Discourse 52

Discourse 52

Rumi was asked the meaning of the following lines:

When love attains its ultimate goal
Desire turns to dislike.

Rumi explained: Dislike is a narrow world compared to friendship. That is why people run from hatred to find friendship. But the world of friendship is itself narrow next to the Source of both friendship and dislike. Friendship and enmity, unbelief and faith – these are all opposites that lead to duality. Yet a world exists where there is no duality but only pure unity, and when we reach that world we are beyond friendship and dislike. There is no room for two in that world.

When we arrive there, we leave duality behind. The world of freedom we loved and struggled for is narrow next to that state where no opposites exist. Therefore, we no longer desire it, and are repulsed by it.

When Mansur al-Hallaj reached his utmost friendship with God, he became his own enemy and gave away his life. He said, “I am God,” meaning, “I have passed away. God alone remains.” This is extreme humility. Your saying, “Thou art God, and I am Your servant,” is arrogance, for you have affirmed your own existence, and created dualism. To say, “He is God,” is still duality, for until “I” exists “He” is impossible. Therefore it was God alone who said, “I am God,” since Mansur had passed away.

The world of imagination is greater than facts and concepts, for all concepts are born of imagination. Yet imagination itself is narrow compared to that world from which imagination is born. This is the limit of explanations, for that reality cannot be made known by words and expressions.

Someone asked: “Then what is the use of expressions and words?”

Rumi answered: Words set you searching. They are not the objects of your quest. If that were the case, there would be no need for all this spiritual struggle and self-sacrifice. Words are like glimpsing something far away. You follow in its trail to see it better, but this doesn’t mean the trail is what you are seeking. Speech is inwardly the same – it excites you to seek the meaning, even though the words are never the reality.

The other day someone said, “I have studied many sciences and mastered many ideas, yet I still do not know what essence in the human being exists forever. I have searched, but I have not discovered it.”

If such things were knowable through words alone, you would never need to pass away from your self and suffer such pains. But if you did not endure the struggle of losing your temporary self, how could you ever know that essence which will remain?

A boy says, “I have heard about the Kaaba, but no matter how far I look I can not see it. I will go up to the roof and search from there.” When he gets to the roof and stretches out his neck, he still can not see the Kaaba, so he rejects that any Kaaba exists. To see the Kaaba takes more than that. It is impossible to see it from the place where one abides.

In the same way, during winter, you hunt for a fur jacket with all your soul, but when summer arrives you fling it away and forget about it. You sought the coat for the warmth. You were in love with warmth. In winter you can not find warmth and therefore need the medium of the coat, but once the summer sun starts to shine, you fling the fur jacket away.

“When heaven is rent asunder,” and “When earth is shaken with a mighty shaking,” are references to yourself. They mean that you have experienced the pleasure of being gathered together, but the day is coming when you will experience the pleasure of being torn apart. Then you will behold the expanse of the other world and be delivered from this present narrowness. For instance, if someone is held down by four nails for a long time, they start to feel comfortable with this condition, and forget the pleasure of being free. After they escape the four nails, then they realize the torment they had been in. Similarly, children are swaddled and put to rest in a cradle, and they are perfectly at ease with their hands bound. But if a grown person were cribbed in a cradle, it would be torment and prison.

Some feel pleasure when roses bloom and push forth their heads from the bud. Some feel pleasure when the petals of the rose become scattered by the wind and rejoin their origin. Therefore, some people want friendship, passion, unbelief and faith all to dissolve and return to their source. For these are walls of form cause narrowness and duality, while the other world is broadness and absolute unity.

These words of themselves have no power. How can they be powerful? They are merely words. In fact, in themselves they can become a cause of weakness. Yet they inspire some to truth. Words are a veil. How can two or three letters combined together cause life and excitement?

When people come to visit and you greet them politely, and welcome them, they are happy and feel affection. If you receive them with two or three words of abuse, those two or three words cause them anger and pain. Now what connection is there between stringing together a few words and an increase in affection, or provocation of anger? God appointed these veils so that no one’s gaze can fall upon Its beauty and perfection. Weak veils are appropriate to weak eyes.

Bread in reality is not the cause of life, but God has made it appear to be the cause of life and strength. After all, bread has no human life of itself, so how can it create strength? If it had any life at all, it would have kept itself alive.