Rumi: A Children's Game



Listen to the poet Sanai,
who lived secluded: "Don't wander out on the road
in your ecstasy. Sleep in the tavern."

When a drunk strays out to the street,
children make fun of him.

He falls down in the mud.
He takes any and every road.

The children follow,
not knowing the taste of wine,
or how his drunkenness feels. All people on the planet
are children, except for a very few.
No one is grown up except those free of desire.

God said,
"The world is a play, a children's game,
and you are the children."

God speaks the truth.
If you haven't left the child's play,
how can you be an adult?

Without purity of spirit,
if you're still in the middle of lust and greed
and other wantings, you're like children
playing at sexual intercourse.

They wrestle
and rub together, but it's not sex!

The same with the fightings of mankind.
It's a squabble with play-swords.
No purpose, totally futile.

Like kids on hobby horses, soldiers claim to be riding
Boraq, Muhammad's night-horse, or Duldul, his mule.

Your actions mean nothing, the sex and war that you do.
You're holding part of your pants and prancing around,
Dun-da-dun, dun-da-dun.

Don't wait till you die to see this.
Recognize that your imagination and your thinking
and your sense perception are reed canes
that children cut and pretend are horsies.

The knowing of mystic lovers is different.
The empirical, sensory, sciences
are like a donkey loaded with books,
or like the makeup woman's makeup.

Excerpted from Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi (Author), Et Al Coleman Barks (Translator) HarperOne 1997
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