I have been neglecting this blog perhaps more than I should be lately, largely because I’ve been updating The Seeker’s Quest blog daily. Today, however, I thought I would make a quick post to share a poem by the Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi which I came across while reading The Essential Rumi. The poem, called A Man and A Woman Arguing, reminded me a lot of myself. I am not financially well off, and this is never been more true than in the last couple of years. In this poem, the role of the man and the role of the woman are both roles that I play with myself; sometimes being content with the little I have and other times nagging to myself that I wish that I were in a better financial situation.
A Man and A Woman Arguing
One night in the desert
a poor Bedouin woman has this to say
to her husband,
“Everyone is happy
and prosperous, except us! We have no bread.
We have no spices. We have no water jug.
We barely have any clothes. No blankets
for the night. we fantasize that the full moon
is a cake. We reach for it! We’re an embarrassment
even to the beggars. Everyone avoids us.
Arab men are supposed to be generous warriors,
but look at you, stumbling around! If some guest
were to come to us, we’d steal his rags
when he fell asleep. Who is your guide
that leads you to this? We can’t even get
a handful of lentils! Ten years’ worth
of nothing, that’s what we are!”
She went on and on.
“If God is abundant, we must be following
an imposter. Who’s leading us? Some fake,
that always says, Tomorrow, illumination
will bring you treasure, tomorrow.
As everyone knows, that never comes.
Though I guess, it happens very rarely, sometimes,
that a disciple following an imposter can somehow
surpass the pretender. But still I want to know
what this deprivation says about us.”
The husband replied, finally,
“How long will you complain
about money and our prospects for money? The torrent
of our life has mostly gone by. Don’t worry about
transient things. Think how the animals live.
The dove on the branch giving thanks.
The glorious singing of the nightingale.
The gnat. The elephant. Every living thing
trusts in God for its nourishment.
These pains that you feel are messengers.
Listen to them. Turn them to sweetness. The night
is almost over. You were young once, and content.
Now you think about money all the time.
You used to be that money. You were a healthy vine.
Now you’re a rotten fruit. You ought to be growing
sweeter and sweeter, but you’ve gone bad.
As my wife, you should be equal to me.
Like a pair of boots, if one is too tight,
the pair is of no use.
Like two folding doors, we can’t be mismatched.
A lion does not mate with a wolf.”
So this man who was happily poor
scolded his wife until daybreak,
when she responded,
“Don’t talk to me
about your high station! Look how you act!
Spiritual arrogance is the ugliest of all things.
It’s like a day that’s cold and snowy,
and your clothes are wet too!
It’s too much to bear!
And don’t call me your mate, you fraud!
You scramble after scraps of bone
with the dogs.
You’re not as satisfied as you pretend!
You’re the snake and the snake charmer
at the same time, but you don’t know it.
You’re charming a snake for money,
and the snake is charming you.
You talk about God a lot, and you make me feel guilty
by using that word. You better watch out!
That word will poison you, if you use it
to have power over me.”
So the rough volume of her talking
fell on the husband, and he fought back,
this poverty is my deepest joy.
This bare way of life is honest and beautiful.
We can hide nothing when we’re like this.
You say I’m really arrogant and greedy,
and you say I’m a snake charmer and a snake,
but those nicknames are for you.
In your anger and your wanting
you see those qualities in me.
I want nothing from this world.
You’re like a child that has turned round and round,
and now you think the house is turning.
It’s your eyes that see wrong. Be patient,
and you’ll see the blessings and the lord’s light
in how we live.”
This argument continued
throughout the day, and even longer.