“Why ask about behavior when you are soul-essence,
and a way of seeing into presence!
…Forget the nonsense categories of there and here,
race, nation, religion,
starting point and destination.
…No more questions now
as to what it is we’re doing here.”
(underlining is my emphasis)
RUMI, THE BOOK OF LOVE by Coleman Barks
This short passage from Rumi, a Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, Sufi mystic, emphatically tells that instead of being concerned with the ego and its demands, the journey in this life is all about the inner essence, the divine spark. Call it Spirit, call it energy, call it God or whatever our faith traditions name this essence, this is the ultimate reality. Rumi, in naming “there and here, race, nation, religion, starting point and destination as nonsense categories”, challenges the mind to ask, “If not that, what then is important in this world experience?” Not names, not locations on this planet, not vocations, not family status, not physical appearance, not past successes nor personalities define who or what we are as members of this human experience. If we believe otherwise, we are deluding ourselves.
Of course I have difficulty with this thought process. Being reared and having lived my life in Western culture with its insatiable drive to promote the needs of self (a.k.a ego) over all other concerns, the welfare of fellow mankind and the stewardship of our Mother Earth easily become lost in the hubbub of me, me, me.
Perhaps if reared in Eastern philosophy or having embraced the ways of mystics as a young man, viewing the inner self as reality and all else as secondary baggage would not be as daunting. But, I am a typical Westerner and therefore, I struggle. I try not to compare myself with others on their spiritual trek, I only compare to whom I have been and where I have walked. My goal is progress, not perfection.