Rumi on Ceaseless Progression & Evolution

This is one of the most well known and celebrated passages that has been translated from the 13th century writings of the Persian Sufi Master Jalaluddin Rumi. This version of it was published under the title “REBIRTH” in “The Jewel in The Lotus,” a compilation “of chants, invocations and intimations from the world’s religions and mystical traditions” published by the Santa Barbara Lodge of the United Lodge of Theosophists.

I died as a mineral and became a plant;
I died as a plant and rose to animal;
I died as animal and I was a man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man to soar
With angels blest. But even from an angel
I must pass on: all except God must perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.

These few lines encapsulate some fundamental esoteric truths as found in the teachings of Theosophy. H. P. Blavatsky provides similar statements in “The Secret Doctrine,” such as where she speaks of “the hidden Kabalistic meaning of the saying: “The Breath becomes a stone; the stone, a plant; the plant, an animal; the animal, a man; the man, a spirit; and the spirit, a god.” The Mind-born Sons, the Rishis, the Builders, etc. [i.e. the many classes of celestial beings], were all men – of whatever forms and shapes – in other worlds and the preceding Manvantaras.” (Vol. 1, p. 107)

The doctrine of reincarnation or rebirth or re-embodiment is only very rarely encountered in Sufism and when it is, it tends to be in such a vague expression that it is quite understandable why people maintain that Sufis do not accept the concept of reincarnation. Much the same point can be made about Zoroastrianism. But from the Theosophical perspective it can be concluded that they – or at least the genuine high Initiates among them – accept and know reincarnation to be a reality but that for whatever reason they are not permitted or do not think it wise to publicise and popularise this teaching within their religion and system.

In our article Theosophy on Islam it was explained:

“Sunni and Shia are the two most well known forms of Islam. Sufism, also known as Tasawwuf, the more mystical side and system to the Muslim religion, is found mainly within Sunni Islam, though to a lesser extent within Shia. In the non-Islamic world, Sufism is often erroneously thought of as a sect in itself or a distinct and separate branch of Islam, whereas it is not.

“The Sufis, says HPB, “claim, and very justly, the possession of the esoteric philosophy and doctrine of true Mohammedanism. The Suffi (or Sofi) doctrine is a good deal in touch with Theosophy, inasmuch as it preaches one universal creed, and outward respect and tolerance for every popular exoteric faith. It is also in touch with Masonry. The Suffis have four degrees and four stages of initiation: 1st, probationary, with a strict outward observance of Mussulman [i.e. Muslim] rites, the hidden meaning of each ceremony and dogma being explained to the candidate; 2nd, metaphysical training; 3rd, the “Wisdom” degree, when the candidate is initiated into the innermost nature of things; and 4th, final Truth, when the Adept attains divine powers, and complete union with the One Universal Deity in ecstacy or Samadhi.” (“The Theosophical Glossary” p. 311, Entry for “Suffism”)

“It is quite well known that HPB made relatively frequent references to ancient Chaldean esotericism, particularly a secret text which she spoke of as the Chaldean Book of Numbers and which is quoted from a number of times in her master work “The Secret Doctrine.” What is perhaps less well known, except to serious students of “The Secret Doctrine,” is that “the Chaldean works . . . are translated into Arabic and preserved by some Sufi initiates.” (“The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 288)

“The most well known Sufi figure nowadays is of course Jalaluddin Rumi, also written Jalāl al-Dīn Rumi (1207-1273), who was also, like most Sufis, a Sunni. Rumi has only become popular and well known in the West in recent decades and was entirely unmentioned by H. P. Blavatsky and her colleagues. A concise and inspiring article about Rumi was published in the closing quarter of the 20th century in “Hermes,” a magazine that was produced by the Santa Barbara Lodge of the United Lodge of Theosophists. It can be read here. The editor of “Hermes,” Raghavan Iyer, also included some of Rumi’s poems, along with those by other Sufis such as Ibn al-ʿArabī and Jami, in his anthology “The Jewel in The Lotus,” which has quite aptly been described as “a Universal Bible.”

“The mysterious Druzes of Lebanon and Syria also bear a link with the esoteric side of Islam but are a distinct religious group, more profoundly and openly metaphysical and occult in nature and doctrine than the Sufis. HPB’s article “Lamas and Druses” is well worth reading in this regard. It can be found in the third volume of “H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles” and HPB Pamphlet #23 “Ancient Survivals and Modern Errors,” published by Theosophy Company on behalf of the United Lodge of Theosophists.”

For those interested in knowing more of the Theosophical perspective on Islam, we recommend reading Theosophy on Islam in its entirety. We have also included below the video of a talk about Rumi from 2021 by an associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists.

To learn more about Theosophy and its teachings of evolution, rebirth, and the unending journey of the soul to higher and higher levels of manifestation of its own innate perfection, please take a look at the Articles page.

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