Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Connecting with Mystic Rumi


      
“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

“The wound is the place where the light enters.”

"Don’t grieve.  Anything you lose comes around in another form.”

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.  I'll meet you there."                                 Rumi, 13th century Islamic Sufi poet 

These are some of my favorite quotes by Rumi, the 13th century Islamic Sufi poet and mystic from Persia (born near what is now Afghanistan). Rumi is the ancient root of the Order of Whirling Dervishes and their dance known as the Sama ceremony.  

It was my friend Doris, a devotee of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), who took me back to Rumi. We were talking on the phone after many months, even years, in different parts of the world, with little communication.  We were friends in Toledo, but she’s lived in California for a long time, and is now in Berkeley, and I’ve been all over the map.  All we have to do is email, phone, touch base somehow, and we pick up from where we left off.  Our friendship is beyond space and time.  She’s a soulmate, like my brother Loren and sister Andy.  We are always connected.

Doris reminded me of Rumi and Rumi reminds me of Loren, whose spirit has perhaps come round in another form, perhaps in the form of Doris herself, whom Loren adored.  

So when Doris quoted from Rumi, the line about the field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing, I had a rumbling in my brain.  I know that name.  “Is he somehow related to the Whirling Dervishes?” I asked Doris, drawing deep from an unconscious memory. “I think so,” she answered, “a wise man.  Wisdom comes from many sources."  .

The Whirling Dervishes!  I saw a group of Whirling Dervishes when I was in Istanbul with PCV friends Jud and Jason.  It was one of the most wondrous evenings we spent in this beautiful city that is both Asian and European.  We had a wonderful meal, listened spellbound to sacred Persian music played expertly on ancient traditional instruments, and we followed the spinning Dervishes, round and round, their white skirts billowing around them. Incredibly moving. Mesmerizing! .

With the Sama ceremony crossing my mind, Doris told me about ACIM and her experiences on this path.   I went back and forth between lessons in ACIM and Rumi.  I remembered that he too wrote of the entanglement of the soul in the material world, and how to find love and harmony  along the way.  He taught about reconnecting to the source of life, from which we become separated, and with which we long to reconnect.   So by turning and turning to the sounds of sacred  music becoming the sound of silence, a dervish grows through love, abandons time and ego, and arrives at a point of perfect serenity, a field of exquisite harmony with all things.

Aha.  So this is the field about which Rumi teaches.  It's the field beyond the barriers we build to the love we seek.    

A Course in Miracles seems like a good path for Doris. She’s happy, and so are her adult children. From her unique perspective, Doris gave me another way to see my Peace Corps experience in Ukraine, where I felt connected in such profound ways to the people and country, even though I couldn't speak the language, very little. "We somehow connected beyond language," I told Doris.  I was just there, taking life as it came, one day at a time, without judging, without a lot of thought.  I was beyond my comfort zone.  Completely psychologically naked, as it were.   

"How amazing and wonderful, Fran," Doris remarked.  She understood. "Without language, in the dark, beyond your comfort zone, you had to connect on other levels.  And you did!"

Yes, that's it! We "connected on other levels."  Without the ability to speak and participate in daily conversations beyond "good day, the weather is good,  I don't understand, but yes and no,." I felt a kinship beyond words, a bond that neither time nor distance nor language barrier can sever.

So this too is the field Rumi told about.

Thus did the mystic Rumi become our bridge, the eternal bridge between Doris and me.  We are on similar paths, not identical but in harmony, in the same field or close to it.  

Ah Mary Oliver!  You're there too.  You write about it in your poetry. So this is why I love your poetry; this is why I read and reread your poems, like a dervish in a Sama ceremony.  I feel it; the field where wisdom resides, along with the souls of all those we have loved and lost.  A field of light and love, and miracles.

I haven't felt this close to Loren in a long time.

What is There Beyond Knowing, by Mary Oliver (New and Selected Poems 2, 2005) 
What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me?  I can't

turn in any direction
but it's there.  I don't mean

the leaves' grip and shine or even the thrush's
silk song, but the far-off

fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven's slowly turning

theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath,

or time that's always rushing forward,
or stanind still

in the same -- what shall I say --
moment. 

What I know
I could put into a pack

as if it were  bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder

important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained

and unexplainable.  How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly

to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing

in and out.  Life so far doesn't have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.

If there's a temple, I haven't found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
   and the weeds.

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field, Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies, 2003
Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a bhddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings--
five feet apart--and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running,
through the white valleys
of the snow ----

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse
in the blue shadows--
so I thought:
maybe death
isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us--

as soft as feathers--
that we are instantly weary
of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,
not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river
that is without the least dapple or shadow--
that is nothing but light--scalding, aortal light--
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones. 
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