Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment | Rumi

Golden Sufi's teacher Irina Tweedie said: "Mystics teach simple things,
And those simple things change people's lives."

Perhaps the most remarkable mystic of all time, Jalaluddin Rumi has treasure house of such simple statements containing oceans of meanings. One of such simple statement of Rumi is:

"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment."

Few weeks back from now, April 22 i had the opportunity to meet visionary artist, author and teacher Freydoon Rassouli in his Studio here in Encino, California and during the conversation he expanded on the meaning which is simply remarkable and profound.

Today again i was in his class which is more of a open-horizon philosophy class than a typical painting and art class, where Rassouli will expand different mystical ideas such as reaching out to soul, intoxication or bewilderment, divine Beloved, looking at creativity as love making etc. One of the favorite subject of Rassouli is the theme of this quote by Rumi, "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment."

When i first heard the statement and its explanation by him, i was telling myself, 'that apparently simple statement if understood in the proper sense, could be enough as the guiding mantra for anyone for the rest of one's life'. Infact the whole statement can be used to initiate someone to become a mystic. Its exactly that.

Rassouli, who has strong influence of Rumi and Hafiz from his childhood, who grew up among the gathering of dervishes at the very doorstep of his father's house, explained the statement of Rumi from the perspective of buying and selling, exactly the way Rumi has said it.

Cleverness is explained as any knowledge that we obtain for survival, the knowledge that we trade for our living; it is the technique that someone learn to sell or market anything from an art to a scientific invention. From an artists and painter's perspective, cleverness applies to all the technicalities that an artist learn, all the theoretical knowledge to the very techniques of using brush, color and so forth.

Now Rumi says, 'Sell your cleverness'. In one sense this explicitly means selling, trading, externalizing it, putting it out. In another level selling is sacrificing, letting go; thus 'selling cleverness' then becomes letting go of intellectual, rational mind, sacrificing our calculated approach to everything that we do, we deal with and life.

Bewilderment is the holy grail for mystics of all age and all tradition. Its 'the red sulphur' for the alchemists of all walks of life, be it being an artists, being a writer or any profession one can imagine; those who brings the inner with outer in harmonious way, who wish to master the alchemical process, which Rassouli calls fusion and his whole art movement is called Fusion Art.

Now the concept of 'bewilderment' is not easy to grasp for those who are not familiar with metaphysics or mysticism. One way to describe bewilderment is when we experience pure joy, when our duality of subject and object disappear and a totally different state (in the zone, another way to put it) emerge. One way or another we have all experienced this state of bewilderment. Some experience it when one falls in love in its totality, when one sees a beautiful wild flower and just looking at it freezes time, some experience it the moment a first time father or mother looks at the face of a new born and the list can go on. Bottom line is, access to bewilderment is available and it can be lived as oppose to just having them as separate, accidental events.

What Rumi was saying, we can trade bewilderment with our cleverness. There are ways to do it and in the teachings of Rassouli, during the process of painting he also teaches how to trade bewilderment. If selling cleverness is about externalizing, buying bewilderment is about internalizing what is real. Bewilderment is also an experience of oneness when boundaries dissolve and we set ourselves free from the rational, linear, judgmental mind. In the context of art, only when an artist or a painter stands in front of a canvas and successfully able to suspend their rational, linear mind and move 'into the zone' - 'into the bewilderment', only then great work emerge. The greater the painter, for surely the more bewilderment they traded in.

There is a process of accessing bewilderment and everyone has the birthright to access that bewilderment, and the process involves surrender and acceptance. Bewilderment is also about living life fully and being open to life's fullest (unknown yet flowering) potentials as well.

Rumi's statement reminds me of a parallel saying of Jesus Christ, another great mystic of all time, when he said, "Be as clever as serpent, be as innocent as dove." (Matthew 10:16)

In eastern myth, serpent is the symbol of intelligence, cleverness; whereas dove is the symbol of peace, innocence and love. Christ in his gnosis tells us to fuse these two world of qualities to realize our full humanness which is the perfect image of Divine and to become fully human being.


about RASSOULI: Freydoon Rassouli is a visionary artist who has come to the attention of the international art world in recent years. What makes his art so unique is the way he translates spiritual experience from his subconscious onto canvas through meditation at sunrise. With vibrant hues, Rassouli produces joyful color blends and circular brushwork that create a timeless perspective. He calls his unique painting technique Fusionart, a style that Rassouli has created and registered and is presently teaching to many artists in Southern California.

Fusionart's main theme is cosmic unity. The painting style is derived from mysticism, near-eastern spirituality, and a foundation in European painting technology. Rassouli represents this concept through illumination of the Divine Creative Light coupled with its manifestation reflected on his canvas in the form of feminine power and beauty.

[>] Read part 2 of this theme: Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment



image credit: Rumi, the illuminated presskit
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