Jalaluddin Rumi is a popular name today. Lovers and brokenhearted alike read his verses and bask in the wisdom of his words. I was never one for poetry until this 13th century Sufi mystic opened my eyes to the craft of verse and sweetness of unbridled love.
It all began with one sentence: "Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor." David Bowie's wife of 24 years, Iman, posted these words recently on Pinterest, as Bowie was losing his battle against cancer. It tugged at my heart and made me wonder what Rumi meant by those words.
Most people I know interpreted that line to mean that we must be optimists, looking forward to the beautiful things that life would bestow upon us. But that didn't make sense to me. Rumi was no optimist. He was no pessimist either. He was a mystic, and what little I have read of mystics' words show that they are realists -- neither optimistic nor pessimistic -- just looking at life as it is. To believe that everything will just miraculously fall into place and walk on, ignorant of what lies under your feet doesn't seem to be the kind of advice Rumi would have given.
A few days of pondering brought me to a better sense of understanding as to what Rumi was subtly pointing out. In my understanding, Rumi is saying that we must make it our business to use every event and occurrence as a stepping stone to improve our life. By "improve," I do not mean we make more money or climb the social ladder. Those we must do as per our needs, but survival shouldn't be the core around which we build our lives. By "improve," I mean we must deepen our experience of life and move from being ego-sensitive to life-sensitive.
Once we do this, every situation will become an opportunity for growth, and thus, everything that happens will be happening for our own good. This is when life will truly be rigged in our favor.
Easier said than done however! I had analyzed the mystic's words and was left with a deeper mystery -- how does one go about doing what Rumi says. How does one live like everything is rigged in your favor?
Many religions have offered a path, many faiths point the way, but ultimately -- and fittingly -- I found my direction in a beautiful quote by Rumi, "I belong to no religion. My religion is love. Every heart is my temple." Thus, I realized that Rumi's way is the way of love. Not love as in the interplay of hormones and chemicals within our bodies. Not love as in that between two people. But love that is inclusive of everyone and everything. Only when we love indiscriminately can we use love as a tool to live life as if it was rigged in our favor.
Indiscriminate does not mean without discernment. We can love without discrimination, but how we act depends on the situations and people around us. We need to maintain that discernment. But if we love with "discrimination," then to hate is also inevitable. If you love one person, isn't it obvious that we would hate someone who does not possess the qualities of those individuals we love. So, in Rumi's world, there is no place for discrimination. Love has to be all-embracing. And that is what I have taken up to be my path to the deeper mysteries of life.