Friday meditation: Rumi’s ‘What’s Not Here’

What’s Not Here

Rumi (1207-73)

I started out on this road, call it
love or emptiness. I only know what’s
 
not here: resentment seeds, back-
scratching greed, worrying about out-
 
outcome, fear of people. When a bird gets
free, it doesn’t go back for remnant
 
left on the bottom of the cage! Close
by, I’m rain. Far off, a cloud of fire.
 
I seem restless, but I am deeply at ease.
Branches tremble; the roots are still. 
 
I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished. Talk
 
about choices does not apply to me. 
While intelligence considers options,
 
I am somewhere lost in the wind.
 

Lectio Divina Reading Questions

Rumi says that, in this state of being, “[t]alk about choices does not apply to me.” What does he mean here? Why wouldn’t talk about choices apply? And what would it mean for you–how would that be–if the game of choosing were temporarily suspended? 

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2 thoughts on “Friday meditation: Rumi’s ‘What’s Not Here’

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jeffrey. And thanks for reading.

      Yes, this Rumi poem is beautiful. “The roots are still.” On how one achieves stillness, the mystical and philosophical traditions have been at odds. Augustine, Plotinus, and Rumi all insisted that stillness is the result of ascending to god. The Stoics were more sanguine about the power of a human being to reach a state of stillness–or, in their words, ataraxia–by means of right thinking. On one thing, they would have all agree, though. It is that those who forsake the life of contemplation–in a word, most westerners today–will only be trembling branches.

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