If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished? Rumi

This poem by Rumi is much loved and much recited by meditation and yoga teachers the world over. You may have heard of Rumi – a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207. His ecstatic and exquisite poems have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US, which is pretty incredible.

I love all of his poetry and this is definitely one of my favourites – The Guest House. It just gets to the heart of conscious living in the most eloquent and beautiful way.

The Guest HouseThis 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.

– Jelaluddin Rumi –
translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

Rumi uses the metaphor of a house guest to remind us that each day we have the opportunity to welcome something new into our lives, even if it is unexpected. And like some house guests who can cause us to feel uncomfortable when they visit, uncomfortable feelings that stop by our house and visit us, from time to time, can be just as exasperating. We find ourselves waiting impatiently for these house guests to move on so we can put our house back just like it was before they arrived. However, underneath the irritation and annoyance, lie incredible value and learnings – if and when we take the time to receive these guests with humility and courage.

Rumi’s poem is a reminder for each of us to always be open to change (however unexpected and possibly unwelcomed they may be), to face our fears and view ourselves as a guest house to welcome whatever, and whoever, drops in on us from time to time.


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