Rumi’s Poetry as a Way Inside
Exploring the Depths — we have to be willing to escape blue-sky thinking, and dig deeply in the fertile ground — of ourselves
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We’re happily settled in our little condo near the beach. The heat is great! Next week, we’ll be moving on from Rumi to a new topic — this time on Relationships and Intimacy. Stay tuned!
Many moons ago, I wrote a series of articles featuring some of Rumi’s poems. I think it’s time for a revisit.
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 from the book The Illuminated Rumi.
Planting in the Depths
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.
Exploring the Depths — The Idea of Groundedness
A couple of years back a then newly-minted divorced friend asked me to work on her body, as she’d realized she wasn’t very grounded. This was something I’d known about her for some time.
She lives mostly in her head;
»thinking (including thinking she’s the smartest person in the room)
»plotting and planning (she’s an expert at manipulating others into doing what she wants) and
»blaming (she’s sure that all of her issues have been caused by others — and she’s an expert at proving that to herself.)
None of which is particularly enlightened thinking — and enlightenment and groundedness go hand-in-hand.
Initially, she did have a few months of what I would call Grounding 101. She dated a guy who was into being in the moment and being in his body. She followed suit, until her head couldn’t stand the lack of structure (read: her structure.) He wouldn’t go along with her need to control him; that was that.
At the time of her request, she’d come through a period of intense physical training, coupled with continually blowing out her lower back. From a Bodywork perspective, the lower back is vulnerable to “going out” when we are out of touch with our passion; and that is often caused by “not having a leg to stand on.”
In other words, lacking groundedness. Because everything is connected.
When Rumi talks about “flying off to blue perfection,” I find myself thinking about the myriads of who are ungrounded — who live in their heads — ruminating, judging, blaming, and emphatically expecting life to be easy and care-free.
Many clients came to me looking for help — they wanted ME to fix things — to make their life perfectly happy.
Boy, were they surprised when they meet me; I encouraged them to go deeply into their anxiety, their grief, their passion and their energy. In short, I guided them deeply into themselves.
To answer to Rumi’s question about where we plant our grief-seeds: we plant them in ourselves. Grief is an existential reality and a deep component of our humanness. After all, 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” — we want to head off into the wild blue yonder — and we do so through our dreams and day dreams.
We want to be anywhere but here — anywhere but 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 ALL of our humanity.
In Bodywork, pain always precedes release. Always. People who are too scared or too tight to let go and experience the pain will never feel much of anything.
Another friend had a few Bodywork sessions — and was always stoic and quiet. After each session, she’d sit next to me and cry quietly on my shoulder. Over the course of the Sessions, she began to find herself.
She continued to scare herself with her pain and with her sadness, yet with each quiet session and release of tears, her eyes cleared a bit more, and she became wiser. She knew that her deep sounds had to come out — the sounds of her pain.
After more sessions, she let go of her rigid control, and the sounds came. She discovered that next, both the fear and the wish for “blue skies” had to be transcended. She found the passion and joy that lay beneath her hardened shell.