We are True Love.
Love of the truth is the ultimate love,
it is the most rewarding and the most hurtful.
Its path is through personal relational love,
a wild dirt road, meandering through
the joys and hurts of relationships!


This is a follow up post from last month’s “Dear Rumi, What is true love?“.  I am writing this to emphasise three things: Firstly that the “capital letters True Love” is not something other worldly, it is not something higher and separate from us to achieve, it is our fabric and true nature; we only need to be able to experience ourselves as true love. Secondly, that to end up experiencing ourselves as true love we have no choice but to seek and experience love outside of ourselves; in relationship to others and the world. And thirdly, of course love hurts. That there is both joy and suffering in relationships; but that is necessary to wake us up.

O You whose radiance tears the mountain apart;
no surprise if falling in love tears a handful of clay apart!

The universe is filled with love;
no surprise, one can’t see its colours!
But once love-struck; it hurts so much, one’s face turns pale and yellow.

It takes a prince to bid for a precious ruby;
It takes a special soul to be worthy of Your hurt. ~Rumi [1]

Rumi tells us that true love is everything and everything is true love. That’s why it is colourless and unrecognisable, until one is love struck. That’s when one falls apart and goes pale and yellow; only then one takes notice and has the opportunity to experience one’s true nature which is love. It is like gravity which is everywhere but we don’t notice it much until falling down or struggling uphill. Nevertheless, most of us hate the pains and hurts that come with love; we just want the pleasures but not the pains!  As Rumi says, it takes a special soul to be worthy of the hurts that love brings about. Similarly Hafiz tells us:

Desert of love has ups and downs
full of killer traps;
Where is that lion heart
not fearful of love’s disasters? ~Hafiz [2]


Next time you complain about love and relationship issues such as feeling unwanted, not being seen or understood, abandonment and unfaithfulness, fears of losing someone or being lost,  feeling being controlled or losing control, feeling conflicted whether s/he is the right one or not, should I wait or go, and many other conflicts and sufferings that come with the joys of relationships; know that love hurts because that’s the only way to make us take notice of our true nature!

Relationships go sour because we have forgotten our true nature and our inherent oneness with the whole of existence. Feeling we have lost something; but not knowing quite what; our hearts seek connection and fulfilment in others. Those others are also most likely lost like us. We keep digging to find our lost treasures to no avail because the treasure is within us, not in someone else.

You gulp water from hundred fountains outside;
but know that your pleasure is diminished as those sources run low!

However–once your inner fountain gushes–
you’ll be rich within, no need to steal water from without.  ~Rumi [3]

But dig outside we must!

The paradox is that in order to remember our true nature and stop looking outside for true love, we have no choice but to go through the pain and hurt of relationships; that is just being human.  We could of course try and avoid relationships altogether; perhaps isolate ourselves or go live in a cave. Or we could keep resisting the lessons our soul needs to learn by repeating the pattern of seeking fulfilment in others time after time, blindly hoping that ‘this time it’ll work!’. But such approaches have never taken anyone to true love.

It takes a prince to bid for a precious ruby;
It takes a special soul to be worthy of Your hurt.

Rumi tells us that going through this hurt and suffering is actually a privilege that not many can sustain to transmute into true love. It takes an inner-rich prince or princess to bid for such precious gem. It does take a special soul to endure the inevitable conflicts and hardships of relationships and break ups. Not because one is a masochist. Not that one should accept and endure unhealthy and possibly abusive relationships. Not even that one should tolerate such hardships in the hope of becoming a better person or an ‘enlightened’ soul! None of that. All such ideas and positions are just various reactions of our ego-self to our life situation.

It takes a special soul with an uncompromising and unconditional love of the truth. Someone who remains present to all her relationship issues and allows both the happiness and the hardships to reveal more of her true self. And this revealing shall happen by itself through understanding and digesting our hopes, blocks and ideas about love and relationships.

Theory or concrete truth?

Just in case you might think this is all theory and Rumi was not qualified to talk about human relationship issues because perhaps he was lucky, well off, gifted or even a saint exempt from the kind of relationship issues and heartbreaks that most of us go through; think again!

Notwithstanding a blessed and fulfilled life, Rumi went through a significant share of suffering compared to many people of his time or today. His life was far from a sanitised saintly life. He lived an intense drama that began form his childhood in Balkh and unfolded in a rich tapestry of the worldly and mystical upheavals all the way to his death in Konya when he was 68 years old. His relationship life was messy and full of ups and downs, full of drama. He was deeply affected by forced migration from his place of birth, death of his wife, his son and other loved ones, illness, separation, being dumped twice leading to deep depression, family disputes, group infighting, rivalry, jealousy, envy, innuendo, power politics, conspiracy, major international wars, voluntary poverty, humiliation and many other calamities.

Yet it was only through all such hurt, hardship and suffering that Rumi cleansed his soul and scrubbed the mirror of his self to allow the Divine to shine through and manifest the True Love that he embodied. In his courageous and dramatic search for the truth, Rumi saw Shams as the only one who could give him the experience of the truth.  He looked to quench his thirst from a fountain outside! He intensely experienced the relational, bartering love and suffered the heartaches of humiliation and separation. Until the time that he graduated from dependence on someone else. He died to love and came alive as the embodiment of true love.

No complaints

Nonetheless and despite all such hardship and hurt, Rumi never complained because he was in love with the truth and was not seeking total worldly fulfilment from Shams or anyone else. Rumi’s last principal disciple and spiritual companion of forty years; Hosamoddin Chalabi; has said that he never ever heard any complaints or stories of worldly sorrow or happiness from Rumi. That any such expressions of sorrow (of separation) and joy (of union) in Rumi’s works simply reflect the experiences necessary for his continual evolution, his spiritual journey of self-realisation. [4]

As John Welwood says “The less you demand total fulfilment from relationships, the more you can appreciate them for the beautiful tapestries they are, in which absolute and relative, perfect and imperfect, infinite and finite are marvellously interwoven.” [5]

After all, Rumi is the man who proclaimed:

We made a pact;
… joy and I,
that joy is all mine!  ~Rumi [6]


  1. Rumi, Divan-e Shams,  Ghazal No. 544
  2. Divan of Hafiz
  3. Rumi, Mathnawi, Book VI: 3597-3598
  4. From the book “peleh peleh ta molaghat-e khoda (Step by step all the way to meet God)” Dr Abdolhossein Zarrinkoob, p 334.
  5. John Welwood, Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart .
  6. Rumi, Divan-e Shams, from Ghazal No.578