Monthly Archives: May 2008

Three Rumi’s for today

Today I will let three Rumi’s poems speak for me. For I know no other persons who can write from the heart better than him. Yet.


If you want money more than anything,
you will be bought and sold.

If you have a greed for food,
you will become a loaf of bread.

This is a subtle truth.
Whatever you love, you are.


A dog is dying on the road.
A man is weeping beside him. A beggar comes by.

Why the tears? This dog hunted game for me.
He kept watch at night.
Many times he drove away thieves.

What’s wrong? Hunger has weakened him.
What’s in the bag? Your food sack looks full.

Those are leftovers from last night.
I’ll eat them later.
Give a little to the dog.

I give him these tears instead.
They are easier to come by.
Food of the road costs hard-earned money.

The beggar curses the man and leaves.
The beggar is right. The man’s values are reversed.
Tears are worth more than money.
Tears are blood distilled into water.

Pay attention to those who want to change
so badly that they cry and dissolve
into loving kindness and freedom.


The hurt you embrace
becomes joy.

Call it to your arms
where it can change.

A silkworm eating leaves
makes a cocoon.

Each of us weaves a chamber
of leaves and sticks.

Silkworm begin to truly exist
as they disappear inside that room.

Without legs, we fly.
When I stop speaking,

this poem will close,
and open its silent wings…

From Coleman Barks’s A year with Rumi, Dec 27, Dec 12, and Oct 23.

72 religions

Rumi’s love and honor for all religious traditions was not always popular in his day, and often provoked criticism from the more dogmatic.

A story is told that one such public challenge came from a Muslim dignitary, Qonavi, who confronted Rumi before an audience.

“You claim to be at one with 72 religious sects,” said Qonavi, “but the Jews cannot agree with the Christians, and the Christians cannot agree with Muslims. If they cannot agree with each other, how could you agree with them all?”

To this Rumi answered, “Yes, you are right, I agree with you too.”

He he. Hear, hear, teach.

-taken from The Discourses of Rumi.

National awakening day – 1

[Bahasa Indonesia]
Heard this song yesterday at a client’s event. It has managed to give me the chill every time I listen to it. Every single time.

Indonesia Jaya
First made famous by Harvey Malaiholo

Hari-hari terus berlalu
Tiada pernah berhenti
Seribu rintangan jalan berliku
Bukan suatu penghalang

Hadapilah segala tantangan
Mohon petunjuk yang kuasa
Ciptakanlah kerukunan bangsa
Kobarkanlah dalam dada
Semangat jiwa Pancasila

Hidup tiada mungkin
Tanpa perjuangan
Tanpa pengorbanan
Mulia adanya
Berpeganglah tangan
Satu dalam cinta
Demi masa depan
Indonesia jaya

Perfect song for Indonesia’s national awakening day. Wake up.

That night

[Bahasa Indonesia]
I lay awake in bed, a familiar comfy bed of mine. Yet not comfy enough to put myself to sleep. I am wide awake.

It is dark and chilly. The rain is pouring down hard outside. I can feel the breeze. Cold. The street starts to lose its capacity to contain the water. An overflow is unavoidable. It is a matter of time.

I can sense the mouses, white mouses, just outside my bedroom getting restless. They know the water is coming. Into their home.

Then all hell breaks loose. The rainwater pours into the mouses’ home. They run. Out of their home and into my room. They pass by me. Up my back and down again. There are so many of them. Too many. I can feel each mouse coming up my back and jumping off from my shoulders.

I shudder a bit, naturally. I can feel the tingling sense but somehow I am not panicking. Even when one is stuck somewhere in my upper back and I have to take it off. I understand.

Their house has been flooded. They are the ones who are panicking, not I am. They have the right to be. I understand. So I let them pass. I watch, I sense them pass.

I walk into the kitchen. The sun is already shining brightly. It looks like the hard rain has chased all the clouds away, temporarily. It is a large middle age kitchen. White wall. Burgundy tiling. Wooden doors.

Ah, the large wooden doors. Majestic. There are three of them. One going to the living area, one to the backyard, and another to the garage.

My sister walks in and asks why there are so many doors. Actually, she is asking why there are doors at all. “Take them all off,” she says. We do as we have been told. She is right. The sun now shines into the house. It feels much breezier, much fresher.

The whole family takes a stroll outside. Quite a large close-knitted group walking happily together. I have a sense of where we are going, so I am wondering why we take the long way round.

The sister is there again. I ask her why and she simply says, “Because the children want to.” As if that explains everything. It probably does. Because I ask no more questions. No more. I know it is going to be ok.

A rare desire to share. Until next time, if there is any.

PS: Floor, I have found the green book you gave me. We both know what that means.

I am still struggling to find the balance though. Perhaps it takes more time to readjust. Re-adjust, because I am adjusting yet once again.

Hunger – 2

[Bahasa Indonesia]
Some time ago, a friend forwarded me this link, which tells a story about an animal pound in the city where animals are needlessly suffering and some are left to die. *sigh*

It is the hunger topic again. This time it is about animals. Yet another tear drop from my eyes.

I promised that friend that I would put this up on my blogs, hoping somehow it will make a difference. Apology for the long delay.

