Tao Te Ching Quotes

Tao Te Ching Quotes

The Tao Te Ching – also known as Daode Jing – is an ancient Chinese text purportedly written by Laozi, aka Lao Tzu, a mystical 6th century philosopher and sage.

Even though rather brief – merely 81 chapters – and, at times, almost impenetrable – who knows how many books have been written to interpret it – the Tao Te Ching is widely considered one of the most important Chinese philosophical works ever written.

In addition, it is also one of the most translated works in world literature.

After summarizing it a few days ago, inspired by the interest for that article, we decided to provide you with a selection of the 100 most enlightening and thought-provoking quotes from this magnificient book.

We used the translations, selection and categorization by noted sinologist Herbert Allan Giles (from the book Gems of Chinese Literature) as a foundation for our choice.

Hopefully, you’ll like it.


Tao Te Ching Quotes on Tao, Humility, Government and Himself

#1. The Spiritual and the Material Aspect of Tao (20 Quotes)

The Tao which can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao; the name which can be uttered is not its eternal name. Without a name, it is the Beginning of Heaven and Earth; with a name, it is the Mother of all things.
Only one who is eternally free from earthly passions can apprehend its spiritual essence; he who is ever clogged by passions can see no more than its outer form.
These two things, the spiritual and the material, though we call them by different names, in their origin are one and the same. This sameness is a mystery—the mystery of mysteries. It is the gate of all spirituality.

How unfathomable is Tao! It seems to be the ancestral progenitor of all things. How pure and clear is Tao! It would seem to be everlasting. I know not of whom it is the offspring. It appears to have been anterior to any Sovereign Power.

Tao eludes the sense of sight, and is therefore called colorless. It eludes the sense of hearing, and is therefore called soundless. It eludes the sense of touch, and is therefore called incorporeal. These three qualities cannot be apprehended, and hence they may be blended into unity.

The mightiest manifestations of active force flow solely from Tao.

From of old until now, its name has never passed away. It watches over the beginning of all things. How do I know this about the beginning of things? Through Tao.

As soon as Tao creates order, it becomes nameable. When it once has a name, men will know how to rest in it. Knowing how to rest in it, they will run no risk of harm.

Tao as it exists in the world is like the great rivers and seas which receive the streams from the valleys.

The whole world will flock to him who holds the mighty form of Tao. They will come and receive no hurt, but find rest, peace, and tranquility.

Not visible to the sight, not audible to the ear, in its use it is inexhaustible.

Retrogression is the movement of Tao. Weakness is the character of Tao.

All things under Heaven derive their being from Tao in the form of Existence; Tao in the form of Existence sprang from Tao in the form of Non-Existence.

Tao is a great square with no angles, a great vessel which takes long to complete, a great sound which cannot be heard, a great image with no form.

Tao lies hid and cannot be named, yet it has the power of transmuting and perfecting all things.

Tao produces all things; its Virtue nourishes them; its Nature gives them form; its Force perfects them.

Hence there is not a single thing but pays homage to Tao and extols its Virtue. This homage paid to Tao, this extolling of its Virtue, is due to no command, but is always spontaneous.

Thus it is that Tao, engendering all things, nourishes them, develops them, and fosters them; perfects them, ripens them, tends them, and protects them.

It is the Way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it knows how to overcome; not to speak, and yet it knows how to obtain a response; it calls not, and things come of themselves; it is slow to move, but excellent in its designs.

Heaven’s net is vast; though its meshes are wide, it lets nothing slip through.

The Tao of Heaven has no favorites. It gives to all good men without distinction.

Things wax strong and then decay. This is the contrary of Tao. What is contrary to Tao soon perishes.

#2. Tao as a Moral Principle (20 Quotes)

The highest goodness is like water, for water is excellent in benefiting all things, and it does not strive. It occupies the lowest place, which men abhor. And therefore, it is near akin to Tao.

When your work is done and fame has been achieved, then retire into the background; for this is the Way of Heaven.

Those who follow the Way desire not excess; and thus, without excess they are forever exempt from change.

He who acts in accordance with Tao, becomes one with Tao. He who treads the path of Virtue becomes one with Virtue. He who pursues a course of Vice becomes one with Vice. The man who is one with Tao, Tao is also glad to receive. The man who is one with Virtue, Virtue is also glad to receive. The man who is one with Vice, Vice is also glad to receive.

He who is self-approving does not shine. He who boasts has no merit. He who exalts himself does not rise high. Judged according to Tao, he is like remnants of food or a tumor on the body–an object of universal disgust. Therefore, one who has Tao will not consort with such.

Ceremonies are the outward expression of inward feelings.

If Tao perishes, then Virtue will perish; if Virtue perishes, then Charity will perish; if Charity perishes, then Duty to one’s neighbor will perish; if Duty to one’s neighbor perishes, then Ceremonies will perish.

Ceremonies are but the veneer of loyalty and good faith, while oft-times the source of disorder. Knowledge of externals is but a showy ornament of Tao, while oft-times the beginning of imbecility.

Therefore, the truly great man takes his stand upon what is solid, and not upon what is superficial; upon what is real, and not upon what is ornamental. He rejects the latter in favor of the former.

He who is enlightened by Tao seems wrapped in darkness. He who is advanced in Tao seems to be going back. He who walks smoothly in Tao seems to be on a rugged path.

If Tao prevails on earth, horses will be used for purposes of agriculture. If Tao does not prevail, war-horses will be bred on the common.

If we had sufficient knowledge to walk in the Great Way, what we should most fear would be boastful display.

The Great Way is very smooth, but the people love the by-paths.

Where the palaces are very splendid, there the fields will be very waste, and the granaries very empty.

The wearing of gay embroidered robes, the carrying of sharp swords, fastidiousness in food and drink, superabundance of property and wealth: this I call flaunting robbery; most assuredly it is not Tao.

Tao is the sanctuary where all things find refuge, the good man’s priceless treasure, the guardian and savior of him who is not good.

Hence at the enthronement of an Emperor and the appointment of his three ducal ministers, though there be some who bear presents of costly jade and drive chariots with teams of four horses, that is not so good as sitting still and offering the gift of this Tao.

Why was it that the men of old esteemed this Tao so highly? Is it not because it may be daily sought and found, and can remit the sins of the guilty? Hence it is the most precious thing under Heaven.

All the world says that my Tao is great, but unlike other teaching. It is just because it is great that it appears unlike other teaching. If it had this likeness, long ago would its smallness have been known.

The skillful philosophers of the olden time were subtle, spiritual, profound, and penetrating. They were so deep as to be incomprehensible. Because they are hard to comprehend, I will endeavor to describe them.

#3. The Doctrine of Inaction (15 Quotes)

The Sage occupies himself with inaction, and conveys instruction without words. Is it not by neglecting self-interest that one will be able to achieve it?

Purge yourself of your profound intelligence, and you can still be free from blemish. Cherish the people and order the kingdom, and you can still do without meddlesome action.

Who is there that can make muddy water clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself. Who is there that can secure a state of absolute repose? But let time go on, and the state of repose will gradually arise.

Be sparing of speech, and things will come right of themselves.

A violent wind does not outlast the morning; a squall of rain does not outlast the day. Such is the course of Nature. And if Nature herself cannot sustain her efforts long, how much less can man!

Attain complete vacuity, and sedulously preserve a state of repose.

The softest things in the world override the hardest. That which has no substance enters where there is no crevice. Hence, I know the advantage of inaction.

Conveying lessons without words, reaping profit without action, there are few in the world who can attain to this!

Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat. Purity and stillness are the correct principles for mankind.

The pursuit of book-learning brings about daily increase. The practice of Tao brings about daily loss. Repeat this loss again and again, and you arrive at inaction. Practice inaction, and there is nothing which cannot be done.

The Empire has ever been won by letting things take their course. He who must always be doing is unfit to obtain the Empire.

Keep the mouth shut, close the gateways of sense, and as long as you live you will have no trouble. Open your lips and push your affairs, and you will not be safe to the end of your days.

Practice inaction, occupy yourself with doing nothing.

Desire not to desire, and you will not value things difficult to obtain. Learn not to learn, and you will revert to a condition which mankind in general has lost.

Leave all things to take their natural course, and do not interfere.

#4. Modesty and Humility (15 Quotes)

All things in Nature work silently. They come into being and possess nothing. They fulfill their functions and make no claim.

When merit has been achieved, do not take it to yourself; for if you do not take it to yourself, it shall never be taken from you.

Follow diligently the Way in your own heart, but make no display of it to the world.

Keep behind, and you shall be put in front; keep out, and you shall be kept in.

