The Guest House: A Poem By Rumi

The Guest House by Rumi

The Guest House is a beautiful poem by the Sufi mystic Rumi, which you’ll often hear recited on mindfulness courses and retreats.

Its powerful message encapsulates one of the most important lessons in mindfulness training—embracing whatever shows up in our experience with an attitude of non-judgemental acceptance.

When we experience difficult thoughts, feelings or emotions, the natural tendency is to reject them. We believe there is something ‘wrong’ with them being there and want to get rid of them. The trouble with this approach is that, the more we resist, the more power our thoughts and feelings have over us, and the more they disturb our peace. What you resist persists.

Rejecting them adds fuel to the fire. It only serves to make them stronger.

In the Guest House, Rumi suggests a different approach. If these ‘unexpected visitors’ are there anyway, why not work with them, rather than make enemies of them?

 

The Guest House

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 honourably.
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.

— Jalaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks (The Essential Rumi)

 

The Guest House Unpacked

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.

We have little or no control over the thoughts, feelings and emotions that appear in our experience. They show up at the door uninvited. And, more importantly, they are not permanent guests. They are not who we are. You are the guest house. Your feelings are temporary visitors passing through.

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 honourably.

Embrace all of your thoughts, feelings and emotions with open arms. Or, as my teacher used to say, “roll out the red carpet”. This doesn’t mean you have to like them. It stems from the wisdom that rejecting them only gives them more power. The more you can say ‘yes’ to whatever arises in your experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, the more peace you will feel.

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.

Every experience in life is an opportunity to grow as a person—to develop our spiritual muscles. Life’s difficulties are often the catalysts that help us evolve and make us stronger. From this perspective, they can be looked upon as gifts in disguise.

 

If you enjoyed the article, please leave a comment below.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Guest House: A Poem By Rumi”

  1. Beautiful poem and wonderful comments. I totally agree and although it’s not always easy this life-advice is the best and most truthful to achieve permanent inner peace..
    Thank you

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