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The Guest House: A Poem By Rumi



Less of a quick quote and more of a poem.

Interesting thoughts, are something we owe him.

From a glimpse inside our minds, to a knowing of negativity.

This is a post about a poet, and just what he means to me.

The reason I want to talk about this one, is because I have recently had some fairly significant setbacks in business and personal life.

I fist saw this poem on Ozy where they analyze the man more than the poem. So I want to go through how this poem makes me feel and hopefully you can also get some benefit from it.

If you would like to learn about the man himself, I will go briefly over who he was and then get into the poem.

As always, these quick quote posts aren’t meant to force upon you a meaning, but rather to let you know what they mean to me.

I recommend you read through them and come to your own conclusions which may be similar…or may be wildly different, as is the way with our human nature!

Who Is Rumi?

molanamolanaKnown by his full name: Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī or Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Rumi was a mystic in the true sense of the word and someone who visits this planet only once in centuries.

He was a 13th-century poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic from Persia, (present day Iran).

His works transcend both time and space and belong to no individual person, persons ethnicity, nation or anything else.

His thoughts belong to us, to everyone.

I want to really focus on this particular poem, so if you want to find out more, I suggest you visit his Wikipedia page and learn a bit more about the man behind the words.

So let’s get to it:

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Sometimes after reading poems like this one, I think to myself how the human mind is able to come up with such beauty and existential thought.

The Guest House by rumi

What I Get From This Guest House Poem?

I very much feel as though this poem is kind of in the same strain as the the caterpillar quote I analyzed a while ago.

They both infer a new awakening, a new beginning and that we should really embrace an impending darkness, because from the dark will come light.

Let’s Go a Bit Deeper

So when I read this, I really see a point that he could be trying to make.

Essentially, every emotion, every feeling, is something created and something that should be savored.

It is incredible that we feel anything like this at all.

Our minds are an open house and all are welcome.

Why should we suffer negative emotion?

This brings to mind a usual answer that believers in God use as a retort to Epicurus when he laid forth several premises to try and understand the Problem of evil.

The retort usually goes along the lines of God creates evil so that we can appreciate the good in life.

Now I am willing to say that I am somewhat agnostic and I don’t think that this answer is a fully rounded explanation for evil, but for the sake of Rufi’s quote, it works quite well.

I often find times when my mind in  a dark malaise that I find difficult to escape from.

It scares me when I feel it really starting to consume me.

But this poem from Rumi, highlights an important issue: the very fact that I am feeling something is something to in fact, marvel at.

In many ways, when I listen to this poem, I am reminded of Rene Descartes…I think therefor I am, (or a more accurate interpretation would be “I am thinking, therefore I exist).

From any emotion, negative or otherwise, we can reground our bodies in the everlasting fact that, whatever else that my be or not be, I am here.

I am real.

I am existing in some kind of form that transcends everything else. Even if I am just a brain in a vat, I am thinking about…anything which means that I am a thinking, existing thing. Here in the universe.

From Darkness…Light?

An age old adage, from ever since we turned our grunts into complex communication.

From the darkness comes light.


Is this really what Rumi is trying to convey in his poem? One could argue that this is the purpose behind the prose.

However I disagree slightly on this interpretation.

For one thing, I feel as though that kind of thinking is kind of betraying the point of his speaking about negative points.

In a sentence; I think that is too simple an explanation.

You see,

I feel as though Rumi is not saying that negative thoughts are bad, not something to try and quickly get rid of.


In fact I think that he is actually trying to tell us to welcome all thoughts into the mind. Prepare for every twisting and turning, beautiful and barbarous thoughts that appear from the aether…for all are welcome and sometimes we need to destroy the status quo to really become new, to become fresh.


In Hinduism, the Trimurti is the trinity of the supreme god that creates, maintains and destroys.

I have always been fascinated by this thought.

In the West, we have been brought up to believe that only creation is good and anything that is to be destroyed, such as the great flood of Noah, is bad and evil. It washes away evil.

But why must destruction only be limited to all things evil?

Sometimes even good things finish…I am sure you have heard the phrase: “all good things must come to an end”.

Indeed, to be able to truly appreciate all that is good in our lives, it can’t last forever, our brains are not wired to keep a constant level of emotion and we just simply cannot sustain it.

So a destruction of something only sounds bad, because of the word we use…DESTRUCTION!

However let’s think about it in a less evocative way, perhaps it isn’t destruction but rather tilling the field for a round of fresh crops.

We must churn up the earth and dispose of weeds to make way for a new form of sustenance.

What Has This Got to do With Rumi?

Well this has everything to do with Rumi and his guest house poem.

For a start, all negative emotion that enters our minds, no matter how horrible or disturbing, may not be a bad thing.

Did you know, that the world’s happiest man, is also the world’s biggest liar.

No one is always happy. How can we be. We are born of extreme violence and are constructed from the same matter as the most violent things in the universe…the stars.

However this isn’t a bad thing.

If the our star had never gathered enough gas and particles to explode into creation, we would never have existed.

The sun literally had to destroy and burn in the most fierce way, for our little blue world to blossom into being.

Now then , back to Rumi’s guest house poem.

His talking about welcoming in the dark and dangerous thoughts are not intended for you to act upon them, but to use them as force for cleansing a fresh.

Welcome them into your mind.

Be aware of there existence and understand why they are there.

We all have dark thoughts, sad, dangerous, harrowing thoughts that we wish would just leave. To be ashamed of them, we should not be.

As Rumi is saying; they are here for a reason. They are sent to us from something, by someone, from our surroundings, the universe, God, Angels, our brothers and sister…however you wish to believe these thoughts came the point remains the same:

Welcome them in.

Understand them.

Use them to create something better in yourself, for you and I have no idea whether or not they have arrived to usher in something wonderful.