Eyes are meant to see things.
It’s by some grand shift of energy that we know love.
We have this great love-ache for the ocean
and the seabirds sewing the hem of her robe."
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RUMI-THE BOOK OF LOVE
RUMI: THE BOOK OF LOVE
6. A New Life
As one becomes a lover, duties change to inspirations. Practices
become dance, poetry, creek music moving along.
Impossible natural images of transformation appear: candle
becomes moth; a dry, broken stick breaks into bud. A chickpea
becomes its cook (not so impossible, the natural tasting!).
Something enters that spontaneously enjoys itself.
Finding a purpose for acting is no longer the problem. The
soul is here for its own joy. Eyes are meant to see things. It’s
by some grand shift of energy that we know love.
We have this great love-ache for the ocean and the
seabirds sewing the hem of her robe. That is the subject
here. We long for beauty, even as we swim within it.
Abdul Qadir Gilani describes this region of the heart as
a baby. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen also speaks of it this way.
Someone asked Bawa once what it felt like to be him. He
answered by closing his eyes and making little kissing
noises like a baby nursing. In this new life a baby is born
in the heart. Purity comes and a playfulness, an ease, a
peace. Gilani says this new heart-baby sometimes talks to
the soul in dreams.
Bawa says that this baby knows the language
of God. It understands every voice that floats on the
wind because it is in unity and compassion.
This baby has none of the exclusivity of loving,
the limits we learn and later, hopefully,
unlearn from our families (the blood ties),
our culture, religion, tribe, and nation.
Bawa says humanity is “God’s funny family.”
That’s how the baby sees.
I saw this baby come into my father’s eyes in the last
weeks of his life in 1971. Everyone felt it. My mother died
(she was sixty-four, lung cancer) on May 8, 1971. My dad
died of a stroke on July 2, 1971, at seventy-two. In the time
between (fifty-five days), Dad lost all judgmental tendencies.
He met everyone with unconditional love. He would
go out on any excuse to walk around and talk with
strangers. He had unlimited time and attention and helpfulness
for everyone. So beautiful. I see that opening in
John Seawright’s mother and father too. To hear Rev. Ryan
Seawright pray outdoors in the wind at a June wedding, as
I did recently, is about as much as a heart can stand.
Bawa used to go out rounding, which meant riding in the passenger’s
seat of a car driving very slow and waving to people
walking on the sidewalk. Sometimes I’d go along. When
pedestrians would see his face, it was like they were struck
full-power with one of those old searchlights from Second
World War airfields.
Then they’d recover and wave so tenderly,
as to a baby.
The connecting extends to all living beings.
My friend Stephan Schwartz tells of an old farmhand who could
stand at the edge of a field and speak in a soft voice to a
particular cow a couple of hundred yards away, “Number
forty-seven.” That cow, who needed attention from a vet,
would detach from the herd and walk over.
Pleasant (the man’s name) would talk to the cow, looking in her face,
about what needed to be done, how it would hurt but that
it was for the best. The cow would then patiently endure
what needed to be done, and he’d say,
“That’s good. Go on back now.”
Then he’d call another one, “Number twentyfour.”
Stephan swears that he was present many times when
Bawa went into the jungles of Sri Lanka for fifty years
to watch the animals and learn about God. When your
heart dissolves in this love, books are beside the point. We
learn from the taste of life events.
Jelaluddin Chelebi once asked me what religion I was.
I threw up my hands in the who knows gesture.
“Good,” he said.
“Love is the religion, and the universe is the book.”
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