Tuesday, December 13, 2005

a secret sun

If you are loyal, keeper of secrets,

Don't give the game of those lost hearts away.

It's a game, but its fire is so very real

That it kills the lover at play.

#1913: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: secret

I've been trying to resolve the atheist/theist split lately, trying to figure out how you might create a worldview that accommodates both the absence and the presence of God. Rumi touched on this theme quite a bit and came up with some rich poetic ways to express a resolution. Here, for example, are the last three lines of "Form Is Ecstatic" (as rendered by Coleman Barks in The Soul of Rumi):

Believer, unbeliever, cynic, lover,
all combine in the spirit-form we are,

but no one yet is awake like Shams.

As the last line points out, there is also more to it than simply saying that some men believe and some don't, some are sour and some are sweet. Shams had a presence that went beyond all that. My own guess is that he could spontaneously draw on any of these approaches as the moment suited.

When the word "secret" is used in Sufism or in gnosticism generally, it points to the inner world of man, to our dreams, our hopes and fears, and above all, to our identity, our sense of being a particular being, an "I". This inner world can only be reached through the subjective experience. We cannot observe it like we might a rainbow or a mating ritual, as an objective event "out there". We can only relate to another's experience of a rainbow or of sexual love by recalling our own inner experiences of these, how it seemed or felt to us.

In this verse today, Rumi reminds us of the reality and dangers of the fire of emotion. People experiencing psychosis may dream of or relate an inner experience of a natural catastrophe like a flood or, in this case, a fire. You can easily get your fingers burnt if you play with the fires of passion. Rumi was a teacher of his religion. His discourses show he was a good Muslim and knew his Koran and the life of its prophet well. Some kind of religious framework is advisable when entering into the gardens of love. A full initiate might emerge with no further need of the initial dogmas or with at least a different view of them, but sacred scriptures and rituals can act as shields when the fires get too hot to handle. The alchemists tried to keep their fires at a modest heat, cooking their stews at a simmer. However, accidents can happen and a traditional truth might be useful to fall back on.

At one point, the earlier great mystic Ibn Arabi crossed paths with the boy who would become Rumi and his father. The pair impressed the by now elderly sage who remarked: "There goes a sea followed by an ocean." To my mind, it is an especially beautiful ocean because anyone can dive into it. If a Christian dives in, he will emerge still a Christian; if a Muslim, still a Muslim; if an atheist, still an atheist. However, each and every one will find food for thought, the sweet waters of life, and perhaps even a glint of the shining sun of Shams consciousness.


At Wednesday, 14 December, 2005, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Passion: it can hurt like hell, but no other feeling feels so good...

At Wednesday, 14 December, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

Hell does indeed have its attractions, lol.


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