Discourse 23

Discourse 23

Rumi said: I would like to go to Tuqat, for that region is warm. Although Antalya is warm, only a few people there understand our language. However, I was speaking there one day when a party of unbelievers was present. In the middle of my talk they began to weep with emotion and show signs of ecstasy.

Someone asked: “What can they understand? What do they know? Only one Muslim in a thousand understands this kind of talk. What could an unbeliever understand that would cause them to weep?”

Rumi answered: It isn’t necessary for them to understand the inner meaning of what we say. The vessel of this meaning is the words themselves, and this they do recognize. After all, everyone knows of the Oneness of God, Creator and Provider, the source of all life, where all things return. When anyone hears these words, which are a description and expression of God, a universal emotion and inner feeling stirs them, since out of these words comes a scent of their Beloved and their Quest.

The ways may vary, but the goal is one. Don’t you see that there are many roads to the Kaaba? For some the road is from Rum, for some from Syria, others come from Persia or China or by sea from India and Yemen. So if you consider the roads, they are beyond counting, with infinite differences. But when you consider the goal they are all in accord with one desire.

The hearts of all are upon the Kaaba. The hearts are one in their longing and love for the Kaaba, and in that there is no room for separation. That love is neither belief nor non-belief, for it has nothing to do with the various roads. Once we arrive, this argument and war and those differences in the roads – this woman saying to that man, “You are false, you are an infidel,” and that man saying the same about her – once we arrive at the Kaaba, we realize that such fighting is over the roads only, and that the goal of all is the same.

For instance, a bowl’s spirit is in love with its maker, and is a slave to those hands that fashion it. Yet some see this bowl and say it should be placed just as it is on the table. Some say the inside of it should be washed first, some say the outside of it must be cleaned. Some say all of it, some say it must never be washed at all. The diversity of opinion comes from the bowl’s many uses, but as to the fact that the bowl certainly had a creator who fashioned it, and that it did not come into existence of itself, on this all agree.

Now, men and women in their inmost hearts love God, seek Him, pray to Him and in all things put their hope in Him, recognizing none but God as the central reality ordering their affairs. This is neither belief nor non-belief. Within the heart it has no name. But when the water of innate truth flows out of the heart towards the sluice of the tongue and takes form, it acquires shape and expression. There it is given the name of infidelity or faith, good or evil. It is the same with plants growing out of the earth. At first they have no form at all. When they make their appearance in this world their shoots all look fine, delicate and white. But as they grow further they take on different shapes and colors. Then we can call them by name.

When believers and infidels sit together and say nothing, they are one and the same. There is no conflict of belief; the heart is a free world. Beliefs are subtle things and cannot be judged. People can judge by outward expression only, God is the fashioner of our secret hearts. When God uncovers your own beliefs to you, not a hundred thousand efforts can hide them again. As for the saying that God needs no instrument, do you not see how He reveals those ideas and beliefs in you without any instruments, without any pen, without any pigment?

Those beliefs are like birds of the air, and wild deer. Until you catch them, it is not allowable by law to sell them. It is not in your power to sell a bird on the wing, for how can you deliver it? Since it is not in your power, it is not yours to sell.

Beliefs then, so long as they are in the heart, are without name and token – they cannot be judged. Would any judge say, “In your heart you made this oath, you had this idea,” or “Come, swear that in your heart you did not think this?” No judge would say this, because no one can judge the heart. Beliefs are birds of the air. Yet once they have been expressed, then immediately they can be judged as true or false, good or evil.

There is a world of bodies, a world of ideas, a world of fantasies, a world of possibilities. God is beyond all worlds, neither within them, nor without. Consider then how God fashions our beliefs, forming them without material means, without pen or instrument. As for this fancy or that idea, if you were to tear open the breast and search particle by particle you would never find that thought. Not in the blood, not in the vein, not above, not below. Being immaterial and beyond time and space, you would not find it outside the breast, either.

Since God’s mark is so subtle as to be without trace, consider how subtle and without trace is God, Itself, the fashioner of all! Just as the physical body is gross in relation to the inner meaning of a person, so this subtle and invisible meaning is a gross body and form next to God’s subtlety.

All Muslims say, “We will enter the Holy Mosque.” Some Muslims say, “If God wills, we will enter.” Those who use the expression “if God wills” are the true lovers of God. For the lover does not think that they’re in charge of things and a free agent. They recognize that the Beloved is in charge. Hence they say, “If this Beloved wills, I
will enter.”

