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the Message Continues ... 12/92

 

 

Newsletter for April 2009

Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12

  THE IDEA OF LOVE IN RUMI'S WORK
by Anne Marie Schimmel
(Excerpted from her book: "The Triumphal Sun")

Rumi's poetry has been produced under the spell of Divine Love.
    Save love, save love, we have no other work!
(Divan 1475/15557)

This love, the veritable astrolabe of God's secrets, was kindled by his
meeting with Shams, but differs from the experiences of those mystics who saw
the Divine Beauty reflected in beautiful youths. His experience of love,
separation, and spiritual union was dynamic; it overwhelmed him and burned
him. Therefore, his words about love, which form the warp of his poetry from
the first to the last pager, are colorful and fiery.

He knows, like his predecessors in the path of mystical love, that earthly
love is but a preparation for the heavenly love. It is a step towards
perfection: . . . man's heart can be educated through human love to perfect
obedience and surrender to the friend's will. The happiness of such love,
however, will soon vanish; real love should, therefore, be directed towards
Him who does not die. This Divine love may start with a sudden rapture or
take the form of a slow spiritual development: when the hook of love falls
into a man's throat God most High draws him gradually so that the bad
faculties and blood which are in him may go out of him little by little.

Eventually, the lover is totally immersed in the ocean of Divine love and
those people who are still fettered by hope and fear or think of
recompensation for good and punishment for evil deeds, will never understand
him.

Love is a quality innate in everything created:

    All the particles of the world are loving,
    Every part of the world is intoxicated by meeting.
    D 2674/28365

The basis of truth is explained once more in a letter of Mowlana's:

    In the eighteen thousand of worlds, everything loves something, is in
love with something. The height of each lover is determined by the height of
his beloved.    Whose beloved is more tender and more lovely, his eminence is
also higher. . .    

But true love is, at the same time, the prerogative of man. He alone can
express it and live through it in all its stages. Rumi, although sometimes
using language influenced by the discussions of Avicenna and the
theoreticians of Sufism concerning the nature of love, knows that this
experience, as produced by Divine power, cannot be described in human words.
He begins his Mathnavi with a praise of this love:

    How much I may explain and describe love,
    When I reach love, I become ashamed.
    Although the commentary by the tongue is illuminating,
    love without tongues is more radiant.
    Mathnawi I, 112f.

More than a decade later, he still sings:

     Love cannot be described; it is even greater than a hundred
resurrections,
     for the resurrection is a limit, whereas love is limitless. Love has
five hundred wings, each of which reaches from the Divine Throne to the
lowest earth. . .
    Mathnawi V, 2189 f.

Once man has reached the limits of love in this life, his journey continues
in the Life Divine, in which he is faced with ever new abysses of love which
induce him into deeper longing. Love and longing are mutually interdependent;
love grows stronger the more the Divine Beauty unfolds in eternity, in ever
new forms.

    Ever more shall I desire
    than time's bounded needs require.
    Ever as more flowers I pluck
    Blossoms new gay spring's attire.
    And when through the heavens I sweep
    Rolling spheres will flash new fire.
    Perfect Beauty only can
    True eternal love inspire.
    Ghazzaliyat IV 277 f.

Mowlana Jalaloddin sees the power of love everywhere:
<BR>
    Love is like an ocean on which the skies are only foam,
    agitated like Zoleykha in her love for Joseph,
    and the turning of the skies is the result of the wave of love:
    if  love were not there, the world would be frozen.
    Mathnavi V 3853 f.

One may explain these lines, and also many similar verses found in Rumi's
work, as an expression of the almost magnetic force of love which attracts
everything, sets it in action, and eventually brings it back to its origin.
But Rumi's view is closer to the notion of love as 'the essential desire' of
God as defined first in Sufism by Hallaj, who was overwhelmed by the dynamic
essence of God which caused the Creator to say: 'I was a hidden treasure, and
I wanted to be known. . . '

Rumi emphasizes this dynamic character of love again and again in ever new
images:

    Love makes the ocean boil like a kettle,
    and makes the mountains like sand.
    Mathnavi V 2735

It is the only positive force in the world:

    The sky revolves for the sake of the lover,
    and for the sake of love is the dome turning,
    not for the sake of baker and blacksmith,
    not for the sake of superintendent and pharmatician.
    Divan 1158/12293 4.

