Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the cost of being

A thousand men want to be one with you,

But for whom does that lie within reach?

He who can find it will find complete rest.

The rest, if they don't find suffering, they're blessed.

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

Search word: thousand

"A thousand dollars" was the idea that first came up today and I take it to mean an abundance. A thousand was a larger number in Rumi's day, much closer to infinity than it is now, much closer to the idea of "all". In this quatrain, Rumi puts forward "complete rest" as an ideal, achieved once union with God, the Beloved, is achieved. He asks a question that I often ask myself, over and over again. I have had a long-term interest in Jung and, within Jungian circles, you get the impression that a quality analysis will assist in achieving this union, in acquiring the philosopher's stone or the diamond body, in completing the opus alchymicum, or in becoming conscious of the transcendent function, the Self. This goal is variously described and sometimes it is emphatically denied that it is a goal at all, that it is anything to be achieved or acquired or completed or earned at all. And yet, it is hard to escape the conclusion, from within Jungian circles at least, that a good bit of extra cash that can fund an expensive analysis does help. I've been drawn to the field of self-help, the pop psychology and pop spirituality that abounds in the US, precisely because it promises pathways that don't demand high cash entry fees. Two of my favourites are M. Scott Peck and Julia Cameron but there are many who contribute good food to the table.

To be realistic, I doubt my beloved Rumi was offering his own services for free. His many students and disciples would have been paying probably quite high cash entry fees. The biographies don't indicate that he'd become fabulously rich thereby but he was not a pauper either. Perhaps Shams was and the irony might lie in the fact that he who is without money is most free of it.

When Rumi talks of the goal being "within reach", he could also be referring to natural talent or natural endowments. We often believe we are not smart enough or not attractive enough to "get there". We see human stars and idols who have some special quality or gift and we know we lack that. It is so easy to block our way that way.

Rumi's conclusion is, as always, so gentle and non-judgmental. He suggests that any sense of suffering is reminding us that we are not at that still point of complete rest but that many can be blessed without trying. If we look around we do see so many happy faces, peaceful faces, and if we're honest with ourselves we know that our faces are often like that as well. There are moments, there are always moments. Being at one with the beloved need not be, perhaps cannot be, a permanent state of mind. Some have described it as a dance where the partners come close together, then move apart, then come back together again and again, in an endless flow. Rumi's complete rest lies in acceptance of that flow. We know from other quatrains that he values his own suffering as itself a close experience of the beloved.

It seems to me that he is reminding us here that the lover approaches us and wants to be close to us. Perhaps we don't need to try as hard as we think. A simple and humble patience will sometimes do the trick. And you can just be lucky.


Post a Comment

<< Home