Thursday, February 01, 2018
More on Rumi Discussion
I wrote a post on a very different topic, then it disappeared before I got it posted. However, the question about Rumi evoked an interesting discussion on FB (from original post) and I am reprinting some of those responses here:
Gurudev Khalsa Two thoughts, dear Dorothy. Perhaps a bit like Sparrow Mattes, I think we do a disservice to the nature of humanity when we expect perfection of our idols--or ourselves. Ernest Kurtz' "The Spirituality of Imperfection" is a great antidote in that regar...See More
The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi
Dorothy Walters Dear Kurudev Khalsa, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I was deeply disappointed and disturbed by these "poems' attributed to Rumi. They are not a result of inaccurate translation. The subject matter is clearly pornographic. If you want to read ...See More
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Irina Kuzminsky Not all Turks I have spoken to idolize Rumi in the same way as many Westerners do ...
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Irina Kuzminsky replied · 4 Replies · 1 hr
Dorothy Walters Guru Khalsa: I have now read the New Yorker article you mention. I am quite familiar with the charge that Barks offers renditions rather than actual literal translations of the original works by Rumi. However, I found the article quite interesting, f...See Mor
Dorothy Walters However, this article in no way addresses my concerns. I have called these particular poems as "pornographic" and even "obscene." I have also wondered if Rumi even wrote them. If so, then he must have had a split personality: one a devout mystic, a...See More
Dorothy Walters I was hesitant to publish this entry, but felt I needed to get some of these concerns "off my chest." As for the references to the unethical behavior of gurus and teacher, I feel that pedophilia is wrong, that using devotees as sexual objects and so f...See More
Gurudev Khalsa Thank you so much, Dorothy, both for initially writing of your deep concerns and for following up with your replies to me. I'm sorry I wasn't more sensitive to the depth of your horror at what you read, and am feeling rather silly myself for offering my comments without having read what you read. Please accept my apologies. I haven't had a chance to track down the passages yet, but hope to tomorrow. In the meantime, I can say that I agree with much of what you say above--that moral relativism must have limits, and that I actually prefer the poetry of Barks over literalism, without which I and millions of others might never have fallen in love with Rumi. But as a cross-cultural professional, I also know how much does get lost "in translation," both literally and metaphorically. It is apparent from the strength of your revulsion that you feel it is impossible that could explain what you have read. I suppose, in my own way, I am hoping to find what could soften the blow for both of us. Have you reached out to Andrew Harvey about this? I'd be very curious to learn of his perspective. Let us keep reflecting and sharing, in the hopes of learning how to make better sense (both in head and heart) of what you have discovered.
Dorothy Walters Dear Gurudev,
Dorothy Walters Thanks for this further commentary. The two poems are: "The Importance of Gourdcrafting" (about women who have sex with a donkey) and "Two Ways of Running" (about a wife who discovers graphic evidence that her husband has had sex with the maid). I found them on pp.181 and 178 on "The Essential Rumi" of Coleman Barks and John Moyne.
Dorothy Walters By the way, I have always assumed that John Moyne was the actual translator and that Barks went from there with his renditions. I would like to ask Andrew about this problem, but at present cannot get in touch with him. I do know another deep Rumi sc...See More
Dorothy Walters As a retired professor of English lit, I enjoy delving into these problems of interpretation and much appreciate your comments.
Dorothy Walters All my best to you, Gurudev.
Ron Sult there are controversial stories / elements (to put it mildly) about the lives and conduct of so many prominent spiritual figures (many that are even considered "spiritual giants"), that one almost comes to expect it.. :)