I was recently reading a series of articles by Antonia Dodge on the Genius Awakening blog. Antonia had quoted 13 insights from the thirteenth century mystic, Rumi, and commented on how they applied to her life. Very thought provoking and very interesting; I highly recommend them. I have taken four of these quotes from her articles and provided my own commentary.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
I used to think the answers to the world’s problems, as well as my own problems, originated out there in the world. Now, along with Rumi and many others, I have come to the conclusion that the answer to my problems lies within me and within my attitudes toward what is happening in the world. With even a moment’s reflection, it is obvious that I cannot change any of “the world’s problems,” but I can focus my efforts for improvement on myself, and avoid letting my judgments about what is going on in the world disrupt my life. This does not mean I should not come to the aid of others who ask for my help, or I shouldn’t do what I can to be of assistance even when it is not asked of me, but I can give up any false sense of responsibility for circumstances outside of my control.
“Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape.”
What wonderful advice! If all my problems really lie within, and thereby within my control, I can indeed escape from my self-imposed prison. But this prison, while it is self-maintained, was not really erected by me. I inherited it from the culture and society I was born into. It was what all my teachers and virtually everyone I have known have always believed, and it is what holds us imprisoned. It takes a lot of courage to go against what just about everyone believes, and it does feel like I have to take an axe to the wall. Not just once; I have to keep doing it. It is so easy to just slip back into the status quo and go along with the majority.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
I think if we boil it down to the most basic truth which motivates us all, we just want to love and be loved. But we all have accumulated many injuries and affronts to our sense of self as we have lived our lives. And we have accepted that only certain ways of acting in the world merit our love and compassion. If I understand what Rumi is saying here correctly, it is these kinds of blocks that form a barrier between us and the love we seek. Again, the important blocks are not “out there,” they are “in here.” My real path to a greater realization of the love I seek is the healing of my own wounds and learning to more completely appreciate and accept others.
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
I think this insight helps with both of these problems within my psyche. It seems I have retained a lot of the angst from past injuries because of a sense of injustice. My feelings of being a victim seem to help hold past pains as active problems. In addition, there is no doubt in my mind that my propensity to judge the behavior of others has led me to divide the world into two groups. There are those who are “good” and who merit my love, compassion and support. Then there are those who are “evil” and merit my antagonism and rejection. I am coming more and more into the view that Rumi boldly states here. Everything that exists in the world is a manifestation of God’s love. It certainly does not look this way on the surface, but there is a divine purpose, deeply hidden from our view, of how everything contributes to our spiritual growth.
If you missed the link to the first of the three articles from the Genius Awakening blog that my article was derived from, here it is again: 13 Quotes that Could Change Your Life (Part I)
If you might be interested in a series of earlier articles on this blog with a similar theme, but with a wholly different approach, here is the link to my first article: Is the World Real or is it an Illusion?
Love and best wishes to all,