Rumi on the “Faculty of Judgment”

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there

Rumi was addressing what the philosophers call the “faculty of judgment”, that human ability to carve the world up into categories so that he can have the illusion of controlling it. And, I think Rumi knew this cognitive apparatus was an essential part of being a human and actually allowed him to create his world. But Rumi saw that it was necessary to not be confined by this conceptual prison and had learned that it was possible to occasionally lay aside this whirligig and meet someone out “there.”

To approach the matter clinically, Rumi was speaking of “object-separateness.” He saw that the whole of the world, and especially other humans, lay beyond the grasp of our thoughts about them. He knew that we tend to “live in the small bright circle of our consciousness beyond which lies the darkness,” the “darkness” being a boundary that we must venture into if we are to ever go “out there” and meet someone. And this is essentially a spiritual enterprise.

In this brief poem, Rumi addressed one particular bifurcation of the world that we are familiar with, that compulsive need to label some people “right” and some people “wrong.” (And, what a coincidence that I so often happen to fall into the “right” category????) Certainly, “right” and “wrong” are valid labels in this world and Rumi knew that. What he was saying is that we don’t need to wield the distinction like a weapon and can, on occasion, give it a rest, perhaps offering someone who we first want to label ‘wrong” a little bit of grace. The best example I can think Jesus offering forgiveness to the Samaritan woman at the well when he was legally required to condemn her and stone her to death.

Rumi knew there was a karmic law that is written in the universe—when one has a compulsive need to be right, he will create wrong.

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5 thoughts on “Rumi on the “Faculty of Judgment”

  1. silentfingers

    Another brilliant and powerfully evocative piece! The last line pins it all down. Would it be a divergence from the truth to say, “when one has a compulsive need to be right” the Universe itself creates a wrong for him – so that in turn he rights his wrong? Dear Lew, I thoroughly enjoyed this read, as the verse is among my favorites by Mewlana. However my humble interpretation of it has a different light to it — which is why your post has gotten my mind immersed in it completely, in a very interesting and positive way.

    “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and righting,
    there is a field. I will meet you there……
    When the soul lies down in that grass,
    the world is too full to talk about.
    Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
    doesn’t make any sense”

    Please correct me if I may be wrong. Here, I gather Rumi is addressing something beyond the human perception or consciousness of “right and wrong” pertaining to this world. Ofcourse, his writings are a myriad of metaphors and Sufic teachings. Hence, here, for me, the analogy between fields “here and there” lies in both worlds…..“when the soul lies down in that grass” – a metaphorical indication to the death, where soul lies in peace after burial??? In my humble opinion, “there” on that field — beyond the “faculties of judgments” of this world, divided and categorized by the man himself simply to gain control over it — envisaged by Rumi is a field free from the “light and darkness” of those pertaining to our ambivalent world and minds. “There” language isn’t needed as it is one collective consciousness, which brings back to the point of “being one” — where no one is subjected to judgment for the “object-separateness”, no?

    Ah, understanding or translating Rumi’s esoteric writings is far beyond a simple mind like mine. And, at the same time, I think this is the richness of the treasure Mewlana gifted to the world. Yet, through an open soul one can so easily embrace his wisdom and teachings.
    Hmm, Lew, I think I shall refrain rom commenting here, no? Hehe. I happen to loose reigns of my pen whenever I am here. Nonetheless, every word read and written is worth it.I respect and admire your mind, Sir. I shall grow with you blessedly!!

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    1. literary lew Post author

      To quote you, “Blush, blush.” But, let me assure you, I am still very masculine! (wink, wink). Thanks for your perspective. Rumi was such a treasure and I didn’t even know about him until about two years ago. Where was I? As I say so often, quoting Archibald Macleish, “Winds of thought blow magniloquent meanings betwixt me and thee.”

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      1. silentfingers

        hehe. Am blushing indeed.
        I think you have “known” Rumi forever — perhaps somewhere deep within you! How you delved into his quote and derived the meaning is beautifully wondrous.. As I mentioned earlier, seeing Mewlana’s words as you do, while holding onto a different belief than from which he hailed — I bow to you sir…. I am still learning, and I know I have much to learn from your treasure as well.

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    2. literary lew Post author

      Another thought….just within the past week I have found myself devoured by the need to “be right.” It was a black hole which sought to devour me. There is no end to it. It is a veritable hell. And, I have gone beyond it in many ways but it is still there and always is ready to rear its ugly head and suck me into the void of despair.

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      1. silentfingers

        This is exactly why I relished your piece! We are seeing one “sun” in two different lights. Your interpretation of the verse justifies “us” right this very moment. There is no right or wrong, dear Lew, yet there the notion of it, hovering over us like a phantom throughout our lives…. To be “right” — the calling of the ego, devour us into the abyss of despair.. I wish your journey light and peace. Looking forward to your mail.

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