Sunday, 1 July 2012

"The story of the mouse and the camel" Rumi

A mouse caught hold of a camel's lead rope
in his two forelegs and walked off with it,
imitating the camel drivers. 

The camel went along, 
letting the mouse feel heroic. 
"Enjoy yourself,"
he thought, " I have something to teach you, presently."

They came to the edge of a great river.
The mouse was dumbfounded.

Step forward into the river. You are my leader.
Don't stop here."
"I'm afraid of being drowned."

The camel walked into the water. "It's only just about the knee."
"Your knee! Your knee
is a hundred times over my head!"

"Well, maybe you shouldn't
be leading a camel, Stay with those like yourself.
A Mouse has nothing really to say to a camel."

"Would you help me get across?"

You are not a prophet, but go humble on the way of the prophets,
and you can arrive where they are. Don't try to steer the boat.
don't open up a shop by yourself. Listen. Keep silent.
you are not God's mouthpiece. Try to be an ear,and if you do speak, ask for explanations.

The source of your arrogance and anger is your lust
and the rootedness of that is in your habits.

Someone who makes habit of eating clay
gets made when you try to keep him from it.
Being a leader can also be a poisonous habit,
so that when someone questions your authority,
you think, "He's trying to take over."
You may respond courteously, but inside you rage.

Always check your inner state
with the Lord of your heart.
Copper doesn't know it copper,
until its change to gold.

Your loving doesn't know its majesty
until it knows its helplessness.

~ Rumi
( "The story of the mouse and the camel")
Mathnawi: II, 3436-3474
Version by Coleman Barks
"This Longing"
Threshold Book, 1988


  1. Since you are not a prophet, follow the Way!
    Then one day you may come out of this pit and reach
    a high station.

    Since you are not a sultan, be a subject! Since
    you are not the captain, take not yourself the helm!

    Since you are not perfect, take not a shop alone!
    Be pliant to the hand, so that you may become leavened

    Listen to the text, Be silent! and be silent! Since
    you have not become God's tongue, be an ear!

    -- Mathnawi II: 3453-56
    Translation by William C. Chittick
    "The Sufi Path of Love"
    State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983

  2. Since you're not spiritually perfect,
    don't open a shop on your own.
    Be pliant to the hand,
    so you may become leavened and kneaded like dough.
    Listen to the Divine command, "Keep silence."*
    Be mute.
    Since you haven't become the tongue of God,
    be an ear.
    If you do speak,
    let it be to ask for explanations:
    speak as a humble beggar
    at the hand of the spiritually great.

    -- Mathnawi II: 3455-3457
    Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
    "Rumi: Daylight"
    Threshold Books, 1994