I've been reading a great book today " The Inner Journey Views from the Islamic Tradition" edited by William Chittick. In it I came across a fascinating poem by my favorite Sufi and Poet Rumi. It's very topical in terms our continued discussion regarding religious tolerance.
The poem starts with a story about the Prophet Moses (pbuh). He meets a shepherd who is praying to God in a strange way.. saying that he wants to wash Gods cloths and pick the lice out of His hair and other things of that nature. Moses confronts the person and tells him not to pray in that manner. He apologizes to Moses and promises he will never pray to God in that manner again and then runs off into the desert. As Moses leaves however God speaks to him ...
" You have separated Me from one of my own. Did you come as a Prophet to unite, or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him. What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship, these mean nothing to Me.
I am apart from all that. Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better or worse then one another.
Hindus do Hindu things. The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do. It's all praise, and it's all right.
It is not Me that's glorified in acts of worship. It's the worshippers! I don't hear the words they say I look at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the Reality, not the language! Forgot phraseology. I want burning, burning!
Be friends with your burning. Burn up your thinking and your forms of expression!
Moses, those who pay attention to ways of behaving and speaking are one sort. Lovers who burn are another.
Don't impose a property tax on a burned out village. Don't scold the Lover. The "wrong" way he talks is better than a hundred "right" ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba it doesn't matter which direction you point your prayer rug! The ocean diver does not need snow shoes. The Love-religion has no code or doctrine. Only God.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it! It doesn't need markings.
God began speaking deeper mysteries to Moses. Vision and words, which cannot be recorded here, poured into and through him. He left himself and came back. He went to Eternity and came back here. Many times this happened.
It's foolish of me to try and say this. If I did say it, it would uproot our human intelligences. It would shatter all writings pens."
-=Moses then went on to apologize and tell the person that he should pray to God as he feels lead. He states:
" I was wrong. God has revealed to me that there are no rules of worship.
Say whatever and however your loving tells you to . Your sweet blasphemy is the truest devotion. Through you a whole world was freed.
Loosen your tongue and don't worry what comes out, It's all the Light of the Spirit.
The Shepherd replied, 'Moses, Moses, I've gone beyond even that. You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped out of itself. The Divine Nature and my human nature came together.
Bless your scolding hand and your arm. I can't say what has happened. What I'm saying now is not my real condition. It can't be said.'
The shepherd grew quiet. When you look in a mirror, you see yourself , not the state of the mirror. The flute-player puts breath into a flute, and who makes the music? Not the flute. The Flute-player!
Whenever you speak praise or Thanksgiving to God, it's always like this dear shepherd simplicity.
When you eventually see through the veils of how things really are, you will keep saying again and again.
"This is certainly not like we thought it was!"
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