In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad: Meditations on Rumi / Raj Ayyar
Well worth a repost: a wisdom nugget from that maestro of Sufi Islam, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi:
‘In Baghdad, dreaming of Cairo’: a Rumi parable.
A man who had no money, who had inherited everything and squandered it all, kept crying out: ‘Dear God, help!’
Finally, in a dream, he heard a voice: ‘Your wealth is in Cairo. Go there to such and such spot, and dig.’
So, the man left on his epic journey from Baghdad to Cairo, and his back grew warm with courage.
But, Cairo is a large city and he could not find the spot. Wandering around at night, he was seized by the night patrol.
‘Wait!’ said the man. ‘I can explain–I am not a criminal and I am new to Cairo.’ He narrated the dream.
The night patrol said: ‘I know you are not a criminal. You are a good man but kind of a fool. I have had that dream before! I was told that there was a treasure buried on such and such street and at this house in Baghdad. But, I didn’t do what the dream asked me to do. And look at you, all fatigued and wandering!’ He named the man’s street and house.
Thanking the cop, he returned to his Baghdad home and dug around–sure enough a huge treasure buried under his own house.
He said: ‘What I was longing for was in my own house in Baghdad.
But, I had to travel that long way to know it.’
—Jalaluddin Rumi: The Essential Rumi tr. Coleman Barks (abridged and edited by Raj Ayyar).
Comment: There is a Jewish Hasidic parable retold by Martin Buber, that is structurally identical with this Rumi post. In it, a rabbi from a Polish village who is flat broke goes to a bridge in Cracow and gets advice from a Captain of the Guards. He rushes back and finds a huge treasure buried beneath his stove. The Rumi story is also very similar to the one about Mulla Nasrudin searching for his house keys in the gutter outside. All the great spiritual traditions of the world teach us that the ‘Kingdom’, the treasure of joy and love, is within, not without. The man who ‘inherited everything and squandered it all’, invites comparison with the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke.