The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Sufi Poetry of Rumi

Some of us are born restless, like misfits who are never satisfied by the offers of religion, science, and philosophy. Some of us don’t want the comfort of conformity and tradition, so we accept the quest for truth as an individual journey that mirrors the process of our own death.
Self is the greatest enemy in this journey. Self is a hair in the eye, a thorn in the bottom of the soul’s foot. Unless it is removed, none of us can see or walk. There won’t be peace on earth until we all wage war against the self. When we become the martyr of our selves, then we conquer eternity.
Some of us believe creation has never taken place, that humanity is the child of perception, and the universe a hallucination. We are stuck in this world like a silkworm caged in its self-made cocoon. Seldom do we suspect that our limited perception puts us in this predicament. Some of us believe there was no beginning, and that there is no end. If no one has ever been born, then no one ever dies.
Some of us also believe the answers to most of our questions (such as those about God, being, life, and death) are beyond our time-and -space-bound perception. The great mystery is always in our realm. No one could franchise it, since the search for truth is the inborn nostalgia in all of us, at any time and at any place.
The precepts of religion that were so helpful in the beginning may become obstacles as you proceed ever deeper into the heart of the heresy, your felt awareness that you and the divine source are one. To enter into the ultimate truth, you need to leave your horse behind and walk alone into the uncharted territory of the soul. There you may find that you need to behave in ways that would have been unthinkable when you were closely following the formulas and rules of behavior prescribed by the religion into which you were born.
The heretic loves God more than he or she loves religion. The heretic needs to be truer to his or her own visions and impulses than to those of the priests of the established religious order. How strange that your personal path to God often seems to be blocked or criticized by the priests of religion.
Do you dare break free of the confining rules? Do you dare to follow your own truth, even if it starts leading you astray from the path of your religion? What if this breaking free is the only way that you can really understand the truth of your own religion? Can you follow the inner, heretical impulse even if it means risking your life to do so?
From: Ergin,N. and Johnson,W. trans. The Forbidden Rumi, Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions,2006


The mouse-soul is nothing but a nibbler.
To the mouse is given a mind
proportionate to its need,
for without need, the All-Powerful
doesn’t give anything to anyone.
Need, then, is the net for all things that exist.
A person has tools in proportion to his need.
So, quickly, increase your need, needy one,
that the sea of abundance
may surge up in loving-kindness.

I spent some time around people,
but fidelity I neither saw nor smelled in them.
It’s better to conceal ourselves
from the eyes of the people,
like water in iron and fire in stone.

O tribe, more beautiful than moonlight,
how can you tolerate your muddy existence?
You who have drowned yourself in the tavern,
wake up. It is day. Why are you asleep?

The dervish who offers the secrets of the
gives away a kingdom in every moment.
He doesn’t beg for bread;
a dervish bestows life.

The Path of Dervishhood
is not for the sake of avoiding
entanglement with the world.
No, it’s because nothing exists but God.

O pure people who wander the world,
amazed at the idols you see,
what are you searching for out there,
if you look within, you yourself are it.

If you desire the self, get out of the self.
Leave the shallow stream behind
and flow into the river deep and wide.
Don’t be an ox pulling the wheel of the plow,
turn with the stars that wheel above you.

With the Beloved’s life-giving waters,
there is no disease.
In the Beloved’s garden of Union,
there are no thorns.
They say between our hearts
there’s a shutter we can open,
but what is there to open if no walls remain?

One went to the door of the Beloved and knocked.
A voice asked, “Who is there?”
He answered, “It is I.”
The voice said, “There is no room for Me and Thee.”
The door was shut.
After a year of solitude and deprivation he returned and knocked.
A voice from within asked, “Who is there?”
The man said, “It is Thee.”
The door was opened for him.

The moment I first heard of love
I gave up my soul, my heart, and my eyes.
I wondered, could it be that
the lover and the beloved are two?
No, they have always been one.
It is I who have been seeing double.

Open your hidden eyes
and come to the root of the root of your self.
You were born from a ray of God’s majesty
and have the blessings of a good star.
Why suffer at the hands of things that don’t exist?
Come, return to the root of the root of your self.

Sometimes you get as frightened
as a camel.
Sometimes you get stuck in the mud
like hunted prey.
How long will you keep running away
from yourself?
In the end,
the thing will happen anyway.
Just go in the direction
where there is no direction.
Go, search there.

