Heroes, by Rumi

HEROES

Does any artist paint for the sake of the picture itself, without the hope of offering some good?

No, but for the sake of  the viewers and the young who will be drawn by it and freed from cares.

Or does any potter hastily throw a pot or a bowl without any thought of what it will hold?

Does any calligrapher write for the script alone without any regard for the reader?

The external form is for the sake of something unseen, and that took shape for something else unseen.

Just as the moves in a game of chess reveal the results of each move in what follows.

They make one move to conceal another move, and that for something else, and so on and on.

So move on, aware of reasons within reasons, one move after another, to checkmate.

One step is for the sake of another, like the rungs of a ladder, to reach the roof.

The hunger for food produces semen; semen is for procreation, and the light in the parent’s eyes.

Someone with dulled vision sees no further than this: his intelligence has no movement; it vegetates.

Whether a plant is summoned or not, it stays planted within the soil.

Don’t be deceived if the wind bends it.

It’s head says, “We obey the zephyr’s request,” while its feet say, “Leave us alone!”

Since he does not know how to move, he advances on trust like the blind.

Consider what acting on trust means in a war: it’s like a gambler trusting the throw of the dice.

But if someone’s insight is unfrozen, it penetrates the veil.

He sees with his own eyes in the present what will come to pass in ten year’s time.

In the same way, everyone perceives the invisible future, whether good or bad, according to the measure of his insight.

When barriers in front and behind are removed, the eye penetrates and reads the Tablet of the Unseen.

When he looks back to the origin of existence, the beginning and all the past display themselves, including the argument between the angels of earth and Divine Majesty, their resistance to recognizing our Father Adam as God’s steward.

And when he casts his eye forward, he sees all that will come to pass until the Gathering.

Therefore he sees back to the root of the root, and forward to the Day of Decision.

Anyone, to the degree of his enlightenment, sees as much as he has polished of himself.

The more he polishes, the more he sees, the more visible do the forms become.

If you say purity is by the grace of God, this success in polishing is also through that Generosity.

That work and prayer is in proportion to the yearning: People have nothing but what they have striven for.

God alone is the giver of aspiration: no rough brute aspires to kingliness, nor does God’s gift of good fortune preclude one’s own consent and will and choice.

But when He brings trouble upon some ill-fated person, he ungratefully packs off in flight.

Whereas when God brings trouble upon a blessed man, he just draws nearer to God.

In battle the cowardly, from fear of their lives, have chosen their means of escape.

But heroes are borne forward by their fear and pain.

From fear, too, the weak soul dies within itself.

Tribulation and fear for one’s life are touchstones to distinguish the cowardly from the brave.

– Rumi

(translated by Kabir Helminski)

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Self-observation for knoweldge of the self

This exercise is a continuation of the awareness of the present moment exercise which you can find here. Once you are aware of your external world, you gently and in a relaxed way bring your attention to your internal world. You observe emotions, thoughts and any other sensations that manifest within you. If you do that consistently, you will not only notice that those thoughts, emotions, sensations etc. are separate energies from who you really are, but you will also see how they are affecting and controlling your life.

Those inner states are in esoteric terminology known as “egos” (and more and more contemporary psychologists are using this term too). Egos are the inferior part of us – energies such as anger, pride, fear, lust, greed, gluttony, jealousy etc. They manifest in what is known as the five inferior centers of the body – intellectual, emotional, motor, instinctual and sexual center. These energies are part of the subconscious, and the spiritual work deals with transforming the subconscious into consciousness.

In the intellectual center they manifest as subconscious thoughts, which are thoughts not consciously conjured. The majority of the time it is these kinds of thoughts that go through our mind.

In the emotional center they manifest as emotions, and it is easy to notice them there. Emotions which we can feel can vary greatly. There is an enormous range of them, much more then those most commonly known. Usually it’s easy to notice big outbursts of emotions, but there are also subtle ones which can eventually snowball into outbursts or just keep us in low states without us realizing why we feel so low. Emotional center is covering big part of torso.

The motor center is located on the upper part of the back. Egos manifesting in the motor center can take control over our entire body. For example, a person is walking down the street and they hear some unusual sound in the distance. The person might suddenly turn around to see what is happening. This action will happen without the person really consciously deciding to do it. Another example is tapping your foot when waiting.

The instinctual center is a very basic one and is located in the lower part of your back. Usually this center keeps us out of danger, but egos that use it can cause a lot of trouble. The instinctual center can react with fear when there is no danger around, like for example when walking through a dark forest and imagining scary scenarios. Crippling fear then enters into the instinctive center and causes paralyzing sensations. Another manifestation is when you burn your finger on a stove and suddenly pull the finger back. Even though this instinct is a useful thing to have, it is much better when egos in the instinctual center are replaced by consciousness.

The last center is the sexual center and the ego that manifest there is lust. Sensations of lust can be easily observed and noticed, especially when an attractive person of opposite sex is seen. However, lust in the sexual center can also be triggered by fantasizing.

To be aware of what is going on within you and outside of you is really the complete practice of awareness. If you will only practice awareness of the external world, then your inner states will eventually pull you back into a daydream. The consciousness that we are is still very small and undeveloped, and it is like a piece of driftwood in a stormy sea – it is just a matter of time until it will be overridden by the waves of egos. To not allow that to happen you have to guard it by being aware of your egos and in this way you prevent from taking control. Buddha said how consciousness is like a candle flame amidst fiery winds – we need to surround that flame with our hands (self-observation) so that it doesn’t extinguish.

Similarly, like the previous exercise of awareness of the present moment, this one is also simple and after a period of time it becomes a natural way of living. It is the second foundational step towards the First Key for Awakening – elimination of the egos and their transformation into consciousness.

The Water We Seek

Not long ago I found one of poem by Rumi which I found to be inspiring and insightful.  It’s called The Water We Seek

The eye or the spirit that focuses on the transient
falls on its face wherever it goes.
Someone who focuses on the distance,
without knowledge, may see far,
but just as we do in a dream.

Asleep on the bank of a river, lips parched,
you dream you are running toward water.
In the distance you see the water of your desire
and, caught by your seeing, you run toward it.

In the dream you boast,
“I am the one whose heart can see through the veils.”
Yet every step carries you further away
toward the perilous mirage.

From the moment you dreamed you set out
you created the distance
from that which had been near to you.
Many set out on a journey
that leads them farther away from their goal.

The intuitive claims of the sleeper are a fantasy.
You, too, are sleepy; But for God’s sake,
if you must sleep, sleep on the Way of God,
and maybe some other seeker on the Way
will awaken you from your fantasies and slumber.

No matter how subtle the sleeper’s thought becomes,
his dreams will not guide him Home.
Whether the sleeper’s thought is twofold or threefold,
it is error multiplying error.

While he dreams of running through the wilderness,

the waves are lapping so near.

While he dreams of the pangs of thirst,

the water is nearer than his jugular vein.