Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

“Why ask about behavior when you are soul-essence,
and a way of seeing into presence!
…Forget the nonsense categories of there and here,
adult-adventure-backlit-915972race, 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.

animals-backlit-dawn-1126384

do not fear

Fearlessly walk through valleys of darkness.

black-and-white-black-and-white-boy-1299417FEARLESSNESS – pursuing the chosen path which is personal truth, standing steadfast when ridicule and contempt attack from the hidden hills, allowing peace and contentment to reign in nights of loneliness and despair – friends, that is fearlessness.  Just as personal truths, chosen paths are unique. Rejoice in this blessing.  Namaste 🙏backlit-clouds-dawn-415380

 

I’m a kept man

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

Aha! Got your attention, didn’t I?  Read on.  I’ll tell you more.

“Keep me safe TILL THE STORM PASSES BY.”  Do you have a safe room in your house for those times when threatening weather is approaching?  Maybe a severe electrical storm, a tornado, or, here in the southeast, a hurricane?  We stock emergency supplies that will keep us safe with food, water, first aid necessities and we have an evacuation plan should we need to leave our homes.

What about a safe room for things of the Spirit?  It’s that space within that has been filled with a lifetime of verses, prayers, experiences, and readings that allow the soul to soar even when the world outside is filled with thunder and lightning.  That is where the Protector dwells eternally ready to wrap His child in arms of solace and comfort during the storms of life.

One of the truths of this life is that the storm will pass, whether it is one that is bearing down on my house or one that is tearing up my inner being.  “This too shall pass.”  Scriptures witness this truth; wise men and experience agree.  I am not immune from the world’s hatred, the verbal arrows of those who judge me, the vagaries of Lady Fortune.  But there is a place of safety and comfort.  There is a Lord and Savior who keeps me.  Amen!  I am a kept man in times of joy and contentment as well as in times of turmoil.

“Shakir had replied, ‘Don’t be fooled by appearances, for this too shall pass.'”  Persian proverb by Sufi saint Fariduddin  Attar – rumi quotes

 

a beggar

A beggar and wanderer in life’s trek reaching beyond the horizon’s mysteries.  Take me, consume me, I no longer fear your infinite wisdom.

Life can be a blessing wandering through the mysteries of the universe as a beggar hungering for truth.  Or life can be a daily disappointment filled with the sufferings of dissatisfaction because the simplicity offered freely is unappreciated while the worldly desires unmet are futilely sought with gold and silver.  It’s my choice – yours too.

So, wherein is wisdom, the nugget of truth?  Is it with the one who merely endures each day of his life because he is counting with dread the moments until the death transition, the end of physical existence, the decay of body?  Or is it in the one who embraces each new day of his life with excitement and anticipation because he sees beyond the horizon to the other side where infinite wisdom dwells aside love and peace?

I don’t know.  I am nothing more than a traveler, a messenger for a greater truth which I do not completely understand nor am able to humanly define, yet know it exists.   But, as a beggar and wanderer of this universe, I know nothing will be lacking when nothing is desired.  Death and suffering will have been defeated.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi

just knock

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

black-and-white-decision-doors-277017

“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”
Rumi 1207-1273

It’s all about surrender, is it not?  For me, surrender is one of the most difficult things to accept and yet I know it can be miraculously transforming.  When I give up my will, when I beg for guidance, when the great “I” becomes nothing, it is there that the nothingness of my life becomes the greatest something ever experienced.  It is then that my life becomes a useful tool.

It’s about willingness.  It’s a desire to knock on the door and seek entry into the universe of compassionate co-existence with humanity and all of creation.  The infinite wisdom of a greater power gave me the choice to decide which door I will take.  Often in my life I have not taken that door choosing my way instead.  That decision thrilled the needs of ego, but led to devastating consequences.  In retrospect, those self-directed decisions were necessary for the growth of my faith walk.

door-not-taken

“Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find.  Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you.  All who ask receive.  Those who seek, find what they seek.  And he who knocks, will have the door opened.  MATTHEW 7:7-8  the Voice

These verses from the Book of Matthew are words of Jesus telling me that the actions of asking, seeking, and knocking are not a once and done deal.  It is an ongoing process which leads to a continuing regeneration and renewal.  I must apply the surrender and willingness (the seeking) to everyday life expecting always to have doors opened and answers received.

labels

As a retired guy trying to get by on social security, I welcome offers from friends to help them occasionally on painting jobs.  My “expertise” accumulated over many years as a painting contractor fits hand-in-glove to their need for experienced casual labor.  Such has been the case over the past few days.
The client on this most recent endeavor is an extremely pleasant woman whose gift for gab is obviously a plus in her customer service business.  Quick to smile, offering us egg rolls for lunch, and helping as much as possible, this lady talks easily about her adventure in life.  Born in Vietnam, lived in Saigon, she remembers the Vietnam War and shows by her attitude her delight in being American.
Yes, she is American, just as I am.  There was a time during the height of the War when I uncharitably would have tacked on more adjectives to my description of this lady.  My HP has changed my thinking and my ways, but even today I catch myself sending out a simple,  “Lord, forgive me for being such a jerk back then.”
My ego has a need to differentiate me from others.  It urges me to attach stereotypes, to use crass descriptions, and to believe I am better than others.  My ego wants me to label everyone I encounter in an effort to separate from their own humanness.  I unwarily fall into ego’s need to control and define who I am.  This temporary drift into “uniqueness” is in direct contradiction of the higher Essence which lords my life.

I know today that ego is not the controller.  All the labels I use to define me, to describe me, to stroke my sense of self are merely attempts by an ego wanting to be back in control, to preserve its identity.  And all the labels I put on others are attempts to put separation between me and fellow humans.

rainbow-solidarity
St Francis, in a well-known prayer, ends with: “…..for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to everlasting life.” prayer of St. Francis
Rumi, a 13th century Muslim and Sufi mystic, wrote: “What have I ever lost by dying?”  Rumi
Rumi and St. Francis knew the joy and rebirth realized by death and dying of ego.
“Only after you have fallen into the True Self, will you be able to say with the mystic Rumi, ‘What have I ever lost by dying?’ [2] You have discovered true freedom and liberation. When you are connected to the Whole, you no longer need to protect or defend the part. You are now connected to something inexhaustible.”  Richard Rohr