Now the literalists take the Holy Mosque to be the Kaaba in Mecca. However, lovers and the elect of God take the Holy Mosque to mean union with God. So they say, “If God wills, we will attain Him and be honored by the sight of Him.” For God to say, “If God wills,” is very rare. It is the tale of a stranger, and only a stranger can understand such a tale. Yet God has certain servants who are so well loved that He seeks them out, showering them with blessings, and carrying out all the actions of a lover. Just as the lover would say, “If God wills, I will enter,” so God says on behalf of that saint, “If God wills.”

If I were to try explaining this subtlety, even the saints who have attained God would lose the thread of the discourse. How then is it possible to speak of such mysteries and mystic states to mortal men and women? “The pen wrote this far, and then it broke!” If someone can’t see the camel on top of their own house, how can they see the thread of one hair in the mouth of that camel?

To resume: Those lovers who say, “If God wills,” such people are absorbed in God. There is no room for anything else. Otherness does not even exist. For until a person has surrendered their image of a separate existence, the Holy Mosque cannot be found. “There is none dwelling in the house but God.”

“The vision He entrusted to His Messenger…”

This vision is the dream of lovers and true people of God, but the true meaning is only revealed in the other world. When you see in a dream that you are riding on a horse, this means you will attain your goal; yet what connection does the horse have with a goal? If you dream that you have been given coins of good currency, the meaning is that you will hear true and good words from a wise person; but how does a coin resemble a word? If you dream that you have been hanged before a crowd, you will become the chief of a people; but how do gallows resemble leadership? In the same way, the affairs of this world are a dream. “This world is the dream of a sleeper,” and its meaning is seen quite differently in the other world. There it is truly judged by the Divine Interpreter, for to Him all things are revealed.

Like a gardener who enters an orchard and looks at the trees, without even looking at the fruit on the branches, they can judge this tree to be a date, that one a fig, that a pomegranate, a pear, or an apple. The true people of God know the science of trees, therefore they need not wait for the resurrection to see the interpretation of life. Such a person sees beforehand what will be, just as the gardener knows what fruit each branch will surely yield.

All things in this world – wealth, a mate, and clothing – are desired for something other than themselves. Don’t you see that even with a hundred thousand gold coins, if you were hungry, and you could find no food, you could not feed yourself on gold? A mate is for the sake of children, companionship and to satisfy passion. Clothes are to ward off the cold. In this way, all things are desired for some other thing, each desire leading to the next, all ending in the desire for God. He is desired for His own sake, not for anything else. Being beyond all, greater than all, nobler and subtler than all, can God be desired for something less? “So, He is the goal.” Within God is the completion of all things, beyond Him there is no transcending.

The human mind churns with doubts and difficulties. The mind can never be rid of these except when it is truly in love – then all its doubts and difficulties vanish. “Your love renders you blind and deaf.”

For example, when Iblis would not bow down before Adam and opposed God’s command, Iblis said, “My essence is spirit, his essence is clay. Why should the higher bow down before the lower?” So God banished Iblis for opposing and contending with Divine Law. Then Iblis argued, “Alas, O Lord! You made all things. This was Your temptation, and now You are cursing me and banishing me.”

Yet when Adam sinned, God expelled him from Paradise, but Adam said nothing back. Then God said to Adam, “O Adam, I have held you responsible and punished you for the sin you committed, why did you not argue with Me? After all, you had a perfect case. You could have said, ‘All things proceed from You and are made by You. Whatever You desire in the world comes to pass, and whatever You desire not will never come to pass.’ You had a clear and valid case, why did you not argue it?” Adam answered, “I knew that well, Lord, but I did not forget courtesy in Your presence. Because of my love for You I could say nothing.” Thus Adam’s love stayed firm and was not swayed.

This sacred Law of Love is a watering-place, a fountainhead. It is just like the court of a king where many study the king’s laws, his commandments and prohibitions, his government – equal justice for nobles and commons – etc. The edicts of the king are without end, and on them the stability of the country rests. But the status of dervishes and Sufis is one of love for the king. Out of their love springs conversation with the king, and knowing his mind and heart. What is knowledge of the king’s laws, compared with knowing the ruler himself, his mind and heart? There is a vast difference.

The Sufis and their various teachings are like a school with many scholars. The headmaster pays each scholar according to their qualifications, giving to one ten, the next twenty, another thirty. We too dispense our words according to everyone’s degree and qualification. “Speaking to each according to the degree of their understanding.”