He that humbles himself shall be preserved entire. He that bends shall be made straight. He that is empty shall be filled. He that is worn out shall be renewed. He who has little shall succeed. He who has much shall go astray.

He who, conscious of being strong, is content to be weak, he shall be the paragon of mankind. Being the paragon of mankind, Virtue will never desert him. He returns to the state of a little child.

He who, conscious of his own light, is content to be obscure, he shall be the whole world’s model. Being the whole world’s model, his Virtue will never fail. He reverts to the Absolute.

He who, conscious of desert, is content to suffer disgrace, he shall be the cynosure of mankind. Being the cynosure of mankind, his Virtue then is full. He returns to perfect simplicity.

He who is great must make humility his base. He who is high must make lowliness his foundation. Thus, princes and kings in speaking of themselves use the terms “lonely,” “friendless,” “of small account.” Is not this making humility their base?

Thus, it is that ‘Some things are increased by being diminished, others are diminished by being increased.’ What others have taught, I also teach; verily, I will make it the root of my teaching.

The reason why rivers and seas are able to be lords over a hundred mountain streams, is that they know how to keep below them. That is why they are able to reign over all the mountain streams.

The Sage expects no recognition for what he does; he achieves merit but does not take it to himself; he does not wish to display his worth.

I have three precious things, which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle, and you can be bold; be frugal, and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others, and you can become a leader among men.

But in the present day men cast off gentleness, and are all for being bold; they spurn frugality, and retain only extravagance; they discard humility, and aim only at being first. Therefore, they shall surely perish.

Gentleness brings victory to him who attacks, and safety to him who defends. Those whom Heaven would save, it fences round with gentleness.

#5. Government and War (10 Quotes)

He who respects the State as his own person is fit to govern it. He who loves the State as his own body is fit to be entrusted with it.

In the highest antiquity, the people did not know that they had rulers. In the next age they loved and praised them. In the next, they feared them. In the next, they despised them.

How cautious is the Sage, how sparing of his words! When his task is accomplished and affairs are prosperous, the people all say: ‘We have come to be as we are, naturally and of ourselves.’

Fishes must not be taken from the water: the methods of government must not be exhibited to the people.

Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish.

If the people do not fear the majesty of government, a reign of terror will ensue.

He who can take upon himself the nation’s shame is fit to be lord of the land. He who can take upon himself the nation’s calamities is fit to be ruler over the Empire.

Weapons, however beautiful, are instruments of ill omen, hateful to all creatures. Therefore, he who has Tao will have nothing to do with them.

There is no greater calamity than lightly engaging in war. Lightly to engage in war is to risk the loss of our treasure.

When opposing warriors join in battle, he who has pity conquers.

#6. Paradoxes (15 Quotes)

Thus, while the existence of things may be good, it is the non-existent in them which makes them serviceable.

A variety of colors makes man’s eye blind; a diversity of sounds makes man’s ear deaf; a mixture of flavors makes man’s palate dull.

He who is most perfect seems to be lacking; yet his resources are never outworn. He who is most full seems vacant; yet his uses are inexhaustible.

Extreme straightness is as bad as crookedness. Extreme cleverness is as bad as folly. Extreme fluency is as bad as stammering.

Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know.

Abandon learning, and you will be free from trouble and distress.

Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved. Success is the lurking-place of failure; but who can tell when the turning-point will come?

He who acts, destroys; he who grasps, loses. Therefore, the Sage does not act, and so does not destroy; he does not grasp, and so he does not lose.

Only he who does nothing for his life’s sake can truly be said to value his life.

Hence the warrior that is strong does not conquer; the tree that is strong is cut down. Therefore, the strong and the big take the lower place; the soft and the weak take the higher place.

There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, yet for attacking things that are hard and strong there is nothing that surpasses it, nothing that can take its place.

The soft overcomes the hard; the weak overcomes the strong. There is no one in the world but knows this truth, and no one who can put it into practice.

Those who are wise have no wide range of learning; those who range most widely are not wise.

The Sage does not care to hoard. The more he uses for the benefit of others, the more he possesses himself. The more he gives to his fellow-men, the more he has of his own.

The truest sayings are paradoxical.

#7. Lao Tzu on Himself (5 Quotes)

Other men have plenty, while I alone seem to have lost all. I am a man foolish in heart, dull and confused. Other men are full of light; I alone seem to be in darkness. Other men are alert; I alone am listless. I am unsettled as the ocean, drifting as though I had no stopping-place. All men have their usefulness; I alone am stupid and clownish. Lonely though I am and unlike other men, yet I revere the Foster-Mother, Tao.

My words are very easy to understand, very easy to put into practice; yet the world can neither understand nor practice them.

My words have a clue, my actions have an underlying principle. It is because men do not know the clue that they understand me not.

Those who know me are but few, and on that account my honor is the greater.

Thus, the Sage wears coarse garments, but carries a jewel in his bosom.

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Rumi Quotes & Poetry

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi was 13th century, poet, mystic and theologian who managed to conquer the world with his heart. Born in modern-day Afghanistan, he was under the guiding hand of his father and other renowned mystics and Sufis at the time.

Perhaps, no terminology can portray Rumi accurately so we will refer to him as the “Awakened.”

Rumi QuotesHis work is an untouched flower which soars in the garden of love and poetry. In his poetic expression, Rumi punctures through a literal interpretation of religious tenets and introduces a more spiritual outlook on life, that the world has never seen before.

Even to this day, people from various religious backgrounds continue to praise him for his endless striving to alleviate the pain from their hearts.

His whirling dervishes denote purity and brilliance in their connection with the Source, which in Rumi’s terminology can be presented within different context. The words uttered on a piece of paper are all that separates you from yourself.

In this comprehensive collection of thoughts, insights, and mystical experiences we try to take a sip from his infinite ocean.

Rumi Quotes & Poems on Life, Love, and Friendship

lovers, lovers, this day you and we are fallen into a whirlpool: who knows how to swim?

Our faces are lighted up with gratitude, schooled as we are in wave and sea, inasmuch as ocean and flood are life-increasing to the fish.

You who seek to behold Him, gaze upon this mountain chain of His. O mountain, what wind has blown upon you? We have become intoxicated with the echo. O gardener, gardener, why have you come to grapple with us? If we have carried off your grapes, you have carried off our purse!

Do not stir the clay every moment, so that your water may become clear, so that your dregs may be illumined, so that your pains may be cured.

If you look into muddy water, you see neither the moon nor the sky; sun and moon both disappear when darkness possesses the air.

The seven spheres of heaven are drunk with passion for you; we are as counters in your hand; our being through your being is myriad times at ease.

How sweet it is to give speech and head, to converse with his lip, especially when he opens the door and says, “Good sir, come in!”

Since the Soul of the soul of the soul has come, it is not meet to mention the soul; in his presence of what use is the soul, save as a sacrifice?

Like the rose I am laughing with all my body, not only with my mouth, because I am without myself, alone with the king of the world.

Be silent; for out of jealous regard He desires not to bring all and sundry into the sea.

Let go the tales of this world; we have grown a weary of them. The soul that has fallen into the sugar-sprinkler—how should such things be contained in its heart? He who has become the earth for your feet, how should he be mindful of the heavens?

Open not your eye surreptitiously on any idol out of treachery, lest that all-seeing prince cast you from his regard.

In the genuflections of prayer your image, O king, is as necessary and obligatory to me as the seven oft-repeated verses. When unbelievers sin, you are all compassion and intercession; to me you are the chief and leader of the stonyhearted

Life is a vessel, and in it union is a pure wine; without you, of what avail to me is the labor of the vessels?

Come, say, what loss did earth suffer from this bond? What kindnesses has not reason done to the members?

When a slave grows old, his master sets him free; when I became old, He enslaved me over again.

All men, from king to beggar, are in the tug of appetite; Love delivers the soul out of all appetites and desires.

Beggar of Love, for all the joys that the world contains, reckon that Love is the gold-mine, and those things but gilded.

Since the encounter of Love is near, be joyous of presence for the day of meeting. For us, death is gladness and encounter; if for you it is an occasion of mourning, depart hence! Inasmuch as this present world is our prison, the ruining of prisons is surely a cause for joy.

Rumi Love Quotes

The entire world from end to end is but half a morsel; because of greed for half a morsel, the water vanished. Earth and heaven are bucket and pitcher; water is outside earth and heaven.

Take hold of Him firmly, for He has taken firm hold on you; first He and last He—go, discover Him. Gently He draws the bow, for that arrow of His quivers in the hearts of the lovers.

Speech is that wind which was formerly water; it becomes water when it casts off the veil.

Love’s path is outside the two and seventy sects; since your love and way is mere trickery and hypocrisy, sleep on.

