~The Forty Rules of Love~

27 Jan

The Forty Rules of Love,  by Elif Shafak, creatively combines two parallel narratives strung together by Rumi’s message of love and the courage to consort to its mystical ability of transformation.

On one side, the book tells the tale of Ella Ruebenstein, a Massachusetts local struggling to understand what love is.  On the other side, we have Rumi who encounters his spiritual mentor, the Shams of Tabriz, and is transformed from a doleful cleric, to a mystic devotee of love.

While reading this, one can’t help but reassess their own definition of love.  Often, we view love as something that is simply acquired.  Here are some wonderful excerpts that challenge the typical outlook on love:

“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation.  If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”

“Submission does not mean being weak or passive.  It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation.  Just the opposite.  True power resides in submission – a power that comes from within.  Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquility and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.”

“Yet human beings  become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside.  In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance.”

“Did you know that Shams says the world is a huge cauldron and something big is cooking in it?  We don’t know what yet.  Everything we do, feel , or think is a n ingredient in that mixture.  We need to ask ourselves what we are adding to the cauldron.  Are we adding resentments, animosities, anger, and violence?  Or are we adding love and harmony?”

“This world is like a snowy mountain that echoes your voice.  Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you.  Therefore, if there is someone who harbors ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse.  You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy.  Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person.  Everything will be different at the end of forty day, because you will be different inside.”

“The universe is one being.  Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories.  Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation.  Do no harm.  Practice compassion.  And do not gossip behind anyone’s back-not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time.  One man’s pain will hurt us all.  One man’s joy will make everyone smile… This is what one of the forty rules reminds us.”

“Ali was about to thrust his sword into the other man’s heart when all of a sudden the infidel raised his head and spit at him.  Ali immediately dropped his sword, took a deep breath, and walked away.  The infidel was stunned.  He ran after Ali and asked him why he was letting him go.  “Because I’m very angry at you,” said Ali. ” ” Then why don’t you kill me?” the infidel asked.  “Ali explained, “When you spit in my face, I got very angry.  My pride was provoked, yearning for revenge.  If I kill you now, I’ll be following my worse instincts.  And that would be a huge mistake.”

“If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself.  Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved.  Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that other might throw at you.  It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.”


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