Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi was a 13th century Muslim mystic, teacher and poet who still speaks to us today. Below are some of his thoughts about life.
Journey to Fulfilling Our Human Purpose
If we don’t nourish our heart and soul spiritually but pursue the ways of the world, our spirit is left starving. (Cf. Bible: The cares of life work against and choke the seed of God’s Word – Matt 13:7, 27.) Our heart is God’s home and cannot be happy until we burn away the selfishness to make room for God.
Human purpose is to come to self-awareness and the awareness of our ultimate potential. We are precious to God, but of and by ourselves are not even aware of our worth. Through divine inspiration, together with examining our attitude and thoughts through frequent reflection, we perceive our valuable inner nature. The soul is thus opened and life is surrendered to God in exchange for “Paradise” – an intimate relationship with God. The journey toward awakening the inner self becomes like a fire that will never go out. (Cf. Bible: Losing one’s life for Jesus Christ leads to eternal life – Matt 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 17:33; John 12:25.)
The soul that opens itself to God soon sees that there is nothing else besides God – from whom all love flows. The only hope to win the heart of the Beloved is to give oneself to him.
Spiritual practices – study of spiritual writings, meditation, and prayer will foster a desire for a deeper self-knowledge. The seeker shall find – “Never give up the search for the divine King; his scent is perceptible everywhere.” (Cf. Bible – Matt. 7:7-11; Prov. 8:17). Seek like-minded company in the quest for God. Be open-minded and willing to change, flexible and not rigid. Lay a blank page on the table so that a greater Hand than yours can begin to write the story of your life. The journey to God is one of self-purification after self-examination. (Cf. Bible: Avoid and overcome sin and serve God – Rom. 6:12-13; 8:13-14). Avoid striving for the approval of others. The only opinion that counts is God’s.
God’s mercy transforms us from sinfulness and delivers us from the pit of despair to transcend the whole world. (Cf. Bible Rom 5:1-11.) Always remember God who gave you the awakening and strive to follow his will. When the light of God’s wisdom comes to us, our eyes will become a beam of light – seeing in a speck the whole sun and in a drop the whole ocean.
God often surprises us – what we expect happens in a totally different way. As a result, we remain perplexed and realize our weakness and ignorance, which in turn increases our faith in the “Hidden Realm”.
Failure, Hardship, and Pain
Failure is a chance for self-improvement. Our trials and setbacks are all a part of the quest. Failure makes us aware of God and is ultimately a guide to eternal bliss. “Paradise is surrounded by hardships and tests.” (Cf. Bible, Acts 14:22.) When we fail to accomplish our plans, our hearts start opening to God and our divine destiny. “Bad luck” can lead us to the exploration of our soul. As we search for greater awareness within one’s self, we begin to see with the eye of the spirit. Life becomes sweeter and hardship is balanced with the balm of understanding. Inner beauty and light shines through and makes others desire the same.
Hardships give us opportunities to grow and lead us to patience and perseverance. (Cf. Bible, Rom 5:3-5.) Success engenders hope. Most hardships are rooted in our wants and desires. True wisdom is to live with less, rather than more. (Cf. Bible, 1 Tim 6:10.)
Pain shows that something has to change – it is a teacher. We need to address the root of our pain, or our heart will remain unsettled and peace allusive. Pain provides a wake-up call to take action, so it is an expression of love, enabling clarity of perception and motivating us to improve our situation. It brings us to God, while good fortune may drive us away from God into self-sufficiency. Enemies and adversity are remedies and a benefit where God has our best interests at heart. Through pain and sadness, the joy and peace are better appreciated. There is a remedy for every pain, but God has to let us see it. Happiness is hidden under sorrow – everything has a silver lining. All the help we need is within us.
Illusion versus Reality
Sadness and stress are the effects of being asleep to reality and are an illusion. Our totality, the depth of our consciousness, the inner recesses of the unique being that make up the individual beyond the physical, are on another level of existence. The heart is a bird of the spiritual realm. It should be encouraged to leave the prison of the physical world to fly to the boundless world of ideas.
All physical progress through achievements is an illusion – it will all pass on. “Humanity is ocean waves crashing on the shore of life one after another only to recede and rejoin the ocean from where they came.” The real bountiful life lies far beyond the material.
Holding too tightly to the world is a sign of immaturity. Once we mature, we release our grip. We are prisoners in the world. We need to “dig a hole” and escape. Keep physical pursuits in balance, bury self-centredness in God’s centre, and become buried in God’s love.
Physical life is like a dream compared to the reality that an awakened mind sees. Seek for the earnings of spirituality which are love, joy, and the ability to accept the Light of God.
Don’t become fooled by physical abundance – it is deceptive. Hoarding is a natural human inclination, but is not profitable. It makes us asleep to the spiritual world and blinds us to our inner potential as spiritual beings. If physical objects distract us from examining our soul, we’ll never be truly satisfied with life. Our materialistic inclinations will extinguish the divine spark in our heart – they are a distraction from the real purpose in life.
The world is not subject to our control. Rather, there is an invisible Force behind it.
Everyone is in a constant state of dying. Look at each person, even relatives, as though they were taking the last breath. Understanding and compassion will grow in the heart, and the roots of hatred, jealousy and envy will be cut off. We need to heed the message of death.
The dying are not sorrowful because of death, but rather regret of having missed the opportunity to perfect their soul. Only when we understand and accept that life is short can we free ourselves from the shackles of materialism. (Cf. Bible, Job 7:7; Ps. 39:5; James 4:14.) Nurture the higher nature – that’s the only thing that will be left upon death.
Everyone has been made for a particular kind of work and the desire for that work has been implanted within their heart. From the outset of any endeavour, see where it will end, so that on the Day of Judgment, you won’t find yourself in sorrowful regret.
True love begins with the awakened mind. An open mind guides the heart and teaches it how to listen to the fleeting Divine echo that lies just at the edge of sight.
Love is the expression of the will of God throughout the universe and the foundation of the natural world. Throughout the web of life, there is an essential energy that binds organisms to their fellows and enables them to survive. Only humans can choose to infuse their actions with love or with hate – to open themselves to express love or bury it within their soul. A part of learning to be a more loving person involves looking inward and turning the eyes of self-examination upon one’s shortcomings.
Love is both a state of being and an internal disposition. It is more than affection, physical attraction, or focused longing. It includes the willingness to forgo one’s own goals and desires for the benefit of others. It is the foundation of integrity and the cornerstone of our basic sense of justice and goodness in the world. Love, expressed by a purified soul that has turned to God, enables people to read each other’s soul on a deeper level – peering within, they see each other as more than mere humans.
While the currency of this life is gold, the currency of the next life is love.
Giving thanks for what you have is better than the object received. Thankfulness is at the heart of material blessings – the items are just a shell.
Relating to Others
Perceiving evil in others is a reflection of evil within us. We need to first face and reform ourselves before trying to correct others. (Cf. Bible Matt 7:1-5.)
Rumi Meditations by Yahiya Emerick (Alpha Books, the Penquin Group, New York, 2008)
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Photo Credit: Carter Perrier