Reflections on Rumi

Jelauddin Rumi lived and created his poetry in the 13th century in what is now Turkey.  He was a Sufi, which means many things including lovers of God and is often referred to as the mystical aspect of Islam.  Whatever or whoever Rumi was we can say without doubt that he has been the most read and most loved of all spiritual poets for the last 700 years.  Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, New Agers and even agnostics all go to Rumi when they want to be brought into the direct Presence of the Divine Heart.

My reflections on Rumi's poetry are exactly that.  Reflections.  There is no "last word" in my words.  Rumi is a spiritual master and I sit, head bowed, at his feet and before his words.  May God bless these ruminations.

"Joseph is back.
And if you don't feel in yourself
The freshness of Joseph,
Be Jacob.

Weep and then smile.
Do not pretend to know something
You have not experienced.

There is a necessary dying,
Then Jesus is breathing again.

Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground.  Be crumbled.
So wild flowers will come up
Where you are.

You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.  Surrender."

To encounter more of the depth and intensity of what Rumi wants you to experience, I suggest that you read this poem slowly three or four times before you continue.  Take deep breaths in between.  Remember, you are in the presence of a master who has the ability, with only a few simple words, to bring you into Another Presence.  When that occurs, words are no longer necessary.

Why Joseph and Jacob?  These are men who were humbled and then made great.  They became fertile soil for the Seed.  We can be like them if we do what Rumi advises.  "Be ground.  Be crumbled."

Spiritual wisdom is often the opposite of conventional wisdom.  Rumi tells us to do something that might seem strange to the novice.  He says give up if you want to succeed.  We must crumble.

But crumbling is a prerequisite for planting.  Seeds cannot be planted in hard and rocky soil.  We must allow life to break our egos into little pieces so that the Divine Seed can find its home in us.  Nothing is harder and more impenetrable than the ego of a highly successful person.  The greater we "think' we are the less we can receive from spirit. 

Rumi is not advocating low self-esteem here.  He is not saying that self-hate is the same as being ground.  In fact, self-hate and low self-esteem are also blocks to the planting of the Seed.  If we decide that we are not worthy, if we are adamant about our unworthiness, then we will be creating a different kind of hardness that is just as resistant to seed planting as an inflated ego.

We must be prepared to let go of arrogance of all kinds including any ideas that we truly know something.  Then a dying can occur, a necessary dying.  Rebirth cannot occur without it.  But Rumi promises us something miraculous.  He brings us into the presence of Jesus, the one who rose from the dead, and implies that our dying somehow connects us to that life-giving, death-transforming power.

We are taught by conventional wisdom that dying and being crumbled are things to avoid.  Being humbled (this word actually comes from the Latin for earth and ground) is connected to shame.  But in reality, REALITY, what is truly real, humility is never shameful, it is the doorway to divine emptiness (which is the source of all that exists).  Therein lies the miracle.  Rumi wants us to know that being crumbled, broken open is not a process of shame but of Divine Preparation that leads to rebirth (wildflowers growing in an open field).

Rumi completes this passage with a simply elegant statement.

"You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.  Surrender."

Try something different.  Try.  Something.  Different.

Most of us have a terrible time with surrender.  We think of it as weakness.  We imagine that it means being out of control.  We are correct on both accounts.  It is an admission of weakness or an inability to "make" things happen in our lives.  It is also a release of the idea of being in control.  I say 'the idea" because we have never really been in control at all.  Control is an illusion. 

To the American, individualistic, freedom seeking, can do mentality, surrender is even worse than humility.  We pride (the opposite of humility) ourselves in never surrendering.  We would rather die than surrender, but we certainly do not mean the kind of dying that Rumi is advocating.  To us this kind of death is the end of the road, a dead end.  It is not a doorway to a new life or new being.  It is something that we must rage against.  Thus we are confounded by the outrageous words of the poet who asks us, directs us, to try something different.  That kind of different, to the conventional mind, is absurd.

Yet, Rumi's call somehow slips through unseen cracks in the wall of our cultural rigidity and is received by a lonely and longing inner ear.  We want to hear this message.  We are dying to hear this message.  We ache for this message.  We have been waiting for this message from the day of our creation and we receive it the way a desert-dry man receives an oasis.  From that moment we are not the same.  From that moment our stoniness begins to become moist earth and the Seed finds its home and in our darkest place roots begin to sprout.

They something different.  Surrender.

Try something different.  Come to life.


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