Touchstone

The madman, his eyes gleaming and bloodshot, his muscles tense, sweat streaming down his face drives into the crowd. This haunting image is seen on screens, hundreds and hundreds of miles away almost instantly.

Misery is not just surrounding us, it reaches us instantly on our screens through news channels, apps and alerts.

Closer home, I walk into a room made cozy with warm lights, burning incense sticks and soft Sufi songs playing in background. It is Sunday evening meeting of like-mined people who want to listen to the words of Rumi.

As I find a spot in the corner of the room, my eyes wander to the crowd gathered there. I started absorbing the faces, the colors, some smiles I return, some eyes I avert.

Just as we all wait for it to start I realize that among the 50 odd people gathered in that room, 47 of them are between 20 and 35 years of age. The logical mind says that the event was publicized on FB, and isn’t that the demographic that uses the social media more prominently.

The less skeptical part of the mind wants to believe in the power of the many souls gathered in that room, seeking wisdom from an ancient mystic, poet and philosopher. And comes to the conclusion that as we move more into the fast paced future, the more will we  move inward, looking and searching for answers as we engage with new questions and toy with deeper ideas.

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A Touchstone: used to test the purity of gold and silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by the metal.
It is a term also used when referring to something that is used to make judgments about the quality of other things.

During our quest, when seeking answers, we are looking for our touchstone, for the wisdom imparted by teachers, mentors, confidantes and guides.

I find comfort in the thought that for every stone that has slipped through the cracks while looking for answers and found his touchstone in religious fanaticism, radical ideologies or violent dogmatism, are many other, like those 47 others in that room, around the world who choose to look for words of inspiration, drawn towards all-encompassing love, and a touchstone in the words of old masters, like Rumi.

In His words, this weeks poem.

The Quest for Reality

from The Masnavi Book II

Everyone seeks joy in this world,

And on account of the hope comes fire.
The old and the young are ever gold seekers,
And they know not the difference,

the gold from the tin,

for the common of the heart cannot see so well,
The good from the bad, the cheap from the pure.

If you have your own touchstone,

then all will be well,

But those who have none should seek one who does,
Seek one who knows the difference,
All others will lead you astray.
Don’t follow cry of riches to be,
Don’t trek to the spot where the promise is made,
For there all you’ll find

are the wolves and the lions,

And the day will be spent,

life lost, and the road far off.

Find the Work of your Life, and the Worker too,
For both exist as one—-this is you.
Discover vocation, creation

and joy will come like clairvoyance,

When blindness is gone before.

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