Today’s poem is another by Rumi. I think I mentioned several times that I wanted to include other poets. I’m not really succeeding. But why succeed when failure means Rumi? I’m only looking at a few lines of the overall poem, since it is a big one to unpack. I’m not comfortable looking at the entire poem just now; but I want to highlight a few lines that strike me.
This poem is often titled “Sublime Generosity,” and it’s one of the poems that really showed me that Sufism is the path for me. Like most of Rumi’s poems, it’s about self awareness and letting go of ego. Rumi is encouraging the reader to look at the subtle aspects of reality for enlightenment. The beauty of the world is all around, but we get so caught up in our own minds that we don’t see it. We live in our imagination, instead of letting our imagination be in service to our true selves.
He said, “You already have wings.
I cannot give you wings.”
But I wanted his wings
This is one of my favorite lines of poetry ever written. I love the longing in the line, the desire for real knowledge. Sufis often say that profound longing is God’s answer to our prayers, because the longing leads to submission to reality. This verse contains both the pain of longing and the joy of realization. The speaker already has the truth, but he desires the truth of the master. He understands intellectually that they are the same truth, of course. But the longing remains until he is truly enlightened. He could lie to himself, and pretend to be realized, like many do. He isn’t, however, going to lie. He is going to seek. It’s a lovely, simple way to put a powerful expression of spiritual growth. This is what Rumi does best.
“Don’t move. A sublime generosity is
coming toward you.”
And old love said, “Stay with me.”
I said, “I will.”
This section of the poem epitomizes the sweet and sincere nature of Rumi. He expresses his devotion in a statement of intent. For a darvish, the remembrance of God is constant. Rumi was always saying his zekr, or personal remembrance. I imagine the power of the phrase ‘I will’ as a comment on his zekr. Rumi is reminding us to live in the remembrance. The use of the words sublime generosity is intriguing as well. The Sublime is one of the ninety nine names of God in Sufism, and it is often referenced in Sufi poems. This has multiple reasons, but one is the reminder that the truth of the universe is beyond the ordinary intellect. Rumi dealt with narrow minded people and fundamentalists of his age, and I imagine he wanted to remind them, and perhaps his students, that devotion to the real means everything that is real, not what is simple or culturally acceptable to the rulers of the time.
Reading the poetry of Rumi never ceases to amaze me. The insights and beauty of his words, even translated into another language, is transcendent. It is not hard at all to see how he gathered disciples of all faiths during his lifetime. As frustrating as the pervasiveness of Rumi’s work is on some levels, the fact that he is readily available in the West is a huge advantage for our generation. I hope more people devote themselves to a serious study of his work, and that he has the impact on more people he has had on me.