Sunday, October 4, 2009

Listening to RUMI in Times of War


This Persian 1229 painting represents for me the listening mentor and the wise student as Rumi might envision such a relationship.

The life and teachings of the popular 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi, have special meaning for a 21st-century world torn by war, genocide and hatred

(Extracted from and with deference to Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer for an article another Sunday, April 1, 2007 entitled: "Can Rumi save us now? Life and words of the popular 13th Poet")

During the last part of his life, the Persian poet Rumi was surrounded by news of killing and violence similar to our own days. Then it was the Mongol invasions that swept past the steppes of Asia into Anatolia, the Near East and other areas of geographical importance. So, where's the mention of these in Rumi's writing?

Nowhere Rumi scholars answer. Rumi, a man so advanced in Islamic training that he could issue fatwas, divorced himself from talk of revenge, retribution and eye-for-an-eye killings. Instead, he insisted that violence was an unsatisfying way of resolving issues.

In words only understood by the most practiced contemplatives or mystics, Rumi said in his epic the Mathnavi: "Every enemy is your medicine...and heart healing," (as translated by Majid Naini, an Iranian American scholar) and "Carry the burden smilingly and cheerfully, because patience is the key to victory."

Application for us may be a challenge for each our personal and communal faith. And at the same time as we can't shirk our callings to justice and nonviolent protests in the face of grave accounts of disregard for the sanctity of life, we can apply Rumi's inestimable words to the need for a universal and timeless view.

Interest in this mystic-poet from Persia (now Iran) -- and in his message to us today that the faithful of all religions have a common humanity -- continues to mushroom. Now that we're barely past the significant 800th anniversary of Rumi's birth, "Keep in mind that the holy Quran states there is no force in religion," says Naini, a Rumi expert who has lectured on the poet at the United Nations. "Rumi wants to remind us that we are all children and the creation of God, regardless of religion, race, color, nationality, etc."

Born on Sept. 30, 1207, in what is today the area of Balkh, Afghanistan, Rumi might have been a religious cleric all his life were it not for Rumi's "Discoveries on the Majestic Path of Love,"

Rumi who - before these discoveries was considered the highest Muslim authority in Konya - relinquished himself from the trappings of his fame and fortune in order to enter into a higher spiritual devotion.

Seven centuries later, scholars consider Rumi and his followers to be emblematic of Islam's Sufi tradition, which emphasizes a mystical closeness to God, and to other humans, regardless of their faith.

Many see in Rumi and the Mevlevi a spirituality that features dancing, music and talk of brotherly and sisterly fellowship. They see someone a man who turned his back on hatred and revenge. In the current climate of war and warmongering, Rumi left behind volumes of work that have gained relevance as time has passed. Then, again, in "Mysteries of the Universe," Scholar/biographer Naini emphasizes Rumi's thoughtfulness on science, music, and nature and still sees Rumi's biggest gift to readers today to be his emphasis on the power of love and tolerance.

Rumi didn't pretend that sorrow in his life or the lives of others. In fact, after his mentor, Shams, mysteriously disappeared, Rumi felt sorrow for many years. His stories of trying to retain a closeness to God through love and loss are at the heart of his writing. Rumi said, 'From love, thorns become flowers.'

How do we listen deeply and well over time to such a message? How do we apply Rumi's voice of sanity and balance to our troubled lives around the planet today?

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I was avoiding the following intent of the Rumi quote above, 'From love, thorns become flowers...." because in loving my Pakistani "family of friends, fellow writers and colleagues of all ages" I can't bear to be the bearer of the bitter medicine Rmi's words included. Yet since my wise telepathic brother has given the connecting words from Rumi in his Comment - along with his own brief commentary - I need now to place this here in post itself.

Akhtar Wasim Dar left this new comment:

"Every enemy is your medicine and heart healing"
Jalaluddin or grandeur of religion as his name meant was the most sane and wise voice of his times, it is said about him that he had no great love for his own words, it was only because people demanded words from him that he dealt in them at all, but his message was healing for hearts and elevating and uplifting for spirits. Love and trust the basic and common denominator that we require humanity today to accede to, to get out of the ignominy and mistrust that people and nations hold for each other and go beyond that in fulfilling the promise that Life entails is what we can learn from Rumi.

Thank You so much, Akhtar Sahib and Brother of truth and heart, again and again!

In keeping with the heart of Rumi - This image was found at Belief Net

2 comments:

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

"Every enemy is your medicine and heart healing"
Jalaluddin or grandeur of religion as his name meant was the most sane and wise voice of his times, it is said about him that he had no great love for his own words, it was only because people demanded words from him that he dealt in them at all, but his message was healing for hearts and elevating and uplifting for spirits. Love and trust the basic and common denominator that we require humanity today to accede to, to get out of the ignominy and mistrust that people and nations hold for each other and go beyond that in fulfilling the promise that Life entails is what we can learn from Rumi.

Connie L. Nash said...

Your answers are sublime, show both experience and knowledge and offer quite an expansion of the original intent.

How glad I am that not only do you embellish the original post yet you often transform even my own best original conception.