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October 3, 2022

Chickpea to cook – A poem by Rumi that helped me post-therapy sessions

After living abroad and traveling for years, I returned to my parents house a few weeks ago. I was going through my stuff I store in boxes on the attic when I found one of my old journals. Now, as I set here in my mom’s kitchen, reading through my journal a folded paper flipped out. It was a poem from Rumi that my therapist copied by hand for me, Chickpea to cook. I decided that I want to share it with you.

There are many English translations for Rumi’s words, but this one  stood out for me, it made sense (for me as a non-native English speaker) and in a such a short poem speaks of so many lessons we can learn.

Chickpea to Cook
Rumi – Translated by Coleman Barks

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.’

I remember this poem helped me through hard times when I was severely depressed. And I hope it will help you, too.

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