Whoever finds loveby Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi
English version by Coleman Barks
Original Language Persian/Farsi & Turkish
Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises
|-- from The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks|
/ Image by MoodyBlue /
I first came across this Rumi poem excerpt several years ago on a delightful CD called Secret Language: Rumi, A Celebration in Song, by a Ramananda. Even now when I read these words, I hear them sung in my inner ear, repeated over and over, a hypnotic man's voice, a soaring woman's voice--
Whoever finds love...
Whoever finds looove...
Beneath hurt and grief...
Most of us live our entire lives with a thick veil or filter draped across existence -- the ego-mind. Everything we perceive or imagine is colored by that filter. When the ego falls away we "disappear" -- the normal sense of self as a separate, isolated entity amazingly fades out. The mind grows quiet. Any movement in the mind is perceived as a minor ripple that does not affect the clarity. As a result, the endless projections of identity, form, and enforced relationships between aspects of reality disappear. Instead, there is only a unified Whole, which includes us. We, like that Wholeness, are now understood to be formless, fluid. In this sense, we are spaciousness in an even vaster spaciousness. This is how we "disappear into emptiness."
So, the disguises... Being formless, we still participate in the realm of form, because that is all the realm of form understands. Rather than a trap or a fixed identity, it becomes a game. You pretend to be someone, so other someones can relate to you. You wear masks that suit the situation, and then change them as the situation changes. Yet none of them is "you," and you know this. Being formless, you can assume any form. You have "a thousand new disguises."
But it is the first two lines that pack the real punch of the verse:
Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief...
We tend to use hurt and grief, loss and pain, as a barrier. We reflexively tense up in order to numb the pain we feel. That is natural. But the problem is that we all accumulate griefs and become far too adept at anticipating hurts, and so we constantly tense and, therefore, don't fully participate in the living moment that is our true joy.
Rumi's words remind us to muster the courage necessary to dive beneath the hurt and the grief, to not fear them. For the aspect of the mind that is entirely concerned with self-preservation and comfort, there is a certain blasphemy to even imagine that something holy and healing and joyful -- "love" -- can be found hiding just beneath the surface of our pains. But it is just that sort of blasphemy, that sort of sacred disregard for psychic comfort that can lead us to the most startling wide open experience of love.
These lines give us permission to not wait until some future imaginary time when pain and difficulty are past; what we seek may be found right here, patiently waiting for us to dig just a little deeper.