The Human Potential – Insights from Shams-e Tabrizi
This house of the world reflects the human body,
and the human form reflects the world beyond.
Shams-e Tabrizi: Rumi’s Perfect Teacher
The wandering dervish Shams-e Tabrizi was born towards the end of the twelfth century in Tabriz in northwestern Iran. Universally referred to as Shams (a name that in Arabic means ‘sun’), it is believed that this perfect mystic came for one disciple, one student to whom he directed all his energy and teachings: Jalāl al-Din Rumi, otherwise known as Rumi. Shams’ singular objective was to actualize, share and celebrate with Rumi the divine dimension of human potential and to transform him into a God-realized human being.
Until recently, all that was known of Shams came through the writings of Rumi but following a chance discovery (during the 1940s) of a series of manuscripts comprising Shams’ discourses, we now have greater insight into his mystical teaching and the instructions he offers Rumi for God-realization. Though the original manuscripts were not written by Shams himself, they comprise the notes taken of his public and private discourses by those present at that time, mainly Rumi’s followers and students. The manuscripts were translated into a Persian book of more than a thousand pages in the 1990s and from which the Science of the Soul Research Centre has published a collection of excerpts in the book Shams-e Tabrizi: Rumi’s Perfect Teacher. These inspiring excerpts are presented under a series of themes to enable contemporary readers to build a picture of Shams’ teachings on specific topics. The following are just a few of those which focus on the theme of human potential.
157 – When human beings can feel elated with joy at the perishable, imagine what joy and ecstasy they can feel if they spend their energy and capacity, the capital of their lives, on the everlasting, life-giving truth.
Joy in the world pales before joy in God.
221 – What business is it of yours if the universe stems from the primordial? Try to find out whether you are primordial or created. Spend your life finding out who you are. Why do you spend it in finding the universe’s origin? To know God is deep? O stupid, you are deep, if there is depth, it is in you! What kind of friend are you, not knowing the details of the Friend’s inner and outer state with utmost clarity? What kind of God’s servant are you if you do not know his entire mystery and inner condition?
Shams on realizing God and his mystery within.
640 – A true man is one who is happy in sorrow and joyful in unhappiness. He knows that this wish or that objective is wrapped and hidden within this unfavorable state. Hidden within the hopelessness of not having one’s objective lies the hope of it, and the sorrow of not having one’s objective hides within the objective.
Shams on patience and rising above hopelessness.
705 – Some reached the Sought while they are seeking. The Sought was unveiled at the time of death for others, whereas still others died seeking. Dying with this desire is a great achievement.
Shams on the several ways to use human birth well.