Sufi Stories and Poetry

Tavern

Notes On The Tavern

Coleman Barks talks about the  Sufi symbolism and imagery of wine, drinking, and the tavern.

In the tavern are many wines – the wine of delight in color and form and taste, the wine of the intellect’s agility, the fine port of stories, and the Cabernet of soul singing. Being human means entering this place where entrancing varieties of desire are served. The grapeskin of ego breaks and a pouring begins.

Fermentation is one of the oldest symbols for human transformation. When grapes combine their juice and are closed up together for a time in a dark place, the results are spectacular. This is what lets two drunks meet so that they don’t know who is who. Pronouns no longer apply in the tavern’s mud-world of excited confusion and half-articulated wantings.

But after some time in the tavern, a point comes, a memory of elsewhere, a longing for the source, and the drunks must set off from the tavern and begin the return. The Qur’an says, “We are all returning.” The tavern is a kind of glorious hell that human beings enjoy and suffer and then push off from in their search for truth.

The tavern is a dangerous region where sometimes disguises are necessary, but never hide your heart, Rumi urges. Keep open there. A breaking apart, a crying out into the street, begins in the tavern, and the human soul turns to find its way home.

~The Essential Rumi

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