In one of his poems, Maulana Rumi seeks to distill his teachings into seven advices. These are:


1. In generosity and helping others…
Be like the river.

2. In compassion and grace…
Be like the sun.

3. In concealing other’s faults…
Be like the night.

4. In anger and fury
Be like the dead.

5. In modesty and humility…
Be like the soil

6. In tolerance…
Be like the ocean.

7. Either appear as you are or…
Be as you appear.

The simplicity, yet profoundness of these verses show that that these feelings are borne out of deep introspection and experience, not mere observation. The choice of similes encompass the essence of the qualities that one should aspire;

1. Generosity and Helpfulness – Be like the river which gives water to all, and all its produce from that water (fish etc.) to the world. It helps transporting silt throughout its journey. It always flows, for stagnancy is death. And finally, it does all this with the sole objective of being able to meet its source – the sea. Hence, generosity should be unconditional, all Comppervading and laid as a tribute at the door of the beloved for after all that IS the source of all giving.

2. Compassion and Grace – Compassion is the ability to understand and empathise with others troubles and grace is the ability to relive their pain without their asking for it. In this, be like th sun, for it thoroughly understands us – it is just that distance which does not burn up or freeze the earth, it recognises that man needs rest and hence makes way for night – and is fully grace – giving to all without their even needing to ask for it. It gets taken for granted, but it doesn’t reduce its grace which flows to all. In a way, the sun personifies the love of God – deep understanding of our needs and abundant grace, even without asking.

3. Conceal others’ faults – The night is not just the absence of light – it is a cloak which covers the world and allows it to rest. It is the peace which allows man to prepare himself for another day. Be like the night in concealing others’ faults – don’t just avoid mentioning it, rather cloak it with the quietness, serenity and peace which would make that fault even hidden from you. Allow the person to grow without the baggage of his faults and let him prepare for a new day, with your blessed concealment of his faults. This is preparation for the Lord to conceal our faults on the day of judgment.

4. Avoid Anger – In this Rumi provides a reverse similie – in anger and fury, he says, be like the dead. That is, do not respond, be unaffected by it and remain in your state of bliss for nothing that that person does can hurt you. This is the philosophy of being in the world, but remaining unaffected by worldly things. True life comes only when you are so dead – absorbed in your situation and hence unable to react to the temporal demands of the world.

5. Be modest and humble – Soil gives life. It nourishes, feeds and helps plants grow which eventually become our food. Yet, despite its signifcant role, it is perfectly happy to be below your feet. This is the annihilation of the ego. An egoless person does not have to be ‘modest’ – he does not fin any reason to be ‘proud’. Whenever you think that you have achieved something, look at the soil and ask yourself – have I done more than the soil does? So what permits me to be at any level higher than the soil? Perhaps this is the message we are taught when soil is spread on our graves after death. Find this death in your lifetime; and you will have everlasting life.

6. Be tolerant – This is the quality of balance. An ocean is constantly moving, shaking, experiencing waves and storms all the time. Yet, it maintains a sense of calmness and balance. you are intolerant, look at the ocean and learn how this sense of balance leads to calmness and serenity within – just like the ocean floor.

7. Be what you are – This is the last message from Rumi and perhaps the most important. In fact even if the other six had not been there, this seventh one would have sufficed. This quality is about truth and integrity. Its about being honest to everyone, more so to yourself. It says ‘Either appear as you are… Or be as you appear’. Man is caught up in trying to be like what others want to see him as. We are constantly changing masks losing our true self in the many faces that we wear. This largely arises from fear – fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being loved. If you can rise above these fears, you will be your own authentic self. And if you cannot do that, then atleast be what you appear to be – either way, be integrated!

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