The Prophet Mohammed said, “There is no better companion on this way than what you do. Your actions will be your best friend, or if you’re cruel and selfish, your actions will be a poisonous snake that lives in your grave.” –Rumi
Thinking is the opposite of acting, so if you are not acting you are thinking and if you are thinking too much and acting too little, you are going to have a massive cognitive dissonance and that dissonance can only mean one thing, your mind will work hard to match your actions with your thinking or your thinking to your actions. Unfortunately, matching your thinking to your actions is the path of least resistance and so mind will lead your thinking to closer to your actions and that is simply a race to the bottom.
I’d say you don’t rise to the level of your thinking, you fall to the level of your actions. You can think all the greatest ideas and ideals in this world but they are not going to transform you, what will transform you and make you a better person is when you act on a few of those dreams, ideas, ideals!
“He washed his hands and feet, and just as he reached for his boot, an eagle snatched it away! The boot turned upside down as it lifted, and a poisonous snake dropped out. The eagle circled and brought the boot back, saying, “My helpless reverence for you made this necessary…Mohammad thanked the eagle and said, “What I thought was rudeness was really love. You took away my grief, and I was grieved! Learn from this eagle story that when misfortune comes, you must quickly praise. Others may be saying, Oh no, but you will be opening out like a rose losing itself petal by petal….The feeling of joy when sudden disappointment comes, that is Sufism…Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come. Some things that don’t happen keep disasters from happening.” –Rumi
Philosopher and poet Rumi reminds us that everything happens for ones own good. Because when **it hits the fan, it’s hard to believe that anything good can come out of that, **it is not supposed to hit the fan, isn’t it? How does one come to that understanding that everything happens for good?
That understanding comes from faith that there is something better at play than the **it we see and that faith comes from good experiences and good experiences come from a lot of bad experiences i.e. **it hitting the fan.
“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. Don’t try to see through the distances. That’s not for human beings. Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.” —Rumi
Any decision is better than no decision, if you are making them fast enough and course correcting. Action is generally better than inaction, as Rumi points out, just keep walking even when you don’t see where the road is taking you. Many times we get paralyzed by our rational mind and that leads to much inaction.
Dont try to see through distances, I know this very well, having run a few marathons. I’ve found it discouraging to see how far away I was from 26.2 mile marker, instead putting one foot in front of the other was a lot more encouraging. I can do it, any of us can do it, just one step in front of the other.
Instead of looking out for those external mile markers, we can make much more progress looking internally, we can feel more satisfied looking within.
Lastly, fear and love cannot co-exist. If we are driven by fear, our actions, thoughts and words cannot be loving and kind. We cannot be happy or satisfied and we cannot be authentic.
“I profess the religion of love, Love is my religion and my faith. My mother is love My father is love My prophet is love My God is love I am a child of love I have come only to speak of love.” __Rumi
Unselfish and unconditional love can be found only in one’s mother. One cannot find this feeling anywhere else on this planet. It took me a long time to understand this truth and the terrible part is, I did not realize this while she was still around on this planet in that beautiful form. It’s not that I mistreated or disrespected her in anyway, in fact, I am very happy to have been a good son and have loved and respected her sacrifices in bringing me up to be an independent, self-confident and useful human being. I don’t have regrets that way but the world around us could teach us to realize that this beauty is so near to you, that it won’t last for ever and to recognize it and cherish that gift to the fullest possible extent while it lasts.
T.S. Eliot puts it beautifully in the following poem, mother is like the garden where all love ends.
“Lady of silences Calm and distressed Torn and most whole Rose of memory Rose of forgetfulness Exhausted and life-giving Worried reposeful The single Rose Is now the Garden Where all loves end Terminate torment Of love unsatisfied The greater torment Of love satisfied End of the endless Journey to no end Conclusion of all that Is inconclusible Speech without word and Word of no speech Grace to the Mother For the Garden Where all love ends.” __T.S. Eliot
One may not believe or know what God means but everyone has a mother and everyone can experience that pure unsullied love from her, that to me is nothing but God. God is neither distant nor distinct from the mother who is full of such love.
Mother’s day is coming up in a few days but we all know very well every day is mother’s day, because, if not for her I wouldn’t be here today, if not for her sacrifices I wouldn’t be where I am today, if not for her inspiration I wouldn’t be who I am today, if not for her discipline I wouldn’t be what I am today, if not for her I wouldn’t be.
“In order to possess what you do not possess you must go by the way of dispossession“
We live in a world where there is no room for a poem, no time absolutely whatsoever. Rumi and T.S. Eliot are remnants of a long gone era but rest assured their poems are forever.
Rumi has written beautifully on life and death, he calls out what might be on many peoples’ minds, if the feast of life is not to be enjoyed why did I get invited in the first place? Death of a dear family member is one obvious reason one might question the legitimacy of this feast that we all partake:
you have set up a colorful table calling it life and asked me to your feast but punish me if i enjoy myself what tyranny is this
If the all encompassing love of a dear one is what we miss, is that a problem we experience because we are not immersed in their love, for if we are we should not feel the void. If we are immersed in their love, how can death of that person diminish the feeling of love?
you mustn’t be afraid of death you’re a deathless soul you can’t be kept in a dark grave you’re filled with God’s glow
be happy with your beloved you can’t find any better the world will shimmer because of the diamond you hold
when your heart is immersed in this blissful love you can easily endure any bitter face around
T. S. Eliot writes in East Coker that love is not about here and now, in fact, he says when hear and now cease to matter that is when we see true love.
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders, bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?The serenity only a deliberate hebetude, the wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets. Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Love is most nearly itself when here and now cease to matter.
I particularly like this one line from East Coker, it is only when we don’t have what we crave for, we can feel its absence in every moment. Feeling its absence only increases the craving until a point when we are fully immersed in the love of that which is craved for.
In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession.
And what you own is what you do not own
If I may dare to add to Eliot’s magnum opus on life and death “And what you do not own is what you own”.
If a thing of beauty is a joy forever then why brood over the lost ones? In John Keats beautiful words
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness;
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms We have imagined for the mighty dead; An endless fountain of immortal drink, Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink
Seneca compares life to an inn, soon one has to leave to make room for another guest. Seneca points out that every man in this life comes with a certain lifespan, no one dies before their time or after their time, they all do on time.
We must firmly believe that loveliness cannot pass into nothingness, that is the only way I know to make sense of this thing we call life…..and death.