The Question of Inner Experience

Moderator: Doug Marman

Re: The Question of Inner Experience

Postby Doug Marman on Mon May 06, 2013 12:11 pm

Thank you Ali, for your comments.

I have studied Rumi's writings and the Sufi tradition extensively. I've also read some of the Quran, so I am familiar with the ideas you have written about. However, I believe what you say here is misplaced.

This discussion is about The Question of Inner Experience. In fact, this whole dialogue forum is about this subject. In other words, people come here to talk about what they learned from their personal lives. Therefore, what everyone shares here comes from what they have learned through their own experience.

There is a subtle but important difference in this type of dialogue we are looking for here, and what you posted. This is so rarely talked about that I realize few people fully see what this difference is. So, I want to try to explain. Hopefully, then you will see what I mean.

Trying to describe an experience is difficult. For example, let's say you just ate a new type of fruit, and you wanted to tell a friend what it was like. How do you do that? You try to compare it to other types of fruit, but this only gets you close.

Quoting a well-known authority on this new type of fruit doesn't make it any better. Here's the problem: There are no authorities when it comes to experiences. Your friend really needs to eat the fruit before he can fully understand anything you say about it. We can only know an experience by going through it, ourselves.

That's why dialogue is so valuable when it comes to spiritual experience, since we learn from others who have gone through similar encounters. Take, for example, the case of religious revelation. The founders of many of the great religions wrote from their own experiences, from what was revealed to them through those experiences. Muhammad clearly wrote from that state, for example.

Therefore, we can say that Muhammad was sharing from his inner experiences.

However, it is altogether different if you or I start trying to explain what Muhammad wrote, or Jesus, or any other religious leader. Once we start referring to their words, we are no longer sharing from our personal inner experiences. We are now talking about something that has become established as a teaching or belief.

This is quite different, especially when it comes to dialogue. We see this when people try to discuss religious beliefs. They end up in debates over whose interpretation is right, or who has the higher truth. Using authoritative references brings an end to the kind of dialogue we are looking for.

None of this happens when we are talking about our own personal inner experience and what we've learned from those experiences. No authorities can decide what we have felt or seen or "tasted". Only we know.

Now, it wouldn't take a lot to rewrite your post, if you wanted to, to put it in the format for dialogue on this cite. You would only need to relate it as your own personal experiences and what you've learned. This is actually quite simple, although it is harder than it sounds. We are so trained in our modern day culture in speaking of truth as if it were objectively real, that we have almost completely lost the ability to speak from ourselves, personally, about spiritual experiences.

We are trying, in this forum, to relearn a once well-known art. It means speaking from our hearts, about the things that touch us most deeply. Rumi, who you quoted, was a Master at this kind of language.

Take Rumi's quote about being born as a mineral, for example. You described an interpretation that comes from the cite you linked to. So, I take what you wrote to mean that this is what Rumi's quote reminded you of. However, I'm sure you will agree that other people might be reminded of something else.

So, if we are talking about the experience of reading Rumi's quote, then there are no right or wrong experiences. Each person's experience is different. It belongs to them.

I believe that this is the way Rumi intended his writings to be read. Yes, he was referring to well-known teachings from the Quran and from the Prophet Muhammad's life, however, he also wanted his students to experience his words inwardly. That was the whole point of his poetry and prose. It was to communicate the experience of spirituality. Words alone can't do that.

When I say this, I am, of course, sharing what I've learned from reading Rumi. So, this is my experience. I am not saying everyone should see it this way. The purpose of dialogue on this cite is to share these kinds of insights with each other. There is no right or wrong, when it comes to dialogue. There is just an interest in what others have seen, and the desire to learn.

Hopefully this makes the purpose of this forum a little clearer. For example, you and I could have a dialogue over what we get from Rumi's poem that you quoted. I would agree with you that it is describing states of consciousness, and the process of spiritual awakening, since I had the same impression. However, I get something completely different from the sura you referred to in the Quran. That sura speaks to me at a different level. For example, the sura, for me, relates to mankind's history with religious symbols and traditions. These are the "fig" and the "olive" and the "Tur of Sunin" as well as Mecca. It then goes on to say that these "moulds," when understood properly can take one, like stepping stones, into spiritual truth.

Rumi's quote, on the other hand, is talking about the experience of dying in one perspective to be reborn into a greater world, and to experience this over and over. This teaches us to let go of our "moulds," so that we can grow into the true nature of Soul. All these "moulds" must perish before we can return to our true home.

When I say these things, I am only sharing my own experience and insight. I don't say this to invalidate anyone else's perspective. We each have a different experience and that is the way it should be. So, you could reply with a description of what you get from Rumi's poem. It will probably be different from mine, but it will not invalidate my experience either.

That's the kind of dialogue we are after here. It is mutually respectful, because each person's experiences are their own. This language brings us to a deeper sense of truth.

Thanks again for writing. I hope this makes sense. If you have questions, feel free to ask them here, or to write me personally, if you wish.

Doug Marman
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:53 pm


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