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A Reading on Rumi from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

Rumi's Advice on Living

"Sufis call the wantings nafs. From the urgent way lovers want each other to the sannyasin's search for truth, all moving is from the mover. Every pull draws us to the ocean. Rumi says it's important to live the wantings as they come and not get stuck somewhere, stagnant. He was asked once what to do about a young man caught doing some indecent act. The story doesn't mention what exactly — masturbation, peeping-tomming, whatever wild wantings young men think to do. Rumi told them not to worry about it. 'It just means he's growing his feathers. The dangerous case is a kid who doesn't do indecent acts, who then leaves the nest without feathers. One flap and the cat has him.' Be careful, Rumi suggests, about shaming sexual behavior in an adolescent or anyone who hasn't yet has his or her fill of erotic trancing. Often, the closest we come to surrender is orgasm. In Rumi's symbology the rooster is a symbol for that energy.

"So how did Husam kill his rooster? By dissolving into the play. The nafs are energies that keep us moving, stopping nowhere. Union with the divine continually unfolds. Next to the glowing drive-in movie, the junkyard's rusted stacks of old desire-bodies. Let the beauty we love keep turning into action, transmuting to another, another. What have I ever lost by dying? Rumi asks, exchanging one set of nafs for the next. Chopping rooster energy becomes another dining room story. Particles of praise shine in the sunlight. Anything you grab hold of on the bank breaks with the river's pressure. When you do things from your soul, the river itself moves through you. Freshness and a deep joy are signs of the current."

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The Essential Rumi

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