before us, tantalizing us, lying to us and telling us our dreams are just around the next corner. Just a few more years to retire. A little more money to save up. A little more of our lives lived and gone forever until it’s too late to do anything about it. No more advice.
We have the power to change the world. We have the power to write our own stories. All we have to do is turn away from the crone. All we have to do is look up from whatever has our focus and see the limitless possibility before us. We are only slaves because we choose to be. Because we believe the lies that have been ingrained within our collective consciousness. I, for one, choose to believe it’s time to wake up and follow that stronger pull.
Another quote from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao. I know there are several translations out there, but this is by far my favorite. Poetic and powerful all in one.
Ever thought to yourself, “There isn’t enough time in the day!” “I can’t get everything done!” Or maybe you’ve noticed all the other busy little bees buzzing around the streets and stores and thought something similar about them. Little do they (we) know, our lack of time stems from trying to do too much with our time. Enjoy!
The Master doesn’t try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.
The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.
The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things undone.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.
Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality
and lets all illusions go.
—-The Tao te Ching ch. 38.
The second to last stanza really speaks to me. I think this is where humanity is at. Caught in the throes of ritual because we’ve lost sight of God, or the Tao. You need only watch a few minutes of the news or scroll through the headlines to see that chaos has already begun. So for the love of God, focus on the fruit!
Ah, the Tao te Ching. Such a poetic and lovely piece of literature. So simple, yet infinitely complex. I’m partial to the Stephen Mitchell translation. It inspired me very early on in my Search and I attribute a lot of my “Enlightening Up” to the understandings it revealed to me. I hope it can offer some inspiration for you as well. Enjoy!
“Fame or integrity: Which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?
If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If you happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.” —-The Tao Te Ching. 44