SPIRITUAL LABOR

God laid it down to Moses, He said, “You saw the moon rise from your own chest.  I lit up your inside room with light–I was the guest.  I was sick, and you didn’t come.”

Moses said, “Now wait a minute–you’re far above me!  You have no flaw!  What’s happening?  Tell me!”

God said, “Why didn’t you come to see me when I was sick?”

Moses said, “My Master, how can you be sick?  I’m confused–I don’t know where I am!”

God said, “Someone I love, who works with me, got sick.  I am he.  Think about that.  When he has a fever, I have a fever.  When he is dizzy, and doesn’t get up, I stay in bed.”

And God went on talking, and He said, “If anyone wants to sit with the Holy One, it’s up to him to sit with all of those sitting in meditation today.  If you are separated from those in spiritual labor, you are thrown down–because you are a part without its whole.  Now if the enemy of ecstasy cuts anyone off from that whole, he experiences him all alone–and eats him up.”

Rumi

(translated by Robert Bly)

ON A HORSE WITH A BROKEN BRIDLE

I’m riding through a frightening desert–on a horse with a broken bridle.  I have no more control over this than over a bird suddenly released. 

Where am I going? 

We throw the shirt of existence out into the void.  We undo the ropes–and let the tent of the universe collapse. 

Now let’s see how patient people are.

Rumi

(translated by Coleman Barks)

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS #7

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

Would you like to be famous?

Yes.

If so, for what?

My writing–poetry and prose.

What if you knew it meant that within a few years you’d lose all your current friends and never develop new relationships that were as meaningful?

It would make no difference–I’ve never been able to maintain lasting friendships.

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS #6

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

For $100,000, would you put on 40 pounds and keep it on for 3 years?

No.  But for $100,000, I would definitely take off 40 pounds and keep it off for 3 years!

How much money, if any, would induce you to put on 100 pounds for at least a year?

None.  But $100,000 would definitely induce me to take off 100 pounds for at least a year!

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS #5

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

Would you like there to be a law requiring the police to archive video footage of everything they do while on duty?

No.

Such would tie police officers’ hands more tightly than they already are.

I sympathize with police officers, in part because their hands are tied so tightly by goddamned politicians.

We often complain that police officers don’t enforce laws enough.  But the truth is that police officers can’t enforce laws enough, because goddamned politicians won’t allow them to do so.

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS #4

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

If your heart were damaged beyond repair, but you could regain your health for a few more years by getting a heart transplant from a genetically engineered pig, would you?

Of course.

EACH OF US RETURNS HOME

Someone says, “Sanai is dead.” 

No small thing to say. 

 

He was not bits of husk,

or a puddle that freezes overnight,

or a comb that cracks when you use it,

or a pod crushed open on the ground. 

 

He was fine powder in a rough clay dish. 

He knew what both worlds were worth: 

A grain of barley. 

 

One he slung down, the other up. 

 

The inner soul, that presence of which most know nothing,

about which poets are so ambiguous,

he married that one to the beloved. 

 

His pure gold wine pours on the thick wine dregs. 

They mix and rise and separate again

to meet down the road.  Dear friend from Marghaz,

who lived in Rayy, in Rum, Kurd from the mountains,

each of us returns home. 

 

Silk must not be compared with striped canvas. 

 

Be quiet and clear now 

like the final touchpoints of calligraphy. 

 

Your name has been erased

from the roaring volume of speech.

 

Rumi

(translated by Coleman Barks, et alia)

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS #3

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

Would you rather watch an Olympics that outlawed performance-enhancing drugs or one that embraced them and let athletes use medical pit crews to jack up their performances?

I’d rather watch an Olympics that outlawed performance-enhancing drugs.

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS #2

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

Ignoring all financial considerations, would you rather spend the next 5 years confined to an urban mecca like New York City, or a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast?

Tough choice–but I’d rather spend the next 5 years confined to a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast.

FROM THE 2013 BOOK OF QUESTIONS

Last year, a revised and updated version of Gregory Stock’s The Book of Questions was published.   Revised and updated is an understatement–many, if not most of the questions in this edition are totally different from those in Gregory Stock’s original book (which I still highly recommend).  It’s practically a different book.  And this is quite appropriate and practical; so much has changed since 1987 (unfortunately).  Dr. Stock explains it best in his introduction:

Today, the central challenges of life have not changed, but culture has.  Context has.  Language and focus have.  This new edition is more than a cosmetic scrubbing of dated phrasings and references; it’s a fresh new book with over a hundred new questions that infuse current technology and society into age-old dilemmas.

Here is the first question from this 2013 edition of Gregory Stock’s book, followed by my answer:

Technology has become a part of us.  Would you rather lose the use of all motorized vehicles, all telecommunication devices and computers, or one of your hands?

All telecommunication devices and computers.



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