May 24

Rumi: The Guest House

Posted by William Berry | Filed under Blog | 2 Comments

Photo by Alexi Berry

 Photo by Alexi Berry

Rumi was a Sufi poet (Sufism is an Islamic Mysticism) who lived in the 1200’s. Believe it or not, he has been the biggest selling poet in the United States several times (despite being dead since 1273). Although I am not one who has read a great deal of poetry, I have been interested in the Spiritual for a long time. Rumi is known as a Spiritual Poet, as Sufis attempt to experience the spiritual in the present. As such, I was introduced to some of his poetry and ideas a few years ago. I purchased a book called “The Essential Rumi” and read some of his poetry.

Then, recently, I read a book called “The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness”. I am a therapist who works with quite a few depressed clients, and have recommended this excellent book to many. Its focus is on using mindfulness exercises (including Yoga) to cease the cycle of depressive thinking. Part of the recommendations (which I have also discussed in previous articles on happiness) is to experience and embrace your feelings, rather than trying to avoid those feelings we find negative. Avoiding negative feelings has become part of our nature. In their book the authors reprint the Rumi poem called “The Guest House,” to express what they call the radical acceptance of your feelings. I hope you find the poem helpful.

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’re 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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This entry was posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2009 at 7:47 PM and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Rumi: The Guest House”

  1. Graciela on May 24th, 2009 at 11:05 PM

    “Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they’re 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.”

    This is my favorite part of the poem… so beautifully said, yet so hard to accomplish.

  2. William Berry on May 25th, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    Thank you for your comment. I agree, this is a beautiful, and difficult, notion. My daughter, who provided the photograph, used the line “Welcome and entertain them all” as inspiration for the photo. But think, if we could “meet them at the door laughing” (or at least accept them as a guide from beyond) how much happier life would be.

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