Chase a deer and end up everywhere

“Chase a deer and end up everywhere” is a reference to the life of Ibrahim (d.783). A prince of Balkh, Ibrahim represents to the Sufis someone who in one visionary moment gives up his external kingdom for his inner majesty. There are striking similarities between his life and Gautama the Buddha’s.
Balkh seems to have been an area, along the the Silk Road, where Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and other faiths met and blended. Lotus motifs, indications of a line of meditation, are on the ruins there of the school of Rumi’s father, Bahauddin Velad.
Here is Rumi’s account in Discourse #44
of Ibrahim’s epiphany:

Ibrahim, when he was still king, went out hunting.
As he galloped after a deer, he became separated from his retinue. His horse was tired and lathered,
but still Ibrahim rode. Deep in the wilderness,
the fleeing deer turned its head and spoke.
“You were not created for this chase.
This deer body did not take shape out of nothingness, so that you might hunt. Supposing that you catch me,
will that be enough?”
Ibrahim heard these words deeply and cried out.
He reined in his horse and dismounted.
There was a shepherd nearby.
“Take this royal jacket sewn with jewels. Take my horse and bow. Give me your shepherd’s robe of coarse cloth, and tell no one what has happened.” The exchange was made, and Ibrahim set out on his new life. He made such an extraordinary effort to catch the deer and ended up being caught by God.
All plans are subject to revision. God lives between
a human being and the object of his or her desire.

Coleman Barks
from Rumi: The Big Red Book
HarperCollins 2010

ibrahim's coat

When I first considered illustrating this story,
Frida Kahlo‘s Little Deer sprang to mind.
I haven’t done it justice but I had fun,
so I guess that’s ok. Sorry Frida…

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2 comments on “Chase a deer and end up everywhere”

  1. Excellent deer haunches, and you’ve got the eyebrows just right. I like the royal jacket even more. Ed

  2. You’ve always been a sucker for a fancy jacket!


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