Monday, August 22, 2005


Inside my heart and outside, all is her;

My body, blood and veins, my life is her.

There's no room here for blasphemy or faith;

My existence knows neither, only her.

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

Search word: out

Overnight, I dreamt that I was moving house. A female real estate agent was explaining the merits of the apartment block I was leaving: balcony space had been eliminated in favour of better and ampler interior layout. However, balconies and verandahs are spaces that are halfway in and halfway out and we need them as buffer zones or foyer spaces between our private and public lives. Reflecting on a Rumi verse is my own balcony space: one foot inside my own interiority and one foot stepping out into the public world.

I used out as a keyword so I might find what Rumi had to say on this inner/outer polarity. The translator, Zara Houshmand, has used the feminine pronoun "her" to reference what another might call "He" or "Lord" or "God". (See Update below.) I don't have access to the original Persian but I'm sure the "her" is a good choice, for feminine symbols seem most apt for totality ideas. This has been best expressed in Christian iconography through the "vierge ouvrante" style of statue where a figure of the Virgin Mary opens up to show the trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit inside. In the version shown below, Christ on the cross is most evident along with scenes from the Bible.

vierge ouvrante

vierge ouvrante @

It's pretty clear from the parallels inside today's verse that blasphemy is aligned with interiority. The mystic that insists that God is inside can be seen to be opposed to the literalist or dogmatist who insists on faith as an external thing, with God firmly outside of the individual believer. Here in this verse, Rumi will have none of that. The two are part of the one totality and there is no room there for any division or conflict. The totality, in any case, is all that Rumi sees.

Rumi is not merely about spirituality or interiority. No true mystic ever is. Spirit and matter, inner and outer, subversion and obedience, all are categories contained within the One which is indifferent to them all. She favours neither her right hand nor her left, neither her material child nor her spiritual, neither the obedient nor the naughty. All are Her children and all belong to Her.

Update: See quatrain 173 for other versions.



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