I have always liked poetry, but I am particular about the types I read. I am not a fan of Sylvia Plath, but I do like Robert Frost. I also have recently discovered Rumi – a poet from ancient Persia, and the above quote caught and captured my attention. The more I pondered it, the more meaning it seems to hold.
I may not be interpreting it correctly, but it seems to me to offer a sense of freedom, a freedom to be who you are, to believe what you believe and to allow others to be themselves as well. It made me wonder what the world would be like if we could set aside our thoughts about what was right and what was wrong, and just accept people as they are. If we weren’t so set on insisting that others view the world in the same way that we see it, would the world be a more peaceful place? Would religious wars cease when we quit enforcing our particular worldviews onto others? Would we finally be able to accept others as they really are?
This does not mean that I believe that right and wrong are relative. It does not mean that I do not hold concrete beliefs in absolute values of the nature of good and evil. It does not mean that I do not firmly believe that there are some things that are simply wrong and some things that are simply right. It also does not mean I can be swayed from these positions on wrongdoing and right doing. Quite the opposite! I have a solid foundation in my faith of what is good and what is evil. However, what it does mean is that I will not judge others by my standards. And this is what Rumi’s poem means to me.
Whether you consider Jesus as the Son of God and humanity’s Savior, or you consider Him just to be a good teacher, or maybe you don’t consider Him at all, He did make an excellent point. He said: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged“ Luke 6:37 KJV. It seems to me to be the same point that Rumi is making in this poem. Don’t judge right and wrong and it will set you free from having your own actions as being judged right or wrong. In that freedom, you can accept others as they are even as they accept you as you are. You can meet them in a field of love, joy, peace and freedom.
It doesn’t mean that you are free to do as you please. You still need to adhere to your own standards and morals. It just means that you allow others to hold to their personal morals and standards without judging them. Jesus also said, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matt 7:2 KJV; meaning that if you judge someone by your standards then those same standards will be applied to your own behavior. I don’t know about you, but I frequently fail to live up to my own moral goals and aspirations, and I would hate to be judged for these failures. However, it does seem only fair that if I hold others to these standards, then I should also be held accountable to them.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu