Response to Awkward Comparison by Rumi — Ariel Guterman

This physical world has no two things alike.
Every comparison is awkwardly rough.

You can put a lion next to a man,
but the placing is hazardous to both.

Say the body is like this lamp.
It has to have a wick and oil, sleep and food.
If it doesn’t get those, it will die,
and it is always burning those up, trying to die.

But where is the sun in this comparison?
It rises, and the lamp’s light
mixes with the day

Oneness, which is the true reality,
cannot be understood with lamp and sun images,
and the blurring of a plural into a unity is wrong.
No image can describe
what of our fathers and mothers,
our grandfathers and grandmothers, remains.
Language does not touch
the one who lives in both of us.

Rumi’s poem, Awkward Comparison, explores and questions the concept of ultimate unity on earth.  The physical world lacks the coherence of the heavens.  On earth, beings are so different that they can’t even live side by side.  This is the idea I chose to illustrate in my response.  Four scenes and purposeful timing make up the image you see above.  Man and his world (the city) appear first, followed by the lion and his world (African grasslands).  Each fits in his respective environment, but when the two are compared against the world they share (earth as a whole), their harmony is broken.  The image is quickly disrupted, and turns to a dark screen.  Our limited human perception cannot sustain the united picture.  Our language lacks the ability to communicate this ultimate reality.  Only through “the one who lives in both of us” can we truly comprehend unity.  This perfect “one” is not part of an awkward comparison.  This “one” is god

 

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