It is a wonder how we often fall for animals, but not for human. We feel the pity when we see animals in pain, but choose to ignore humans who are in agony.

Or maybe it is just too painful for us to see, that we decide to look away and move on with our beautiful happy life, probably out of fear of getting hurt inside.

I think, as are children, animals are there to touch us deeper, with their innocence, honesty, and vulnerability.

When trust, unconditional love, and affection start to grow from within us, we can extend ourselves and learn to love others as well. To be affectionate and lend our hands to animals, nature and humankind alike.

Look who is learning to love now. And we thought we were the ones who are doing them a favor.

Hunger – 1

[Bahasa Indonesia]
I have been postponing to write this entry for quite some time. I saw the news on TV quite a while ago about hunger in this country.

A mother and her two young sons died of hunger at home. Malnutrition everywhere in certain regions. Hunger in the middle of this very city that I live in, whose streets I pass by every single day. I really don’t think I need to put a picture here.

My heart broke. My tears as well.

To think that there is hunger in this tropical agricultural maritime country is beyond my common sense. To think that it happens on my doorstep without me–us?–doing anything much is beyond tolerance.

I sms-ed several friends. I received heart warming responses.

I know there is a vast, beyond-my-comprehension problem in the country that has led us to this situation, both the hunger and the ignorance. I understand very well that there should be a structural—almost political—change to improve the situation. I know.

Still, one response which the little ordinary me hold dearest to my heart was an invitation to do what we can, to be kind and attentive to those who are around us.

That office boy who serves us coffee everyday at work. That personal/taxi/bus/bajaj driver who takes us places at almost always “the speed of light”. That street hawker, that vegetable seller, that boy in the red-white stripe T shirt which we might not even notice.

Do we know whether they will have food on their table tonight? Do we know whether their kids have been well fed and have managed to stay in school? Do we even care?

I have been postponing to write this entry for quite some time. Because I did not know the solution to this problem. I still do not.

But perhaps that is my very problem. That is our problem. We feel so puzzled, insignificant and powerless that we do not do anything. At all.

It is time to do something. Anything. Start giving. Please.

Old friends, old me

[Bahasa Indonesia]
You know how you feel that you have traveled so far sometimes only to find out that you are still the old you? That you have not changed that much?

That is how I feel now. I have met some new friends this last month and rekindled with some old ones.

How they have managed to take me back through time and rediscover the person that I have not been for such a long time.

Hey me, it has indeed been a long time. I did not realize how much I have missed me. I had a great time.

Lightness in my heart. Big grin on my face. And malfunction in the brain :p

Turns out that me is not so bad after all. Perhaps it is time to let that me shines for yet one more time, with a slight twist courtesy of time.


Postpone the desire

[Bahasa Indonesia]
My sister has just returned from a parenting training. They discussed a lot of things. Among which was the fact that the trainer advised the participants to train their children to postpone their (meaning: the children’s) desire.

When children ask for something, parents do not necessarily have to obey the wishes immediately. Delay them appropriately. Give a pause between the wishes and the fulfillment.

This, the trainer said, would train the children to have pauses in life. To not act reactively (instinctively and emotionally) at that very instance. To think before they respond to any stimuli in life. Thus, to act wisely. Ouch.

Very interesting, I thought. What a great habit to teach in such a simple manner. I know it is best to think before we act. I know that it is good to postpone one’s desire. But I never link the two together, at least not when it comes to child-rearing activities.

I will let my two great teachers tell the rest of the story in this entry.

Jalal-ad-din Rumi said that, “The beginning of pride and hatred lies in worldly desire, and the strength of your desire is from habit. When an evil tendency becomes confirmed by habit, rage is triggered when anyone restrains you.”

Then he said, “If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?” Good one, teach. How should we do this? How do we restrain our desire? Along came my other teacher, Al Ghazali.

In his book Disciplining the Soul (which probably ranks among the most influential books in my life), Al-Ghazali quoted Yahya ibn Muadh al Razi, “Fight your soul with the sword of self-discipline. These are four: eating little, sleeping briefly, speaking only when necessary, and tolerating all the wrongs done to you by men. For eating little slays desire, sleeping briefly purifies your aspirations, speaking little saves you from afflictions, and tolerating wrongs will bring you to the goal—for the hardest thing for a man is to be mild when snubbed and to tolerate the wrongs which are done against him.” (Al Ghazali, Disciplining the Soul, p57)

You’re absolutely right. Tolerating wrongs is among the most challenging task. How can I hold myself from confronting the people who have snubbed or wronged me? When should I say something and when I should remain silent?

He (Al Ghazali) then said, “A man once enquired Umar ibn Abd Al-Azis, ‘When should I speak?’ And he replied, ‘Whenever you wish to remain silent.’ ‘And When should I be silent?’ the man asked, and Umar replied, ‘Whenever you wish to speak.’ (Al Ghazali, Disciplining the Soul, p59)

I nodded my head. Right. But then, I became puzzled with the statement. Looks like I am still learning.

Let’s just start from the beginning then. Like what my sister’s trainer said. Postpone the desire. Ours. Not the children’s.