The Guest House

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.

— Jelaluddin Rumi

translation by Coleman Barks

~ by tdcatss on July 5, 2011.

10 Responses to “The Guest House”

  1. I keep trying to remember this. That is hard work on the bad days!

  2. What a great poem! I love the analogy of us being like guest houses. :) I don’t agree with what the poem is saying, ( a difference in faith, teaching?) but do agree that it is well written. Thanks Kaif!

  3. Lovely!

  4. Michael.. yes, its hard work! At times, though, I think that the hard times are really the test of the substance you are made of. An Urdu poet writes,

    This tumult has a purpose
    It is to rouse you out of complacency
    It is not to break your self
    But to challenge your self respect
    It is a call to sacrifice
    You tremble at the sight of the horses of your foes
    But verily, the flame of truth does not die of enemy blows

    What don’t you agree with, Debbie? :)

  5. Oh, I like that poem above, by an Urdu poet. :) And maybe I misunderstood what the posted poem was saying and you can help me with that. I do believe in being thankful for everything, even the hard stuff, even though that’s hard to do. I don’t believe in welcoming dark thoughts, malice, shame. I try to confess them, ask for forgiveness, and reject them, if it is coming from my mind. Does that make sense? There is a verse that says what things to think on . ..

    King James Bible
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    Thank you!

  6. Interesting point, Debbie. I think sincere confession and asking for forgiveness comes from a higher level of existence, one that the Christian tradition is rooted in. The malice and the shame are at a lower level. To be able to access that higher level, I imagine that some acknowledgement and acceptance of the emotions at the lower level would be required.

    Just like being detached from pain doesn’t come by minimising one’s awareness of pain or distracting oneself from the painful sensation, but by accepting it and going beyond it.

    I don’t know if I make sense, I am just thinking out aloud!

    • You do make sense! Good thoughts. :) I can see where first we have to at least acknowledge that our thoughts are dark, shameful, hateful before we can move on to confessing that. So in that way, we welcome them for what they are now. Thank you so much for taking the time with me, to help me understand things better! And for thinking out loud. :)

  7. after reading it i remember one verse i read somewhere “apni hi taqdir ka duniya mein khata hai bashar tere ghar mein aake khaayein ya wo khayein apne ghar, tere ghar jo aakar khayein uska tu mushgur ho kyunki usne apna khaya tere dastarkhan par.” so as you said we should be thankful for everything as they let us move on.

  8. Rumi… That playful mystic. Loved him ever since I read his works and about his life.

    Kaif, why don’t you write something on your interpretations of Sham Tabreez and Al Hillaj Mansoor? Would love to read that.

  9. i don’t really know anything about shams tabreez.. and al-hallaj, well… maybe when i can be like him i’ll write :)

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