Since midnight sickness has manifested itself in that Master; till daybreak he has been beating his head uncontrollably against our wall.

When did you ever see Love? You have never heard from lovers; keep silent, chant no spells; this is not a case for magic or jugglery!

What is a mere rose? You are the All, you are the speaker of the command Say. If no one else knows you, since you are I, I know you. You are my soul and spirit, you are my Faith. a-chanter; become altogether the Faith. a, so that I may chant you in my heart.

This is the Master of heaven, who is like unto Venus and the moon, and this is the house of Love, which is without bound and end. The soul, like a mirror, has received your image in its heart; the heart has sunk like a comb into the tip of your tress.

This is the Master of heaven, who is like unto Venus and the moon, and this is the house of Love, which is without bound and end. The soul, like a mirror, has received your image in its heart; the heart has sunk like a comb into the tip of your tress.

Come, for today is for us a day of festival; henceforward joy and pleasure are on the increase.

Now I have fallen asleep and stretched out my feet, since I have realized that good fortune has drawn me on.

Keep silent, for the faults of vision always come from question and answer.

So long as the form of the Beloved’s image is with us, for us the whole of life is a joyful parade.

My heart, do not come wandering in this direction; sit there, for it is a pleasant station.

O moon, come forth from the heart’s sky and turn our night to day, that no night-traveler may say, “Tonight is not a night of moonshine.

Mind you do not slip, for the road behind and ahead is wet with blood; man-robbers are nowadays more numerous than gold-robbers. If they are intent on robbing people of reason and awareness, what then will they make of him who is unaware of himself?

Fill your heart with hope, and polish it well and clear, for your pure heart is the mirror of the sun of splendor. Say, who is the companion of Hamad the Apostle in this world? Shams-i Tabr¯ız the Emperor, who is one of the greatest things.

He said, “What is your intention?” I said, “Fidelity and friendship.” He said, “What do you desire of me?” I said, “Your universal grace.” He said, “Where is it most agreeable?” I said, “Caesar’s palace.” He said, “What did you see there?” I said, “A hundred miracles.”

Desolation of both worlds on this road is true cultivation; to eschew all benefits is a benefit in Love. Jesus from the fourth sphere calls, “Welcome! Wash your hands and mouth, for now is the time for the Table.

Drink so much wine that you cease to chatter; after all, are you not a lover? And is not this love a tavern? Though you should utter verse and prose like Jafari gold, there where Jaffar is it is all worthless tales.

That spirit which wears not true love as a garment is better not to have been; its being is nothing but a disgrace. Be drunk in love, for love is all that exists; without the commerce of love there is no admittance to the Beloved.

Love it is and the lover that remain till all eternity; set not your heart on aught but this, for it is merely borrowed. How long will you embrace a dead beloved? Embrace the soul which naught embraces.

Set your heart on the true coin, if you are not counterfeit; give ear to this subtlety, if you lack an earring.

Mankind are stars, and Shams-i Tabrizi is the sun; which star is there that is not illumined by his sun? What pearl are you?
For in no man’s hand is the price of you. What does the world possess that is not your gift? Is there a worse punishment than his who lives exiled from your face?
Do not punish your servant, for all that he is unworthy of you.

How should the drunkard’s soul not utter thanks for a wine to which there is no boundary and limit? Whomsoever you have seen sorrowful and scowling is not a lover, and belongs not to that province.
Otherwise, every bud is a veil of a garden, jealousy and envy have no contagion.

When Love called my heart towards Him, my heart began to flee from all creation. Creatures are sticks; the blind man flings away the stick when he begins to see.

It is rapture which in good and evil gives strength to hand and foot, for this rapture mates the strength of a Rustam to the body of a poor wretch

If you tear the heart away from God, to whom will you then commit it? Tell me this. Soulless is the person who has been able to tear his heart away from God for a single moment.

Do you know why the lovers’ eyes have become like a cloud in Love? Because that moon generally is concealed in clouds.

One day that root will raise its head from the dust, it will become a fresh green branch; what if two or three branches should wither, the rest of the tree will be pregnant with life.

That lion-overthrowing deer—it is evident in its eyes that outside the two worlds it has another desert. This mad heart departed; both heart and madness became lost, for it has another madness loftier than this madness

If I make a difference between envenomed water from His hand and wine, in the path of the Spirit my spirit has come, by Allah, but insincerely. How should any animal drink His water of life? How should the eye which is closed behold His face?

Its only dwelling place is in the well of Babylon; until the soul becomes a magician, it reposes not in any place.
Tabriz! If Shams al-D¯ın shines forth from your zodiac, even the cloud will become like the moon, even the moon will wax in brightness.

Die now, die now, in this Love die; when you have died in this Love, you will all receive new life. Die now, die now, and do not fear this death, for you will come forth from this earth and seize the heavens.

Every foam-fleck of body which received a sign from that sea melted forthwith and became spirit in that sea.
Without the royal fortune of Shams ad-Din of Tabriz one could neither behold the moon nor become the sea.

Let all other men be sorrowful, yet the lover’s soul will be gay and happy and sprightly. Give to the lover every place where a candle is extinguished, for he is endowed with a hundred thousand lights.

We have become drunk and our heart has departed, it has fled from us—whither has it gone? When it saw that the chain of reason was broken, immediately my heart took to flight.

Azrael has no power or way to overcome lovers; love itself and passion slays the lovers of love.

That idea the Christian carries abroad, the Moslem has not that idea, that He is slaying this Messiah upon the cross. Every true lover is like Mansour, they slay themselves; show ¯ any beside the lover who deliberately slays himself.

The sea broke into waves; heaven received a token of this night, and in pride set that token on its head and face.

What do you know, what do you know what kind of mind and soul you are? It is God who knows and sees the virtue that belongs to men.
Become accustomed to speak without lips, like a balance, for lips and teeth do not remain when one passes from the world.

When no more breath remains to the sheep, he fills it with his own breath; you will see whither God’s breath will bring you!

The way to heaven is within; shake the wings of love—when love’s wings have become strong, there is no need to trouble about a ladder. Consider not the world that exists without, for the true world is within the eye; when you have shut your eyes on the world, the world will not remain.

Our blood in our body is the water of life, and sweet; when it comes forth from its place, see how it is all the same! Do not congeal the water of speech, and bring it not from that fountain, so that it is silk on that side and striped cloth on this.

Have you heard that sugar has become cheap in the town? Have you heard that winter has vanished and summer is here?
Have you heard that now in the garden the branches of the trees have heard glad news of the rose, and shake their hands?

All the dead ones of the garden have come to life at the summons of God; their unbelief by God’s mercy has all been turned to faith.

What a marriage feast it is! What a wedding! Heaven is like a curtain; the moon with this plate of gold for a sign is coming. What a hunt! For the arrow of fate is flying; if it is not so, why comes the sound of the bow?

Let me have done. Though it is a cipher, I will not explain it; what are you trying to explain? The soul of explanation is coming.

Little by little the drunkards congregate, little by little the wine-worshippers arrive. The heart-cherishers coquettishly come along the way, the rosy-cheeked ones are arriving from the garden.

Laughter tells of your lovingkindness, tears complain of your wrath; These two mutually contrary messages relate in this world about a single Beloved.

Between the sinner and God, like the Messenger, it runs much to and fro and busies itself greatly.

Our death is an eternal wedding-feast; what is the secret of this? He is God, One. The sun became dispersed through the windows; the windows became shut, and the numbers departed.

Speak not evil, speak not good regarding those who have passed away from good and evil. Fix your eye on God, and speak not of what you have not seen, that He may implant another eye in your eye.

Everywhere the scent of God is coming—see how the people are coming uncontrollably; From him for whom all souls are athirst, to the thirsty the cry of the water carrier is coming.

The fire the day before yesterday whispered secretly to the smoke, “The aloes-wood cannot rest without me, and with me it is happy. It knows well my worth, and expresses thanks to me, for the aloes-wood has perceived that in its passing away there is profit.

See how heaven and earth are pawns of existence; flee into nonexistence from the blindness of the one and the blueness of the other. Every soul which flees away from poverty and nonexistence is misfortune fleeing away from prosperity and good fortune.

When bread and broth ferment in the intestines, they then become reason and soul, the despair of the envious. So long as black rock did not pass away from itself, it did not become gold and silver, neither found its way into coins.

Night has died and come to life again; it is life after death. O sorrow, slay me, for I am Husain and you are Yazid. The pearl held auction, saying, “Who will buy this?” None had the price, so the pearl bought itself from itself. Saki, today we have all become your guests; every night through you has become a Night of Power, every day a day of festival.

Last night a tumult arose amongst the stars, for the most auspicious star arrived from the propitious ones. Mercury became out of control, he broke the Tablet and the Pen; in his wake Venus leaped, drunken arrived at the Pole Star.

