Sunday, 19 April 2015

Days Eleven, Twelve & Thirteen

Rule 11
“The quest for love changes us. There is no seeker among those who search for love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for love, you start to change within and without.”

A few posts might get put up together in the coming days as, contrary to what it might seem like, I do actually have a life (don't laugh!). In any case, in these crazy busy few days and with some travel involved, it's not always possible to get the post up that very night. These posts do in fact go up live on the day right after I write them. Yes, the journey is real. Also, the images you see are my handwriting (I realized I never talk about the calligraphy aspect). I used to play around with calligraphy a lot while growing up, and I recently read an interview of a "modern day calligrapher", Nicolas Ouchenir, that I found incredibly inspiring. It made me miss calligraphy, so I broke out my very first "calligraphy pen" - a cheap Dollar fountain pen for school which I hated, until I decided to experiment and cut the nib off. I was in the 7th grade. After that, I got much nicer ones, but that old Dollar pen, even if it's falling apart, holds a special place in my heart and has proved itself to be a loyal companion. 

The calligraphy helps me focus on the rule for the day, to centre myself, and think about it as I write it out over and over, trying to get it right. Also, I feel these rules are beautiful and deserve to be treated with that love and respect. Then onto photographing them, and making the image for the post. I take the rest of the day to think about the rule and its implementation in life. It's a process I'm enjoying, and I don't like missing it, but well. There are just those days. 

If you're following this journey and have found a way to make it relevant for something you want to change in your life, you may notice that you now start asking yourself "why" you do certain things or why you feel a certain way. It holds the clue to our reactions, or what they should be. Understanding ourselves is, in my opinion, the key to a peaceful life. Trying to only understand others without any sense of self is the guarantee to misery. We cannot control or change how others behave, only how we react to them and what place we grant them in our lives. 

The quest for love makes us forgiving, but also gives us parameters for what we will and won't allow in our lives. A welcome change, if you ask me.

Rule 12

“There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Don’t confuse power-driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the light of God pass through them.”

Oh, hello there. This is one of my favorite rules, just as my favorite chapter in Shafak's "The Forty Rules of Love" was "Hussam the Student", where Shams challenges the religious scholar. I am naturally mistrustful of anyone who over-glorifies themselves. In my family, we have a term for such people: "full of gas" or "gassy". If you are so great at what you do, you don't need to exalt yourself. If your knowledge is so vast, you will not flaunt it because you know that you can always have more. 

I have seen a number of "spiritual men" who act as gurus even here. People go to them, ask them to say prayers on their behalf, seek spiritual and practical guidance. Some people will not go ahead with any big decisions in life without getting the go-ahead from their guide. Thank you, Rumi, from the bottom of my heart for setting the record straight on this matter. A TRUE mentor will encourage YOU, empower YOU, and give YOU the tools to embark on a spiritual journey. For a mentor, the best gift is to see someone you gave guidance to soar high. If they acknowledge you, that's a wonderful reflection on their character, but if they don't, it's not a reflection on your mentorship, and that's not why a mentor guides. Beware of false guides and don't be a false guide. 

Rule 13
“Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Yes, this one is a recurring theme, but I don't feel like talking about the rule right now. I feel like talking about Shams.

"The Forty Rules of Love" might as well be called "Shams" as far as I am concerned. Shams is THE driving force of the book, the most enigmatic character. I could have read a book thrice the length of this one if it was about Shams. I assume everyone feels this strongly about Shams, but I'd love to hear your views. 

One reason I love Shams is because, well, he just doesn't give a flying f**k. Pardon my French, but there really is no better way to put it. Memes come to mind when you think of him. "Hi, my name is Shams. Watch how many f**ks I DON'T give." An image of Shams with the caption "And not a single f**k was given". Champion of the down-trodden, the social outcasts, challenger of the powerful and self-righteous. Shams is superhuman, spiritual and brave, but he doesn't give a flying toss, and he says neither should you. BUT, you can only afford not to give a flying toss à la Shams when you have reached that level of self-awareness. If you're going to abuse the right to not give a flying toss, then "no soup for you"! (Ah, I love the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.)

Allow your moral compass to guide you, vow to find what is worth caring about, and what does not deserve the time of day. Do not allow worthless, petty issues to destroy your peace of mind. Today, right now, in this very moment...choose one thing, picture it like a big red ball, and throw it into outer space. Congratulations. You are one step closer to Shamsadelic awesomeness.