Rumi was a Muslim poet, whose poems were quite appreciated during his time. He left a spiritual legacy, which is still being appreciated by contemporary theologians. Being a Muslim teacher, Rumi had a unique talent of presenting the love of God, otherwise known as Agape in Greek. His poems had an international appeal, and this can be witnessed in the numerous translations into various languages (Heaven, 2012). This paper will analyze the mystical poems of Rumi, to understand how he presented, the theme of love in a theological sense.
Love within Mysticism
In most of the poems that Rumi wrote, he presents a mystical journey of divine ascent, through the mind of an individual, in search of the love of God. In the trip, the poet describes how the seeker of truth grows in love, by abandoning his ego in search of the “˜perfect one’. Upon the completion of the spiritual journey, which the seeker undertakes through his mind, he comes back to his, “˜dwelling’, this time, more mature, and this can be witnessed in his readiness to offer service to all humanity without discriminating them (Lewis, 2000). According to the poems, Rumi considers this practice of offering love to all humanity as an epitome of Eros, which is the love that is like to that of God. When an individual reaches this level of maturity, Rumi describes the seeker to have arrived at the “˜perfect’. This message of love is highly envisaged in his poems, when he says, “The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes / . . . Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries” (Lewis, 2000).
In an in-depth description of love, the author depicts the spirit of man to have evolved from that of God. His disciple greatly benefited from such teachings, which encouraged them to always control their spirits from developing to reach the status of God. The divine ego, which belonged to God alone, was the supreme, and man had to ensure that he maintains his subordinate state. Rumi had his disciples understand that the spirit of man had the capability of building itself, in order to enjoin itself into the divine ego, the Spirit of God (About Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, 2000). In essence, since all matter in the world was created by God, they obeyed this law of an inbuilt desire, or otherwise known as love, to search for this highest achievement. The poet for instance singled out the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, as an appropriate example in which the ego of man desired to reach the level of God, because our first parents could not be able to control it. Rumi himself had the notion of comparing a man without any consciousness of God to an animal, and only sincere consciousness could make him to be spiritual.
Unlike many theologians, Rumi believed that religion was not a logical argument that could be advanced in an objective sense, but believed that it has to be a personal experience. This made him to live in accordance to the life that he taught to his disciples. His teachings rotated around the aspect of rejoining the spirit to the divine, which he esteemed as the goal which all living beings have to aspire to. Essentially, Rumi himself had a strong conviction that the dignity of life was so much important, because it depicts the consciousness of the divine (Heaven, 2012). Although being a Muslim, he preached that the nation of love is a different religion, supreme to all other world religions. His disciples were expected to be lovers, because God alone was their religion.
The teachings of Rumi were quite universal, but he derived all his lessons from the Qur’an. He believed that the Holy Book of Muslim was the foundation of understanding the spirit of God. This was highly witnessed in some of the famous quotes in one of his poem, “Flee to God’s Qur’an, take refuge in it” (Lewis, 2000). Through the aspect of love, this creator of beauty emphasized that no problem in the world can be greater than the potency of people who have been united in the mystical love. The advantage that humanity has, in accordance to the teachings of Rumi, was that the divine spirit of love is found within all of us, and it is always the responsibility of humanity to provoke this spirit to work to achieve unity of all. In essence, the author had a strong believe that to love fellow human being is the greatest responsibility that any person has as a spiritual being (Heaven, 2012). Once love exists in all people, then mankind can be able to surmount any difficulties that they have, simply because they acknowledge God in all that they do. Since there is nothing impossible with God, yet God Himself is love, then men can co-exist harmoniously.
Rumi, however, warned that the direction to love was not an easy one. Finding this feeling meant that individuals had to surrender to it. The first step to finding the mystic love, in accordance to the teachings of the litterateur, was that we need to discover that our friends are always a reflection of ourselves, such that by showering them with love, then we can reach one of the most invigorating, deepest and soulful form of love, which we can be able to access from God, through obeying his command of loving our neighbors (Lewis, 2000). In fact, the secret to the mystical love that was advanced by Rumi was for humanity to be able to see things the way our partners see them.
Nevertheless, in as much as the poet subscribed to the definitions of love, which had already been advanced by the philosophers that had come before him, he chose to have a much in depth definition of the love. The ancient Greeks for instant described love in various ways, including, Eros, which was described as “passionate and sensual form of love”, Agape, which was thought to be, “the love of God “,or rather as the aspect of being passionate and kind. The Greeks also described a love between friends as “philo” (Heaven, 2012). Rumi while considering all the above forms of love had a strong feeling that he could coalesce all these forms of love into the Grande one, because all of them were gateways through which humanity could meet God. Specifically, he felt that if all humanity could show compassion and kindness to fellow beings, then it was quite possible for us to recognize their divine significance, and, therefore, consider them as divine beings, which are as special as us.
