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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kabir Helminski: Rumi and the Alchemy of Love

Writing in a recent Huffington Post blog, Sufi teacher and author, Kabir Helminski, a noted translator of the inimitable 13th century Persian poet, Jallaludin Rumi, extols the transformative teachings on love provided by this "Shakespeare of mystics." "For Rumi," Helminski notes, "the Divine purpose behind all of creation is to reveal the true dimensions of Divine Love."

Helminski writes how "(a) well-known saying in Islamic tradition which (Rumi) often referred to is: "(The Divine says) I was a Hidden Treasure and I loved to be known, so I created the worlds visible and invisible so My treasure of generosity and loving-kindness would be known."

Rumi's take on Sufism, the mystic heart of Islam, says Helminski (in a related video from the Garrison Institute, below) unveils "a dimension of existence which is the ultimate unity and which has it's own qualities . . . (which) include nurturance, love, infinite intelligence, (and) magnanimous generosity."

"(Q)ualities like these," says Helminski, "are the nature of reality itself. And, when we take our attention from being exclusively focused on the multiplicity - in other words, on the facts of everyday life - and we reorient ourselves towards a perception of this divine reality which is not separate from or other than the multiplicity, but which encompasses the multiplicity, with that shift of attention, with that heart perception, we open to that reality and ultimately are transformed by it."

Quoting Rumi by heart, Helminski observes:
"Deep in the bowels of the Earth
dense, opaque stone - granite -
receiving the emanations of an invisible radiant spiritual sun,
dense stone is being transformed into jewels.
Granite is being transformed into rubies."
"The process of contemplation," says Helminski, "that continual conscious relationship with the Divine Reality transforms our 'stoniness' into 'rubiness.' If a stone says 'I am' it is in a sense an enemy of the light, it blocks the light; but if a ruby says 'I am' it is a transmitter of the light through its transparency. So Rumi says:  "If the ruby loves the sun, it is loving itself. And, if it loves itself, it is loving the sun, because the ruby became a ruby through this relationship to that invisible, spiritual sun.""

Sufis, it should be noted, were the inspiration for the misguided attempts by later Christian alchemists to turn base metals into gold. For Rumi, Attar and the long lineage of other Sufi poets and teachers, the essence of Sufism - of life itself - is the alchemy of love.

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