Rumi calls this human disposition “the Duck of Eagerness” بطة الحرص and warns us that if we leave this Duck roaming around freely, it will take over our life turning the good qualities of eagerness and urgency into an extreme of greed and anxiety.
Here is how he describes this Duck:
The Duck is eagerness, for his bill is always in the ground
Looking for what is buried in abundance or scarcity
His gullet doesn’t stop for a single moment;
The only command he is willing to hear from God is “Eat!”
He is like a thief breaking into a house
And very quickly filling his bag
Cramming in it what is worthy and what is worthless
Pearls and chickpeas alike
He sees his time as limited
and opportunities scarce.
Fear overwhelms him
So he puts everything under his armpit in haste.
But, a true believer - filled with trust-
Conducts his affairs in leisurely manner.
He feels safe
He knows that he won’t miss anything;
And he feels secure from other competitors,
As he perceived the King’s justice.
No wonder he doesn’t hurry
He is calm
At peace that his appointed fortune won’t miss him
Hence he has deliberation, patience, and forbearance
He is content, altruistic, and pure at heart.
Rumi describes this Duck Disposition as greed; and advises us:
“The shackles of greed, on your hands and neck now break
New fortune then, from heaven you can take.”
To be honest, I never thought of eagerness as greed. In our fast-paced world, eagerness, urgency and haste are considered as positive qualities. But, looking more closely, the Duck Disposition generates a scarcity mentality, a fear-based attitude, a FOMO exaggerated by the endless social media posts and flashy ads. We end up insecure, impatient, overwhelmed, feeling unsafe and unsettled, running around, missing all the daily beauty and joys sent our way.
It is time mind the duck! Don’t let it take over your life…
Rumi gives the simile:
“an armed frightened horseman rode ahead
Into a forest on a thoroughbred.
An archer standing there saw him and drew
His bow in fear, not knowing what to do.
He aimed to shoot, the rider shouted out:
‘I’m weak - don’t let my huge frame make you doubt!”
Rumi then explains:
“Your weapons are your trickery and plots-
They’ve wounded your own soul by taking shots.
Since from those tricks you’ve gained naught in the end,
Abandon them, so God good luck might send!”
Sometimes we hold on to our anxieties and fears unconsciously imagining that they are the shield and weapons that keep us safe, keep us in control, not realizing that they are doing us more harm than good.
As Elizabeth Gilbert puts it, “you are afraid to surrender because you don’t want to lose control. But you never had control, all you had was anxiety.”
Our fears and anxiety, our Duck Disposition are the weapons that we desperately hold on to as they give us the illusion that we are in control. But, those “weapons” are in fact what is shielding us from a joyful, peaceful life.
- What are your weapons and shields that give you the illusion that you are in control?
- What is your Duck busy snatching, missing the beauty and harmony of its surrounding?
- How can you mind the Duck?