The Guest House By Rumi And The Buddha

Rumi, the 13th century Muslim poet from Afghanistan, has deservedly won a place in our hearts for his sublime capacity to nourish the depth of our being with his perceptive insights into love, sensuality, spirituality and intimacy with the immediate world. His poems strike a chord in the depths of our meditative being. More…Not surprisingly, insight meditation teachers delight to read Rumi’s poems to spiritual practitioners. One of his best loved poems is The Guest House. The Buddha used the same metaphor in 2500 AD and gave two talks entitled The Guest House.

by Rumi

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.

The Buddha, whose teachings took deep root in Afghanistan, gave two talks called The Guest House. (the Pali Canon of the words of the Buddha were written about three centuries after his death.


By The Buddha

The Buddha often commented that the whole world is found in our body. In one discourse, the Buddha said that suppose there is a guest house and people from the four castes come from all directions, then various feelings arise – pleasant, painful and neither pleasant or painful. He says these feelings may be worldly or spiritual turn up at the guest house.

The Buddha takes our responsibility as the host a step further. In another discourse on The Guest House, the Buddha said we need to:

understand what is to be understood about the guests,

let go of what is to be let go about the guests,

realise what is to be realised

and develop what is to be developed.

Through this means, he said we have direct knowledge of the guests.

The Buddha and Rumi remind us that guests turn up as as different kinds of feelings, welcome and unwelcome.

The Buddha knows we cannot always be grateful for our guests, as Rumi suggests, whether they arrive from within or without. Instead, he encourages us to give the guests our fullest attention to see clearly.

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha.

Volume 2, pages 1273, 1557.

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