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The Chinese and the Greeks art

July 4, 2008

My mirror image. A child has a pure heart. Copyright Reserved

My brother sent me this. Try to polish our heart like a mirror…so that every beautiful reality will be reflected and seen! Enjoy this 800-year old poem from Rumi. Surprise surprise, Rumi’s poem can be seen on the wall of the IPA Building in Rimba but didn’t say its from Rumi, so I was told.

‘Chinese Art and Greek Art’

The Prophet said, “There are some who see me
By the same light in which I am seeing them.
Our natures are one.
Without reference to any strands.
Of lineage, without reference to texts or traditions,
We drink the life-water together.”

Here’s a story about that hidden mystery:

The Chinese and the Greeks
Were arguing as to who were the better artists.
The king said, “We’ll settle this matter with a debate.”

The Chinese began talking,
But the Greeks wouldn’t say anything.
They left.

The Chinese suggested then
That they each be given a room to work on
With their artistry, two rooms facing each other
And divided by a curtain.

The Chinese asked the king
For a few hundred colors, all the variations
And each morning they came to where
The dyes were kept and took them all.

The Greeks took no colors.
“They’re not part of our work.”
They went to their room
And began cleaning and polishing the walls. All day.
Every day they made those walls as pure and clear
As an open sky.

There is a way that leads from all-colors
To colorlessness. Know that the magnificent variety
Of clouds and the weather comes from
The total simplicity of the sun and the moon.

The Chinese finished, and were so happy.
They beat the drums in the joy of completion.
The king entered their room,
Astonished by the gorgeous color and detail.

The Greeks then pulled the curtain dividing the rooms.
The Chinese figures and images shimmeringly reflected
On the clear Greek walls. They lived there,
Even more beautifully, and always
Changing in the light.

The Greek Art is the sufi way.
They don’t study books of philosophical thought.
They make their loving clearer and clearer.
No wantings, no anger. In that purity
They receive and reflect the images of every moment,
From here, from the stars, from the void.
They take them in
As though they were seeing
With the lighted clarity
That sees them.

– Jalalludin Muhammad ar-Rumi

From: ‘The Essential Rumi’, translated by Coleman Barks.

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