“What a relief to be empty! Then God can live your life” -Rumi
In the chaos that prevails around us there is a growing feeling of desolation and misery. The pace of modern life has driven man to a state where the rhythm of life is fast growing erratic and the music is slowly ebbing out .Living in a harsh world we have developed cynicism and hatred.
The most authentic hope for a serious spiritual catharsis comes from mystics whose philosophy combines the virtuous message of formal religion with the transcendental values of love and harmony. The finest exponent of this luminous philosophy was Rumi (which means daylight), the great 13th century Sufi mystic. Rumi sought freedom for his soul through a mystical connection with the divine and the expression of that relationship through art.
Sufism, the source from which the mystical world is springing ,,enables an individual to purge his mind of all toxic emotions and helps restore balance and harmony. As the acclaimed modern Sufi Inayat Khan says: “The secret of life is balance and the absence of balance is life’s destruction” According to Sufi teachings, the path to experiencing the Divine Presence starts within. It is said that one who realizes oneself realizes the Lord. God is present, but individuals cannot see Him because curtains of ignorance veil their eyes and rust encases their hearts. A common individual is ego-centered. Only when he has polished the heart and purified the self will the curtains lift, the rust fall away, and the eyes attain the vision to see God. Sufism connects us to the deeper layers of authentic self and explores it.
Sufis believe that the heart is the most important centre governing our spiritual consciousness. With diligent practice, teachers of Sufism perfected techniques that activate the heart, cultivating profound intuition and realization. The polished heart becomes a mirror that catches the light of truth and reflects it in one’s consciousness.
Sufis consider the spirit and body to be one whole. They believe in integration, not dichotomies. What we do in our physical lives affects our spiritually, and vice versa. We cannot look at our lives in a vacuum. Our lives are integrated with our environment, ethics, and family. A well known Sheikh Muzaffer says, “Keep your hands busy with your duties in this world, and your heart busy with God.” Our faith has to be practised daily within our everyday lives. As Sahi, an eminent Sufi mystic exhorts: “A man should be in the marketplace while still working with true reality.”
Several Sufis feel that the time was approaching when their esoteric knowledge, their maps of the unconscious, accumulated over centuries, would spread to the west, which was now a spiritual desert. In one poem, Rumi says we should look for God in our hearts, rather than in a church, temple or mosque.
Dr. H.J. Witteveen the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and himself an accomplished Sufi says that we all have a divine spark in us and we can experience glimpses of the divine when we forget our limitations in the beauty of nature, or art, or in deep love. Pursuing such experiences, and letting them grow deeper, he says, can lead us into the cosmic realm and enable us to celebrate celestial love.
We face a constant struggle with the moral, material, social, cultural religious, spiritual and political complexities and oddities of an ever and rapidly changing society. The time is approaching when esoteric knowledge and the maps of the unconscious of the Eastern mystics accumulated over centuries, would deluge the West, which is now a spiritual desert. While the West has been developing its technological prowess, the mystics have developed a sophisticated type of inner technology in the form of their practices – a way of moving towards self-realization .One of the most popular strand of mysticism is Sufism.
The Sufi ideal is to combine the inner and outer life to be active in the world, for example, as an economist or a politician, and at the same time to be inspired by attuning to the divine ideal. The important thing is the balance between these two aspects of like so that the inner light can motivate and shine through worldly activities. Sufism is the message of digging out that water-like life which has been buried by the impressions of this material life. There is an English phrase: a lost soul. But the soul is not lost; it is only buried. When it is dug out divine life bursts forth like a spring.
For Rumi, the patron saint of Sufism, it is the Sufi path which offers the best potential for attaining true knowledge. What exactly does Rumi understand by Sufism and the quest? Rumi’s Sufism rests upon traditional practices like prayer, fasting and pilgrimage . There is great emphasis on control of baser impulses . Rumi advocated an individual and interior spirituality, and it is the love, rather than the fear, of God that lies at the heart of his message. He attempts to merge the spirit of the human with the ideal of a god of love, whom Rumi locates within the human heart. Because God can best be reached through the gateway of the heart, Rumi believed you do not necessarily need ritual to get to him, and that the Divine is as accessible to Christians and Jews as to Muslims: “Love’s creed is separate from all religions,” he wrote. “The creed and denomination of lovers is God.” All traditions are tolerated, because in the opinion of Rumi anyone is capable of expressing their love for God, and that transcends both religious associations and your place in the social order: “My religion,” he wrote, “is to live through love.”
For Rumi to be a lover of God was not to make some inflated claim for oneself, but actually to admit one’s vulnerability and even helplessness before this Love. Love in some way transforms the lovers and makes them a blessing within creation. Love in its most basic expression is desire, or love of the loveable. We want to possess what we love. Rumi described the highest stage of love with these words: “There is no greater love than love with no object.” When a human being matures or evolves to this level of love he or she simply radiates love because he or she is love.