From The Seekers: Rumi

Boil Nicely Now

Look at the chickpeas in the pot,
how they leap up when they feel the fire.
While boiliing, one of them rises to the top
and cries, “Why are you setting this fire under me?
Did you buy me for this tumbling and tourture?”
The housewife keeps hitting it with the ladle.
“No!” she says, “boil nicely now,
and don’t leap away from the one who makes the fire.
It’s not because you are hateful to me that I boil you,
but so that you might gain flavor,
and become nutritous and mingle with
essential spirit.
This affliction is not because you are despised.
When you were green and fresh,
you were watered in the garde:
that watering was fo the sake of this fire.”

-Mathnawi III, 4159-65
translation by Kabir Helminski

What stood out to us was “It’s not because you are hateful to me that I boil you, but so that you might gain flavor.”

Formerly, I thought that my negative consequences were just a punishment. In recovery, I’ve discovered that my “afflictions” have become part of what makes me unique – and uniquely helpful. Rumi reminded me to trust that the spirit of the universe is working with me, not against me. Rumi also reminded me of the power of gratitude.

In recovery, whenever I’m angry or depressed I don’t have to drink or use drugs. All I have to do is grab a pen and paper and start making my list. I’m grateful for my fingers. My toes. Sober friends that care about me. A safe place to hang out on campus.

I get a list of ten or so things I’m grateful for and suddenly life doesn’t seem that bad.


The Seekers Study is a weekly meeting. It is geared at helping expose people in recovery to a variety of different spiritual perspectives, in hopes that they will develop a better understanding of what spirituality means to them.



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