Sunday, August 07, 2005

natural justice

You do bad deeds and hope to get back good

Though bad deserves bad only in return.

God is merciful and kind, but even so,

If you plant barley, wheat won't grow.

#1798: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: get

"Getting better" was my theme for today as I'm feeling on the up and up (but ever so gradually). Rumi's verse today expresses a very well known idea, perhaps even a cliché: you reap what you sow, what goes around comes around, karma will get you if nothing else does.

I have recently been "doing bad deeds" and expecting to get away with it. The first step is to justify the deeds to one's conscience. That's not too difficult but it's usually based on valid but selfish considerations. One needs to ask: what if everyone did the same bad deeds? What then? That also looks fine since my bad deeds are harmless in themselves and, with a little reinterpretation, it is what everyone does now anyway. Again, rationalisation is easy enough.

I'm convinced that no one really believes they do bad deeds at all. The "bad" in the deed is seen by the "other" or the victim, not by the perpetrator. Sometimes the "bad" is seen by the person missing out, as when people disapprove of others having fun.

Rumi's reference to God's mercy and kindness echoes the Koran which repeats this again and again, suggesting that believers are safe from harm simply owing to their core belief. The mercy and kindness comes not only from Allah but also from his Messenger.

Qur'an (Yusuf Ali)

Now hath come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves: it grieves him that ye should perish: ardently anxious is he over you: to the Believers is he most kind and merciful.

He is the One Who sends to His Servant Manifest Signs, that He may lead you from the depths of Darkness into the Light and verily Allah is to you most kind and Merciful.

This verse of Rumi's seems to me to be addressed to Islamic dogmatists who rely on their commitment to Mo(hammad) and Allah (through the Koran) and don't look too closely at how harmful or hurtful their deeds might be to others. They believe Allah will repay their own faith in Him and forgive them any sins committed. There really is a strong gist in the Koran to that effect. My guess, too, is that some such rationalisations were used by those who did away with Shams, Rumi's close friend and teacher and the very inspiration for this and all the other verses in this collection. It is inevitable that the issue of justice would be addressed and where the human justice system is helpless, Rumi asserts, divine or even natural karmic justice will prevail. Whether this is true or not - and I am skeptical at least in the short term - it is a needed belief. The loss of a dear one is a hard blow to take but the failure of justice seems to be harder still.

In my own case, I did not publish a verse on it. I have been acting as I've been acted upon. Where barley was sown, I am growing barley with no head of wheat in sight.


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