Brown University 2001 New Plays Festival Finalist

Introduction: The Book of Job


Job's Comforters by William Blake from Illustrations of the Booke of Job (1825)


A part of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament which includes Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, the Book of Job, whose author is unknown, has been dated back to 500-250 BC by biblical scholars. The central question of the Book is "Why do the righteous suffer?" The story in a nutshell is as follows:
Job is a righteous rich man and the head of a large contended family. God takes pride in Job and his piety however Satan tempts God to put Job to test claiming that if God took away Job's possessions and loved ones he would curse God. Job gradually loses everything and is reduced to utmost poverty and sickness. Even his wife Sarah is fed up with the trial that fell upon them and asks Job to "Renounce God and die". His friends who come to comfort him are shocked by the extent of his suffering and suggest that his condition must have fallen upon him because he must have sinned. They urge him to ask for God's forgiveness. Job refuses to accept that he was sinful and in marvelous series of poetic utterings he gives timeless voice to human sense of helplessness before unconquerable unjust suffering. He questions God's justice but never loses his faith, his truthfulness, or his belief in his innocence.
At the depth of his agony the Lord appears to him in a whirlwind and gives him a vision of the universe and His master plan. Job is terrorized and humbled to realize that he is nothing but dust and repents that he ever questioned God's plan. God rebukes Job's comforters for speaking things they do not know and blesses Job so that he can build all that he has lost. At the end Job is rewarded for his endurance and is restored. He dies at a very old age surrounded by loved ones.

 

A Play by Selim Tezel


The Look of Job



Characters:
Job (a man in his thirties)
Hope&Death/Shiva&Maya/Voices1&2 (two women)
Notes:
I imagine the play to be like a poetry reading to a background of sufi/mystical music.
poster: composition on a painting of Leon Gerome

Prelude:
Voice1:
the following poem of Rainer Maria Rilke is heard amidst background of music

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.



Part I:
Under the apple tree/ story of a ripening fruit

Voice 1&2:

do you know what
a ripening fruit dreams of
as it ripens?

as the days roll by, winds blow
the sun makes its cycles
and the elements their dance,
do you know what the fruit dreams of?

Falling.

the fruit dreams of falling.
it dreams of yielding to a
mysterious force
calling it
ceaselessly
to the heart of something
unknown
it dreams of falling to that
without
holding
falling without stopping
or hesitation
what calls it, it doesn't know
to what it is called
it doesn't understand
but it dreams of
yielding, surrendering
to this unbearable longing


the tree of life
holds its beloved the fruit
in its grip for
the tree knows
truths yet foreign to the fruit
the tree knows that
there is a time for everything
and that
patience must tame
the impressions of the seasons

thus the fruit in its agony
torn by
two unconquerable forces
ripens
through endless days and nights
through the cold of the morning winds
through the cruel burnings of the sun
through thunders and rains
it ripens in agony
longing for the day when it will be
free

free to fall
to whatever is calling

this is the story of the dreams
that are dreamt as
knowing ripens
to become
what
it will become

this is the story of
our ripening humanity
to become
what we will become


Part II: Dream of Job

Job:
(to the audience)
days roll by

they turn into
nights
nights that never end

a heavy heart follows me around
this night
a fear, a terror visits me
yet again
its knock on my door

what to do?
where to go?

ceaseless questionings
will take no leave of me
my mind is a wreck
a ship lost
in high seas
tormented by storms
greater than me
and what is a man
without his mind?

sickness has visited me
my body is aching
the poison that
runs through my veins
plays its vengeance well
i am all dried up
inside and out


my spirit is a broken bird
its wings
can no longer carry my heaviness
all this struggle
and what for?


the lights are dimming
the world is
growing cold
darkness, a long night
is descending
on this strange land

i don't know
this place any more
i don't any more know
myself
my mind, my body, my spirit
have taken me hostage
in their tormented
cycles
i see no light
no way
out


(to the skies)
how to love you
o lord?
how to praise you?
when my heart is so heavy
and
a curse floats
upon my lips


how to continue
loving you when my whole
being vibrates with
an anger that consumes me
an anger for the day
i was born
for all that my eyes have seen
for all that i have lost
and for you lord
i have an unending
anger for you

how to keep on calling you?
when i am
sick
so sick of your
silence
sick of my burdens
and pointless torment

why is the night so dark
and fate so cruel to us?
why must our days
be spent with so much bitterness
and in such agony
and
why your
silence?


