What You Seek is Seeking You
First Thoughts after reading Rumi and Hartshorne
Jal al-Din Rumi
Jalal al-Din Rumi invites us to love God with our hearts. He was a Sufi poet. He believes that God is Love's Embrace.
From Rumi's perspective we are reeds torn from a reedbed who seek to return to the ground from which we emerged. We are drawn to the ground as a moth to a flame, or a lover to a beloved.
Being drawn to something -- wanting to be near something -- has an intimacy of its own. And the experience of this intimacy often requires the absence of the beloved. Think of a lost child, or a lost friend, or a lost lover.
Muslims speak of the nearness of God as tashbih and the distance of God as tanzih. The idea that God is tanzhih -- distant -- reminds us that God is always more than our concept of God. The distance is epistemic. And the idea that God is tasbhih reminds us that God is closer to us than our jugular veins. Part of the wisdom of Islam is to hold these two together, without forgetting either.
When we long for God as we might long for a lost lover, we are experiencing both the nearness and the distance in a deeply personal way. We long for the person and somehow the person is present in the longing. Indeed the love is intensified by the absence. Sometimes there is more love in not being in the presence of one you love than in being in their presence. Call it the longing side of love. Rumi invites us to long for God.
The Need to Adore
But longing is not the whole story. Love also includes moments of ecstasy. You look into a person's eyes -- a lover, for example -- and they seem so wide and wild. You want to melt into them. It's almost like fainting. It's the swooning side of love. Without a capacity for swooning, we cannot find our own hearts.
The impulse to melt into God -- to swoon -- has wisdom in it, too. When you melt into another's eyes, you do not die literally but you do die psychologically. You lose the sense of being a separate self and fall into a moment of pure adoration.
The one who is adored -- the beloved -- becomes a window through whom a deeper light shines: the light of the divine Beloved.
Or course we ought not confuse the window with the Light. No human being can bear the burden of infinity. If we make idols of those we love, turning them into objects of possession or, alternatively, finite masters of our destiny, we miss the Beloved whose light shines through them. We lose the light if we cling to the window.
But if we recognize that the one we love is indeed a vessel through whom the Light shines, and if we place our trust in the Light, then the love relationship itself can be a holy icon, not an idol. We find God through the love. Listen to Rumi. He will explain:
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”
“What you seek is seeking you.”
"Everything in the universe is a pitcher brimming with beauty."
“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
"Something opens our wings. Something makes boredom and hurt disappear. Someone fills the cup in fron of us. We come only from sacredness."
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky."
"This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”