Rumi had a strong believe that through showering love to others, our perceptions about life become clearer and meaningful. Love, therefore, unifies humanity to be like God, whereby we are able to expose our divine ego in a collective sense. In his teachings, the Muslim author castigated the contemporary life, which is full of activity and pace, and thus denying men the power to be able to reflect on the power of love, and even experience it. He says that it is quite difficult for modern men to experience fully the mystical love, because of lack of time to show love to our partners. He feels that love itself needs a lot of time, to look deeply into our partners and ourselves (Lewis, 2000). The modern man, having a perception for instant answers, becomes quite impossible for him to invest completely into the realization of the greatest form of satisfaction from mystical love. Additionally, the nowadays man, in accordance to Rumi, is much concerned about expecting from others and not giving. This is contrary to the requirement of mystical love, which suggests that there should be a mutual spiritual advancement, which can only happen if both the giver and the receiver of such a feeling can be involved.
This signifies that we should never approach our partners with expectations to be met, but rather, we have to be fully involved. This provides an avenue through which humanity can develop a higher understanding of what entails the love of God. Rumi, therefore, maintains that there is need for humankind to be able to learn how to offer love, so that they can grow to the maturity of the love which he highly cherished. The poet-philosopher categorically warns in his teachings that there exists a great danger in expecting and demanding love from others, because of the disappointments and hurts which normally emanate from such expectations (Lewis, 2000). This can happen if people are rejected by those individuals whom they expect to be loved by. Rumi suggests that such disappointments can result in conflicts and wounds, they represent the opposite of what love is expected to deliver.
However, this scholar offers a solution to this, by suggesting that for humans to reach the highest form of love, equal to that of God, it becomes quite necessary to explore and expunge these feelings of rejection, any moment that they arise within us. The above process frees the spirit of man, such that the man is able to face the future with greater maturity. Rumi in essence suggests that those people, who have matured in love, are able to forget their past. This can clearly be observed in one of his memorable quotes, when he says, “do not revisit the past” (Heaven, 2012).
Rumi has, furthermore, given humanity a free lesson about how they can be more loving, through, “the first principle of love”, where he suggests that intimate love are supposed to be our institutions of higher learning, whereby we can find both blessings and challenges. He continually emphasizes that our partners are the “mirrors” through which we are able to reflect ourselves. The writer for instance says that if there happens to be any conflict in our relationship, then it signifies that we are the causers of the conflict in question. In contrary, Rumi says that if there satisfaction happens and fulfillment in the relationship, then it appears that the individuals in question have discovered peace and contentment within their relations. Love, in essence, has a much more restrained deepening, and should be nurtured in a positive way. In the first step of this feeling, Rumi stresses that persons need not to strive for perfection, but should find them to do what is only possible. Lovers, in this sense, should not have to worry about loving or being loved sufficiently, or trying to force the relationship to work. Specifically, the poet contends that the ones in love should strive not to harm each other. Being the first principle of love, Rumi suggests that we should use it to discover stability. This is depicted in his poem, when he says; “If you are like the wind: sometimes hot, sometimes cold, / Find the place within you where heat and cold are no more, / then love can evolve naturally towards its perfection” (Barks, 1996).
In this sense, Rumi stresses the significance acknowledging that life itself is filled with its own mysteries, and secrets, which is beyond the understanding of man. Therefore, love itself is also mysterious in sense, and can only unfold itself in a way that assists us to appreciate it in the best way. Perfection in this matter can only be realized through our continued growth in love relationships. When individuals go through processes of hurts, they are able to learn, and heal the wounds that have been experienced thorough the past relationships. This in the end breeds perfection. Rumi thus emphasizes the aspect of every relationship aiming for perfection, as exhibited in one of his quotes; “in aiming for perfection, it is God that we become” (Barks, 1996). This justifies the contention that when people become much more loving, then they are able to attract more love towards themselves. The aspect of being perfect makes individuals to sharpen their love.
A spiritual angle to the aspect of perfection and love is also presented by Rumi, when he says that sometimes, persons can become disillusioned, upon finding out that they should be more trusting to offer themselves to others. Because of the imperfections that exist, it is normally difficult for humans to offer satisfactory love to others, but Rumi has a word of advice, when he says that we must be spiritual warriors, and never despair at the failures which are encountered. The litterateur is categorical that such forms of imperfections offer us a chance to grow and learn. This can be exposed in one of his quotations, when he says, “Come, come, whoever you are! / Wonderer, idolater, worshipper of fire, / Come even though you have been broken a hundred times! / Come, and come again, ours is not a caravan of despair” (Barks, 1996).