Four Quotes from Rumi worth Contemplating

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,



About Chuck Gebhardt

I am a physician specializing in internal medicine. I sub-specialize in nutritional medicine. I am very interested in all areas of healing research, not necessarily limited to traditional medicine topics.
This entry was posted in Spirituality and Metaphysics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Four Quotes from Rumi worth Contemplating

  1. phillip sumner says:

    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing self.” Though phrased differently, I said these words to you just this past week. Coincedence? Another moment that feels like it is passing a second time around.

  2. Phil, thanks for your comment. Even though I do not recall the details of our conversation, I do remember the content being very much along the same lines. I am not a scholar of Rumi’s writings, but I find his work to be quite insightful. I love these kinds of synchronicity and how they help point us to the same underlying truths.

  3. Uta Steger says:

    Thank you Chuck. This is really interesting and wonderfully said of Antonia. And your comment fits perfect to my experiences.
    It is about live our lifes out of our inner spiritual sources, which is not that easy to find, as it looks like, isn’t it? It takes some time to excavate and to resolve the problems, that lies within me and to heal the wounds by myself or with the help of others.

    The last quote I really like, There lies hope in it. Could well be. If love is the source of life and it radiates through everything it sure radiates through man. Didn’t Jesus, who I believe was one of the Great Ones, said: You are the light of the world?
    I believe, what we see as evil is just a lack of love.
    It started a long time ago, perhaps that is all about the story with “Adam and Eve”, and it is up to us to resolve this error again. So it is up to us, to change our view, to change ourself and in the end it is our choice that changes the world.
    Thanks again.

    • Thanks, Uta, for your kind remarks. Antonia did us a nice service by bringing these quotes from Rumi to our attention. I completely agree with you that we all have an inner spiritual source, and that this is often not so obvious to us. I think it is natural for the physical world to distract our attention away from our spiritual source and to keep it hidden, unless we somehow become aware that it exists and begin to look for it.

      I agree with you that the last quote is a really powerful insight. It is hard to apply, though. It is easy to see pleasant and helpful people as “guides from beyond,” but not so easy to see kidnapers and terrorists in this light. If this quote is accurate, it is all here for our learning and growth.

      Your comments are always much appreciated,


  4. Jochen says:

    Ah, doctor, this is lovely. So accessible and immediately engaging.

    I wish everyone, literally everyone, would share her or his very personal response. What a full and wonderful picture we would have of what we think we are doing in this strange and beautiful world.

    I feel tempted to reply from a particular perspective, you know which. I call it my own to the extent that I have no other perspective left I could call my own.

    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

    Is the great poet saying it was wrong I tried to change the world yesterday? I don’t think so. It took me to today where I know it’s not working. An the third part is probably too obvious to even be mentioned: that tomorrow I’ll not even be wise any more, I will not try to change even myself, I will love and that’s that. This way, I may even accidentally change the world:

    “If you want to be in control in a big way, let go of everything but love in your heart, love from your heart, love to an fro, loving embracing all hearts on Earth.”

    “Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape.”

    I love this one. All my life I have applied axes and levers and drills and dynamite to prison walls encroaching poor me. He is right. Becoming the sky is the only true axe.

    “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.”

    Oh, he’s a sly one. Until I heaven’t found all those barriers, I’m not going to believe there are none. Nothing bars love. Listening past my “barrier, barrier, barrier” mantra for a moment, there is love. Nothing to do, nothing to become, nothing to understand.

    “Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

    In this case, I love Chucks comment even more than the quote itself. He simply says it like it is, victim mind an all. And with no “Now let us all…” I’m not past this victim mind yet but starting to laugh a little though not always convincingly.

    • Thanks, Jochen, for your kind comments and suggestions. Part of my reason for launching this blog has been to promote this kind of dialogue. There are now, and have been through the years, so many people with deep insights like you, Uta and Rumi, that the potential from our sharing with each other is enormous. Each one of has limitations to our views, but as we share with each other our perspective expands dramatically.

      I like your question: Is Rumi saying we were wrong to try to change the world? Wrong to protest injustice or wrong to donate to good causes? We completely agree: of course not, but maybe there are much more powerful steps for us to take. I also agree that it may actually be a more enlightened frame of mind when we do not even try to change ourselves. Just release ourselves to love and that’s that. Just to relax and be the kind of person we want to see in the world.

  5. Jochen says:

    Yes, dear friend. And thanks for getting the sequence right, me, Uta and Rumi.

  6. afsarnizam says:

    I think this insight helps with both of these problems within my psyche.

    • Afsar, I am glad the posting of these ideas was helpful. I have the strong impression that if you shared more about your thoughts with us, it would be useful to many. Thanks for commenting 😉

  7. oldzkrm says:

    Hi friends, 🙂
    I always thought the third quote is from A Course in Miracles.
    Chuck, I very much liked your comment on the third one.

    With love,

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