If I had not shown you my nothingness, what would I be useful for?
A young man had heard of Rumi’s mystical power and walked from Constantinople to Konya (about three hundred miles) to meet him. Coming into Konya, he saw an old man walking toward him whom he immediately recognized as the Great One. Immediately he prostrated himself before Rumi in the dust. When he got up, he saw that Rumi, too, had prostrated himself before him. This went on thirty-two times until the young man cried out, “What on earth are you doing? I am no one and you are the king of Mystics. How can you prostrate yourself before me?”
Rumi answered, “Why shouldn’t I prostrate myself before a servant of my Beloved? Didn’t the Prophet say, ‘Blessed is he who is chaste in his beauty and humble in his honor'”? Then, Rumi added softly, “And if I had not shown you my nothingness, what would I be useful for?“
the words of Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273)
from One Heart: Universal Wisdom from the World’s Scriptures (2003)
Section 3: from a heart of humility
passage by Andrew Harvey
image – Muffet
If You Meet Rumi on the Road…
…try not to kill him with kindness?
I first heard today’s quote while watching a PBS showing of Rumi Returning: The Triumph of Divine Passion. “Watching” may not be the best word for it. “Enchanted” works better. One minute I was channel-surfing, idly looking for something to watch while working out. The next, I was imagining myself in the shoes of a young Christian monk, traveling from Constantinople to meet Rumi… and then I was repeating the quote, over and over again, while looking for a pencil so I could write it down before I forgot. I eventually found both the original movie and a previous book to which Andrew Harvey had contributed.
Dr. Harvey tells the story of a young monk who traveled from Constantinople, the capital of Christian Byzantium, to learn from the famous spiritual master of Anatolia. Rumi was in his sixties. He had amassed a reported 10,000 students. The monk prostrated himself before Rumi. Rumi returned the honor and prostrated himself before the priest. Aghast, the young man fell to the ground again. This went on 32 times, until the monk beseeched Rumi to stop bowing. Rumi replied, “If I did not show you my nothingness, what would I be useful for?”from the web site for Rumi Returning: The Triumph of Divine Passion (2007)
Did you know that as a child Rumi and his father fled to escape the invading army of Genghis Khan? Reportedly, 29,000 who stayed to defend the city were killed. When Rumi was an adult, the Khan’s army invaded again and Rumi was the only one with whom they’d negotiate.
Rumi is described as growing into a lifelong learner and teacher who preached peace, loved life and actively socialized with monks and pilgrims from several religions. He wrote, “I go to the synagogue, I go to the church, I go to the mosque, and I see the same altar, and I feel the same spirit.”