J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 3
In this moment I rest. What rests? I look to see what it is that rests. What looks? I look to see what it is that looks. Not finding anything, I rest. What returns to resting?
If I cannot find what it is that rests or that looks (and if anyone should be able to find it, I should), then it would seem that the “I” — that which rests and looks — does not exist. But how can I refer to something that does not exist? What am I referring to? If there is something that does not exist, it must somehow first claim existence so that it can be subject to nonexistence. Or what is this nonexistence?
Rumi’s father, Baha Walad, wrote in his notebook:
God has made this infinite nonexistence into a beloved. A hundred thousand beauties, appetites, passions, loves, views, courses of action, choices, fallings in love, caressings of lovers, sorts of faculties, kinds of life, stratagems, ruses, embraces, kisses, sweet meetings — God has pulled all of these over the face of nonexistence. Someone is needed who can gaze upon nonexistence, with tears running down his cheeks in his love for it.
So here we are — or aren’t — with tears running down our cheeks for love of all this. . . all this. . . . I love you, but what loves what? Is nonexistence in love with nonexistence?
Dawn breaks over the mountains and a new day opens for us. Where is the new day? Inside us? Outside? Does it exist? And for what or whom does it open?
Baha Walad’s son, Rumi, said to his friends:
We and our existences are all nonexistences,
but You are absolute Existence, appearing as annihilation.
The absolute Existence of God appears as annihilation? Sufis call this fana, the annihilation of seeming. It is considered the unavoidable requirement for spiritual realization. But if what is annihilated has no existence to begin with, how can annihilation take place?
Baha Walad says that “God has no howness,” so to ask how can annihilation take place is a pointless question. Dawn breaks over the mountains and a new day opens, but there is no how.
Let us praise God’s howlessness with our own! I love you, but how that is is howless. “A hundred thousand beauties, appetites, passions, loves, views, courses of action, choices, fallings in love, caressings of lovers, sorts of faculties, kinds of life, stratagems, ruses, embraces, kisses, sweet meetings” — these appear howlessly — a light show, a shadow play, a spectacular dream. Mirages ourselves, can we ever touch the real? Or can we be satisfied with saying “God has made this infinite nonexistence into a beloved?”
Beloved, you are nonexistence: your soft lips, your laugh, your waywardness, your kind eyes looking both at me and at something I cannot see within you, this nonexistence. I can only repeat to you these lines:
In the uncertain light of single, certain truth,
Equal in living changingness to the light
In which I meet you, in which we sit at rest,
For a moment in the central of our being,
The vivid transparence that you bring is peace.*
*from the dedication to Wallace Stevens’ Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.