Love is the physician of all illnesses, Plato and Galen in one, and the cause
and goal of existence:

    If this heaven were not a lover,
    its breast would have no purity,
    and if the sun were not a lover,
    in its beauty were no light,
    and if earth and mountain were not lovers,
    grass would not grow out of their breasts.
    Divan 2674/28369 ff.

As the sun changes doleful shades and destitute darkness into colorful
beauty, love is the great alchemy which transforms life: 'love means to fall
in a goldmine.' Divan 1861/19618

    From love bitterness's become sweet,
    from love copper becomes gold,
    from love the dregs become pure,
    from love the pains become medicine,
    from love the dead become alive,
    from love the king is made a slave.
    Mathnawi II 1529 f.
   
as Rumi says in his great hymn in honor of love's power. Much later, he
continues in the same strain:

    Love makes the dead bread into soul,
    and makes the soul which was perishable eternal.
    Mathnawi V 2014

A verse which must be seen in connection with his thoughts on the constant
upward development which traverses the whole gamut of existence from minerals
to man and angel.

The same idea underlies an oft-quoted passage written towards the end of
Mowlana's life:

    When the demon becomes a lover, he carries away the ball,
    he becomes a Gabriel, and his demon-qualities die.
    "My Satan has become a Muslim' becomes here conspicuous,
    Yazid became, thanks to his bounty, a Bayazid.
    Mathnawi VI 3648 f; cf. Divan 1012/10675

That means the base faculties of man, the nafs, seen here in accordance with
the Prophetic tradition in the old Arabic image of the demon, can be fully
conquered and educated only by love, not by loveless austerities and sheer
asceticism. Eventually, man will be blessed with the Prophet's own
experience: his demonic qualities become sanctified and serve him only in the
way towards God. The stronger the 'demon' was previously, the higher will his
rank be in the angelic world, once he has given himself to the power of love;
even an accursed sinner like Yazid could, by such an alchemy, be transformed
into a Bayazid-like saint. Such an annihilation by love of the nafs, the
personal representative of all evil of 'the world', as well as of
independent, separate existence can be seen in Koranic terms:

     Love is Moses who slays the Pharaoh of existence by means of his
Miraculous rod. . .      Divan 1970/20807

And it is the police-officer who helps the soul to break down the door of the
prison of the world.

Love, which destroys the borders of separation, is the truly uniting force:
it gives union to hundreds of thousands of atoms; their faces which are at
present directed towards various, and often conflicting, directions and to
egotistic goals, are turned by love towards the One Eternal Sun. There, they
will be united in the whirling, mystical dance and, lost to themselves, live
in a higher unity, no longer distinct as rose and thorn, or as Turk and
Hindu. For the religion of love knows no difference between the seventy-two
sects: it is different from all religions.

But how to explain this love? Even examples and parables cannot help: did not
Somnun the Lover say in early tenth century Baghdad:

     One can explain something only by a means subtler than itself.
     Now, there is nothing subtler than love; how, then, can it be
explained?
     Hujwiri/Nicholson p. 137.

The qal, 'word' conveys only a weak shade of this experience; what is
required, is hal, 'mystical state'. Love may be understood by the lover's
behaviour when his pulse, beating irregularly, tells the secret of his
illness, and Rumi replies to his inquiring friends:

    Some asked: "What is the state of a lover?"
    I said: "Don't ask these meanings!
    The moment you become like me, you will see it,
    The moment He calls you, you will call!
    Divan 2733/29050

courtesy: Ghazaleh, Ca

 

 

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