Rumi says* ” The creed of Love of God is distinct from all religions; the creed and doctrine of the Lovers is God alone.” He’s teaching that the essence of worship is constant devotion and love for God alone. He did not mean for this to include or exclude any particular religion or sect but is referring to the pure essence of the worship of God, of a different quality than what occurs externally. He said, “What is the ascension to heaven? It is this being ‘nothing.’ For the lovers of God, the creed and religion is annihilation of self.”
These are difficult concepts to understand, and even when understood even more difficult to try to explain. I often treat Rumi’s poetry like they are Zen Koans. I read them with the intention of allowing the understanding to come in its own time, and in whatever manner it chooses. In that spirit I offer you this selection from Rumi’s Mathnawi, with the hopes that it will be as a seed in our souls and flowers into great understanding some day.
These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’
Oh, I’m just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.
What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.
Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing much.”
Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project,
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.
*opening paragraph taken from Rumi and Islam: Selections from His Stories, Poems, and Discourses