The Pride of Tabriz, Shams-i Haqq u Din whispered, “Love is sour-faced with you: it is not fitting to add more vinegar.

Is not the bird of your imagination fleet as an arrow in existence? Know that for a certainty the Absolute flees from the imaginary.

Look not meanly on the world, for that the world is perishing, for afterwards He will fashion it into an eternal world. Men marvel at the alchemy which converts copper into gold; regard the copper that every instant fashion alchemy!

He gives the house a soul and makes it a master; when He slays the master, He fashions of him again a house; Though the form of the master has descended under the dust, He fashions the heart of the master into an abode of majesty.

Whoso falls into Love’s hands weeps like a cloud; whoso dwells afar from Love freezes like snow. Every instant Love shatters a thousand bowls into fragments, every moment stitches and rends a thousand garments.

Though the rose is drunk, it is not dissolute like me, that it should tell you the secret of the intoxicated narcissus. When you seek secrets, go amongst the drunkards, for the tipsy head shamelessly tells the secret. Inasmuch as wine is the daughter of the vine and the family of generosity, it has opened the purse’s mouth and speaks of lavishness;

What, the desire of love for you, and then the fear of ruination? You with purse fastened, and then the love for that sugar lip?

Especially the love of that One the like of whom, from Alast till now, has never been so devoted to chastity. If you say, “I have seen Him,” for God’s sake open another eye and close these twains;

Love for you took away my rosary and gave verses and songs; I cried “No strength (save with God)” and repented oft, but my heart did not heed. At Love’s hand I became a singer of odes, hand-clapping; love for you consumed reputation and shame and all that I possessed.

Your praise is as the sea, our tongue is a ship; the soul voyages on the sea, and its end is praiseworthy. The tender care of the sea is for me like wakeful fortune; why should I grieve, if my eye is stained with sleep.

In the world of Divine Unity there is no room for number, but number exists of necessity in the world of five and four. You may count myriad sweet apple in your hand; if you want to make one, squeeze them all together.

Enquire not of me concerning love, enquire not of any man, enquire of Love itself; Love in speaking is like a pearl-raining cloud, my son. Love requires not the interpreter service of me and a hundred like me; concerning realities Love is its own interpreter, my son.

Tonight is a night of union for the stars and of scattering, scattering, since a bride is coming from the skies, consisting of a full moon. Venus cannot contain herself for charming melodies, like the nightingale which becomes intoxicated with the rose in springtime.

Do not regard Love, which without hands made your hand a hand, as being without hand or head; look in another fashion.

We tear to shreds all snares, we devour all properties; we are sweeter than all others—despite all the blind and deaf.

What is the worth of the gold-pale cheek? Say: the ruby of the Beloved. What is the worth of the pearl-like tear? Say: that glance.

We are slaves to that saki, till eternity we continue; our world is secure and content, the worldlings are passing by. Whoever has been born has died and committed his soul to the guardian angel; the lover was born of no man, love has no father.

I am like reason and mind within your veil, alike in time of pleasure and happiness and in the hour of pain and weariness. On the strange night, when you hear the voice familiar, you will escape from the bite of snake and leap away from the horror of ant.

Beware of mistaking me in a human shape, for the spirit is very subtle, and Love is exceedingly jealous. What room is there for form, if the felt be a hundredfold? It is the rays of the soul’s mirror that pitch the flag visibly.

That pure radiance which the angels discover from him—if it should reach the satans, they would all become houris. And even if that light belonged not for a single day to the devil, he would veil the devil with the veils of his bountifulness.

Minstrel of the lovers, shake the string, strike fire into believer and infidel! Silence is not the proper course of love; unveil the face of welfare.

So drunk am I, so drunk am I today that I have leaped out of the hoop today. Such a thing as never enters the mind, even so am I, even so am I today. In spirit I departed to the heaven of Love, even though in form I am in this low world today.

Since you are a coin of red gold, receive the seal of the king; if you are not red gold, then why all this snipping? In the time when you became a treasure you did not realize that, wherever a treasure is, the informer sets to work.

If this body is infidel at heart, propose “testimony” to it; and if this spirit is fruitless, what matters that? Draw it to the fruit.
Quicken it, and if you cannot, make Messiah your deputy; grant it union, or if you grant it not, draw it by your grace to the Lord of grace.

The fair one whom I am seeking with all my soul I do not see amongst those present here. Where has he gone? He is not amongst those present; I do not see any sign of him in this assembly.

I prostrated before him and drew the bowl to me; the wine lighted a fire in me from its own brazier. When the saki had poured continuously and dispensed for me many glasses after that wise, that wine like red gold transported me to its own quarry.

When union with the Beloved showed itself to Mansour, it was right that the gallows should bring him to the heart’s Origin. I snatched a cap’s length from his robe; his cap’s length consumed my reason and head and foot

The man entered eagerly and reached the skin of the bear; that eagerness made him prisoner in the bear’s arms. I said to him, “Let go the fur coat, come back! How long and far you have remained through toiling and battling with it!

I have no need of wine, I am indifferent to lees and pure liquor; I thirst for my own blood, the time of battle has come. Draw the sharp sword, shed the blood of the envious until the head without the body circumambulates about its own body.

I will enter the heart of the fire, I will become a morsel for the fire; foretelling what, have they cut the navel of the sulphurlike soul? Fire is our child, it thirsts and is in bondage to us; we two are becoming one so that no difference may prevail.

Bid farewell to eating and sleeping; go seek the true religion, that you may be a prince of eternity without your little laws and customs.

If death is a man, let him come before me that I may draw him fondly and tightly into my bosom; I will carry off from him a soul without hue and scent, he will seize from me a cloak of many colors.

I cried out at midnight, “Who is in this house of the heart?” He said, “It is I, by whose countenance the sun and the moon are put to shame.

Let us leave go of earth and fly heavenwards, let us flee from childhood to the banquet of men. Look not to see how the earthly mold has put you in a sack; split the sack and lift your head out of the sack.

Enter my eye and behold me with my own sight, for I have chosen a dwelling place beyond all sight. You are drunk, drunk and happy, I am drunk and happy, without a head; you are a lover with laughing lips, I am laughing without any mouth.

He will make your essence confection better than by giving a hundred confections; I have not heard the delight of the soul’s confection save from his lips.
Be silent, for in speaking the confection falls out of the mouth; without speech a man catches a scent such as I have snuffed.

That nut lacking pith which has chosen the husk—how shall it have perceived the relish of the almond-essence of my Prophet? A sweetmeat full of his nuts, his sugar, and almonds sweetens my throat and lip, gives light to my eyes.

I was dead, I became alive; I was weeping, I became laughing; the power of love came, and I became everlasting power.

My darkling earth gives thanks for my bent sky and sphere, for through its gaze and circling I became light-receiving. The sphere of heaven gives thanks for king and kingdom and angel, for through his generosity and bounty I have become bright and bountiful.

Because every moment my heart is confused with your fantasy, if you are joyous I am joyful, if you are sorrowing I am sorrowful. You give bitterness and I become bitter, you give grace and I become all grace; with you it is pleasant, O my sugar-lipped, sweet-chinned idol.

Lord of Lords and Formless Maker of forms, what form are You drawing over me? You know; I do not know. Now I am stone, now iron; for a while I am all fire; now I am a balance without a weight, now I am both weight and balance.

I am not grieving for a grain, though about this house I circle deep in thought like the heron. I do not seek a house in the village, neither ox and fat herd, but I am intoxicated with the Prince and circle seeking the Prince.

Why do you bite my lips privily saying, “Be silent, do not speak”? Is it not your doing, your craft too that I circle about speech? Come, Shams-I Tabrizi, like twilight although you flee; like twilight in the track of your sun I circle about these lands.

I am not that luckless lover, to flee from the Beloved; I do not hold that dagger in my hand to flee from battle. I am that plank with which the carpenter has much to do, I do not shrink from the axe or flee from the nails.

Not for one single moment do I let hold of you, for you are my whole concern, you are my whole affair. I eat and enjoy your candy, I labour at your counselling; I am a heart-wounded quarry, you are my heart-devouring lion.

My soul, in the sky the sun is the moon’s companion; I know that you will not leave me in this assembly of strangers. I went to a dervish and he said, “May God befriend you!

The voice of your tambourine is hidden, and this dance of the world is visible; hidden is that itch, wherever I scratch. I will be silent out of jealousy, because from your sugarcane I am a cloud scattering sugar, it is only your candy that I rain.

Now I am Turk, now Hindu, now Rumi, now Zang; it is of your engraving, my soul, that I believe or disbelieve. Tabriz, my heart and soul are with Shams-i Haqq here, even though in body I vex him no more.

