Recently, I read a saying of the mystic Hafiz of Shiraz which goes: “This path to God made me such an old sweet beggar. I was starving until one night my love tricked God Himself to fall into my bowl.” This immediately took my thoughts down the road of homelessness and begging. I honestly cannot say that I have ever run into a homeless beggar whose demeanor caused me to think of him as “an old sweet beggar”. Rather, seeing the person’s extreme exterior poverty has often caused me to wonder about their inner poverty: What inner orientation brought them to where they are now? The question for all of us is: Why do we do what we do?
I was watching a program about drug-addiction in which someone made the following statement: “I knew a girl who put her hand in the open door frame of her car and then slammed the door shut on her own hand so she would go to the hospital and get pain meds.” We pursue whatever has value to us, whether or not other people value it. Some of the things we do to pursue our treasure looks, to others, to be foolish, if not insane. And some of it is insane. The road we travel to pursue our heart’s desire becomes an orientation that takes us beyond the immediate goal. The question to ask ourselves is: Should we be traveling this road? Is where it can take me where I actually want to be at 80? Will I still want to be where my 20 year old self thought of as Paradise? Should I be wanting what I am wanting?
Will the day come when I realize that my solution to my inner poverty has actually only made a greater problem for me, somewhat like trying to smother a fire by throwing paper on it. The problem with that realization is that right upon it other questions come: Now what? Is this really what I want? Is this really where I want to be? And why did I want this, to begin with?! In the larger picture, what does my originally wanting this say about my inner life? Do I want to understand? And why are there so many damned questions?!!!
Another saying by the mystic of Shiraz states: “If you are drinking wine or sitting in the garden with roses instead of seeking the Beloved, then you are wasting time.” In the end, the question of our inner life comes down to: Sitting, or Seeking?