Contemplations on Rumi, by Peter Young
If the Earth had no axis to turn upon there would be no day or night. If the world of humankind had no axis there could be no humankind. The heart of humanity here in the world is a single person, one of those who have plumbed the depths of their being and become a friend of the Friend. He or she is the centre of the turning world and is known as the Pole of the Time, and all temporal and spiritual affairs of the world are in his or her hands.
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is at the still point of the turning of our present world. Despite the fact that his bodily existence came to an end in 1273, his essential reality is permanent and continues to be active as an extension of spiritual help from the Presence of All Help. Unlike the Pole of the Time, who is a living person in the world, Rumi’s presence may be thought of rather as an axial point of the present era. His responsibility as such is the turning of the overall spirituality of mankind in the direction that of necessity it must take. Thus he oversees a greater span than his own human lifetime. Perhaps, even, his influence is more prevalent since his death, with the approach of that time for which he was preparing during his lifetime.
Rumi is a Pole of this kind, and his task has been to take that which had been brought out from the Interior and established here in the world by the Greatest Shaykh, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240) and to “channel (it) into universal flow…” (Bulent Rauf)*
What is meant here is not the transmission and dissemination of the work of Ibn ‘Arabi, which was the task of his direct heir, Sadruddin Konevi. Rather Rumi’s task has been the transformation of a perspective founded irrevocably upon the Unity of Existence into a form capable of being received anywhere by anyone who has a heart and spiritual intelligence. No doubt this work has been in progress below the surface for the hundreds of years since Rumi’s lifetime. Today we are witnessing some of its outward effects, not least in the widespread appreciation of Rumi’s spiritual perspective and availability of his poetry. This cannot have come about except through the interior necessities of our time, guided and navigated by the extension of spiritual help that is Rumi himself.
Rumi tells of the universal reality of Love. The Love of which he speaks, - and which he embodied, - this Love acknowledges no racial or religious distinctions or distance. During his own lifetime he was beloved and revered by followers of all the different religions who had flocked to the Selçuk capital, Konya. Christians in particular saw in his humility and poverty, and in the breadth of his scope and teaching a Christ-like spirituality. After his death thousands from the Christian and Jewish communities came to his funeral to pay their respects. And when asked why they had come they said, “We came because he helped us to understand our religion better”.
Rumi’s language of Love crosses all boundaries with insouciance. The Reality of Love is both above all things and present within all things, and so, for Love, what limits could there be? Love is not in opposition to anything; rather it is Love that holds everything, even opposites, together.
Rumi’s well-known invitation, issued from the still-pointed centre of Love to the whole of humanity is to be taken absolutely literally, now more than ever before:
Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving,
Even if you have broken your vow a thousand times,
It doesn’t matter!
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, come, yet again come.
Who are these people to whom he calls? All who will respond! All who can say in their hearts, like Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, “I follow the religion of Love. That is my religion and my faith”. All who select themselves by responding to this universal invitation, these are Rumi’s people, because they have declared themselves for the all-embracing Reality of Love. By responding to the invitation they leave behind their self-definition by religions and race, and step into the arena of Oneness and the One Universal Spirit. This is the direction that is opened up for all of mankind, and Rumi shows the way.