last night
i dreamt
that
you finally heard my voice
heard me
calling you ceaselessly in my anguish
and
that the gates of mercy opened before me
you appeared before me
in your glory
and let me behold your face
and hear your voice
you told me about things
about the higher order of things
things that i could never hope to
comprehend

through your eyes
meanings and purposes
that transcend a mind
were shown to me
and
in my awe, in my terror
i understood
i understood my place
that all was good and purposeful and
as dust that i am, as dust that i shall be
and i was thankful

and then you restored me
you restored me
blessed me for my endurance
my beloved ones came back to me
and in love and joy
all that i lost
i could build again


i woke up
this morning
still shaking with fear and joy

soon my eyes told me
that i have been dreaming
a happy dream
a wishful dream
a dream that lied
itself to existence

now i stand
painfully awake
my room ever so dark
I lie watching the ceiling

listening to the
clocks ticking
water drops falling
flies humming


Part III: The Dance of Hope and Death/ The Choice


hope:
sleep, sleep
my dark beloved
for it is not yet
my time;
i will come to you
and that for sure
but now, i pray,
just sleep

you will take me
that i know
and take me to your
land
and there you will
veil me
veil with shadows
till i touch time's end

sleep, sleep
my dark beloved
for it is not yet
my time
i will come to you
and that for sure
but now, i pray,
just sleep

death:
cold you have grown
so cold, my beloved
and faint has become your light

this strange world
promising you flowers
has only broken your heart

let me touch you
let me kiss you
as i carry you home kindly
through this night

there i shall tend you
heal you
and keep you warm,
far from this fight

hope:
sleep, sleep
my dark beloved
for it is not yet my time
i will come to you
and that for sure
but now, i pray,
just sleep

you will take me
that i know
and take me to your
land
and there you will
veil me
veil with shadows
till i touch time's end

sleep, sleep
my dark beloved
for it is not yet my time
i will come to you
and that for sure
but now, i pray,
just sleep


Part IV: Stranger in a Strange Land

Job:
as death flirted with life
and i was at once
tempted by hope and
the sweet call of the end
tossing back and forth
back and forth
wrestling with one and
then the other
i saw
something
i never knew before

i became
for but a second
a
witness
of the
eternal fight
of life and death
i saw them as
two aspects of
my self
chained to each other
chained to
circumstance
held together
by my will
my choice

and a memory
came to view
and i recalled how
i first called upon myself
this trial of faith


far away yet
there was
a day, a blessed day
when i was watching
my life and all the good things
there in
all that my hands had done and
the fruits of my labor
as i reflected on how
hard had i worked
and how generously
life rewarded my efforts

then
a fear arose
deep within me

voice 1&2
"you
a dust upon this world
who are you and what
are your hands
that your work should be
thus blessed
that your days should pass
in joy and comfort and
in the sweet company of love
when torment reigns
on every household
and toil and misfortune
knocks on every door
what is your claim to
such good fortune?"

Job
as fear called
and shook me and
as i saw to the truth
of its doubting core
another self rose
a self that founded itself in
righteousness,
a god-fearing self

voice 1&2
the lord gives
and the lord takes it away
blessed be the name of he
who blesses the hands
of those who believe in him
who touches the labors
of those who fear
his judgment
and those whose
refuge is righteousness

Job
i was
a righteous man
as grace inspired
as circumstance nourished
my heart felt for my fellow man
and as grace inspired
i was generous and kind
to all that crossed my path
yet i knew
deep down i knew that
even my faith, my righteousness
were gifts
blessings tossed upon me
by fortune

a doubt rose within me
again

voice 1&2
you
son of man
endowed with gifts beyond measure
gifts of the mind as well as
those of the heart
blessed with the light
to see how to put them to use
you have accumulated
yourself much
good of this life
yet
who are you that
you should be thus favored
what is your worth that
you should enjoy
all that you enjoy

what are you?

Job
as doubt became too
hard to diffuse
and i could find no answer to its
queries
an urge rose within me
to suppress it
to violate its uprooting voice
to transgress its truth

this i did
and in doing so
i became a stranger
to my own self
a stranger in a strange land
a stranger to my own truth

and then i heard


voice1 (God)
whence comest thou?

voice2(Satan)
from going to and fro in the earth
and from walking up and down in it

voice 1(God)
has thou considered my servant job?
for there is none like him in the earth,
a perfect and an upright man
one that feareth God and escheweth evil.

voice 2(Satan)
doth job fear God for nought?
hast not thou made a hedge about him
and about his house and about all that he hath on every side?
thou hast blessed the work of his hands,
and his substance is increased in the land.
but put forth thine hand now,
and touch all that he hath
and he will renounce thee to thy face
and put forth thine hand now
touch the beloveds of his heart
touch his bone and his flesh
he will curse thee to thy face

voice 1(God)
behold, all that he hath is in thy power;
only upon himself put not forth thine hand.

