The Guest House

January 17, 2016 at 7:21 pm 10 comments

Mevlana Museum
Location: Mevlana Mausoleum, Konya, Turkey
 
One of my favorite poems is “The Guest House” by the 13th century Sufi mystic named Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. I was fortunate enough to visit the place where he is buried. It’s in the Mevlana Mausoleum in Konya, the holiest city in Turkey.

In this poem, he compared each one of us to a guest house or an inn. During our lifetime, we play host to different types of guests. They arrive as expected or totally unannounced. They come for short term or extended stay. They arrive bearing the names of joy, sorrow, fear, disappointment, death, pain, anger, success, failure, and others too many to mention. He said that they should all be welcomed with an open mind and treated graciously since they help us grow as a person.

When we view our life through a prism and see its light breaks down into many colors, it behooves us not to dwell on a specific color too much and let our existence be defined by it. I think it will be a distortion of reality. There’s reason to believe that the fabric of our life should be judged in the totality of its attendant colors. Or to put it in another way, a guest house shouldn’t be evaluated based on the perception of one guest alone.
 


The
Guest
House

By Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
 

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. aysabaw  |  January 17, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    nice message 🙂

    But sometimes it leads us to dwell on a specific color too much and let our existence be defined by it >>> something to think about 🙂

    Reply
    • 2. plaridel  |  January 18, 2016 at 10:54 am

      aysabaw:

      i’m glad it made sense to you. 🙂

      Reply
  • 3. lifeconfusions  |  January 18, 2016 at 5:21 am

    This was deep and thoughtful Plaridel. I’m glad you shared the poem, I had not read this one before. I would love to see the inside of the museum too, must have been such a spiritually enlightening journey ! Wish one day I could see it too 🙂

    Reply
    • 4. plaridel  |  January 18, 2016 at 10:54 am

      zee:

      it was spiritually uplifting and i’m not even a muslim. 🙂

      Reply
      • 5. lifeconfusions  |  January 22, 2016 at 6:28 am

        Somethings are so powerful they just transcends religious boundaries Plaridel 🙂

        Reply
        • 6. plaridel  |  January 22, 2016 at 3:19 pm

          zee:

          i totally agree with you on that.

          Reply
  • 7. katespencer17  |  January 18, 2016 at 11:57 am

    So true: a guest house shouldn’t be evaluated based on the perception of one guest alone. We examine ourselves way too much based on what others tell us. Thank you for including a link to my post ‘Gift of Forgiveness’ with this insightful post.

    Reply
    • 8. plaridel  |  January 19, 2016 at 11:01 am

      kate:

      you’re welcome. 🙂

      Reply
  • 9. Bernardo Montes de Oca  |  January 19, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Beautiful poem! I wonder, as a translator, what challenges arise and what has been lost from the early writings to now. Makes all historical documents fascinating in the sense that we should really try to take ourselves back to those days and picture ourselves there.

    Reply
    • 10. plaridel  |  January 19, 2016 at 11:04 am

      bernardo:

      i’m afraid word-for-word translation wouldm’t suffice. even some words can’t be directly translated. most challenging is translating the poem in the context of the times when it was written.

      Reply

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