This morning as I woke up and was in that in between state we know so well – the state of consciousness that lies between sleep and wakefulness – I kept hearing that well-known stanza from the Sufi poet Rumi –
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
Coupled with these words from Rumi was a message – if only we would take these words to heart, humanity would be able to move beyond its current conflicts so as to move to a world where we focus on what’s truly important.
This 13th century Persian mystic is often said to be the current best-selling poet in 21st century America. I don’t think it’s any accident that the writings of this person who lived 800 years ago is now striking a resonant chord with the modern world. On the surface, his poems are beautiful odes to the power of love – and who doesn’t like a good love poem? But beyond the surface, we see that Rumi frequently writes about his love for “the beloved” which is not a person, but rather a personification of the divine essence that created Rumi and the world as well as you and I. This beloved is both within us and outside of us, and ultimately it is uniting us. This fact is reflected in the following Rumi poem, one of my favorites:
“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”
I frequently use this poem in wedding ceremonies I perform as a beautiful reminder of the interconnectedness of the couple being married. It reflects the fact that when we “fall in love”, that emotion we feel as love is really at some level a deeper recognition of our spiritual bond – that we came from the same source and that the love we feel for this other person, really is a power that transcends both of us. We are both individual expressions of the One – the Beloved – which created us. What we may limit in our awareness as a feeling of love towards this one person right here in front of us, Rumi knew was really our mutual recognition of the source which created both of us. My “loving you” draws me away from only caring about myself outwardly to caring about another – “you” – and through my loving you, the power of love cracks me open to a greater sense of love where I love not only you but the power that created you and I and the world we live in.
What many fans of Rumi frequently don’t recognize is that he was what we would consider a spiritual “evolutionary”. I wrote about this in My Book Be Yourself Evolving the World through Personal Empowerment. Consider this passage from his Wikipedia article – “Rumi was an evolutionary thinker in the sense that he believed that the spirit after devolution from the divine Ego undergoes an evolutionary process by which it comes nearer and nearer to the same divine Ego.” Basically, Rumi had mystically intuited that the world had been created by a divine power that had inserted itself into the world. Our physical manifestations were then moving through a process of evolution which was leading us back into an awareness of the divine source which had created us. This source was the “beloved” of which Rumi lovingly wrote about. Rumi realized over 700 years ago that love was actually this evolutionary force urging us along our path leading us back to that divine essence which had created us. Consider, as an example, this poem of his –
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels bless’d; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones,
To Him we shall return.”
All of which leads me back to our opening Rumi poem – the one to which I awoke this morning. Rumi says, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.” What does this mean?
We certainly live in a culture often motivated by winning and losing, presenting ourselves to be right and others to be wrong, being in judgment about the thoughts and actions of others and the like. Our political systems are often mired so much in their differences of belief that no positive action can be created. Our news is often overwhelmed with stories of conflict and power struggles. The challenges of modern life can certainly appear overwhelming.
Yet, somewhere within us we know there is a better way. We know there is a place – a field – where we can move beyond our judgments of wrongdoing and rightdoing. Although it’s natural to think of this “field” as a physical place where grass and flowers grow, the wind blows and animals graze – there’s another way to picture this “field”. A field can also be an invisible energetic all-encompassing aspect of reality – like a magnetic field or an energy field. It can be some behind-the-scenes grounding aspect of all of life – an energy of interconnectedness that permeates everything and holds it all together. This is what I think Rumi was really describing.
Our physical nature which has moved in the past through an evolutionary path has been rewarded by being successful in a struggle for survival. The more we “won” in our battles with life and “others”, the greater our opportunities to live and reproduce. Even though we “died as an animal and became man”, there is still a part of that survival-based animal still driving our motivations – and that aspect of us still seeks to make us “right” and others “wrong”.
But beyond our animalistic and ego driven struggles to win and survive, there is a field connecting us. That’s where we are called to meet in our awareness. In this energetic field of interconnectedness, our souls recognize the pettiness of our worldly conflicts – all of this winning and losing “stuff” is so trivial – when we truly understand that truth, we no longer want to talk about “the world” – it’s too “full” – it’s too immaterial in the big scheme of things. As our souls lie “down in the grass” together, we realize what’s really important – our love for one another and for the power that created us – the beloved.
Let’s go meet out there in that field.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!