If I abandon everything in a single moment,
then I reach you.
O light-hearted beauty of the world,
give me that heavy cup.
Give it,
and then I’ll be saved
from sorrow and helplessness both.
I’m so tired of feeling oppressed by anxiety
and all of anxiety’s troublesome friends.
Give it to me,
for then I’ll be drunk with God’s glass
and be annihilated completely.
I’ll open my wings in absence
and fly away to the placeless place.

What’s happened to the newlyweds?
What shape are they in now?
If you understand this,
you won’t have to participate in the world’s games.
The world put hundreds of thousands
of intellectuals into the sack.
Where is the truly intelligent one
who’s managed to stay outside the sack?

The wandering mind came yesterday
and knocked on my door.
“Who’s there?” I asked. “Open the door,
and come in.”
“How can I come in?” he answered.
“Your house is on fire.
Absence burns everything with his fire.”
“Don’t worry,” I said to him. “Be brave, come in.
He cleans you of your self,
and when he chooses you,
it’s all over. You’re finished.”
There’s a universe called Absence.
It’s waves break on the shore of existence.
Jump right into that wave,
and if anyone asks, just say you’re a Sufi.
A Sufi doesn’t give a thought to his past.
You’ll see your candle light up all the other candles
and its light will mix with the light
of all the great luminaries.
The wave of that sea carries you
to just such a place in the land of Absence.
There it breaks the ties of your soul
from everything you’re attached to.
Only in the land of Absence
can you discover your Absolute Being.
You’ll become the king at the harem of Absence.
Everyone will follow you there.
Existence itself won’t be able to look at you
because the light of your greatness
would blind its eyes.

Love and patience do not go together.
Reason cannot stop your tears.
Ecstasy is like a beautiful town
that cannot be controlled
by any one of its inhabitants.
The caravan of life is passing us by,
but no one can hear the sound of the bells.

If you want to feel rapture,
then give up thinking, and quit worrying.
You’re like a bizarre bird
in the shell of the body’s egg.
You can’t fly because you’re inside the egg.
But when this egg is crushed,
you’ll fly free and save your soul.

You are wrapped up in the self from head to tail.
What are you looking for in yourself?
You’re like water in the jug,
encased in earthenware.
Embark on the journey of love.
It takes you from yourself to Yourself.
And cut the story short, my friend.

Sufis believe that, expressed in one way, humanity is evolving to a certain destiny. We are all taking part in that evolution. Organs come into being as a result of the need for specific organs (Rumi). The human being’s organism is producing a new complex of organs in response to such a need. In this stage of the transcending of time and space, the complex of organs is concerned with the transcending of time and space. What ordinary people regard as sporadic and occasional bursts of telepathic or prophetic power are seen by the Sufi as nothing less than the first stirrings of these same organs. The difference between all evolution up to date and the present need for evolution is that for the past ten thousand years or so we have been given the possibility of a conscious evolution. So essential is this more rarefied evolution that our future depends upon it... How are these organs developed? By the Sufi method. How do we know that we are developing them? Only through experience. In the Sufi system there are a number of “stages.” The attainment of these stages is marked by an unmistakable if ineffable experience. This experience, when it comes, activates the organ in question, gives us a relief from our climb upward, and grants us sufficient strength to continue the climb. The attainment of stages is permanent. Until one of these stages has been reached, the photographic plate, as it were, may have been exposed and developed, but has not been fixed; and actual experiences are the fixative substance. This is the meaning of mystical experience, which, however, when indulged in without proper harmony with evolution seems merely to be something sublime--- a sensation of omnipotence or of grace, but no assurance of where the happy or unhappy mortal is going next. Sufis believe that Sufic activity produces and concentrates what might be termed a centrifugal or magnetic force. This force calls to similar force elsewhere. With the coming together of such forces, work continues. This is an explanation of the mysterious “messages” which Sufi teachers get, telling them to repair to such and such a place, in order to respond to the call of the force there which has become derelict ( in the sense of abandoned ) or needs their reinforcing... This is as far as anything in Sufism can be explained in formal terms. As for the rest, the only valid thing is the Sufic watchword: “ He who tastes not, knows not.” (Rumi) (from The Sufis. New York: Random House, 1971)

Poetic verses from The Forbidden Rumi (see above); The Sufis (see above); and Helminski,K. ed. The Pocket Rumi Reader. Boston & London: Shambala, 2001.