I feel like a broken record. Thinking back over my two years of blogging I realize there are certain themes that keep coming back, themes which are obviously very important to me, themes which one could even say haunt me. One of these themes is that life is not as it appears to be, that it is always something that is going on beneath the surface which must by design always elude us. It is kind of like a cat chasing its own tail; or better yet, the quest for it is like the mythological euroboric image of the snake trying to swallow its tail. I sometimes want to tell myself, “Hey! Stop this! Get a life! Get out there and make some money, watch a lot of reality TV, go ahead, drink that Kool-Aid.
And, spiritual lore in which I’m steeped even warns of the futility of spiritual obsession. For example, the Buddhist koan notes the lunacy of “riding an oxen, searching for an oxen,” the point being, “Hey, just quit trying! Don’t waste your effort. The thing you search for is already there. As W. H. Auden noted, “The Center that you cannot find is known to the unconscious mind. There is no need to despair for you are already there.”
From a clinical perspective, this quest can even be thought of as schizophrenic in nature and it is no accident that schizophrenics often have spiritual themes in their fantasies. The schizophrenic is trapped in a bifurcated world, not able to find his/her place in the “real” world and subjected to the torment of living in a hinterland, constantly buffeted by the daily torments that his “delusional” system presents to him.
So, let me demonstrate my venturing into another day of such mental machinations and share with you a beautiful poem by Rumi who too recognized the presence of this shadow world, insisting that it was the real one that we should give more respect to.
The Self We Share
Thirst is angry with water. Hunger bitter
The cave wants nothing to do with the sun.
This is dumb, the self- defeating way
A gold mine is calling us into its temple.
Instead, we bend and keep picking up rocks
from the ground.
Every thing has a shine like gold,
but we should turn to the source!
The origin is what we truly are. I add a little
vinegar to the honey I give.
The bite of scolding makes ecstasy more familiar.
But look, fish, you’re already in the ocean:
just swimming there makes you friends with
What are these grudges about? You are Benjamin.
Joseph has put a gold cup in your grain sack and
accused you of being a thief.
Now he draws you aside and says,
‘You are my brother. I
am a prayer. You’re the amen.’
We move in eternal regions, yet
worry about property here.
This is the prayer of each:
You are the source of my life.
You separate essence from mud.
You honor my soul. You bring rivers from the
mountain springs. You brighten my eyes.
The wine you offer takes me out of myself into
the self we share. Doing that is religion.
Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi