Love Religion: “… There is a place where words are born of silence, A place where the whispers of the heart arise …” ~ Jonathan Star
Rumi’s poetry has a universal draw … it is deeply appreciated and loved by people all over the world … people of all backgrounds and religions. This universal poetry – simply uttered over a span of 30 years – stemmed from the sohbet (mystical conversations) of Rumi and Shams … this mystical conversation and Shams subsequent disappearance – which left Rumi bereft with despair – is the genesis of Rumi’s utterances that still resonate with people all over the globe even after almost 800 years …
Why? … because they transcend all “boundaries” … Jonathan Star (a Rumi translator) says “… In Rumi’s poetry, love is the soul of the universe, and this soul knows no bounds—it embraces all people, all countries, and all religions …” … OR as Coleman Barks (the Rumi translator that made his poetry much more accessible to the world especially the Western world) says:
“… The words that came so spontaneously carry a broad range of religious awareness: the meditative silence and no-mind of Zen, the open heart and compassion of Jesus, the stern discipline of Muhammad, the convivial humor of Taoists, the crazy wisdom and bright intelligence of the Jewish Hassidic masters. Rumi is a planetary poet, loved the world over for the grandeur of his surrender and for the freedom and grace of his poetry. He was nurtured within the Islamic tradition, the Persian language, and a long line of Sufis, but it is his connection with Shams of Tabriz that lets his work transcend definition and doctrine. The poetry feels as though it belongs to all. When he died in 1273, members of every religion came to the funeral. Wherever you stand, his words deepen your connection to the mystery of being alive …”
Further, Jonathan adds that “… The goal of Sufism is to know love in all of its glorious forms …”
Rumi’s poetry and the essence of Sufism is another way we can explore – and deepen – what “binds us all together” … and in that “binding” hopefully we can find ways to navigate life with more harmony, more kindness and compassion … with “togetherness” as the foundation vs separation or divisiveness … such navigation would be beneficial at any time … but is certainly beneficial – and needed – in the current “COVID norm” where “social distancing” is crucial to our survival … and any exploration that encourages unity is a welcome balancing force …
But … before we explore the Love Religion …
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Now … let’s get back to the … love religion …
Coleman Barks, in the Introduction of his book A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings (full attribution at the bottom of the post), shares:
“Jelaluddin Chelabi, head of the Mevlevi order of dervishes (the ones descended from Rumi), once asked me, What religion are you? I gave him the arms-open, palms-up who-knows gesture. Good, he said. Love is the religion, and the universe is the book.
Here is how Ibn Arabi speaks of the all-inclusive, no-dogma, no-structure way. The light at the end of this poem is both subject and subjectivity.”
The Love Religion
“… the source of beauty, and a light of sacredness over everything …”
The inner space inside
that we call the heart
has become many different
living scenes and stories.
A pasture for sleek gazelles,
a monastery for Christian monks,
a temple with Shiva dancing,
a kaaba for pilgrimage.
The tablets of Moses are there,
the Qur’an, the Vedas,
the sutras, and the gospels.
Love is the religion in me.
Whichever way love’s camel goes,
that way becomes my faith,
the source of beauty, and a
light of sacredness over everything.
~~ Ibn Arabi
And here is another translation of Ibn Arabi’s above Love Religion expressed as the Path of Love through Jonathan Star who writes (in the Introduction of his book Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved):
“… In Rumi’s poetry, love is the soul of the universe, and this soul knows no bounds—it embraces all people, all countries, and all religions. The goal of Sufism is to know love in all of its glorious forms; and every prophet, every practice, and every form of worship that leads toward love is, in essence, Sufism. The great Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi writes: …”
The Path of Love
My heart holds within it every form,
it contains a pasture for gazelles,
a monastery for Christian monks.
There is a temple for idol-worshippers,
a holy shrine for pilgrims;
There is the table of the Torah,
and the Book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love
and go whichever way His camel leads me.
This is the true faith;
This is the true religion.
Jonathan continues (in that same Introduction) …
“… Just as the Sufis honored all traditions, seeing each as a path leading to the highest truth, they also honored the prophets of these traditions. They looked upon each for guidance and inspiration. Many Sufis, including the great Mansur al-Hallaj, idealized Jesus as the embodiment of perfect love; they built their philosophy around him, rather than the Prophet. The renowned Sufi saint Junayd gives this prescription for Sufi practice based on the lives of the prophets:
Sufism is founded on the eight qualities exemplified by the eight prophets:
The generosity of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son.
The surrender of Ishmael, who submitted to the command of God and gave up his dear life.
The patience of Job, who endured the affliction of worms and the jealousy of the Merciful.
The mystery of Zacharias, to whom God said, “Thou shalt not speak unto men for three days save by sign.”
The solitude of John, who was a stranger in his own country and an alien to his own kind.
The detachment of Jesus, who was so removed from worldly things that he kept only a cup and a comb—the cup he threw away when he saw a man drinking in the palms of his hand, and the comb likewise when he saw another man using his fingers instead of a comb.
The wearing of wool by Moses, whose garment was woolen.
And the poverty of Muhammad, to whom God sent the key of all treasures that are upon the face of the earth.
The supreme vision of Sufism is to see God everywhere, to view every part of creation as a reflection of God’s glory. The poet Jami writes: “Every branch and leaf and fruit reveals some aspect of God’s perfection: the cypress gives hint of His majesty; the rose gives tidings of His beauty.” Every atom was created by God so that man could know the highest truth and learn the secrets of love …”
Indeed, such practice is a universal prescription for bringing humanity together …
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May you explore the Love religion … wherever you are, with whoever you engage … and in every moment of your life … and …
May you bring more love and compassion in your daily rhythm and interactions with others … and …
May you remain safe and healthy as you navigate these troubling times.