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"Planting in the Depths"

Rumi's Poetry as a Way Inside

Index to Rumi Poetry Series

How will you know the difficulties of being human if you're always flying off to blue perfection?

Where will you plant your grief-seeds? We need ground to scrape and hoe, not the sky of unspecified desire.

-- Rumi

Jelaluddin Rumi  lived during the 13th century. He was a theologian with his own divinity school. At age 37, through a relationship with a dervish monk, Shams, Rumi began to transform his being, and in the process, to write some of the most beautiful mystical poetry ever written. For the next several weeks, we’ll reflect on some of his poems.

I’m using a translation found in the book The Illuminated Rumi.

One of my friends just had her chart done by an astrologer friend of mine (If you're wondering if I "believe" in astrology -- yes and no. I believe that everything is a path of meaning, and the work my friend Marielle Croft does is stunning in its clarity. What all of it has to do with planets is beyond what I care to understand. If you are curious, visit Marielle's site.


Anyway, my "point," such as it is, is that it turns out that Jennifer's chart lacks planets in signs that are considered "grounded." So, she's been doing lots of grounding stuff, like Bodywork, dance, and paying focused attention to staying in her body and out of her head.

When Rumi talks about "flying off to blue perfection," I find myself thinking about those who are ungrounded -- who live in their heads -- ruminating, judging, blaming, and emphatically expecting life to be easy and care-free. You wouldn't (hey, maybe you would) believe how many of my clients come in looking for help in making their life perfectly happy. Boy, are they surprised when the meet me, and I start encouraging them to go deeply into their anxiety, their grief, their passion and their energy. In short, I guide them deeply into themselves.

The answer to Rumi's question about where we plant our grief-seeds is simple. We plant them in ourselves. Grief is an existential reality and a deep component in our humanity. Grief, angst, is an ever-present reality and marks our state as human beings. With each breath we are one breath closer to our death.

We need to get "in there" -- deeply inside of ourselves -- and scrape and hoe the ground of our being-ness. Our being-ness is totally tied to our mortality. We, especially in the death and ageing denying West, fear this territory. We want to escape into "blue perfection" - off into the sky, in dreams and day dreams. We want to be anywhere but here - in our bodies, in our lives, alive and feeling.

Our denial of the true nature of life, of its admixture of darkness and light, kills us, as surely and a certainly as anything else. Rumi calls us to experience all of life, not just the "fun parts." He wants us to get in there and root around, to dig in the dirt of our pains and hurts, our disappointments and discouragements. He wants us to get our hands dirty at the depths of ourselves.

Why? Because in order to come to grips with ourselves, to meet and to learn to love ourselves, we have to embrace our humanity. All of it.

In Bodywork, pain always precedes release and bliss. Always. People who are too scared or too tight to let go and experience the pain will never feel much of anything. Another good friend, who has had 4 Bodywork sessions, is still stoic and quiet. After each session, she sits next to me for a hug, and cries quietly on my shoulder. I've known her since she was 14 - she's now 26, and slowly, slowly, she's coming into her own. She scares herself with her pain and with her sadness, yet with each quiet session and release of tears, her eyes clear a bit more, and she becomes wiser. She knows the sound must come out, the sound of her pain, and she also intuits how much passion and joy lies beneath. She also knows that both the fear and the wish for "blue skies" must be transcended.

She will.

Well, this will be the last Rumi quote for a while. I'm freshly back from the Left Coast, and have much to share with you about passion and fullness, contact at the boundaries and living life passionately and fully. Change is a part of The Phoenix Centre and Into the Centre, and life itself, and I invite you to share in all of it. Next week, let's dive in!

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