Sunday, September 25, 2005


For love of you, my soul soars in the sky

As your kindness plucks music on its strings.

The smallest favor that you grant your slave

Is greater than a thousand years of prayer brings.

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

Search word: soul

I'm taking a renewed interest in spirit and soul, inspired by the mass of birds below that flutter up above the dust heap. Inspired, too, by the spirited writing on spirit by Spong and the spirited music of Fiddler on the Roof, both of which refer to a Jewish or Hebrew tendency to find God in life. "Spirit" refers then to life, to being alive, to being energized, enthusiastic, dynamic, fun-loving, humorous, etc. "Spirit" means, above all, wanting to dance. The Tevye character, played by Topol, has much in common with the Zorba character, played by Anthony Quinn. Poor men rich in spirit, and to be contrasted with rich men poor in spirit, a prime example of which might be Mr Burns from "The Simpsons".

In today's verse, Rumi is talking about that spirit especially as it manifests in spontaneity. People rich in spirit have an openness to this uplifting power: call it God or spirit, inspiration or impulse, craziness or just plain fun. It is what gives our souls the impetus to fly, to dream, to imagine impossible things. It cannot be replaced by or brought about by a thousand years of prayer that is ritualized, sterilized, habitual, and pathetically supplicating. Openness is the thing: God only comes when we open the door and let Her in. Spontaneity cannot be worked for or cultivated: it comes only when we can take a slave-like attitude of powerlessness. It is both a very vulnerable and a very powerful stance to take, for both the angels and the devil can turn up. A mad idea can send us to perdition as easily as catapult us to the heavens. The person rich in spirit takes the good with the bad and never hesitates to ask for more.


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