I am your disciple, for all that I am stupid and twisted of mouth, so that I may learn one smile from your smiling lip. Fountain of learning, do you want me for a pupil? What device shall I invent to stitch myself to you?

Rumi Quotes on Life

Heaven, the bent old man full of wizardry and deceit— by virtue of your youthful fortune I have escaped from this old man. Night and day I ran, I broke away from night and day; ask of this sphere how like an arrow I sped.

All creatures have been made deaf or blind by predestination; I have escaped from the attack and retreat of predestination, and from predestination. Outwardly skin, inwardly stone, the fruit is a prisoner; like a fig, I have escaped from that skin and that stone.

Saki, my spirit is moving in the track of love, but because of your weariness my tongue is tied. Like an arrow I am flying towards your joyous company; beloved, do not break my bow with cruelties.

But on the day when like the spirit you are hidden from my eyes, like the heart of a bird I am fluttering with anxiety.

It is not to blame, since you intoxicated me, if I am scandalous and wrought injustice. Silence, for the mirror is rusting over; when I blew upon it, it protested against me.

How close your soul is to my soul! For whatever thing you are thinking, I know. I have a token even closer than this; come close, and behold my token.
In dervish guise you come into the midst; do not jest and say, “I am in the midst.

Out of all the world I choose you alone; do you deem it right for me to sit sorrowful? My heart is like a pen in your hand; through you it is, whether I am glad or grieve.

By that power whereby a serpent became a staff, every night we are like a staff, daily a serpent; For arrogant Pharaoh we are serpents, for Moses we are staves and obedient.

From these counterfeiters I carried also as a present a filing of the soul to the goldsmith. In the Unseen the boundless world I saw; to that bound I transported my tent.

For the sake of their need and anguish we rise to the spheres and the stars. We come as amber for a necklace from the silver-bosomed Beloved.

On the day when brave men flee, we come as Sanjar in the thick of the battle; We make wine of the foeman’s blood, then we drain it and come like daggers.

In the body the soul has become pure; we become bodiless and come yet purer. Shams-I Tabriz is the soul of the soul; we come shoulder to shoulder in the house of eternity.

If I do not express in speech your elegance, I have your love within my breast. If I smell a rose without your love, forthwith burn me like a thorn.

On the day when you pass over my grave, bring to mind this terror and confusion of mine; Fill full of light that bottom of the tomb, O eye and lamp of my light.

I have fallen silent; do you speak the rest, for I am shunning henceforth my own speaking and listening. Shams-i Tabriz, do you invite me, since your invitation is my blast of the trumpet.

We are living by the light of Majesty, we are strangers and exceeding familiar.

This form of man is a veil; we are the qibla of all prostrations. Regard that breath, do not see the Adam in us, that we may transport your soul with grace. Iblis looked with a separate regard, he supposed that we are apart from God.
Shams-i Tabriz himself is the pretext; it is we who are in the beauty of grace, we. For the sake of a veil say to men, “He is the noble king and we are beggars.

How long shall I speak of “below” and “above”? Place-lessness is my origin, I am not of place, for I know whence place comes.
No, be silent, depart into nonexistence, become naught in nonexistence; behold, how I know things from no-things!

Since my sun and star arose higher than form, I am happier to go from realities into realities.
I have become lost in realities—so it is sweeter; I will not return towards form, I will not look upon the two worlds.

Shams-i Tabriz, I have a realm like Alexander; consequently, out of grace I am army-leader towards the armies of meaning.

Drink, my heart, the spiritual wine, and sleep secure and free of care; for I have beheaded anguish, I have escaped from sorrow and anguish.
My heart has gone up, my body has gone down; where am I, the helpless one? I am neither above nor below.

I am that drunken drummer who went drunk into the arena, I tied my drum like a flag to the top of my lance. What a happy and unselfed king you are!
Ho, silent as a fish— since I have escaped from being, why do you draw me back to being?

Since I drink of your honey, why should I sell vinegar? Why should I labor for my daily bread? It is not the case that I do not possess an ample allowance.

Hear not these words as from me, nor from this clear thought, for I neither receive nor seize this outward and inward. Though your face is beautiful, the cage of your soul is of wood; run away from me or you will burn, for my tongue is a flame.

There is a passion in my head that I have no inclination for mankind, this passion makes me so that I am unaware of myself. The king of love bestows every moment two thousand kingdoms; I desire nothing from him save his beauty.

Since there is a secret and perfect way from heart to heart, I gathered gold and silver from the treasuries of hearts.
Into the thought that was like a brazen stove I flung the dead dog; out of the thought that was like a rose bower I plucked roses and jasmine.

Reason says, “I will beguile him with the tongue”; Love says, “Be silent. I will beguile him with the soul.” The soul says to the heart, “Go, do not laugh at me and yourself. What is there that is not his, that I may beguile him thereby?”
He is not sorrowful and anxious and seeking oblivion that I may beguile him with wine and a heavy measure. The arrow of his glance needs not a bow that I should beguile the shaft of his gaze with a bow.

Sorrow has died for joy in him of “may God bind your consolation”; how should not such a sword strike the neck of sorrow? By tyranny he seizes the soul of whom he desires; justices are all slaves of such injustice and tyranny.

Like the tale of the heart we must be without head or ending, that we may become dwellers in the heart of lovers like a tale.
If he acts the seeker, we shall attain to being sought; if he acts the key, we shall become all the wards of the lock.

Last night my soul cried, “O exalted sphere of heaven, you hang indeed inverted, with flames in your belly.
“Without sin and crime, eternally revolving, upon your body in its complaining is the deep indigo of mourning, “Now happy, now unhappy, like Abraham in the fire; at once king and beggar like Ibrahim Adam.

Every day I bear a burden, and I bear this calamity for a purpose: I bear the discomfort of cold and December’s snow in hope of spring. Before the fattener-up of all who are lean, I drag this so emaciated body; Though they expel me from two hundred cities, I bear it for the sake of the love of a prince;

Only then are glory and respect mine, when his glorious love renders me contemptible. Only then does the vine of my body become wine, when the wine-presser stamps on me and spurns me underfoot.

I have got out of my own control, I have fallen into unconsciousness; in my utter unconsciousness how joyful I am with myself!

Without you, Darling, in both worlds I have seen no joy; many wonders I have seen, a wonder like you I have not seen. They said, “The blaze of fire will be the infidel’s portion”; none have I seen exempted of your fire save Bu Lahab.

We are iron filings and your love is the magnet; you are the source of all questing, in your quest none I have seen. Be silent, brother, dismiss learning and culture; till you recited culture, no culture in you I saw.

If you have barred sleep to us, the way of intoxication is open. Since I have one to assist, he offers wine in both hands. Be silent, that without this tongue the heart may speak; when I hear the speech of the heart, I feel ashamed of this speech.

Wash your face and become clean for beholding us, else remain afar, for we are beloveds of ourselves. We are not that beauty who tomorrow will become a crone; till eternity we are young and heart-comforting and fair of stature.

What place is there for a beauty? For he is the Lion of God. Like a child we prattled, for we are children of the alphabet. Children are beguiled with nuts and raisins, else, how are we meet for nuts and sesame-grains?

Hear the rest from Shams the Pride of Tabriz for we did not take the end of the story from that king.

Rise, lovers, that we may go towards heaven; we have seen this world, so let us go to that world. No, no, for though these two gardens are beautiful and fair, let us pass beyond these two, and go to that Gardener. Let us go prostrating to the sea like a torrent, then let us go foaming upon the face of the sea.

Let us be silent, that the giver of speech may say this; even as he shall say, so let us go.

Even though in anger you depart a hundred thousand years from me, in the end you will come to me, for I am your goal. Did I not say to you, “Be not content with worldly forms, for I am the fashioner of the tabernacle of your contentment?

Bring wine, for I am suffering crop sickness {hang-over} from the vintner; God has seized me, and I am thus held fast. By love’s soul, bring me a cup of wine that is the envy of the sun, for I care nothing for aught but love.

Bring that which, when it is not present, I am stupid and ignorant, but when I am with it, I am the king of the subtle and crafty ones. Bring that which, the moment it is void of my head, I become black and dark, you might say I am of the infidels.

Become empty of belly, and weep entreatingly like the reed pipe; become empty of belly, and tell secrets with the reed pen. If your belly is full at the time of concourse, it will bring Satan in place of your reason, an idol in place of the Kaaba.

By the God who was in pre-eternity living and knowing and omnipotent, everlasting, His light lit the candles of love so that a hundred thousand secrets became known.

