A New Rule

A New Rule by Jalal al din rumiQ. Critically evaluate the poem A New Rule by Jalaluddin Rumi.

Explanation of A New Rule

Lines 1-2

It is the rule with drunkards to fall upon one another, to fight
and squabble and make tumult.

Rumi begins by drawing an analogy between drunkards and lovers, emphasizing the chaos and lack of control in their actions. Drunkards, often losing their composure, fight and create disturbances, mirroring love’s tumultuous and overwhelming nature.

This sets the stage for the comparison with lovers, suggesting that the intensity of their emotions can lead to similar internal disruptions and interactions with others.

This portrayal shows the transformative and sometimes chaotic power of love. Rumi is preparing the reader to see love not just as a sweet or romantic experience but as a potent force that can dominate one’s life and actions, much like the uncontrollable actions of a drunkard.

Lines 3-4

The lover is worse than the drunkard; the lover also belongs
to that party. I will tell what love is; it is to fall into a goldmine.

Rumi intensifies the comparison in these lines by stating that the lover is “worse” than the drunkard. This is not a criticism of love but an acknowledgment of its overwhelming intensity and transformative power. The lover’s actions can be more erratic and unpredictable than those of a drunkard.

Love is then compared to “falling into a goldmine,” emphasizing its immense value and richness. This gold is not material wealth; instead, it symbolizes spiritual treasure, a form of wealth that goes beyond the physical world.

Furthermore, this comparison of love to a goldmine reveals that love, like gold, is something to be treasured and sought after. It’s a source of spiritual wealth that can transform a person’s life, bringing depth and meaning that material wealth cannot.

This metaphor invites us to view love as a profound journey into self-discovery and spiritual fulfillment, far surpassing the superficial allure of physical possessions.

Lines 5-8

And what is that gold?
The lover is a king above all kings,
unafraid of death, not at all interested in a golden crown.

Rumi mentions “gold” as a metaphor for something incredibly valuable yet not material—it represents the profound, transformative experience of love. This love is not ordinary; it is a deep, spiritual connection that enriches the soul.

For Rumi, this spiritual treasure is more precious than any physical wealth because it offers a sense of fulfillment and enlightenment that worldly riches cannot. In these lines, Rumi elevates the lover to a status higher than any earthly ruler, describing him as “a king above all kings.”

This exalted position isn’t about political power or social dominance. Instead, it refers to the lover’s mastery over his fears and desires. The lover has achieved a kind of sovereignty over his inner life, which is far more significant than any external authority.

Lines 9-10

The darvish in his cloak, and in his pocket the pearl – why
should he go begging from door to door?

A Darvish is a Sufi ascetic who has renounced worldly possessions and attachments to pursue spiritual enlightenment. The cloak symbolizes their outward simplicity and detachment from material concerns.

The pearl represents the hidden treasure of spiritual knowledge and divine love that the Darvish carries within. It symbolizes the inner wealth that they have cultivated through their spiritual practices and devotion to God.

This act of begging is not literal but metaphorical. It signifies the Darvish’s humility and dependence on the divine. They are not begging for material possessions but for spiritual sustenance and guidance.

These lines highlight a paradox: the Darvish appear outwardly poor, yet they possess the most valuable treasure of all—inner spiritual wealth. This reflects the Sufi belief that true riches are found in the heart, not in external possessions. The Darvish’s apparent poverty is a sign of their detachment from worldly desires and their focus on the spiritual path.

It also challenges conventional notions of wealth and success. It suggests that true wealth lies not in material possessions but in spiritual enlightenment and connection with the divine. Darvish’s journey reminds us that the most valuable treasures are often hidden and that true fulfillment comes from seeking inner peace and wisdom rather than external validation.

Lines 11-12

Last night that moon came along, having flung his girdle on the road, so
drunken that he was not aware that his girdle had fallen.

The phrase “the moon’s disarray” represents the idea of shedding ego and pretence. In Sufi mysticism, the ego is considered an obstacle to achieving spiritual union with the divine. When the moon loses its girdle, it symbolizes the act of letting go of worldly attachments.

The image of the moon losing its girdle is a powerful metaphor in this stanza. In Sufi teachings, the moon often symbolizes the self or the soul, which shines its light and reflects the divine truth.

When the moon loses its girdle, it’s like shedding unnecessary burdens or pretensions in life. This act represents the soul’s release from the attachments and vanities that cloud its true purpose and connection with the divine. This process leads to a state of pure and simple existence, free from the complications and illusions of ego and material concerns. The act of the moon losing its girdle, a belt that typically holds things together, suggests a deliberate shedding of constraints and pretences.

