We are wise men, we are physicians,
we come from Baghdad;2
we have delivered many patients from their sorrows.
We have removed cataracts from their eyes;
and the meaningless, endless sufferings
from their roots and veins with grapples.
We are the eloquent physicians – disciples of Christ;
we have taken many dead ones
and breathed spirit into them.3
Ask those who have seen the signs
to tell you how thankful they were for their freedom.
We batter the head of sadness,
we sweep pain out of the home;
we are all witnesses and good people –
we are all like new moons, bringing tidings of the Eid.4
We are divine physicians;
we do not ask wages from anyone,
because we are pure in psyche –
not greedy and dirty.
Do not think that this is a medicine
for diarrhoea or constipation;
we have extracted this famous herbal cure from paradise.5
We are subtle physicians –
we do not take urine samples;
we penetrate aching bodies as thought waves.
Do not open your mouth at all,
since most people are like owls;6
stop bragging that we have flown with the eagle.7
1) In this, the 18th couplet of the Masnavi, Rumi states that there are two types of people: “raw”, or spiritually undeveloped, and “cooked” – those who are spiritually evolved. Since the former are not capable of understanding the condition of the latter, there is no point in arguing, and the best approach to such “raw” individuals is to remain silent. “Vassalam”, meaning “and peace”, is used to end abruptly any speech or conversation.
2) See footnote 5, p163. In this ghazal, Rumi depicts himself as a doctor with a miraculous cure for all ills.
3) In Sufi tradition, Christ is well known for his healing powers, and specifically for his ability to raise the dead.
4) The ending of the lunar month of Ramadan (the month of fasting) is the greatest celebration in the Muslim calendar, and known as the Eid.
5) Here, in the original Farsi, Rumi names two specific herbal medicines for these two common physical disorders.
In contrast with these, the kind of medicine he is offering has been extracted directly from heaven and is a cure for all spiritual ills.
6) In Persian folklore, the owl is a bad omen, associated with ill luck. Interestingly, whereas in western tradition, the bird is a symbol of wisdom, in India, it is believed to be stupid.
7) In Sufi terminology, to “fly with the eagle” is to attain the peak of human consciousness, or to live in divinity.