ISSN 1538-1080

Sufism – On Joy and Pain

Sufism – On Joy and Pain

Life is one in joy and pain.

Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan

How much the Beloved made me suffer before the Work Grew entwined inseparably with blood and eyes! A thousand grim fires and heartbreaks~ And its name is Love~ A thousand pains and regrets and attacks And its name is Beloved Heartbreak is a treasure because it contains mercies The kernel is soft when the rind is scraped off; O Brother, the place of darkness and cold Is the fountain of life and the cup of ecstasy. Rumi (Harvey & Baring, 1996, p. 124) How could we know how deeply we have loved or lived if we never have experienced the pain of loss? Joy and pain are inseparable. The above quote from the Sufi poet Rumi reminds me of the preciousness of life, the past, my memories and the mercy of the Universe providing existence, life and people to love and to cherish. The ability to be grateful in the presence of pain is an integral part of the living process. To choose avoiding this pain would be choosing to have not loved or lived at all. The Sufi mystics see pain as essential to purification and as essential to the alchemical transformation of the dull human mind and heart into their secret gold. It is the vulnerability, the open heart, the willingness to love enough, and the risk of experiencing pain and loss that makes us alive. It is not cherishing the wounding, but embracing our ability to feel, to be present, and to know the essence of life. According to Sufi wisdom, suffering is inevitable and necessary in order for our souls to grow. I have experienced loss deeply and often and believe, as the Sufis maintain, we must learn to trust in its ordained necessity. In the dance called life we must meet life as we find it and be present in the face of that which we desire least but cannot avoid. That is the Sufi way. We do not run to suffering, but neither do we run from it.

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