“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi
Jalaluddin Rumi was a 12th century Sufi mystic, whose approach to the ‘real’ was remarkably modern. This should not surprise us. Anything spiritually true will have that immediate and familiar ring about it – the sense of a homecoming, something ‘just there’ beneath the surface of our consciousness.
The Sufi mystics knew that there is no need to use an ornate symbolic system to describe the psychologically-real in the human being. Most of the systems that do use ornate symbolism were created, in times of religious persecution, to enable teaching in secret. Today, there is a danger that they become the tools of egoic gurus who use them to veil the truth, rather than light a path to it. This is not always the case, but is a hazard for those new to any path, who might not know the difference.
In the previous post, we examined how the primary behaviour of the egoic self is to react. Rumi’s quote, above, is directly related to this. Distilled, his words describe a self that has built a shell around its essence – something that dwells in ‘love’. Love was intrinsic to the language of the Sufis: the seeker becomes besotted – intoxicated – with the discovered presence of what seems like another being inside themselves. Only much later do we see that we are the reflection of it and not the other way round…
The power of the shell that blocks out the interior love from our true Self is the power of reaction; the world ‘painted on our eyeballs’. The egoic, worldly self must constantly identify with reaction to life in order to maintain its illusory position at ‘the centre’. In the words of the Buddhists: there are two ways of looking at clouds passing; the first is to say “I see clouds passing”, the second is to say “Clouds are passing – there is consciousness of this.”
Nothing is lost in this, save the grip of the egoic self. Clouds are still passing; but, in the second example there is an implied, deeper relationship between the one who was the observer and the thing observed. One of them has vanished – making the world whole, again.
Our world is one of relationship. Our bodies are instruments for receiving the electro-magnetic signals that give notice of change to consciousness. The world is our relationship to everything within it – in particular, other people in our life. In part three of this series we spoke about ‘projection’; an unconscious externalising of what ‘we are’ as though projected onto a screen. When we fall in love, we see the other as the object of our adoration, but, really, we are projecting a very beautiful and inner part of ourselves onto the perfect screen of a sympathetic person. This does not diminish love; far from it. The love felt from the other person shows us the power of love to shine an other-wordly ‘light’ into our lives. When we project on someone else in this way, we are bypassing the rigid egoic shell that keeps us imprisoned in this world of reaction. Because this intense feeling is seen in the person of another, we are free to observe it without our internal ‘commentary’ – a process that would reduce it to a regurgitation of our own egoic story.
When we look at a tree, we immediately get that voice in our head that names the tree, and we begin commenting on the nature, condition, habitat and a thousand other descriptions of ‘this beautiful, living thing in front of us’. As soon as that internal dialogue – based entirely on our history – begins, we have lost the moment of beingness with the tree. It doesn’t need to be a tree. An orange, apple, painting or a thousand other things could work just as well. As an exercise, gaze round for a few minutes each day and watch how quickly the internal jabbering switches on. Then try to ignore it, as though dismissing an unruly child… hold that feeling, that brief moment of being free to see things as they are, and without fear of losing the defensive commentary.
If we do not observe ourselves well, our world will be full of that confusion, projected outwards. If we know ourselves well, we can, day by day, draw into that knowing a certainty that our role is to ‘be with’ the world. This state of being happens in stages and needs to be accompanied by a systematic journey around our selves, beginning at the egoic level. Surprisingly, this is not a chore. it is an exciting adventure, with a considerable degree of humour and emotion along the way. Above all, from the first minute, it feels a lot more real than what was happening before…
With each bit of the defensive barrier taken down, more of the real – more of Rumi’s love – will come through. We do not need to invent, nor even visualise it. Its nature is to be; we need only let it in. It was there long before ‘we’ were.
To be continued.
Other parts of this series:
Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised.
His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.
You’ll find friends, poetry, literature and photography there…and some great guest posts on related topics