Saturday, December 03, 2005

teacher and taught

"My eyes?" I asked. She said, "Look for me."

I then asked, "My gut?" "Let it sigh for me."

"And my heart?" I asked. "What's in it?" said she.

I said, "Pain for you." "Then keep it for me."

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

Search word: eye

I'm still intrigued by the eye metaphor, exploring further avenues there. Today's verse also opens up another theme: the contrast between the teacher and the student. Rumi plays this out here in a conversation with a woman, no doubt precisely because women rarely adopted this role. Certainly under Islam but even into current times, women are not leaders in philosophy, theology, religion, even mysticism. There is a gradual turn-around happening but it would not have been evident in Rumi's day, except insofar as he foresaw it.

I was recently pointed to this quote from Immanuel Kant:

Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! "Have courage to use your own reason!"- that is the motto of enlightenment.


We are so imbued today with Enlightenment values, we've lost the ability to do what Rumi did with Shams, give ourselves wholly over to another as teacher and guide. At first it was Shams in the flesh who played that role. By the time of this verse it is an inner Shams, sometimes appearing as a goddess. When seen from outside Rumi was acting independently, he had no apparent teacher. However, in order to maintain a balance in his own psyche, he had to submit to this inner teacher and be guided by her. He was also teaching his students to do the same.

I think he must have been an amazing teacher.


Post a Comment

<< Home