Disagreeing with Rumi

One of the worlds most enduring poets is Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, a Persian sufi mystic who died in the 13th Century.  The world remembers him as Rumi.

Elegant, profound and wrong

Elegant, profound and wrong

Rumi is famous for powerful quotes like the one above.  And when i saw this on Facebook, i recognized it and took issue with it.  I have seen many activist and organizers drop out of political work to pursue spiritual paths or personal growth and the like.  This leaves those of us foolish enough to “stay behind” with even more work.

Gandhi’s famous quote is a bridge between these two paths “Be the change you wish to see in the world”  [Tho Gandhi probably never said this.]  One can even argue that you must start by cleaning up your own stuff, before you can be effective in influence the world.  But the world is in desperate need of concerted attention and it is in no way wise to focus on yourself instead.

This mysticism i am down with

This mysticism i am down with

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

5 responses to “Disagreeing with Rumi”

  1. Steve Beck says :

    Internal healing and external transformation are inseparable. Healing our own personal existential misunderstanding and trauma is essential for the healing of our collectively inherited global-existential crisis–and the transformation of the institutions of domination, oppression, and exploitation that perpetuate it.

  2. Brian Adler says :

    Pax, there is context that is missing in this discussion. It really isn’t about what action you do or do not take. It is about understanding one’s own mind, how it works, and what actually helps it function better. When we imagine that others are responsible for our happiness or unhappiness, we tend to relate to both them and ourselves in ways that don’t work so well. Healthy relationships require us to understand our responsibility for our own experience of well being. But seeing that doesn’t in any way preclude taking action meant to result in a positive change in the world.

    Properly understood, you could take Rumi’s quote to heart and *still* devote your life to activism. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

  3. paxus says :

    @Brian – The temporal aspect of the quote certainly makes it seem like their is an evolution of belief and a hierarchy of significance. It is certainly possible there was a problem in translation, it was persian from almost 800 years ago. But i start from an uncompelled place by your charitable interpretation of this clever mystics words.

  4. Jbird says :

    Some will become more affective if they can resolve the inner struggle first. I do agree with you, though.

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