Professor Amir Zekrgoo of ISTAC, in his first of a series of lectures on ‘Jalalluddin Rumi and His Mathnavi’ presented last Friday, shared an interesting narration of the first meeting between Rumi and his spiritual companion Shamsuddin Tabrizi.
Rumi, who was already at the time a respected scholar and spiritual figure, was reading a book; immersed in deep concentration, when he was abruptly asked by the wandering dervish, "what are you doing?" Rumi replied, "something you cannot understand", to which Shams reacted by taking the book off Rumi’s hand and throw it to water! Rumi picked it up and was surprised to find none of the pages of the book was wet. He then asked Shams, "what are you doing?", and Shams replied, "something YOU cannot understand!"
Thus began one of the most intense spiritual relationships between two spiritual beings the world has ever known. And as Professor Zekrgoo asserts, Rumi’s association with Shams turned him "from an ‘alim (scholar) to an ‘arif (mystic)... and made a poet out of a preacher".
To Rumi, this was the life-changing and humbling experience which paved the way for his self-actualisation. The spiritual bond he had with Shams was the 'sparkle' that gave him the inspiration and spiritual zeal to express his creative ideas.
Many of us are still in search of that elusive 'sparkle' that we hope will change our lives forever and allow us to realise all our potentials. But how and where does one find that 'sparkle?' Or, should we not search for it and instead let the 'sparkle' finds us?
"Don’t search for water, search for thirst..." Hence the lesson; taught to me by Professor Fareed Ahmad on humility vis-á -vis knowledge: "the more you know, the more you know you don’t know". Or, as beautifully described by the Malay proverb: "ikut resmi padi, makin tunduk makin berisi"; the more knowledge one acquires, the more humble one should be.
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