This was the on-going and delightful message in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – an uplifting movie about ageing, death and renewal. It made me laugh, because the young East Indian man was so relentlessly optimistic about the future prospects of his seedy and run-down hotel, which had clearly seen better days. His unfailing good cheer in the face of overwhelming odds couldn’t help but affect change in the lives of the six, despondent, geriatric clients who had shown up in response to his internet advertisement for the hotel: The-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel: a Place for the Elderly and Beautiful.
It made me think about endings and new beginnings, and all the suffering that goes on in-between. It can feel very hard to make sense of suffering when you are in the middle of it. It’s only when you have come out the other side that you get the 20/20 hindsight. After you have been on a number of those roller-coaster rides, and you are still alive, you start to realize something. When you really get the lesson that was yours for the getting, the suffering is over. Blessedly over. Maybe for a while, if you are lucky. Given the realities of life, there may be another roller-coaster ride waiting just around the corner, but that’s the journey isn’t it? When we don’t glean what it is that we need to learn from the suffering, Life will provide another learning opportunity.
I think though, that as we mature and understand the nature of this process, we begin to trust our Life more and more. If we truly seek to be guided by the deep Self, we will be. If we are not interested in that yet, there will be more bumpy rides than you can shake a stick at. Hopefully, you will eventually wake up.
So this is a very optimistic message. There is a value in suffering, because there is something of value to be gained if we can open our eyes to that potential. It’s simply good to know that it will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk now drinks wine and honey mixed.
God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box, from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed. As roses, up from ground. Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish, now a cliff covered with vines, now a horse being saddled. It hides within these, till one day it cracks them open.
Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep and changes shape. You might say, “Last night I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips, a field of grapevines.” Then the phantasm goes away. You’re back in the room. I don’t want to make any one fearful. Hear what’s behind what I say.
Tatatumtum tatum tatadum. There’s the light gold of wheat in the sun and the gold of bread made from that wheat I have neither. I’m only talking about them,as a town in the desert looks up at stars on a clear night.
Translated by Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi
To watch more of the wonderful Coleman Barks reciting Rumi: