The Jews who followed Moses went through danger with Him, trusting Him completely, forsook everything behind to go with Him, still could not leave the ego. That's why they'd rather worship the golden calf in the Master's absence. Why? They know it's just a calf, and it’s just a statue, but it's easier. The golden calf doesn't talk back, doesn't lecture them anything, doesn't give them any commandments to keep, doesn't tell them to meditate two and a half hours, and be vegan, doesn't tell them to go to group meditation, etc, etc.
“You who dress in clothes that appear to have elegant meaning, you with so much charm, remember how your face will decay to dirt. You with lots of property, ‘They left their gardens and the quietly running streams.’” He means the Jewish slaves at that time. They had to leave everything to run away from Egypt, following Moses to freedom. So they left everything behind.
“You who smile at funerals going by, you that love language, measure wind in stanzas, and recall the exodus, the wandering forty-year sacrifice.” Measure wind or wind? Maybe wind. Because sacrifice, must be wind. (I need glasses for it.) Oh, come on. If you can’t read, just say can’t. Turn around. (Maybe wind, because it said language before. Like, sometimes when people talk a lot, then they're “windy.”) Yeah, long-winded. Long-winded sentences. It could be that. But I was suspicious, because, “funeral going by,” so I thought it's wind, and then exodus, and then sacrifice. I would do that, but I probably cannot always have it. So you got it? So much for me reciting poetry.
He means that whoever worries so much about “what am I going to do, where am I going to go, whether I take the airplane or what, and why shouldn't I go to such-and-such a place, enjoy and all that,” worry so much, He says, you go and “read again the place in the Qur'an where Moses is taking the Jewish nation out of slavery.” And they had to leave behind everything that they had built all that time, during the time they were in Egypt. They probably built nice houses, made little fountains, quietly running streams. That's why He explained everything. They had to leave everything behind. He says, if you're “frantic to have more money, recall what they abandoned to wander in the wilderness. You who feel hurt, remember the pavilions and houses.” Right. It's very clear, huh? What He probably meant is that it's all dirt anyway. Whatever we lose today or yesterday is nothing compared to the Jews when they had to lose everything to run away for freedom.
And they almost really barely made it. They could barely make it, and they almost got caught back because suddenly the king or whoever was in authority at that time felt sorry to let them free, and then they ran after them. But they were already on the other shore. Remember the sea that parted? Luckily they still had their lives. But what for, anyway? You know, they could forsake everything... This is an interesting story. You know the story, right? They followed Moses to gain their physical freedom because they were slaves in Egypt, the whole nation of slaves there. And so the king promised that after they built such-and-such, or something like that, he would let them be free. And he had to keep his promise, so he let them all free with Moses going, running away with them. But the king somehow felt sorry, or somebody talked bad, and then he wanted them back.
So all the horse-people and the king's men were chasing after them. So this is very interesting. The whole nation followed one man, for what? Do you think they had faith in Moses? Perhaps they did. Perhaps that's why they said, “Master this, Master that. Wise man this, wise man that. We'll follow You.” Fine! They could forsake their gardens, beautiful gardens, that they had built all this time under slavery. They could forsake beautiful streams and winding roads that they had built. They probably had amassed some properties there. Even though they were slaves, they were living near the king's palace, they had everything, so that the king could make use of them also. And they had to leave everything behind, what they had built all this time.
Even though they were slaves, they had houses and gardens, and a lot of stuff. Maybe some goat- and camel-people or whatever. And they could leave all that behind to run for freedom! But when they'd got freedom, they forgot. Remember? Yeah! So Moses told them to keep the Commandments; they didn't. Once He turned his back, went to the mountain to have a retreat, they made merry, making trouble, and worshiped a calf statue instead. So now… Do you understand me? (Yes.) Do you understand the ego? They could forsake the treasured properties, but they could not forsake the ego. They did the opposite of what the Master demanded and what they knew was right. They still did the opposite. It's easier. It's easier, of course, to worship a calf. Even a calf statue, not even a live one. He could “moo” a few words for you! A statue of a golden calf! Can you believe that? They had been with Moses all this time, He had led them out of Egypt for freedom, and look at what they did. So, the freedom of the physical doesn't guarantee anything, does it? And the fact that you leave all your property behind and come to live with a master or something, that doesn't even guarantee anything, does it? (No.) It might look good, it might feel like, oh, you have renounced something, but it might not guarantee anything.
