In Mutual Embrace

Opposites (Photo by Solveig)

The desire in the female for the male
is so that they may perfect each others work.
God put desire in man and woman
in order that the world
should be preserved by this union.
God instills the desire of every part of the other:
from their union, creation results.

And so night and day are in mutual embrace:

they appear to be opposites, even enemies,
but the truth they serve is one,
each desiring the other like kin,
for the perfection of their work.
Both serve one purpose, for without night,
human nature would receive no income:
what then could day expend?

Mathnawi III, 4414-4420

From: Rumi “Love’s Ripening”
Translated by Khabir Helminski

About Michaela

I am a wanderer and a wonderer, like you are. I love our journey and to walk in the company of friends – to learn, experience, share, laugh, cry and above all I simply love this marvelous, magical, mysterious life. I have no plan (cannot believe I am saying this) and my only intention is to be truthful to myself and others.
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13 Responses to In Mutual Embrace

  1. fatima says:

    These verses are from a larger exposition in the Mathnawi titled (by whom I don’t know – Rumi, his students, Nicholson?) “Love in the Universe”. I would add the subtitle, “The Principle of Yin and Yang. The Mathnawi is not a collection of sonnets, it is an entire teaching, some say it is pure and comprehensive commentary on the Qur’an and hadith.

    Khabir (Kabir?) Helminski, just FYI, is an adapter not a translator.

    In this instance, I find the translation much more satisfying. Only in translation am I able to fall into the ‘voice’ of Hz Rumi r.a.. He, as we all do, speaks in the context of a time and place but the timelessness of his teaching is a testimony to the being he was. The meanings in his teaching expose every level of ego, reaching into the deepest heart of the matter. On the other hand, someone from a Moslem background has the cultural context to ‘catch’ the different meanings. Just saying.

    Ahhh. The power hidden in stories.



  2. Michaela says:

    Interesting. So where do I find a pure translation of the Mathnawi ?

    Translations can be frustrating. I see this with Rilke. Poems need language as carrier, it is another dimension and the difference is like between a rose and a peony. Both are flowers, both the same essence, but shape, petals and scent are different…

  3. mike says:

    Love this post and comments. I had a book by Rumi. Just could not get it. Knew very well what it was about, but just could not get it. All of the Sufì stories collected by Idries Shah… no problem. So yes, translation is so critical. That’s why I sometimes offer alternate Lao Tzu translations in posts. I think you have to get several opinions sometimes to understand one of the ancient writings. So thanks all.

  4. Michaela says:

    Yes, and it is also matter of resonance….so I really appreciate different takes of the same.

  5. fatima says:

    There is nothing wrong with Khabir’s adaptation; it just struck chords in me at the right time.

    My post while it may have been reasonable and even true – is really about nothing except my own identifications and expectations, even in retrospect.

    All the translations are true…. enough. Michaela you post what you are inspired to post:, what touches you and its all good. Rilke in English touches me, what matter that it’s meaning seems to you to be more in German?

    “Oh if only I could read Rilke in the original German! Then I would really understand.” Then I would have the keys to the kingdom. B.S. that. or the opposite, “Oh, if only you could understand these beautiful Persian lyrics, unfortunately they don’t have the same impact in English.” Oh, really? The only interesting part is in the resistance of the response.

    Seeing all this stuff in myself was an eye opener to me because it came in a surprising form ‘weak’, therefore hidden. No perceptible emotion…only reasonable thoughts, obscured the no.

    Can I bring presence to my sitting here at my computer? The reality implied in “chopping wood, carrying water? Right now I am thinking….no….it seems to get harder and harder as I am here longer and longer.

    Don’t I have all the inspiration and knowledge that I could ever need? I find my self in the position of being an unscholarly example of

    “the scholar/one who does not apply what he knows is akin to a donkey carrying a load of heavy books.”

    My apologies.

  6. Dreamfable says:

    Fatima the Thinker ?

  7. Michaela says:

    Oh, here it is – the dreaded T…word.

    It used to be a compliment…lol

  8. fatima says:

    “Interesting. So where do I find a pure translation of the Mathnawi ?”

    Hello my dear intrepid Friend,

    This statement has been nagging me.

    What is a pure translation?

    There isn’t one, even if I could read the original, it remains a story to me as I find meaning in mySelf.

    We all tell stories when we communicate with each other and with ourselves. Of course, except, when what the dervishes I know refer to as ‘havadan sudan’, which I will adapt to mean “the speech of daily life” language used in daily goings on which can and do happen in the fullness of present moment awareness, “Good morning.” “Have you seen my keys?” “Lot of snow this year.” “What shall we have for dinner?” All other conversations can either evolve or devolve. As we very well can see in the world around us de-volution is the natural course of things. In the completely unconscious state evolution is not even a possibility.

    As I say this I am not unaware of the fact that evolution in discourse exists (Socratic dialogues are an archetypal example I suppose). That I think would be dependent on the present moment awareness (heedfulness) of the participants.

    Then there is the question, are some stories more true than others? It is a sister question to, “Are all human beings the same? Are all rocks the same? They all have same Creator and in that alone they are all the same. So…….I believe that my answer would be yes.

    My love you of the apt name.

    “Name your children with good names.” My adaptation of a hadith of Rasulallah, sas.

  9. Michaela says:

    Ah, and it was just such an innocent question…‘havadan sudan’

    So thank you for the contemplation, my dearest one.

  10. fatima says:

    Of course…….the simplicity of it.

    And that is the mystery hidden in “havadan sudan”, the mystery hidden in Life on earth, the sacred mystery of the balanced Human-Being.

    Does it never occur to anyone that this seeking of, aspiring to, or probably worse having arrived at “enlightenment” is a form of spiritual conceit? Yet we are enjoined to use our reason – a distinctive part of the human form?

    Enter Ekhart with a breath of reality which is so beautiful. The balanced human being is what Islam teaches.

    Takwa which is God Consciousness, be(a)wareness of God, or fear of God, a continuum of meaning which speaks to each human person depending on his state. As the state of any human-being can evolve according to his destiny and capacity so can the reality of Takwa. Each human being has his own destiny and capacity from which to witness and be awed by the Unity within the diversity.

    No human being in a state of complete egoic sleep can have any part of this reality. They will be the ones who “cause mischief on the earth” and those of us who are partially awake run the risk of being pulled into this strong current also.

    and God knows best who we really are.

    my love you

  11. Michaela says:

    Amen to that.

    May I invite you to write a little discourse on this topic ? Just a little observation, a contemplation perhaps ? That would be lovely…

  12. fatima says:


    Now that’s a little embarrassing since discourses on some topic or the other is pretty much all I do until somebody or some thing stops me…….which thankfully happens often enough.

    Which topic are you referring to btw.

    As it is I write on any given subject, I see how quickly I reach the limits of my understanding and move into self justification. Sometimes I don’t. Then I post. lol

    Just talking to myself as usual. Hope you had a lovely Christmas.


  13. Michaela says:

    Oh, just a little writing of your own choosing …so I can comment… LoL

    Hope all is well


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