Part V: In the core of darkness
Job:
what way shall we find
o sight of tender glory
as we wander
in broken temples of our longing;
sight of daylight
seems ever so fleeting
and far away
and alas, the night
is still so cold
as the hand touches and sweeps
dusty marble tops and broken images
the heart
aching to break free
from memory and thoughts
of a dark age,
fill our hearts with the
silent knowing that is in
a burning candle;
with its warmth and quiet
may we find a way
out of this night

Voice1&2: *
blow on the coal of the heart, beloved
the coal of the heart
it is all the light now
all that we have
blow on the coal of the heart
the candles in temples are out.
the lights have gone out in the sky
blow on the coal of the heart
and we'll see by and by
we'll see where we are
the wit won't burn and the wet soul smolders
blow on the coal of the heart and we'll know...
we'll know...

*excerpt, Archibald Mcleish, "JB"

Job:
teach me, life
teach me
teach me how to
come out of this night
how to find my light
how to find my heart
for
all i see is
my misery,
my brokenness
my raging anger and
my self-loathing

i hate my life
i hate my fate
i hate myself

Voice1&2:
watch
and accept
all that appears before your sight
inner and outer sight
with gentle love

always, with love*
(echoes)


*excerpt form recording of a Sathya Sai Baba devotee postal clerk whose name i cannot recall

Job:
how can i love what
i have come to loathe?
on what ground
can i lay love?
now that all is lost
and i know none was
ever mine
and the sight of my pitiful
existence
is ever so clear to me
why
should i love
myself

Voice1&2:
Because you,
as you came to know yourself,
appeared as a tiny speck
on the window of creation

Job:
no, no one can love this way
only God can love this way
none but God can love this way


Voice1&2:
exactly!
(echoes, several times receding)
exactly!

your God
.
.
dwells within you
.
.
as You

Your God
Dwells Within You
As
You*

(echoes, several times receding)
exactly!

exactly!


*excerpt, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda "Kindle My Heart"

Part VI: The dance of Shiva &Maya

Shiva
what lies have you
told your self, love
today, and chosen to
believe ?
what hurt did you call upon yourself?
what darkness did you invoke?
what shelter you made yourself
to hide yourself?
is your light so unbearable
or is it your solitude?
do not curse any more
do not
call anymore
veils upon your
lovely face
will we ever find our way back home?


Maya
fire,
cities are burning
a sadness hovers over the plains
like a dark cloud,
ready to burst its load
there are people, beings
running everywhere
some bleeding, some covering their bodies
some run in frenzy behind
young ones;
oh love, there are young beings lost
without parents
they run, bewildered,
some hide, but all in fear
so much fear
shiva is destroying
recklessly, mercilessly
this world
all that is false
must be grounded
but why this fury
this lustful slaughter
a world in agony
as truth rises
to this desolate land
drowning the sounds of sirens
cursing the thickness of the night


Shiva
a dark room
basement of a building
long deserted
drops of water
fall
to echoes in the stillness of the night
cold, shattering cold
there i found you lying on the ground
subconscious
nearly frozen
dreaming dreams that you will never remember
broken,
shivering
open your
eyes love
open your ears
and hear my voice
this heaviness
love,
what has happened to your heart?
what endless darkness has descended
to your little heart?
wake up, love
wake up


Maya
a trench,
buried in mud, your eyes
stare into emptiness
cold
life has left you cold
and barren in this
cruelest of worlds
had i hands to wrap you
to keep you warm
to touch your wounds
to give you some comfort
but sleep my love
just sleep
for now think of nothing else
it's almost over
almost

Shiva
i called you
many times
not once, but ceaselessly
but my voice
doesn't reach you
or perhaps
my language is strange, too primitive
to you, perhaps they reach you
but fall off
like water from the rocks
they have nowhere
to cling on to
you too have called me
i know, i heard you
so many times
as many times as i have called you
but
you did not hear that i heard you
tell me how to reach your ears
each time i reach for you
you turn and go back in hiding,
like a baby beast not quite ready
for light
though you can't yet hear my words
you know me;
intimately;


Maya
every night as you rest your heaviness
upon me
you hear me singing an evensong
as your mind descends,
as your heart is released
of its burdens
and
your breath loosened
you come back to my
loving hands
and as you dissolve into the
hum, heart beat by heart beat
breathe by breathe
we vibrate as one
as ones never departed

Shiva
you are like my soldier
my warrior, explorer
released to an unknown
land
but i take you back every night
in your sleep
as you descend into my depths
with every heart beat
and every breath
love, you know me
as your self
and thus you cannot see me
my face is so hidden from you for it is
so revealed


Maya
you look into your mind
that barren desolate
battle field;
each fight has carved its mark
recording, meaning into its depth
what a labyrinth it has become
though such was
never its purpose
you have become lost
crushed by its weight
by its heaviness
by its colors
dark and ghastly
it has become a torture ground

Shiva
whilst all this
i glance at the temple
and see that it has yet
remains unrecognized,
unexplored, or even touched
do you not know love where
we live?


Maya
come,
give me your hand
and let us go
to your deepest treasure
here all your worries will
depart from you and
all fear will drop away
darkness will melt
at the sight of the gates
the gates of compassion
gates of silent knowing
and understanding
let me show you
your innocence
your misconception
your deepest truth

you can hear me now
i know that you can hear me
try
try to stay with me
follow my voice
as much as you can

Shiva
it is almost morning
you are sitting on a roof top
looking at the horizon
watching wild colors
dance their ways to
another day
the sun is winking at you
you have remembered each other
finally you have began
to recall things
and to recognize
signs,
signs you have left for your parting
playful, love, you surprise me with your tricks

Part VII:The Remembering

Job:
whose depth is this
that i have discovered
lying beside me,
that shows me my very eyes
in the brilliance of a thousand
suns;
a mesmerizing blueness of the calmest night
at what depths
shallowness that i thought was mine
and me was gently dissolved;
what reflections do i behold
sparkling play of delightful images
that call me to remind
what i have carefully forgotten


Part VIII: A Prayer

Job:
do you know what
a ripening fruit dreams of
as it ripens?

as the days roll by, winds blow
the sun makes its cycles
and the elements their dance,
do you know what the fruit dreams of?

Falling.

(silence)

Job /Voices 1& 2
if it is indeed you
god
staring out behind
our fearful eyes
and it is you
who cries when
we cry
and
darkness
is but a cloud
floating in a mind
and truth is ever present
and
light
shines forever free
through dark strokes
and shadows
against the
inner canvas
then
what
grand deceit is this;
what masterful
make believe


we as you
call
upon you as us
from these bodies
your
purposeful cages
that your ripening in ours
is full of
sweetness and joy
and that love guides
you as us
through the
thunder and the rain
and the
impressions of the seasons
and that
may a day come
when our lives
as one
reaching fullness
be a feast
of joy
peace
and knowingness

(lights out the play ends with the following Rainer Maria Rilke poem with echoes fading into the background )

Voice 2
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

 


Author's Note:

As a secular Jew who grew up in a predominantly Muslim country I have always been fascinated and troubled with religion. Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions that I encountered and studied in my adolescence failed to give me the faith in a religious life and could not confirm my inner convictions about the nature of spiritual truth. My sophomore year at college I had a great spiritual crisis which made me drop out of school for a year. During that year in a dusty corner of a university library in Istanbul I came across a book on Ramakrishna, the great 19th century saint of India. The book had a photograph of him attired in beautiful white Hindu robes, lost in the ecstasy of samadhi, a state of divine consciousness. That picture enchanted me and reminded me that divinity is an experience to be lived. In the gentle teachings of Ramakrishna and his great disciple Vivekananda, I could begin to see the true potential of religion and start healing from my own troubles and inner conflicts.


The simple truth they preached which I recently encountered again eloquently expressed in the teachings of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda is

"God dwells within You as You".

This is a powerful proposition, but one that an honest mind refuses to comprehend and harbor as an axiom for it is so contrary to our experience. However it is clear that such a premise has the potential to grant us totally new ways of looking at ourselves, our lives and at one another.

The Look Of Job began to take form in me last year when I started being drawn to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. The refreshing spirituality of his The Book of Hours gave me a sense that our lives can be seen as a "ripening". The beginning of the play is completely inspired by Rilke's poetry.

I am deeply indepted to my friend and teacher David Stern who first gave me clues as to how to utilize our capacities as compassionate self-observers to befriend our estranged selves and start breaking the cycles of duality. In the play Job's awakening starts with such an invitation to self-compassion. I am also indebted to a Sathya Sai Baba devotee postal clerk (unfortunately whose name I cannot recall) whom I met several years ago at a retreat and whose personal account of his own call to universal Love, while on duty at a post office, had a profound effect on me. In the play there is an excerpt from this account. Last but not least, I am grateful to my Professor Aishah Rahman for introducing me to the Book of Job , for encouraging me as a writer and for believing in me.

Thank you for your time and kind attention.