U2 Electrical Storm Live in Barcelona
U2 plays Electrical Storm in concert for the first time ever on July 2, 2009 in Barcelona.
Studio notes from the contemporary painter Gregg Chadwick
We’ve selected more of Rumi’s poems for you to hear and read on our Web site, speakingoffaith.org, along with images and explanations of the whirling dervishes. I’m Krista Tippett, and this is Speaking of Faith from American Public Media. Today, we’re dipping into the ideas and spiritual background of Rumi, a 13th-century Muslim mystic whose poetry is celebrated by an array of modern readers.
Ms. Keshavarz: (reciting) Listen to the story told by the reed of being separated. Since I was cut from the reed bed, I have made this crying sound. Anyone apart from someone he loves understands what I say. Anyone pulled from a source longs to go back. At any gathering, I'm there, lingering and laughing and grieving, a friend to each, but few will hear the secrets hidden within the notes. No ears for that. Body flowing out of spirit, spirit out from body, no concealing that mixing. But it's not given us to see, so the reed flute is fire, not wind. Leave that empty.
Ms. Tippett: There's a theme that is part of that, that runs all the way through, about separation and longing as part of — well, not just the spiritual life, but being human, and also a kind of sense that the separation and the longing themselves are a kind of arrival.
Ms. Keshavarz: On one level, you have to get on the road. You have to get started, you know, just like the earth that, you know, have to plow the earth, you have to get moving. On another level, time and again he reminds us that the destination is the journey itself. So there isn't a point where you say, 'OK, I'm here, I've reached, I'm done, I'm perfect. I don't need to do anything anymore.' In the incompleteness of that, the need to move forward is inherent in that incompleteness, in the process of going forward that you make yourself better and better and you, in a way, never reach. So the separation is the powerful force that keeps you going. If you ever felt that I have arrived I've reached, this is it, then you wouldn't go any further.
Ms. Tippett: You know, and I think it is counterintuitive in our culture — not that we necessarily think this through very often, but we think of desires and longings as something that we need to find something to meet, right?
Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, yes. And we want to meet it really fast.
Ms. Tippett: Yes.
Ms. Keshavarz: Exactly.
Ms. Tippett: Because somehow the feeling of longing and separation from whatever it is, especially if we don't know what it is we want, that that is unsatisfying and there's something wrong with that. And yet what Rumi is saying is that, you know, the longing itself is redemptive and is progress, kind of.
Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. And the longing itself — and also not to understand exactly what that longing is, in itself, is very productive. I think one idea or major concept that the Sufi tradition and Rumi in particular have to contribute to our current culture is value in perplexity, the fact that not knowing is a source of learning, something that propels us forward into finding out. Longing, perplexity, these are all very valuable things. We want to unravel things and get answers and be done, but as far as he's concerned, it's a continual process. We can't be done. And that's good.
Ms. Tippett: I also have a feeling that Rumi is saying we also, though, at the same time need to be intentional about what we choose to be perplexed by. Does that make sense? I mean there's this poem: "Stay bewildered in God and only that. Those of you who are scattered, simplify your worrying lives. There is one righteousness. Water the fruit trees and don't water the thorns. Be generous to what nurtures the spirit and God's luminous reason-light. Don't honor what causes dysentery and knotted-up tumors. Don't feed both sides of yourself equally. The spirit and the body carry different loads and require different attentions."
Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. Yes. I think the energy can't go in all directions completely in control and you have to choose because you have one life. You have to spend it wisely. So absolutely, he would say choose, be selective, recognize your own value. At another point he says, 'You are an astrolabe to God, you know, don't use yourself for things that are not worthwhile.'
But I want to linger a little bit on that idea of being scattered because that's a key concept in Sufi thought. And actually it's something that the Buddhists also talk about a lot. And that is our mind just jumps from one thing to the other and, you know, the Sufis call it the onrush of ideas into our minds. And in some ways, if we allow it, it takes us over, you know. You know, what am I going to do about that credit card? You know, how am I going to — what do I do about this student paper, you know, whatever else is that you're concerned with, my family, my kids, my future. So it all invades your life and so in a way you're pulled in all directions. You're scattered. So one of the purposes of his poetry and one of the concepts the Sufis talk about is to collect that scatteredness.
It’s likely needless to remind you that this was not the first time Iranians showed how much they love freedom. Look only at the 20th century: They launched the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 (the first in Asia); nationalized the oil industry in 1951 (the first Middle Eastern country to do so); mounted the revolution of 1979; and engineered the student revolt of 1999. Which brings us to now, and that deafening cry for democracy.
Almost 20 years ago, when I started studying art in Tehran, the very idea of “politics” was so frightening that we didn’t even dare think about it. To talk about it? Beyond belief!
To demonstrate in the streets against the president? Surreal!
Criticize the supreme leader? Apocalyptic!
Shouting “Down with Khamenei”? Death!
Death, torture and prison are part of daily life for the youth of Iran. They are not like us, my friends and I at their age; they are not scared. They are not what we were.
They hold hands and scream: “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are together!”
They understand that no one will give them their rights; they must go get them.
They understand that unlike the generation before them — my generation, for whom the dream was to leave Iran — the real dream is not to leave Iran but to fight for it, to free it, to love it and to reconstruct it.
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