Friday, September 16, 2005

nurturing dreams

Love is the way and the path, our prophet.

Of love we are born, love is our mother.

Our mother, love, is hiding in our veil,

Hiding from our unbelieving nature.

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

Search word: path

Today is one of those turning point days, one of those fateful days in which a path toward the future will be made clearer. My son and I will go on a journey toward that clarification and at the start of this day I seek Rumi's view on this path of life. His answer is "love" and that is the same answer that Joseph Campbell has elaborated in more recent times, famously using the word "bliss" instead.

It is so clear to me as I read Rumi here that he is saying that a cultic insistence on seeing a single hero like Mohammad as the focus of one's love is simply wrong-headed. If a person spontaneously loves Mohammad and his writings as collected in the Koran, that's fine. Having it imposed on one from birth as good Muslim parents and societies do is just silly and so wrong. Each of us should disover our own heroes or role models, just as we have come to accept that each of us should discover our own lifelong partners for ourselves rather than being imprisoned inside arranged marriages. The unbelieving nature, the nature that insists on communal dreams and communal models, is precisely the infidel in Rumi's world.

However, if one truly believes that Mohammad himself was following his own true path, then imitating, copying or loving him is fine. In my own view, he might have been true to himself but if this was done at the expense - at the pain and misery - of others, then it was a false path in my eyes. That is simply not my own path. There is so much sadistic, needless suffering in the story of his life that I can only see this man as a criminal or a crook.

Campbell's famous mantra "Follow your bliss" has itself led to interpretations as fostering a selfish nature or "been misunderstood by critics as a call to craven libertinism", according to Wikipedia. It can be selfish to follow a dream at others' expense and this single-minded drive (well exemplified by the prophet Mohammad) should be tempered by a mother's love, a selfless love for others and a nurturing of others' dreams. I can believe that Mohammad was nurturing the dreams of Arab men but that is as much as I would concede. He might also have been capable of nurturing the dreams of women and non-Arabs but Jesus was definitely better at this bit.


At Friday, 16 September, 2005, Blogger none said...

I like the analogy between finding your own beliefs and finding a life partner. That simple. It's just no one else's business. It's a personal path. I also agree that Mohammad is not portrayed in a way that would make me want to be close to him in the Koran. I feel close to Rumi and Jesus and Confucius when I read about them. I don't know that he adds anything substantively new and good to what came before him; he seems more like an influential political leader than a spiritual guide. I'm also not a big fan of Moses or Abraham, they seem to me patriarchal political creatures. David seems to me like a Clinton.

At Saturday, 17 September, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

I get the impression that your own true love is some weird blend of Khodorkovsky and Chekhov: you'll make a killing from your writing. There is a toughness and an insightfulness there that, together, will get you where you want to go. I know things are currently tough for you but I was reading up on Chekhov and saw that tough times forced him into writing. The desperation of long-term unemployment might turn out to be your spur. I sure hope I'm right.

Your "Marriage" poem is brilliant. You have such an important and innovative voice. Just stay true to your love, that's all you need to do.


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