The Guest House (by Rumi)

For the past two days I have been joining sessions held by Beshara organization in Jakarta. In short, Beshara is an organization that promotes the education of self-knowledge in order to bring spiritual orientation to life. After all, life is a spiritual journey in itself, whether we realize it or not.

During the sessions we discussed the writings from Rumi and Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi. Although I found all thoughts and writings presented in the sessions very interesting, one poem by Rumi had successfully caught my attention more than the others.

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’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 whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

I think the analogy of ‘guest house’ to describe our existence as human being is very very very genius. Yeah, I am very aware that we’re talking about the great sufi master and poet Jalaludin Rumi here, but hey, more praise to the big man won’t hurt, right? 🙂

In this poem, the separation of ‘the-real’ self from ‘the-perception’ of self is so explicitly described, that even my mind that has not been educated enough with the art of poetry can grab the idea with clarity.

The-real-self or the-true-self is stated as the owner of the house, while emotions, be it negative or positive, are described as guests, who will only be temporary visitors in the house. In other words, Rumi tried to say that we need to be in constant alert and ‘watch’ our emotions with full awareness. In fact, it is very interesting how Rumi mentioned that we even need to ‘entertain’ the guests. Frankly speaking, for now I can’t imagine I would be able to consciously open my heart, welcoming sorrows and depressions with such joy and excitement before they are coming…. but hey, who knows I would be able to do that in the next 70 years or so :p

The last three lines are the most powerful of all, at least in my opinion. Rumi was reminding us that things have been arranged by the higher power so that we can gain experiences and be able to learn from them coz every single thing points only one way, which is to God. What we need to do is to become aware of this very fact, then watch and listen carefully to the silence of our heart, so that we would know when ‘these guides’ come and what message God conveys to us through them.

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Filed under Contemplation, Poems

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