Friday, August 12, 2005

lost in God

I am lost in God, and God is found in me.

Why look in all directions? Look inside.

I am the Lord, and I do you wrong to say

That anyone is Lord or God to me.

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

Search words: complete, finish, God

Last night, late into the night, I read on to the end of Spong's book (Resurrection: Myth or Reality?). I came to the end of his story about God and Jesus. It is a story I can relate to, a story requiring no belief in miracles or supernatural events. Everything is rational and realistic and yet not dry for Spong allows the spirit to move inside his narrative. His is a lively and enlivening story. I couldn't help but contrast and compare how Jesus related to God, how Mo related to Allah, and finally how Rumi related to Shams-as-God. So I'm focussing more today on how Rumi sees God and his relationship to God.

This quatrain is quite emphatic in identifying God with the Self ("I am the Lord") and with subjectivity ("Look inside"). It also clearly and emphatically denies that Rumi's God is located outside of him in a separate person such as Shams. I expect that he had been accused of worshipping Shams and it is an easy thing to accuse him of. However, Rumi understands that it is his own experience of Shams and the effect of his relationship with Shams that led him to his insight about God. He found God through Shams much as a Christian might find God through Jesus.

According to Spong, the magic that Jesus wrought was in his presence. He fed a kind of food to his fellow humans that remained inside them after his death, that lived on. The new relationship to God heralded by Jesus' life and death was a more personal one, a recognition that every person - including especially "the least of these my brethren" from Matthew 25 - was a messiah or "anointed one", not merely the king or high priest. God was not embodied only in those who stand out or stand high but also and especially in those that can simply live and love.

I feel sure that, like Jesus, Shams had that quality and that he imparted it or taught it to Rumi who was so ripe for it at the time of their meeting. In contrast to Jesus, however, Rumi had the gift of writing, the ability to bring these insights directly into a cultural product that could be examined centuries later and even by a non-Persian-speaking person like myself. It is a simple divine presence that shines through in every line of Rumi and draws out divinity in any reader with a heart open even a tiny crack.

Having finished Spong's book, I have some answers but it also opened up many many more questions. When once we find God we also find our lost-ness in God, a lost-ness as eternal as our home coming. There is no doorway out of this lost-ness but who would want to escape from such a God?


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