Substance Trumps Form
Rumi’s Poem entitled ‘Lovers Burn’ provides for a discussion of Sufi spiritual education and maturation. It builds from the story of Moses and the Shepherd. It presents a number of themes related to reconciliation and the Sufi schema for working through the process of spiritual education and maturation.
Being inwardly sincere, genuine and passionate in worship are more important than following specific outward forms found in the practice of religions. Knowing the various stages a human typically goes through during spiritual maturation, as imparted through Sufi education, helps us understand and guard against some of the pitfalls which might appear along the way. The characteristics of being in each stage are described. There are suggestions of what it is that can help us move through these stages towards maturity. There is guidance for developing an ability to live in relationship through reflection and connection. Encouragement is provided by learning that the power of negativity, separativeness and selfishness gradually diminishes through worship, through the love of friends, through wisdom, and through Grace. There is clarification that the goal of Sufism is not to attain and remain aloof from life, in a state of bliss, but rather to be in a state of service and to be vigilant about our unique tendencies and ways of going into states where we perceive ourselves as being separate from the Divine and creation. We learn there are characteristic signs of going into or being in a separative state. Among them are negativity, selfishness, judgment and blame. We learn that spiritual maturity is a stage where every one of the Divine attributes is activated, potentially or actually, and all of those attributes become a part of a creative palette we can use for being in this world. The palette of spiritual maturity allows the qualities of the Divine to be activated appropriately in each moment, depending on what’s needed or the qualities that need to be deployed. When strength is needed, it’s there. When utter tenderness is required, it’s there. When compassion is needed, it’s there. When clarity is needed, it’s there.
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