Two Ways of Running
by Jalal ad-Din Rumi
Sufi poet and mystic, 1207-73

A certain man had a jealous wife and a very, very appealing maidservant.

The wife was careful not to leave them alone, ever. For six years they were never left in a room together.

But then one day at the public bath the wife suddenly remembered that she'd left her silver washbasin at home.

"Please go get the basin," she told her maid.

The girl jumped at the task, because she knew that she would finally get to be alone with the master.

She ran joyfully.

She flew, and desire took them both so quickly that they didn't even latch the door.

With great speed they joined each other. When bodies blend in copulation, spirits also merge.

Meanwhile, the wife back at the bathhouse, washing her hair, "What have I done! I've set cotton wool on fire! I've put the ram in with the ewe!"

She washed the clay soap off her hair and ran, fixing her chador about her as she went.

The maid ran for love. The wife ran out of fear and jealousy. There is a great difference.

The mystic flies moment to moment. The fearful ascetic drags along month to month.

But also the length of a 'day' to a lover may be fifty thousand years!

You can't understand this with your mind. You must burst open!

Fear is nothing to a lover, a tiny piece of thread. Love is a quality of God. Fear is an attribute of those who think they serve God, but who are actually preoccupied with penis and vagina.

You have read in the text where *They love him* blends with *He loves them*.

Those joining loves are both qualities of God. Fear is not.

What characteristics do God and human beings have in common? What is the connection between what lives in time and what lives in eternity?

If I kept talking about love, a hundred new combinings would happen, and still I would not say the mystery.

The fearful ascetic runs on foot, along the surface.

Lovers move like lightning and wind.

No contest.

Theologians mumble, rumble-dumble, necessity and free will, while lover and beloved pull themselves into each other.

The worried wife reaches the door and opens it.

The maid, disheveled, confused, flushed, unable to speak.

The husband begins his five-times-a-day prayer.

The wife enters this agitated scene.

As though experimenting with clothes, the husband holds up some flaps and edges.

She sees his testicles and penis so wet, semen still dribbling out, spurts of jism and vaginal juices drenching the thighs of the maid.

The wife slaps him on the side of the head, "Is this the way a man prays, with his balls?"

"Does your penis long for union like this?"

"Is that why her legs are so covered with this stuff?"

These are good questions she's asking her 'ascetic' husband!

People who renounce desires often turn, suddenly, into hypocrites!

From The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.

Posted to the net on 1996-05-30 by Terry Murphy (to whom thanks), who commented:

When Nicholson originally translated Rumi's Mathnawi into English, he translated some of these passages into Latin, as Barks says: 'supposing that anyone who knew enough Latin to read them would be properly shielded from taint.'

A copy of the entire Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM.  Details here.

The Sufis and Idries Shah
Censorship Serendipity Home Page