In Sufi philosophy, these constraints are often our egos and worldly concerns that prevent us from truly connecting with the divine. Rumi highlights the beauty of letting go, showing that true spiritual freedom comes from this release.

Lines 13-14

I said, “Leap up, my heart, place wine in the hand of the soul;
for such a time has befallen, it is time to be roistering.

In these lines, Rumi addresses his own heart, urging it to embrace the present moment and partake in the revelry of love and spiritual intoxication. By invoking his heart, he emphasizes the importance of being fully present and open to the experiences at hand.

Wine symbolizes divine love, uplifting the soul. The special moment for celebration and the call to awaken the heart to divine love highlight the spontaneous, heartfelt joy reflecting divine love’s depth and intensity.

He personifies his heart as a separate entity that can interact with and respond to the divine love represented by “wine.” This metaphor of wine, often used in Sufi poetry, symbolizes the intoxicating and uplifting effect of spiritual love, which elevates the soul above ordinary existence.

The term “roistering” conveys a sense of lively, uninhibited celebration, often loud and hearty. Rumi uses this word to describe the exuberant response of the soul to divine love. It’s a call to throw away inhibitions and fully immerse in the joyous spirit of the moment.

Lines 15-16

To become hand in hand with the garden nightingale, to fall
into sugar with the spiritual parrot.

Rumi uses metaphors of the garden nightingale and the spiritual parrot to describe the soul’s union with divine love and wisdom. The nightingale symbolizes the soul’s deep yearning for divine connection, while the parrot represents spiritual wisdom.

Falling “into sugar” with the parrot suggests an immersion in the joy and sweetness of spiritual enlightenment. These images convey the ecstatic experience of spiritual union and the profound pleasure of connecting with the divine.

The parrot, known for its ability to mimic and thus retain knowledge, symbolizes acquiring and expressing spiritual truths. The sweetness of sugar here represents the delightful and satisfying nature of gaining spiritual insights, which enriches the soul’s experience and understanding.

Lines 17-18

I, heart-forlorn and heart-yielded, fallen upon your way – by
Allah, I know of no other place to fall.

Rumi begins by describing himself as “heart-forlorn and heart-yielded,” indicating a state of deep emotional vulnerability and complete surrender. His heart is heavy with longing and weariness, yet it is also given up entirely to the beloved.

This surrender is a profound act of love and devotion, showing that he has given his whole being to the path of love. Rumi emphasizes his lack of alternatives by declaring, “by Allah, I know of no other place to fall.”

This statement highlights his complete reliance on the beloved and the divine path. It signifies that he has no other refuge, purpose, or direction but to remain on this path of love.

Lines 19-20

If I broke your bowl, I am drunk, my idol. I am drunk –
Leave me not from you hand to fall into danger.

Here, Rumi expresses vulnerability and a plea for protection after a misstep, acknowledging his intoxication with divine love, using “idol” to depict his profound devotion. The broken bowl and the plea not to be left in danger highlight his reliance on divine grace for safety and guidance.

This plea for the beloved’s hand reflects a longing for closeness and guidance, emphasizing trust in divine support.

By admitting he is “drunk,” he not only confesses to losing control under the overwhelming influence of divine love but also acknowledges the transformative and sometimes disorienting power of his spiritual experiences.

This intoxication is not with wine but with the love of the divine, which can disrupt the usual order of life and behavior.

Finally, Rumi pleads with the beloved not to abandon him despite his flaws and errors. The request, “Leave me not from your hand to fall into danger,” suggests his fear of what might happen if he were to lose divine support and guidance.

It emphasizes his dependence on the beloved’s mercy and protection, reflecting a profound trust and reliance on the beloved to steer him away from spiritual peril and guide him back onto the path of righteousness and divine closeness.

Lines 21-22

This is a newborn rule, a newly enacted decree – to shatter
glasses, and to fall upon the glassmaker!

Rumi concludes with a call to break free from conventional constraints and surrender completely to the divine (the glassmaker). Shattering glasses symbolize breaking away from ego and societal expectations, embracing imperfections, and merging with the divine source.

This transcendence of duality and the new path of radical surrender encourage embracing vulnerability and the transformative power of divine love.

It highlights the Sufi pursuit of spiritual liberation through ecstatic union with the divine. This surrender is not about giving up but about trusting in a higher power and merging with the divine.

In the context of Sufi mysticism, Rumi’s message resonates as a call to embrace the transformative power of divine love, leading to a profound sense of unity and peace within the soul.

This new rule encourages radical surrender and transformation. It emphasizes the importance of breaking away from the illusions of the material world and seeking spiritual liberation.

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