I have discovered many people, not many, but some people, who left properties and families behind, but take the ego with them. Puts it in his pocket, ties it around his waist, sleeps with it, eats with it, walks with it, meditates with it. And I could not make use much of these kinds of people. I could not shape them that much, as I wanted. They are not empty. They are not like a canvas that you could paint something on it. They're full of stuff already. All kinds of paint, everything thrown on it already. You can't make much out of that anymore.
So... Rumi, He's very wise. Even He said that maybe... In this poem, maybe He tried to teach us the spirit of renunciation. Like, don't cling too much to our properties. Look at the story of Egypt. Look at the Jews, what they had to leave behind for freedom. He means, likewise, we should forsake the body for the spirit. Like, don't cling too much to the material things, because even just look at those people, follow their example. But I don't think they are much of an example to follow, either.
It's easier to forsake material belongings than to forsake the ego. That's why the Jews who followed Moses went through danger with Him, trusting Him completely, forsook everything behind to go with Him, still could not leave the ego. That's why they'd rather worship the golden calf in the Master's absence. Why? They know it's just a calf, and it’s just a statue, but it's easier. The golden calf doesn't talk back, doesn't lecture them anything, doesn't give them any commandments to keep, doesn't tell them to meditate two and a half hours, and be vegan, doesn't tell them to go to group meditation, etc, etc. The statue say nothing. All you do is just go bow to it, or just touch it and then get out, feeling that OK, you have done something. See what I mean? (Yes.)
You see why the people in the world would rather go to some brick temple than go inward. It's easier. It's like a walk in the garden. It's a change from your stuffy house. Let's go into some holy place, do something. It's easier than to go inward. So, it's easier to worship a calf or a statue than to follow the real teaching of a Master. You see that? (Yes.) They can leave everything behind, but they are not the real spiritual seekers. It's easier to go through some danger, some excitement of danger, some risky situation to pump your adrenalin. But it's not easy to sit quiet, calm everything down, and find out what is it that you want in life and what is it that is wanting anything in life at all, who is the thing that wants anything.
A very nice poem. I like it very much. What do you say? Cool? Should make music out of it? So, you like the poem? (Yes.) He means, even if you dress in beautiful clothes and feel elegant in it, remember they're all dirt. He said remember your face will turn into dirt one day. This is a very true thing. But these things, people can forsake. Even material things, some people can do it. But to forsake the ego, wow! I have found, with all these years of being with people, oh, that's the most difficult thing everybody would ever do. If they can do it or not. But I found out that people who live with me for a while, and I reprimand them, it does help to cut down their ego. And every time I point out their wrongdoing, they do cut down somehow. But it takes so long, a very tiresome journey, like a crawling centipede – a lot of legs, but goes nowhere.
So, whatever we do, don't feel too proud of it, because if you feel proud, that means it's the ego who feels proud. Who are we to feel any pride? We don't even have a body. We are spirit. What for we feel proud about a few little exercise things we do in this world? We came with nothing; we go with nothing. Whatever we do doesn't really help anything too much in this world. What is it to feel proud about? Except attaining real spiritual knowledge, nothing else we should feel proud about. And even when we attain the real spiritual knowledge, then we don't feel proud at all anymore. Right? Then we don't have any ego to feel proud. So, this is a good poem about renunciation, but I don't think that's all there is to it. Because if He remembers Egypt, then the end of the story is different. People can forsake everything, but not their own ego.
OK, any questions? Yes? (If there's say a place or a country where the suffering level is pretty miserable,) Yes. (and then someone wanted to maybe go there to help out, as it were, there, but knowing that the time could also be used in spiritual practice or something, but they're not doing it out of pride... I mean, there's kind of a balance or something there, between the spiritual attainment and the relief of suffering. Is that clear enough?) I didn't get the last conclusion. So the guy goes to a suffering place intending to help spread the teaching, or helping something? (Yes.) Physical suffering? To alleviate the physical suffering? (Yes, to do that, but that would be a use of time other than like say intensive meditation or something.) Oh! You mean, would it be better than just staying at home and meditating instead of going and helping the suffering people? (Sort of, yes.) Oh, OK. (And to do it without the sense of getting pride from it.) No, it's not the pride! If you really feel people suffer and you want to help them, and don't feel proud about it, then it's OK. You can do both. You can help them and meditate at the same time. After all, how many hours can you sit per day, doing nothing? If you can sit all day, all night, then just stay home and do it. But if you can't, then do something, and meditate also. Help the world also. (OK. Thanks very much.) Alright, I got you.