Keep on keeping on


In the bull pictures (which you will know of from Reverend Murakami’s book) there’s a number of different series of them – ten pictures and ten pictures, and there’s one of twelve pictures, and there’s one of six pictures and there’s even one of four pictures. But one series has a picture between the time when the bull is raging to get loose from the end of a tight rope and when the bull is pacified and will follow the man. Now the picture that comes between is called, ‘Turning the Head’ and in this picture the rope is now slack. The man is still holding the rope and the bull is still tethered but the bull is looking round at the man. And one of the comments on this is that normally when discipline comes on us, something wants to get away.  Whatever it may be – a cosmic force – wants to get loose. But this is the case of one man. One teacher gives the example of the windmill. The wind is free, but actually doesn’t do anything very much for men. But if the windmill is put up, the same wind drives the windmill and grinds the cereal. In the same way he says, this bull is to come in affection and friendliness to the man and now for the first time turns the head and looks. He still has to be kept on the leash, because this is only the first time.  He compares this to the first real glimpse of what it is that’s imposing this discipline on us, that we kick against so much; or else that we accept, “Alright, alright, alright.  Go on, go on.  Keep on keeping on. You know, like that”. We are held, but now [we] turn round. And the commentator says that it’s at this point too that the man turns his head. He’s been capturing the bull and bringing the bull into harmony with himself and now for the first time he’s turning his head.  So again, it’s like all these things, they’re just illustrations.  They can be a stimulus, they can be beautiful but somehow they have to be incorporated into ourselves. Hints are given to us.  In the end something has to be brought in actual experience to our lives.

I’ll just say again the little poem with which we began because there shouldn’t be narrowness in the light of some of the illustrations that have been given:

A certain man was crying ‘Allah’ all night, til his lips grew sweet from praise of God.
The devil said:
“Oh, garrulous man,
where is the reply –  ‘Here Am I’
to all this –  ‘Allah’ of thine?
Not a single response is coming from the throne.
How long will you cry ‘Allah’ with grim face?”
He became broken hearted and lay down to sleep.
In a dream he saw Elijah amidst the verdia who said:
“Hark, you have held back from praising God.
Why do you repent of having called unto Him?”
He said:
“No ‘Here Am I’ is coming in response,
hence I fear I’m turned away from the door!”
Elijah said:
“Nay, God saeth that ‘Allah’ of thine is my ‘Here Am I’
And that grief and ardour and supplication of thine are my messenger to thee.
Thy fear in love are the noose to catch my favour.
Beneath every ‘Allah’ of thine there is many a ‘Here Am I’ from me.”


© Trevor Leggett

Titles in this series are:

Part 1: Hearts of Religion

Part 2: There is a problem in religion

Part 3: Bayazid, the Sufi mystic

Part 4: The Self is what is confronts God

Part 5: Keep on keeping on

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