THE SHEIKH WHO PLAYED WITH CHILDREN

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Rumi, Jalal Al-Din. The Essential Rumi – reissue (pp. 44-46). Harper Collins e-books.

A certain young man was asking around,

“I need to find a wise person. I have a problem.” A bystander said, “There’s no one with intelligence in our town except that man over there playing with the children, the one riding the stick-horse. He has keen, fiery insight and vast dignity like the night sky, but he conceals itin the madness of child’s play.”

The young seeker approached the children, “Dear father, you who have become as a child, tell me a secret.” “Go away. This is not a day for secrets.”

 “But please! Ride your horse this way, just for a minute.”

The sheikh play-galloped over.

“Speak quickly. I can’t hold this one still for long. Whoops. Don’t let him kick you. This is a wild one!”

The young man felt he couldn’t ask his serious question in the crazy atmosphere, so he joked, “I need to get married. Is there someone suitable on this street?”

“There are three kinds of women in the world. Two are griefs, and one is a treasure to the soul. The first, when you marry her, is all yours. The second is half-yours, and the third is not yours at all.

Now get out of here, before this horse kicks you in the head! Easy now!”

The sheikh rode off among the children.

The young man shouted, “Tell me more about the kinds of women!” The sheikh, on his cane horsie, came closer, “The virgin of your first love is all yours. She will make you feel happy and free. A childless widow is the second. She will be half-yours. The third, who is nothing to you, is a married woman with a child. By her first husband she had a child, and all her love goes into that child. She will have no connection with you.

Now watch out. Back away. I’m going to turn this rascal around!” He gave a loud whoop and rode back, calling the children around him.

“One more question, Master!”

The sheikh circled, “What is it? Quickly! That rider over there needs me.

I think I’m in love.” “What is this playing that you do? Why do you hide your intelligence so?”

The people here want to put me in charge. They want me to be judge, magistrate, and interpreter of all the texts. The knowing I have doesn’t want that. It wants to enjoy itself. I am a plantation of sugarcane, and at the same time I’m eating the sweetness.”

Knowledge that is acquired is not like this. Those who have it worry if audiences like it or not. It’s a bait for popularity. Disputational knowing wants customers. It has no soul. Robust and energetic before a responsive crowd, it slumps when no one is there.

The only real customer is God.

 Chew quietly your sweet sugarcane God-Love, and stay playfully childish. Your face will turn rosy with illumination like the redbud flowers.

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded.

Someone sober will worry about things going badly.

Let the lover be. All day and night, music, a quiet, bright reedsong.

If it fades, we fade.

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