September 26, 2018
Chickpea to Cook
One of my favorites of Rumi's stories, Chickpea and Cook tells us about the fire of transformation. Through heat we are challenged, re-worked, and ultimately transformed. The process of boiling makes us spicy, rich, and nourishing for others. We need to be willing to be boiled, to handle the heat, and to be conscious of the need for our own transformation. It is a moment of magic when we realize that the boiling is for our benefit.
A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it’s being boiled.
‘Why are you doing this to me?’
The cook knocks him down with the ladle.
‘Don’t you try to jump out.
You think I’m torturing you.
I’m giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.
Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this.’
Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.
Eventually the chickpea will say to the cook,
‘Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can’t do this by myself.
I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention
to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking.’
The cook says,
‘I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.
My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher.’
Rumi – Translated by Coleman Barks
Do you feel the heat? The first instinct is to escape; find relief from the discomfort. Are you trying to escape or can you hold the space with the boiling?
If you try to escape, you'll get knocked back into the pot. In this way, the soul has a way of demanding our transformation, even if we fight it. Soul has a way of staging crisis to keep us in the heat.
The delicious spices of humility, gratitude, compassion, understanding, inner authority... those are the flavors of boiling. What are the flavors of your deliciousness?
Are you ready to be the lovely vitality of a human being?
Can you say "Boil me some more!"?