That prison became a palace with orchards and meadows, Paradise, and a royal hall and vestibule of sanctity. As when you fling a clod into the water, the water that very moment parts open;

Lovers, lovers, it is time to migrate from the world; the drum of departure is reaching my spirit’s ear from heaven. See, the driver has arisen, the camel train is arrayed, he has begged us for quittance; caravanners, why are you asleep?

I have no stone in my hand; I have no quarrel with anyone; I deal harshly with none, for I am gay as a rose bower. My anger is therefore from that source, it is from the other world; this side a world, that side a world—I am seated on the threshold.

How long this denial and doubt? Behold the mine of joy and salt; fly to heaven like a manikin without a ladder, without a ladder! The beastlike autumn dies, you stamp upon its grave; lo, the dawn of fortune is breaking, O watchman, watchman!

How long must I ask news of you from the zephyr? How long must I seek your moon’s image in the water of my well?
I have been burnt up a hundred ways like the garden, and likewise I have learned from spring—in both states I am dumbfounded at the handiwork of my God.

I become not satiated with you—this is my only sin; be not satiated with compassion for me, O my refuge in both worlds!
Satiated and weary of me have become his jar, and watercarrier and waterskin; every moment my water-seeking fish becomes thirstier.

No more patience has remained for me, nor sleep, nor tears nor water; Lord, how long will he raid all the four of mine? Where is the house of water and clay, compared with that of soul and heart? Lord, my sole desire has become my hometown and habitation.

My lion-catching deer would drink to the full of my milk, he whose quarry I am would have become my quarry. Black-faced night is then not the mate and consort of my day; stonyhearted autumn follows not in the wake of my springtide.

To the eye of the envious I am the wolf; to Jacob himself, Jospeh; to the ignorant, Bu Jahl; Muhammad, before him who ¯ knows God.” Sweet-breathed rosewater is death and asphyxiation to the black beetle; sugary syrup is fatal to the bilious.

Be silent, for the tongue has become a door keeper from measuring words; when the heart speaks without words, it occupies the high throne like a king. Shine, Shams-i Tabr¯ız¯ı, upon the Houses of the heart, for the sun of a secure seat is not like this spinning sun.

Go, know that the code of lovers is opposite to all other ways, for from the Beloved lies are better than truth and beneficence. His impossibility comes to pass, his insalubriousness is a bonus, his injustice is all rectitude. Calumny from him is justice.

Shams al-H. aqq-i Tabrizi! Dear Lord, what sugar you sprinkle! You might say that out of my mouth proceed a hundred proofs and demonstrations.
Become placeless in the Unity, make your place in the essence of annihilation; every head which possesses duality put on a Christian neck. In the cage of being, before this bird of sanctity flies on the wing, make it sugar-cracking in thankfulness.

Become at once secretive and intimate, be silent and become companion; at once become us and become ours, likewise be servant to us. Lest the Christian should steal into your monastery, now be a lover of the girdle, now aim at the cross.

Do you not see how your head is in my bowstring? You are a bow, you must bend to the string. Why do you kick up your hind legs saying, “I have escaped the load?”
I have merely let you go for a moment to graze. In fear and awe of me the sea’s heart surges with billows and throbbing.

Become as ab¯ab¯ıl, and do not flee from the elephant; the heart is like ab¯ab¯ıl in picking up grains. It plucks the enemy like grains, it knows to hear the message of the Kaaba.

This is love: to fly to heaven, every moment to rend a hundred veils; At first instance, to break away from breath—first step, to renounce feet; To disregard this world, to see only that which you yourself have seen.

In the end these moonfaced ones are becoming strawfaced; that is the state of thieves in the presence of my King.” Day has come; earthly ones, restore the stolen goods.
O my soul, whence come goods for earthly man, and whence beauty? When at night the sun has vanished, the stars make boast.

The man who goes to the trouble of offering advice to lovers gets nothing for his pains but to be a mockery of passion. Love has the scent of musk, it is therefore notorious; how can musk escape from such notoriety?
Love is like a tree, and lovers are the shade of that tree; though the shade fall afar, yet it must attend the tree.

Lover, open your two eyes and behold in yourself four streams—a stream of water, a stream of wine, streams of milk and honey. Lover, look into yourself, do not be a laughingstock of men, so that So-and-so says this, and So-and-so says that.

God of his generosity gave you the eye of vision, to whose languidness the pinion of Gabriel prostrates. Bandage not the narcissus-eye, and take not the vulture-eye; bandage not the first eye, and look not with the squint-eye.
Lovers of form have fallen into form, like the fly which falls from honey into a vat of whey.

Beautiful one, by your roguish eye, signal with your eye; for one moment repair with a glance this your ruin. Heart and soul, martyrs to your love, in the tomb of the body—pass along by the tomb of those martyrs, pay a pilgrimage.

Passion for that Beloved brought me out of learning and reciting so that I became mad and distracted. Once I took my way earnestly to prayer rug and mosque; I put on the shirt of abstinence to increase good works.

Do full justice to ruffianism, if you are a dissolute and drunkard; if you are lovely and beautiful, why do you remain behind the veil? “Lovely ones may not flee from exhibiting their features; how can idols suffer not to indulge in coquetry and face decoration?

There entered the city of man a mighty torrent; the heavens were destroyed, and a waterwheel of pure light was set turning. That city was simply madness, mankind therein distracted; for he had escaped from yesterday and tomorrow, when he awakened from a sleep.

O spiritual form, why are you fleeing from us? You are after all of the house, you know the state of this servant. By the right of my hot tears, by the right of my pale cheeks, by the bond that I have with you beyond this human phase.

The physician of the soul brought a tray as a present; if you are a doting old man you will become fair and youthful.
It gives life to the body, intoxication to the soul; it takes away from the heart’s slackness, from the cheeks’ pallor.
That was the tray of Jesus, it became the inheritance of the physicians; you will find in it the antidote, if you have swallowed the poison of death.
You who seek that tray, turn your face to this qibla; when you turn your face thither, you will become the moonfaced of the world.

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the sun and her flowers pdf summary

the sun and her flowers pdf summaryAs we promised yesterday – in honor of Rupi Kaur’s 26th birthday – we bring to you today a summary of her second collection of poems as well.

Published a year ago – almost to the day – the sun and her flowers is everything that milk and honey was.

And sometimes – even more.

Who Should Read “the sun and her flowers”? And Why?

Once again mainly directed at the young female population, the sun and her flowers is a bit more mature and universal than milk and honey, tackling more immediate and less sex-dependent topics such as immigration and embracing one’s roots.

However, it is once again the girls – teenagers and young adults – who’ll enjoy this book the most.

Rupi Kaur Biography

Rupi KaurRupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, illustrator, and photographer.

She started writing anonymously in high school, but she gained a cult following only when she started publishing her poems on Instagram.

Self-published, her first collection of poetry – milk and honeyis, quite possibly, one of the best-selling poetry books in history.

Even though the sun and her flowers has so far sold in somewhat smaller numbers, it has still sold over a million copies – a fabulously staggering number for a poetry book in the 21st century!

Find out more at https://rupikaur.com

the sun and her flowers summary

To quote Rupi Kaur, “the sun and her flowers is a collection of poetry about grief, self-abandonment, honoring one’s roots, love, and empowering oneself.”

Just like milk and honey, this one too is divided into thematic chapters: wilting. falling. rooting. rising. and blooming.

As is evident from the titles, the framing narrative is the life cycle of a flower which Rupi uses to explore the metaphorical deaths through which we all have to go in order to finally blossom.


After the tremendous success of milk and honey, Rupi Kaur signed a deal with Simon & Schuster for two more books.

And then she started suffering from something which can be tentatively described as writer’s block. She knew that she wanted to write and she knew that she hadn’t lost her talent in the meantime.

However, she felt so much pressure that nothing she ever wrote satisfied her:

For months and months and months I couldn’t write. I would write down a sentence and get so angry at myself because I’d think it was complete garbage. I’d rip it up. You know that typical writer thing everybody thinks we do, well that happened for quite a while. Then I thought this isn’t working and if I keep working like this, I’m not going to get anywhere. I really had to switch around how I was thinking about the second book.

The Cathartic Experience

As Rupi explains in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, the thing that finally did it for her was when she realized she had time; that if she is genuine and honest, she will write another book that matters; and that she’s not writing poetry to earn money, so – there’s no rush, nor pressure.

