We live in a remarkable age. The human spirit has never been freer. For more people than at any time in history, the greatest individual achievements are more possible than ever before, in the arts and sciences, especially. At the same time, the human race has never been in greater peril. All seven billion people on the planet face the possibility of near instantaneous destruction via nuclear war, or some combination of global warming, terrorism, and regional conflict that could plunge the world into a new dark age. It is easy to be an optimist these days. It is also easy to be a pessimist. Energy follows attention…
We also live in an age that caters to our powerful, instinctual drives: sex, food, power, money, creature comforts, the digital world… all the material wants (real or virtual) for which one could ask are ours for the taking. Consequently, the vast majority of us have fallen asleep into the satisfaction of our instinctual drives. So it is little wonder very few of us are taking advantage of the freedom the human spirit now enjoys. It is also little wonder that very few of us seem to register the peril in which we live. We are asleep at the wheel… and the computer… and the ball game… and the five star restaurants… and the resorts… and the movies…
Yet, there are those who still sense life’s deeper meaning, those who never lost the gossamer thin but undeniable conviction that there is more to life than the satisfaction of our instinctual drives, and that we have some spiritual obligation to address the perils in which we live and honor the freedom of the human spirit by becoming more than materialistic automatons. We are to become awake!
This is what Rumi is trying to tell us in the following poem (He refers to the dead letter of theology here but he could just as easily refer to sex, food, power, money, creature comforts, the digital world… etc.). Though the world will sleep on – and it assuredly will - those who are awake, those who feel the pull of love are to let themselves be drawn by that love. Give up on the brain, Rumi tells us, rend the mental garment. Drink the dawn! Take in sunset like supper! Live from that sacred heart space. Then yours will be a unique Presence in the world and who knows, perhaps the siren call of the sacred that will draw some sleepy travelers to God’s majestic shores…
Stay awake, my friends! Feel the pull of love…
Those who don’t feel this Love
pulling them like a river,
those who don’t drink and dawn
like a cup of spring water
or take in sunset like supper,
those who don’t want to change,
Let them sleep.
This Love is beyond the study of theology,
that old trickery and hypocrisy.
If you want to improve your mind that way,
I’ve given up on my brain.
I’ve torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.
If you’re not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words