This is one of two poems that Andrew Harvey suggest define the essence of Rumi or what Rumi’s poetry is expressing, to his world than and to our world now. The question is to unravel these lines, what is Rumi saying to us?
“Define and narrow me, your starve yourself of yourself.
Nail me down in a box of cold words, that box is your coffin.
I do not know who I am.
I am in astounding lucid confusion.
I am not a Christian, I am not a Jew, I am not a Zoroastrian,
I am not even a Muslim.
I do not belong to the land, or to any known or unknown sea.
Nature cannot own or claim me, not can heaven.
Nor can India, China, Bulgaria,
My birthplace is placelessness,
My sign to have and give no sign.
You say you see my mouth, ears, eyes, nose, — they are not mine.
I am the life of life.
I am that cat, this stone, no one.
I have thrown duality away like an old dishrag,
I see and know all times and worlds,
As one, one, always one.
So what do I have to do to get you to admit who is speaking?
Admit it and change everything!
This is your own voice echoing off the walls of God.”
Can I give a set of words that are any more comprehensible than those of Rumi???
My understanding of the words he used is certainly different from his. I have tools of understanding in biochemistry, systems, logic, computers, etc that did not exist in Rumi’s time.
To me he speaks to the now well established facts of the complexity that it is to be a human being – vastly beyond the abilities of our conscious rational mind to comprehend in detail.
To me he speaks to the fact that the conscious part of being human that we are more or less aware of is tiny in comparison to the vast subconscious morass of computational subsystems that actually do all of the “grunt work” that makes the emergence of our conscious experience of being possible.
To me, when he speaks of not being of any religion, he speaks to an awareness beyond dogma, beyond identification with any place or ideology.
To me he is confused when he speaks of being one, and echoing off the walls of god, and the confusion is understandable, and with the conceptual tools available in his day, it is one of the best descriptions I have seen; and to me it is something quite different, but something that looks very much like that.
To me, it seems clear that what he is pointing to is an awareness of being that is directly coupled to our subconscious, in a way that seems like it is communicating with something all powerful and all knowing, and beyond the control of consciousness – which in a limited sense are all true – in the sense that the subconscious actually creates the model that we get to experience as reality – so it really does determine our experiential reality. The confusion is over the extra step of systems – between the inputs from the real external reality (whatever that actually is) and the model of reality our brains generate that we get to experience as reality.
I completely align with Rumi, that we are potentially unlimited, that our greatest limitations are imposed by our own beliefs, and we now have access to understandings and conceptual tools that allow us to take the whole thing to another level.
So yes – certainly, shake lose the shackles of belief, of culture, of nation – embrace the unity of sapience – awareness of self as a powerful creative sapient entity, one of many, as valuable as any in the universe.
Choose your own path.
Create your own destiny!