To purify herself and start all over, she wrote this poem:

they convinced me
i only had a few good years left
before i was replaced by a girl younger than me
as though men yield power with age
but women grow into irrelevance
they can keep their lies
for i have just gotten started
i feel as though i just left the womb
my twenties are the warm-up
for what i’m really about to do
wait till you see me in my thirties
now that will be a proper introduction
to the nasty. wild. woman in me.
how can i leave before the party’s started
rehearsals begin at forty
i ripen with age
i do not come with an expiration date
and now
for the main event
curtains up at fifty
let’s begin the show

In the end, the sun and her flowers bloomed into “a grown-up version of milk and honey. The style is the same but [she goes] deeper. It’s more emotional,” as Rupi Kaur, fully aware, says in a Guardian interview.

The Title

Dedication and Epigraph

Rupi Kaur dedicates the sun and her flowers to her family: her father, mother, brother and sister. They – in the eyes of Rupi – “define love.”

The epigraph is a little gem, wedding the joy of life with the sexual experience, the carnal with the spiritual, the life cycle of the plants with what it means to be human, Rupi’s first book (notice the use of the word “honey”) with her second, the one we’re about to read:

bees came for honey
flowers giggled as they
undressed themselves
for the taking
the sun smiled

– the second birth


The dictionary defines the word “wilt” as “to become limp or flaccid; droop.” So, this word encompasses in itself two very different states: explicitly, immediate damage but also, implicitly, past greatness.

A great title for a chapter which treats the subjects of heartbreak and loss.

A big part of sun and flowers, says Rupi Kaur herself, is about the grief of losing “what you think is the love of your life – and dealing with its raw aftermath. How do you redefine love when your idea of love is something that’s so violent? When your idea of passion is anger. How do you fix that?”

Well, sometimes you can’t:

i could be anything
in the world
but i wanted to be his

And sometimes everything you can do is pretend that your loss hasn’t happened:

in order to fall asleep
i have to imagine your body
crooked behind mine
spoon ladled into spoon
till i can hear your breath
i have to recite your name
till you answer and
we have a conversation
only then
can my mind
drift off to sleep

And sometimes the pain is so great that it makes you want to annihilate yourself. That way, you can reimagine your own existence. And you can be someone else, someone you are not, but also someone he loves; that way, you can be his again: “what draws you to her/ tell me what you like/ so i can practice.”

As the poetess herself realizes during a therapy session in one of her longest poems yet – this is not the way to go. Because love cannot come from self-hate, it must be “figuring out all the kind sweetness we deserve.” In other words, love is not becoming someone else to be chosen – “love is knowing whom to choose.”

So, don’t worry – even though “[he] took the sun with [him] when [he] left,” – “you will make it to the end.”

Just “open the door to the rest of it.”


Oh, only if it were that easy! – that’s the leitmotif of the second chapter of the sun and her flowers. Because after loss comes not only pain, but also numbness:

i hardened under the last loss. it took something human out of me. i used to be so deeply emotional i’d crumble on demand. but now the water has made its exit. of course i care about the ones around me. i’m just struggling to show it. a wall is getting in the way. i used to dream of being so strong nothing could shake me. now. i am. so strong. that nothing shakes me.
and all i dream is to soften.

Robert Sapolsky defines depression as a “genetic/neurochemical disorder requiring a strong environmental trigger whose characteristic manifestation is an inability to appreciate sunsets.” It feels as if Rupi Kaur ruminates upon this definition when she writes thus:

when i woke up
the sun fell to the ground and rolled away
flowers beheaded themselves
all that’s left alive here is me
and i barely feel like living

– depression is a shadow living inside me

It seems as if the poetess underrated the extent of a heartache, which, regardless of whether it is caused by a friend or a lover, is always the same: “a loss is a loss is a loss,” concludes Kaur soon, echoing the best-known Gertrude Stein line.

And the problem with losing someone is not the absence of that someone – it is the absence of yourself from your own body and the things you need to do to become your self again:

it felt like you threw me
so far from myself
i’ve been trying to find my way back ever since

And the only way to transcend this state of loss is by finding уour way back to yourself and becoming full again. And that can only come when we realize that there are different ways in which one can be full:

you were mine
and my life was full
you are no longer mine
and my life
is full

rupi kaur heart flower illustration

Sam Smith liked this illustration so much that he tattooed it on his arm



The poems in the third section, rooting, mostly focus on topics such as borders and the experience of the immigrant:

they have no idea what it is like
to lose home at the risk of
never finding home again
to have your entire life
split between two lands and
become the bridge between two countries

Bathed in her own (“my mouth carries two worlds – accent”; “broken English”) and her family’s experiences as immigrants, Rupi Kaur’s verses in this section exude with both poignancy and power. Because the immigrant is someone who has gone through hell, but also someone who has acquired so much strength through this suffering that he’s become so much more than the tender things we are:

what if we get to their doors
and they slam them shut
i ask
what are doors she says
when we’ve escaped the belly of the beast

There’s also a cry for compassion in rooting, because, in the words of Rupi, “borders/ are man-made/ they only divide us physically/ don’t let them make us/ turn on each other – we are not enemies.

Hear that, Trump?


And then, out of the pain and the suffering – we rise, Maya Angelou style!

True, “the middle place is strange/ the part between them and the next,” but it’s also part of every transformation. So, “never feel guilty for starting again,” especially if you’ve been drained by your previous love.

Find someone who “energizes you” and “wraps you in the word special.

And that someone must be – just like you – full on his own, because:

when you are
and i am
we are two suns

You’ll know when that happens:

they should feel like home
a place that grounds your life
where you go to take the day off

– the one


As Kaur says in one of her falling poems, “you do not just wake up and become the butterfly – growth is a process.

And this one ends with the most straightforward discovery of them all: that you are enough.

“look down at your body,” Kaur implores, and “whisper/ there is no home like you/ – thank you.” “their concept of beauty/ is manufactured,” she adds later on. “i am not – human.”

This leads Kaur to an interesting revelation: “it is a trillion-dollar industry that would collapse/ if we believed we were beautiful enough already.”

So, why don’t we?

Why do we feel the need to go under the knife and become something that we are not? We are not each other’s competition – and until we realize that, everybody is losing.

You should not go gently into the good night: you should do your best to meet Death with a smile upon your face; as a winner:

when i go from this place
dress the porch with garlands
as you would for a wedding my dear
pull the people from their homes
and dance in the streets
when death arrives
like a bride at the aisle
send me off in my brightest clothing
serve ice cream with rose petals to our guests
there’s no reason to cry my dear
i have waited my whole life
for such a beauty to take
my breath away
when i go
let it be a celebration
for i have been here
i have lived
i have won at this game called life

– funeral

the sun and her flowers epilogue

Just like milk and honey, the sun and flowers concludes with short prose with a very simple, but potent message. It ends thus:

i find it deeply important to accept that we are not the masters of this place. we are her visitors. and like guests let’s enjoy this place like a garden. let us treat it with a gentle hand. so the ones after us can experience it too. let’s find our own sun. grow our own flowers. the universe delivered us with the light and the seeds. we might not hear it at times but the music is always on. it just needs to be turned louder. for as long as there is breath in our lungs—we must keep dancing.

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the sun and her flowers pdf quotes”

you left/ and i wanted you still/ yet i deserved someone/ who was willing to stay Click To Tweet i notice everything i do not have/ and decide it is beautiful Click To Tweet you are an open wound/ and we are standing/ in a pool of your blood/ – refugee camp Click To Tweet sometimes/ i stop myself from/ saying the words out loud/ as if leaving my mouth too often/ might wear them down/ – i love you Click To Tweet i will no longer/ compare my path to others/ – i refuse to do a disservice to my life Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Rupi Kaur is fully aware that she is not like other poets. And that’s what makes her so special: instead of creating something artificial (you know, as in: art), she has opted to create something immediate and sincere.

And people respond to that.

There’s a reason for that, of course: as David Foster Wallace warned in the wake of the September 11 attacks, we’ve become too insincere. And unless we do something about it, that can destroy us.

So, thanks, Rupi, for doing all that you can to stop that.

you. heal.

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milk and honey summary

milk and honey summaryYesterday was Rupi Kaur’s 26th birthday. (Happy birthday, Rupi!)

To honor her – as well as show our appreciation for her work – we decided to make her two books (milk and honey and the sun and her flowers) the first two collections of poetry summarized on our site.

Consider that our gift to you, a way of paying Rupi’s gift of poetry forward.

Do the same: buy her books and gift them to someone you love; preferably a female; especially if she’s hurting.

Trust us: her poems do wonders.

They are understanding and compassionate; they are mystical and healing

We start with milk and honey, “a collection of poetry and prose about survival… about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.”

Who Should Read “milk and honey”? And Why?

Unfortunately, people don’t enjoy poetry nowadays as much as they used to.

Just for an illustration, according to the 2015 National Endowment for the Arts survey of arts participation, only 6.7 percent of the American population has read at least one poem during the past year.

That’s a decline of 45 percent within a decade!

