Then this beautiful poem by Rumi came to me. It describes our frustration along the journey so wonderfully and gives us sound advice in exquisite poetic language. (My translation does not do justice to Rumi’s masterful, powerful and magical choice of words.)
All your restlessness
is rooted in your seeking restfulness.
Be a restless seeker
of the truth.
Restfulness will find you.
All your lack of success
is rooted in your seeking success.
Otherwise, much success will be showered upon you. -Rumi
So, in cases similar to that of the person mentioned at the beginning, one can become restless and unsettled in seeking a higher spiritual experience which may not come about. However, if we seek the truth for the sake of the truth itself; not for attaining a higher spiritual state as a desired goal that we have an idea of; then restfulness and our unique expression of a higher spiritual state will come to us.
Let me also share with you a few related quotations from other well-known wise people.
This is an advice on a note written by Albert Einstein describing his theory of happiness which has sold for US$1.56 million:
A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness. -Einstein
Viktor Frankl, the famous Austrian psychiatrist who founded Logotherapy conveys the same timeless wisdom principle in his highly recommended book – Man’s Search for Meaning, in this way:
Don’t aim at success; the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen and the same holds for success: You have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run; in the long run I say!; success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it. -Viktor Frankl
Socrates imparts that wisdom in another brilliant sense:
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality. -Socrates
And here is a related pearl of wisdom from Tibetan Lama Thubten Yeshe:
Everybody’s mind, everybody’s basic nature is constantly changing, changing, changing. You have to accept that and bring some flexibility to your ideas of the way things should be.
Fixed ideas make life difficult. Why do we solidify ideas: “I want my life to be exactly like this”? Because “I like.” That’s the reason—because we like things that way.
None of us wants to die, but can we fix it so that we won’t? We would like to live forever, enjoying life on Earth. Can we fix it so that we will? No, it’s impossible. Your basic nature—your mind, your body, the world—is automatically changing. Wanting things to go exactly a certain way is only making trouble for yourself. –Lama Yeshe
If you are wondering how you should go about exploring your restlessness and your wanting to change your present experience, please revisit Get to know yourself, the Wonder Why Why method.
[Last updated September 2022]