Monday, June 27, 2005

becoming friends

You trap me in a hundred snares, bound tight.

Night comes and you say, "Go, I'll send for you."

And if I go, who will you lie with then?

Tonight who will you call by my name, friend?

#1702: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: wait, tense, tight

There is tension in the house while we wait for results due in today. There is a sense of a turning point or moment of truth. Time becomes tight, meaning is concentrated.

I can read today's verse in two ways: I can "be" the recipient, the "you" that Rumi refers to; or I can identify with Rumi and place him into the "you" position, thereby turning the identities around. Let's see what comes of those two angles.

In the first, I am a feminine being, distant in time and place, and yet capable of communicating to any being in any time and place. I've been feeding Rumi ideas and images and I've exposed him to crucial experiences. I've trapped him inside a fascination with me. He is firmly in my control and will speak for me. I sleep alone and expect to call on him in the morning. Rumi reminds me that I cannot be alone. He expects me to lie with someone and if not him, then who? When he longs for me in the night, who will hear?

This is bold stuff, this. Rumi is reminding the beloved that she longs for him as much as he for her. So who - or what - is really in control?

Using the second angle, I see Rumi as trapping me through each thread of insight in his verses. I'm totally caught, bound tight in this process. I don't expect any dream messages during the night because I know there is one from Rumi awaiting me at dawn. I can't help but ask, though, what happens to Rumi while I sleep? Surely he still sleeps by me and still calls to me. Surely his longing for me doesn't cease during the night.

Perhaps on a third angle and recalling that these are, after all, love poems to a lost male lover, the "you" is not feminine at all but simply a friend. The deeper symbolism here is that neither partner in the love relationship is masculine or feminine. Each is neither or both. In Jungian terms, it is not an either/or situation of male or masculine ego with the feminine soul or anima as beloved as opposed to a female or feminine ego with the masculine soul or animus as beloved. No, it is both. The ego can take either a passive/feminine or active/masculine role viz à viz the unconscious which can, in turn, respond in either a feminine or masculine way. This is all about love making between friends and essentially has nothing to do with the physical genitalia.

To me, this is what is essentially gnostic about Rumi. Many mystics, but especially the Christian ones, describe their ecstasies in such a way that they are the passive receivers of penetration by the beloved or Holy Spirit. Both women (Teresa of Avila) and men (John of the Cross) see the feminine soul as seeking union with Jesus Christ as the beloved bridegroom. In Hinduism, both men and women identify with the gopis or cowgirls who swoon before the Lord Krishna. Rumi, however, is depicting neither lover nor beloved as emphatically "on top". They are friends and this resonates with what Dean Edwards has written in his Gnosis-Overview:
Gnosis involves direct "knowledge" and experience of the sacred, rather than relying exclusively on faith, belief or study of sacred texts. The gnostic (Arabic: 'arif) draws upon this inner experience and knowledge to describe the origin and true nature of all things.

The world is often seen as a training ground or prison for Soul as it seeks spiritual liberation, a return to its true home in the Pleroma or realms of pure spirit beyond the physical and psychic regions of matter, emotion and the mind. The true nature of Soul is as a divine spark which originally issued forth from the fountain- head of God. Gnostic traditions often teach that only through the intercession of a messanger from the pure spiritual realms can the Soul become acquainted with God. The original Greek word 'gnosis', as noted above, meant knowledge in terms of being 'acquainted with'. The gnostic in any form is a 'friend of God'.
[my emphasis]

I simply know of no other mystic poet, apart from Rumi, who expresses such a rich relationship of love and friendship with the divine. His is not simply a romantic love but robust and manly as well. Sometimes it is just like two men in a loving embrace, just like what Rumi experienced with Shams. After all, why must our relationship with the divine be restricted to heterosexual styles? Surely God is bigger than that.


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