An eye is meant to see things. The soul is here for its own joy. A head has one use: For loving a true love. Legs: To run after. Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind, for learning what men have done and tried to do. Mysteries are not to be solved. The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why. A lover is always accused of something. But when he finds his love, whatever was lost in the looking comes back completely changed. On the way to Mecca, many dangers: Thieves, the blowing sand, only camel’s milk to drink. Still, each pilgrim kisses the black stone there with pure longing, feeling in the surface the taste of the lips he wants. This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up, while the real work is done outside by someone digging in the ground.
Jalaluddin Rumi was a thirteenth-century poet and Sufi mystic. He was born in 1207 in Balkh (present-day Afghanistan) and emigrated at an early age with his family, eventually settling in what is now western Turkey. His father was an Islamic theologian and preacher, and Rumi studied Sufism in his youth. Upon his father’s death, Rumi inherited his father’s position and became a prominent religious teacher at the age of twenty-four. In 1244 Rumi befriended the eccentric mystic Shams Tabrizi, who emphasized heartfelt spiritual devotion over scholarly knowledge. Their friendship inspired Rumi to begin writing poetry and to develop the principles that would later be espoused by the Mevlevi Order, which was formed by Rumi’s followers after his death in 1273. Commonly known as the Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi are famous for their spinning dance. “Someone Digging in the Ground” appears in Open Secret: Versions of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne. Copyright © 1984 by Coleman Barks and John Moyne. Used by permission of Coleman Barks.