Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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Andrew Lawler is a freelance journalist who has covered such topics as Afghan archaeology, Washington politics, and Martian geology. His last article for Smithsonian was a cover story on the history of the chicken.
To any fully enlightened soul there is only God, or divine light and infinite knowledge. Any perfect poet — and I feel both Rumi and Hafiz were — experiences existence non-dualistically. They live as one. I don’t think they would see any difference between themselves. Any difference we might see is due to our transitory and distorted perception. Rumi, Hafiz, you, me — these are just costumes that came to life when the Beloved wiped his lips with us for whatever drunk, wild reason.
Anyone working at the intersection of mystical faith and political action will tell you that there are powers that do not want this form of activism to be born. As soon as you become sincere in this path, you are going to meet strong opposition. Sacred activists need to be awake to the existence of evil. This is why Jesus said: “I am sending you out as sheep among the wolves. You must combine the wisdom of the serpent and the innocence of the dove.”
I’ve always loved that moment when I feel the language coming. Nobody knows what the source of the flow of language is, that inspiring eloquence, but we know it when we feel it. Artists of any kind get addicted to that: “Why can’t I be this way all the time?” We destroy ourselves with ways of faking it, of manufacturing inspiration. Writers are so impatient.