Wednesday, January 31, 2018
When Our Idols Fail Us
One of the most difficult experiences to deal with occurs when someone we have looked up to and even idolized proves to have feet of clay.
The excesses of various gurus are familiar to all, as are the transgressions of certain priests and teachers, who take advantage of their positions of power to corrupt their followers.
I was indeed sorry to learn that Omar Khayyam, one of the greatest mystical poets, died
of alcoholism at a rather early age.
Rumi has long been such an idol for me. I have read and loved his poetry for years, especially the quatrains and odes. I first found him at a time when I was very lonely on my journey and his poems gave me sustenance and inspiration for many years thereafter. His verses are like vases of delicious spiritual wine that overflow with joy. I have often been inspired to write my own poems just from reading his lines.
I have never really explored the "teaching poems" of Rumi's Mathawni, but last night I looked around a bit in these works and was astonished and disappointed in what I found there. I only read 2 or 3 that I happened to turn to. These were narrations that, to be honest, were extremely vulgar and even obscene. I was shocked to think they had come from the voice of the great spiritual teacher admired all over the world as a profound mystic able to describe his connection to the divine in such eloquent and stirring lines. They seemed more appropriate for a locker room or even the gutter than in a collection of eloquent spiritual expressions.
I do not understand how these writings came to be. I am not a prude, but these went beyond the bounds of good taste and decency. Coleman Barks, speaking of these, says that early translators put these verses into Latin, so they would not give offense to the ordinary reader. Frankly, I wondered if Rumi had suffered some kind of stroke or illness that had impaired his judgment or intellect so that he produced such uncharacteristic pieces.
I was deeply sorrowed by my discovery and hope that at some point I will learn how these disturbing stories came to be.
Mathew Arnold, in "Dover Beach," concludes with 'Ah, love, let us be true to one another." For me, the "lover"is the Beloved Within, and indeed, She will never leave or betray.
January 31, 2017