“Jesus responded: I’m running away from the fools,I’m saving myself from the ignorant ones, do not block my way.” — The tale of Jesus, ‘Peace be upon him’, running away to the mountain from the fools (word for word translation)
“Jesus wasn’t running from actual people. He was teaching in a new way.” — What Jesus Runs Away From (Coleman Barks translation)
This week people all over the world are celebrating the death and resurrection of the late great Jesus of Nazareth. I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on what another Master had to say about this One who would be called THE Christ. It was difficult to choose just one quote from one poem because Rumi clearly had an affinity for Jesus and was not shy to speak about it. But the poem “What Jesus Runs Away From” stood out the most the week.
The two quotes featured this week come from the last line of the same poem. In the poem Jesus is running through the meadows as if he is being chased by something horrible. He stops only after the insistence of an unknown follower who is understandably confused. Jesus informs him that he is getting away from those who hear the truth but do not surrender to it; in order to save himself he had to get away from the ‘ignorant ones.’
But as Coleman Barks cleverly surmised, it it not actual people Jesus runs away from. In this poem, Rumi demonstrates the necessity for every man to put distance between those things in his life that will not surrender to the truth. We must detach from that which does not serve the highest understanding of who we are. Sometimes this includes people, especially family and friends, but most importantly it is the little habits we’ve picked up over the course of living that form us into people instead of lovers of Life.
Rumi says run away from your eating habits, your sleeping habits, your sexual habits, and your habitual anger! Run away from habitual infatuation, and negative thought patterns. Run away from clinging to religious concepts and rituals! Run as far and as fast as you can until it’s just you, and God, and nothing blocking your way.
Yeah, that’s what I take away from these poems anyway….how about you? Full text below:
was running away so fast towards a mountain
as if a lion would shed his blood.
Someone ran after him and said:
Stop running, there is no one chasing you,
why are you running away like a bird?
Jesus said nothing and kept on running fast.
Across two more fields,
as he couldn’t get a response from Jesus,
the man reached Jesus and pleaded to him and his ancestors:
It is hard for me to understand why you’re running away.
Who are you running away from
O noble one,
If there is neither a lion,
nor an enemy, nor fear, nor danger
chasing after you?
I’m running away from the fools,
I’m saving myself from the ignorant ones,
don’t block my way…
hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal
were chasing him.
Someone following him asks,
‘Where are you going?
No one is after you.’
Jesus keeps on,
across two more fields.
‘Are you the one who says
words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?’
‘Did you not make the clay birds fly?’
‘Who then could possibly cause you to run like this?’
Jesus slows his pace.
“I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that.”
As little by little air steals water, so praise
Is dried up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change. Like cold stone you sit on,
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn’t feel the sun.
Jesus wasn’t running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.