Rumi — Searching for Silence
“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”
Rumi stumbled out of Casino Balkh at 7 AM sharp after losing his last Dirham. He adored living life on the wild side. “Everything has its price” he claimed, that’s why he lost his golden bracelets, rings, rent money, and his sobriety that night. It was a long harsh Afghani nightfall and Jalal El-Din Rumi downed three bottles of cheap wine and was looking for a place to rest his weary head. He knew that he couldn’t go back home since he spent his rent money in the Casino. He was homeless at this point, but what is a home anyway? The streets, rivers, and mountains are his forever home, or at least that’s what he tells people.
Rumi walked and walked for hours till he passed by Jameat Mazar El-Sharif (University of Mazar El-Sharif) the university from which he graduated. He went into the university’s library as he considered it a quiet place to sleep and ruminate. He staggered into the philosophy section since it’s usually one of the quietest areas, stretched out on the ground, and put a book under his drowsy head for a pillow. He could sleep for a thousand years; and maybe for eternity. As he lied on the warm library moquette, Rumi spoke to his heart thus: “When the lips are silent, the heart has a hundred tongues, I will only listen! I will clam up my mouth and be silent like an oyster shell, for that tongue of mine is the enemy of the soul.”
And as he fell asleep, two scholars so-called Simon and Garfunkel marched into the philosophy section looking for Al-Ghazali’s scriptures. They were talking loudly and passionately on the other end of the shelf of where Rumi laid on the ground. And suddenly, Rumi rose from underneath the books and preached to the two scholars: “Oh my friends, the answers are not floating in Al-Ghazali’s scriptures. Silence gives answers. Silence is an ocean — Speech is a river.” Simon was weirded out at this scene and replied: “But how are we supposed to reach for answers without going through dialectics?” Rumi with a confused looked on his face answered: “The life of this world is nothing but the harmony of opposites. But the way to find harmony is not to get bogged down in the chicanery of words or in the hair-splitting of philosophies. The way to achieve it is through the language of silence. In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” Then Garfunkel replied: “Oh wise drunk! But how are we supposed to compare contradicting views if we stay silent?” Then Rumi answered swiftly with a heavy tongue: “All is known in the sacredness of silence. Open up! Surrender to the beloved blind silence. Stay there until you see you’re looking at the light with infinite eyes and until I get at least 8 hours of sleep.” Simon looked at Rumi’s tired droopy eyes and said: “You just look that you need some sleep old man, is that why you’re preaching silence? Were you trying to sleep here?” Rumi felt defeated and sat on the moquette; he was really tired at this point and could barely stand still. He held his heavy head, looked down, and said to the scholars: “I lost all my money in Casino Balkh including my rent money, I have no place to stay and I came here to get some sleep. All I need is a pinch of silence at this point in my life and I will be forever grateful. My soul needs to sit in silence, and tell me where am I in all of this. Silence, and silence only, will take me to the core of life, I should let silence be the art of my practice in order to get myself out of this horrendous predicament. Through silence, I will reach a level of consciousness where I lose all my mundane identities. Having lost my mundane identity, I will attain a higher supra-existence.”
Suddenly, the librarian walked in and exclaimed: “What’s all this noise? What’s going on here?” Rumi looked up at the librarian as he lay on the ground and retorted: “I’m searching for the sound of silence!” The librarian replied: “Go to the western music section in aisle three on the second floor and bring your own blanket!”