Zoe's Reading List

Book Review: The Way of Passion – A Celebration of Rumi

This week, Zoe is reading The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi by Andrew Harvey. This is a must-read for mystics or anyone interested in understanding more about what being a mystic entails. Jalal-ud-Din Rumi was perhaps the greatest Sufi mystic and poet, and this book explores Rumi’s message to the world. Through stories and poetry, Andrew Harvey takes you deep into the spiritual process of awakening.

The mystical life and the process of awakening moves through four stages:

  1. Childhood – an innocent experience of union without the understanding, but also a time of wounding and fear which leads to stage two.
  2. Creation of the False Self – the belief that you are what you identify with, driven by fear and loneliness, and a desire to belong. When this is too much to bear it leads to stage three.
  3. Breakdown or Crisis – the false self is destroyed, quickly or slowly, and everything you previously thought you knew disintegrates. There can be genuine spiritual experiences now, but this isn’t the end of the journey.
  4. Grace and Integration – a direct vision of the true nature of Reality followed by the enormous work of integrating that truth into your life.

The Way of Passion follows this structure using Rumi’s poetry to illuminate the heart of what living through this process really involves. It is not for the fainthearted.

This book is a glorious, burning gem that will set your mind and heart alight. It perfectly captures the true meaning of love and the mystic’s vision of unity. Harvey interprets Rumi’s poetry with such fierce passion it’s impossible to read this book without having an emotional apocalypse, in the original sense of the word – to uncover or to reveal.

First, we live the narrow and limited unconscious life. Then come the pain and difficulties that show us the limitations of that life and the beginning of a desire to deepen our acquaintance with the Divine. Then comes the long, arduous, painful, extraordinary, and ecstatic journey toward the Divine. Then slowly, with great amazement, wonder, and gratitude, there comes the gathering union with the Divine. Out of this union grows the sacred marriage of self and God, the world and the other, masculine and feminine, creation and transcendence, out of which is born the Divine Child secretly hidden within each of us. The ecstatic, playful, and trusting child knows that the Presence is always at home, and therefore has the freedom, joy, knowledge, and power to create in the world with the fecundity of the Divine itself. The child is the one to whom all is given, not the master, yogi, nor teacher, only the adoring and pure child.”

 

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