Thoughts on “The Guest House” by Rumi

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.

(Translation: Coleman Barks)

I decided to offer my thoughts on this poem because for me it embodies the feeling of gratitude that we should all embrace during this time of thanksgiving.

These last couple years have been difficult. I don’t think there is a single one of us who has not faced challenges and uncertainties the likes of which we never imagined. And as I look around me, I see this collective stress and anxiety manifesting in our society and in our behaviors toward each other.

I propose that we look to Rumi’s wisdom and try to understand that everything we are going through is just part of the human experience. And if we stop and think about it, it is an amazing experience. Although I have dealt with sadness, tragedy, pain, and an array of negative emotions, I have also known incredible joy, love, wonder, and contentment, and so much more. One of the greatest skills I’ve learned is the importance of gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for, and no matter how bad things have gotten, and they have gotten pretty bad at times, there have always been aspects of my life for which I could be grateful.

I hope as you read this, you will pause and reflect. While things could be better, they could also be infinitely worse. If we keep that in mind and remain grateful for the good things in our lives, I believe we can begin to shift our cultural trajectory.

Wishing you and yours abundant joy and happiness.


Filed under Literature

13 responses to “Thoughts on “The Guest House” by Rumi

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  2. Thanks for posting this wonderful poem, Jeff, along with your words of wisdom. It’s one of my favorites of Rumi’s.
    On a good day, I try to see all that happens, and all that is, as expressions of necessity in a world continually unfolding, not towards an endpoint, but into deeper layers of meaning through seeing connectedness.
    … just listened to a podcast interview of Ian McGuilcrest this morning. He mentioned that one of his daily practices is to read a poem every morning. Thanks for your offering!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Hi Debra. It is a great poem and really helps me put things into perspective. Reading a poem every morning is a great practice. Personally, I like using daily meditation books, where each morning brings a spiritual passage. But the idea is the same, reflect on words that resonate at a deeper level.

      I wish you and your family all the best this Thanksgiving. Thank you for all you do and for all the wisdom you share.


  3. Your right Jeff focus on the good things in life. I enjoyed this passage.

    • Hey Deke. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Grateful that we have become blogosphere friends. I always appreciate your wit and enthusiasm. Best to you and the family 😀

  4. This is beautifully written, Jeff. When I think about how earlier generations endured world wars, a depression and even earlier, the hard life of coming to this country, we have a great deal to be thankful for, despite current times.