The Guest House

Elizabeth Pyjov
Originally posted 01 Jun 2014

This beautiful poem by 13th century Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, captures the spirit of treating each person, each incident, and each event with openness and kindness. Rumi uses the metaphor of the guesthouse to highlight that all the things that happen to us are impermanent. Both events and mental events come and go, and we may as well treat them honorably and with compassion.

 

                                                                          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 are 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 whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

—Rumi, 13th century

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