Half a loaf and a jug of wine

This volume explores the Sufi mystic path of beauty and love that emerged during the eleventh and twelfth centuries in Central Asia through the verses of the poet Omar Khayyam.

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Extracts from Half a Loaf and a Jug of Wine


There are three ways of presenting something to someone. The first way is to tell him the whole of it. The second way is to tell him what he wants to hear. And the third way is to tell him what he needs to hear.

If you tell a person the whole of it, it’ll be too much for him and he will be confused. If you tell a person what he wants to hear the result will be that it will be of no benefit to him. But if you tell him what he needs to hear he will either close his ears or he will tell you that you’re mistaken.

Sufi saying

2. The Flower of Joy

Wake up! Wake up!
The flower of joy
does not bloom for those who are asleep.
To be asleep is as good as dead –
and once you’re gone
you won’t be back.


Have you noticed yet that you are alive? It is a miracle of the impossible.

The Beloved
disguised as the million things
kisses your eyes
and says:
“Do you see me?”


18. A Bubble on the Face of Infinity

You ask me about this illusory life
but it’s not something
that can easily be told.
You might think of it as
a bubble on the face of infinity
or a reflection in the window.


A window can be looked through from two sides. What you see depends on which side you’re looking through.

The real is the mirror
in which you see yourself
and you are the mirror
in which the real projects itself.

Ibn Arabi

40.  Joy and Sorrow

It is you
that paints your own happiness
and your own sorrow.
It is you
that makes yourself just
or unjust –
it is you
that makes yourself
exactly what you are.


If you want to know how to cook a tasty meal you need to follow the right recipe.

You have all the ingredients
to bake a cake of joy –
mix them well!


70. Like a Circle

Many have tried to explain
where we come from and where we go –
but the Beloved is like a circle
and where does a circle begin
and where does it end?


Where has it all come from? It’s like this. You open your door to find flowers on your doorstep. The flowers arrived without a card. So where did they come from? They were sent by love.

Without love
the world would be inanimate.

From the Mathnawi by Rumi

95. It Surrounds You

In truth tomorrow is something unknown –
it lies beyond your grasp.
As I have said before
all you have is now.
So take delight in this beauty
that surrounds you everywhere.


Life is the symphony that is being played by love.

Whoever would love the Beloved should first and foremost give thanks for the life he has been given, for it comes from the Beloved. And so he loves food and drink, for it sustains his life. He loves woman, for it is from woman that life comes. He loves silver and gold, for with it the provisions for the sustenance of life can be acquired. He loves the cold and the warmth and the snow and the rain for without them the wheat would not grow. He loves the heavens and the earth since they are the wondrous creation of the Beloved. He loves all living beings for they are the children of the Beloved. And so in loving it all unreservedly, he loves the Beloved.

Ayn Al-Quzat Hamadani (1098-1131 CE)