Friday, November 25, 2005

owning hatred

Throw greed, jealousy, hatred out of your heart.

Evil thoughts and temper - let them go.

Deny this and you lose, so cut your losses.

Own this and your profits quickly grow.

#1459: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

The more I think about Islam, the more I find myself in a dilemma. I see the Koran as a hate-filled and hate-inspiring manifesto. Perhaps recent events have coloured my perception, but I can never know how it might have appeared beforehand because I never read it then. None of the earlier (20th century, pre-2001) writers whose opinions I've looked up to have promoted the Koran as a book of special wisdom or spiritual insight. Sufism has been promoted in that way but it, like these quatrains of Rumi's, seem to me to bear little relation to the Koran. On the contrary, I am more convinced by writers who have argued or at least suggested that Sufism is an ancient gnostic tradition that existed well before Islam and continued to develop within Islamic civilization, sometimes at odds with the orthodox religious views, but in sufficient harmony to survive.

My dilemma arises in how to deal with what I perceive as a hate-inspiring manifesto. If I "own" it, as Rumi suggests in the last line, do I not "own" the hatred, greed, and jealousy that I see expressed in those pages? If I deny it, do I not express hatred in that denial?

It's important to remember that Rumi is always first and foremost about soul, about the inner world of feelings. It is the feelings within us that we must throw out. He demands that we undertake the spiritual discipline of identifying hateful feelings and letting them go, because they are so destructive to ourselves. Those feelings have been expressed in the Koran, there can be no doubt about that. To burn the Koran would be to yield to similar feelings that urge such denial. It is better to "own" the feelings, acknowledge that we have them ourselves, and then refuse to act on them.

We cannot deny that we have them, these feelings, but we can refuse to act on them, we can refuse to allow them to dictate how we will conduct our lives. We have to develop this self-discipline, each one of us, alone. We cannot impose it on others. If it is a good way to do business, then we can watch the profits quickly grow.

If, like me, one has a talent, or at the least one's best talents, for making enemies, then one lands back in a dilemma. I'm a strife-maker, a hostility inducer. Rumi's lessons are so very hard for me to learn.


At Saturday, 26 November, 2005, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

I don't perceive you as an enemy-maker or a hostility inducer. I've seen other people get prickly when others don't meet their strict expectations, but I haven't seen that in you. It may be that you just have a knack for interacting with intolerant people, and perhaps they first interact with you because others wouldn't put up with them.

At Saturday, 26 November, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

You've given me an interesting way forward there, Bob. Sadly, it's truer than you know that I get prickly like you say. At least, some others have perceived it in me if you have not. However, if I watch myself and note the prickly response, I might learn to avoid yielding to it too readily. And, as you suggest, I might do useful work by interacting with the intolerant.

Thank you for your words. They feel very helpful.


Post a Comment

<< Home