I’ve always been intrigued by the Sufi poets. The sufis are Persian poets who lived around the year 1200 or so. Although they arose from an Islamic background, the Sufis championed a mystical Islam which focused on an intuitive, spiritual connection with their God. Rather than study, they emphasized living. Rather than memorizing, they advocated spontaneous living.
Their writings are a type of Persian zen that point at our deepest spiritual truth. The reason I like these writers is that they are not about thinking, they are about experiencing. They tell us to stop analyzing and to start living. They scream out to us, urging us not to waste our time because time passes and will soon run away from us. They urge us to experience the positives and negatives, the joy, the anger, the frustration, everything!
The most famous Sufi was Jalal ad Din, most commonly known as Rumi. Rumi spent most of his life studying scriptures and discovered that by doing so he found no happiness. He ended up up being quite a scholar in the Islamic scriptures, but no matter how much he studied and practiced them, all he found was misery.
Eventually Rumi found a mentor, another Persian named Shaz. Shaz showed him a different side of life, a whole new world, and Rumi became his disciple. When, eventually, the older Shaz passed away, Rumi’s sadness inspired him to become a poet and began to write all day long, spinning out poem after poem.
So what is the essence of the Sufis? Well, Rumi wrote:
If you could get rid of yourself just once
the secret of secrets would open to you
the face of the unknown
hidden beyond the universe
would appear on the mirror of your perception.
And Attar, another famous Persian sufi wrote:
What you most want
what you travel around wishing to find
lose yourselves as lovers lose themselves
and you’ll be that.
What are these strange Persian wisemen getting at? That when we cling to our own wants, our own lust, our own ego, we can never find true happiness, because our constant striving drains us of our energy.
I’ve always found that the more time I spend over-analyzing, the worse my life gets. The less I do, the worse I feel. The more egoistic I become, the less powerful I am.
First we must come to terms with ourselves, then we can live a truly authentic life.