We certainly don’t know all the reasons for this abysmal statistic, but one of them must be the way poems are written in this day and age. It seems that ever since T. S. Eliot’s 1921 dictum that “poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult” – poets are difficult.

Which is probably why there was such an uproar when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature: even his most surrealistic songs seem comprehensible when compared to those written by the critically acclaimed poets of today.

Rupi Kaur is not one of these poets. In fact, she’s not even that well regarded by many critics. But does it matter?

milk and honey sold in 2.5 million copies worldwide – thousands and even tens of thousands of times more than the books written by some of these critically acclaimed poets (by the way, white males most of the time).

And what’s the point of writing a book nobody would read? Even if you know the most important thing in the world, what difference does it make if you are not able to relay it in meaningful and comprehensible language? How many lives would an intelligible poem change?

As the ancient prophetess Cassandra knew full well – probably not even one. When nobody understands your prophecies, people will go on living the way they would have in their absence.

So, who should milk and honey?

Everyone. Especially women.

Because Kaur’s poetry is clear, personal and it touches something profound. Because she’s not afraid to talk about things other people don’t want to.

And because reading her has meant falling in love with poetry all over again for millions of people; so, it may mean the very same to you.

Rupi Kaur Biography

Rupi KaurRupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, illustrator, and photographer.

Her family immigrated to Canada when she was four years old; since she didn’t understand the language, her mother encouraged Kaur to star expressing herself with drawings and paintings. And she has – ever since.

She started writing anonymously while in high school. After completing her degree in rhetoric studies and professional writing at the University of Waterloo, Kaur began sharing her work via Tumblr.

In 2014, she began adding simple illustrations to her poems and started publishing them on Instagram. The artworks had a haunting effect: very soon, she gained a large number of followers. By the end of the year, after being rejected by numerous publishers, Rupi Kaur self-published her first collection of poems, milk and honey; an enormous success, the book sold over 2.5 million copies and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for almost 80 weeks!

Last year, one day before her birthday, Kaur published her second collection, the sun and her flowers. The book has already sold over a million copies.

Find out more at https://rupikaur.com

milk and honey summary

Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey (the lowercase is – if you didn’t get that by now – intentional) is an intermedial collection of poetry, prose, and hand-drawn illustrations.

The book is divided into four sections, each of them encompassing poems focusing on a different theme, the one suggested in their titles: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing.


“I like to think milk and honey began the day i was born,” writes Rupi Kaur in the FAQ on her website answering the question “where did milk and honey begin?” “The reason for this,” she goes on, “is that i take from my lifelong experiences for this collection. i take from a lot of pain i’ve experienced or my family has experienced. Or my community has experienced.”

The Title

It’s a beautiful title this one – milk and honey – don’t you think?

As Rupi Kaur explains herself, it’s also one which says a lot:

years ago i wrote a poem about the 1984 genocide of sikhs in india. in it there is a line about the women who lived through that terrible time. their resilience is breathtaking. they are the enduring survivors to the murders of their husbands and children. the survivors of betrayal. rape. torture. i write that they come out of that terror as smooth as milk and as thick as honey. i performed that piece around my hometown. but it didn’t feel right in my heart to leave those words right there. in the confines of a single line in a single poem. that day a higher power was at play because i opened up a brand new journal and on the front page wrote those words. something inside me said ‘this will be more one day’. and here we are. this is how the title ‘milk and honey’ is born.

So, you already know what you can expect from the poems inside this book.

They are themselves “smooth as milk and as thick as honey.”

And they are also as sweet and as healing.

Actual “tools to heal wounds, repair the insides.”

Dedication and Epigraph

There’s a sense of urgency permeating through Rupi Kaur’s book. As if she wants to tell you: read these poems; they are everything I am; and they have helped me; they may help you too…

Written “for/ the arms/ that hold me,” milk and honey is a sort of a healing cry, as evidenced by the book’s beautiful epigraph:

my heart woke me crying last night
how can i help i begged
my heart said
write the book

The epigraph explains the therapeutic structure of the collection: hurt juxtaposed with love, heartbreak with healing.

the hurting

The first section of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honeythe hurting – mainly explores two themes: families and sex. As the title of the section implies, neither in a way which will make you smile; rather, in a way which will make you ache and feel the ache; think and understand your thoughts.

The father is usually either absent or uncaring in these poems and the mothers and the daughters are taught to either be silent (“this is how the women in my family/ learned to live with their mouths closed”) or, worse yet, confuse love and anger:

every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
like you

The uncared-for daughters with a fundamentally unsuitable father model (“a daughter should/ not have to/ beg her father/ for a relationship”) turn into girls who fall in love with boys who use their bodies:

i’ve had sex she said
but i don’t know
what making love
feels like

But that’s the only possible outcome. Because, after all, a father “was supposed to be/ the first male love of your life” and “you still search for him/ everywhere.”

the loving

In the next section, the loving, things are turned around by – what else if not her – the power of love! One poem from this section almost reads like a comforting lullaby for the aching ones of the first section:

love will come
and when love comes
love will hold you
love will call your name
and you will melt
sometimes though
love will hurt you but
love will never mean to
love will play no games
cause love knows life
has been hard enough already

However, something that the author stresses over and over again in this chapter is that you can’t love somebody if you don’t learn how to love yourself first: “i am learning/ how to love him/ by loving myself.”

All those faulty relationships of your life are actually an externalization of your repressed hate for yourself, encrusted upon your soul through years of household misunderstandings and patriarchal – but never fatherly – reproaches.

The poem which best encompasses the feeling of this section is probably this one:

i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
and then
i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire

the breaking

The first part of the second dark/light diptych of milk and honey is an exploration of the heartbreak: what happens when love gives way to habit, and heaven becomes indistinguishable from hell?

If the hurting demonstrates that hurts can be a direct consequence of the misperception of anger as kindness, the breaking adds that they can also be the result of the confusion between love and need:

he only whispers i love you
as he slips his hands
down the waistband
of your pants

this is where you must
understand the difference
between want and need
you may want that boy
but you certainly
don’t need him

As she warns in another poem, it’s wrong to “whisper/ i love you” when “what you mean is I don’t want you to leave.”

“i didn’t leave because/ i stopped loving you,” elucidates Kaur further in a thought-provoking poem. “i left because the longer/ i stayed the less/ i loved myself.”

the healing

And, more or less, the healing begins – and ends – with the very same feeling:

you must enter a relationship
with yourself
before anyone else.

This is what experience has taught the speaker: that love is love only when it stems from self-love. Otherwise, it’s nothing more but pain, a projection of your innermost fears and expectations.

It’s not true, Kaur says – it’s a cruel trick, in fact – that another person can complete you; “the most they can do is complement.”

You must “fall/ in love/ with your solitude” before falling in love with someone else. The fact that you are a woman so “capable… of feeling” and “unafraid… of breaking” makes you “utterly whole and complete.”

Never forget that if you want to be healed, you need to “accept yourself/ as you were designed.”


Rupi Kaur illustration

milk and honey epilogue

milk and honey ends with a love letter.

One from Rupi Kaur to her readers.

We feel obliged to quote it in full. But, we also feel that the ones who haven’t read Kaur’s book have not really deserved reading it.

So please don’t – until you read (and reread) each and every page of this book:

you have made it to the end. with my heart in your hands. thank you. for arriving here safely. for being tender with the most delicate part of me. sit down. breathe. you must be tired. let me kiss your hands. your eyes. they must be wanting of something sweet. i am sending you all my sugar. i would be nowhere and nothing if it were not for you. you’ve helped me become the woman i wanted to be. but was too afraid to be. do you have any idea how much of a miracle you are. how lovely it’s been. and how lovely it will always be. i am kneeling before you. saying thank you. i am sending my love to your eyes. may they always see goodness in people. and may you always practice kindness. may we see each other as one. may we be nothing short of in love with everything the universe has to offer. and may we always stay grounded. rooted. our feet planted firmly onto the earth.

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“milk and honey quotes”

it is your blood / in my veins / tell me how i’m / supposed to forget Click To Tweet every revolution/ starts and ends/ with his lips Click To Tweet i want your hands/ to hold/ not my hands/ your lips/ to kiss/ not my lips/ but other places Click To Tweet you were so distant/ i forgot you were there at all Click To Tweet do not bother holding on to/ that thing that does not want you/ – you cannot make it stay Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

The most popular Instapoet (and that’s in the company of, say, Amanda Lovelace, Tyler Knott Gregson, Atticus, Lang Leav, etc.), Rupi Kaur is, in a way, the female counterpart of Khalil Gibran.

And her poetry has already reached as many readers – who have hurt and healed through them.

And that’s the most one can ask from a poet.

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