The essential self is represented by the traveler. The key thing about the traveler is that s/he has an aim. It is a call from the heart. It is this aim that holds the companions together, puts them into contact with themselves, with each other, with the conditions around them. The traveler’s aim is an opening into consciousness – at once practical and non-local. Moreover, it is challenging to the attachments of self represented by the three companions. Consciousness is the energy that holds experience together and at the same time opens the present moment to transpersonal dynamism. It is with consciousness that we can direct the energies of experience. Holding an intention, sending good thoughts, feelings and sensations, being able to hold onto and let go of experience as needed, sustaining a space of healing once it is opened, seeing the other as the other sees; these are some features of conscious energy. Likewise, in the field of consciousness there is what we call the past and the future, a blending of the immediate present moment with the extended present.
The essential self coalesces within consciousness. Consciousness, in the sense that we intend here, is not identified with thinking or feeling or sensing specifically. It carries the image of cosmic intention into the practical details of life and the world of experience. It is the basis of who we are in ourselves, an individuality that cannot be expressed in representational forms directly but which has a face, I. Here, let us turn to Mevlana Rumi’s story from the Mathnawi of the Chinese and the Greek artists.
Chinese Art and Greek Art
The Prophet said, “There are some who see Me
by the same Light in which I am seeing them.
Our natures are ONE.
Without reference to any strands
of lineage, without reference to texts or traditions,
we drink the Life-Water together.”
Here’s a story
about that hidden mystery:
The Chinese and the Greeks
were arguing as to who were the better artists.
The King said,
“We’ll settle this matter with a debate.”
The Chinese began talking,
but the Greeks wouldn’t say anything.
The Chinese suggested then
that they each be given a room to work on
with their artistry, two rooms facing each other
and divided by a curtain.
The Chinese asked the King
for a hundred colors, all the variations,
and each morning they came to where
the dyes were kept and took them all.
The Greeks took no colors.
“They’re not part of our work,”
They went to their room
and began cleaning and polishing the walls. All day
every day they made those walls as pure and clear
as an open sky.
There is a way that leads from all-colors
to colorlessness. Know that the magnificent variety
of the clouds and the weather comes from
the total simplicity of the sun and the moon.
The Chinese finished, and they were so happy.
They beat the drums in the joy of completion.
The King entered their room,
astonished by the gorgeous color and detail.
The Greeks then pulled the curtain dividing the rooms.
The Chinese figures and images shimmeringly reflected
on the clear Greek walls. They lived there,
even more beautifully, and always
changing in the light.
The Greek art is the Sufi way.
They don’t study books of philosophical thought.
They make their loving clearer and clearer.
No wantings, no anger. In that purity
they receive and reflect the images of every moment,
from here, from the stars, from the void.
They take them in
as though they were seeing
with the Lighted Clarity
that sees them.
Mathnawi, I, 3462-3485, 3499
Maypop, June 1990
(Based on Nicholson’s translation of the Mathnawi, IV, 2683-2696.)
See http://www.blissbat.net/rambles/rumi.html for more selections.
I will let Rumi’s poem sit and pick up a thread in the next post.