Deep within me a thousand sweet breaths of Silence
cover my lips and say—
Silence is the Ocean, and words are a river.
The Ocean is looking for you;
do not look for the river.
Don’t turn away from the Ocean.
Surrender that God knows the way.
The irreverent use words incessantly,
pouring them out of cold dead lips
even in the Presence of God.
Words help, but traditional knowledge is
mere babble in the Presence of Vision.
Traditional knowledge is a substitute for Vision,
not for the One who is Present,
but for the one who is absent.
Whoever has attained the Vision,
this traditional knowledge is all vain.
When you sit down with the Beloved,
do away with all intermediaries.
When one is no longer a child and becomes an Adult,
books and intermediaries become tiresome.
One reads books only to teach others;
One speaks words only to help others understand.
But it is wrong to consider traditional knowledge in the Presence of
a Seer endowed with Vision,
and this is evidence of your own neglect and absence.
In the Presence of the Seer,
Silence is for your good.
For this reason God counseled,
“Be Ye Silent!”
Bryce Haymond’s paraphrase of Reynold A. Nicholson’s translation, The Mathnawi of Jalalud’ din Rumi, Book IV, 386.
Here is the original translation by Nicholson: