"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finding Rumi on the Spiritual Path

For the "spiritual not religious" soul who wakes up as if from a daze and finds him or herself suddenly thrust along a spiritual path, perhaps there is no more reassuring and inspiring a book than the translation of Jalalludin Rumi's mystic Sufi poetry by Coleman Barks and John Moyne, "The Essential Rumi."

Rumi, the renowned 13th century Persian poet, speaks to the emptied vessel of the spiritual aspirant, acknowledging the spaciousness of a mind uncluttered by the troubles of the day, saying:
Jalalludin Rumi (1207-1273)
"I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and find only clear being there."

Rumi was the son of Bahauddin Valad, a noted Islamic jurist and teacher, who was caught up in the delirium of mysticism which would ensnare his son and carry his son's poetic voice down through more than eight centuries of history to this day.

Rumi was only 24 years old when he lost his father, and he was to wait another 13 years, quite alone in a spiritual sense, with only his father's writings to guide him, until he met Shams of Tabriz, the "Sun" around whom Rumi's "Earth" would thereafter orbit. In the interim it was Bahauddin's notebooks, the Maarif, which would nurture Rumi's poetic soul until his muse in the form of Shams, the itinerant Sufi wanderer, would appear.

Bahauddin, like his son was a lover of both the sensual and the divine, and his writing (as translated by Barks and Moyne in the "The Drowned Book") melds the two. Often Rumi's poetry seems to pick up where Bahuaddin's writing has left off.

Bahauddin writes:
"Someone asked me what is the knowing I speak of and how does the love I mention feel? I said if you don't know, what can I say? And if you do know, what can I say?
        The taste of knowing love has no explanation, and no account of it will ever give anyone that taste."

Rumi responds:
"There are guides that can show you the way.
Use them. But they will not satisfy your longing.

Keep wanting that connection
with all your pulsing energy.

The throbbing vein
will take you further
than any thinking.

Mohammed said, "Don't theorize
about essence!" All speculations

are just more layers of coverings.
Human beings love covering!

They think the designs on the curtains
are what's being concealed."

Bahauddin writes:
"How can I explain the other worlds to those who say there's nothing beyond what we touch and see?"

"Materialists quickly reach their limit like a man so stuffed with food he finds everything tasteless. The feeling that there is no further delight comes from ingratitude and a refusal to admit your failures.

Rumi responds:

"For hundreds of thousand of years
I have been dust grains

floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting, ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time-and-space
cross this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture,
I nurse the milk of millennia.
Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere . . ."
 * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If one wakes up and indeed finds one's self on a spiritual journey, then there could be no better guide than Rumi for whom his father provided the inspiration and Shams the sunlight that would make Rumi's poetry a beacon of the divine for countless generations . . . and countless generations yet to come!

1 comment:

  1. i love this blog and the idea of it! religion sets us all apart but spiritual connection is something we all have in common and thats one thing that can make us unite.