Your First Eyes


A lover has four streams inside,

of water, wine, honey, and milk.


Find those in yourself, and pay no attention

what so-and-so says about such-and-such.


The rose does not care if someone calls it a thorn,

or a jasmine. Ordinary eyes categorize

human beings. That one is a Zoroastrian.

This one, Muslim.


Walk instead with the other vision given you,

your first eyes. Don’t squint,

and don’t stare blankly like a vulture.

Those who love fire fall into the fire.

A fly slips from the edge into the whey.


If you are in love with the infinite,

why grieve over earth washing away in the rain?


Bow to the essence in a human being.

A desert drinks war-blood,

but if it knew this secret,

springs would rise, rose gardens.


Don’t be content with judging people good and bad.

Grow out of that. The great blessing is

that Shams has poured a strength into the ground

that lets us wait and trust the waiting.

~ Rumi



from The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition

Translations by Coleman Barks

Copyright 2004 by Coleman Barks. All rights reserved. 


Jalal al-Din (Jelaluddin) Rumi (1207–1273, b. Balkh, Afghanistan, lived Konya, Turkey) was a Sufi religious scholar and teacher and a poet. In this poem he is talking about how to see, a philosophy that encompasses much more than only vision. This is how I try to approach photography. 

Shams of Tabriz was Rumi's spiritual companion and his equal––the beloved Other, whom he did not distinguish from Self. 

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