The brilliant Persian poet Rumi seems to be all the rage these days. And for good reason. He’s one of the few sages who was both deeply wise AND surpassingly eloquent in expressing that wisdom in his writings. He was a Muslim, but his works have always appealed to people of all spiritual traditions, proof that his wisdom was universal.
I wrote an article a few months ago about my four favorite Rumi quotes. But I came across another one recently that tops all of them. It’s this:
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
So succinct, yet so powerful. People read this and they just get it.
What is ‘it?’ That mysterious, inner voice that communicates to all of us at some point.
And what is that inner voice? Some people call it God. Others Jesus. Or the Universe. Or nature. Or intuition. Or the Divine Creator.
The great American poet Maya Angelou put it this way:
“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
I call it the voice of the Universe trying to express itself through us. Whatever words are used, I feel on safe ground in saying that this voice is some supremely intelligent being deep inside us that knows the true path of our lives…if only we would listen.
“I can’t hear it.”
But how do we listen to something we can’t hear? I don’t know about you, but when I was searching for my path in life in my teens and twenties, countless people told me some version of, “Don’t look out to the world for the answers. Look inside yourself. And listen.”
Upon hearing that, I’d nod and say, “Great. Thanks. I’ll do that.” And then I’d say to myself, “What the heck does that even mean? Go inside and listen?”
When I would “go inside and listen” all I’d hear is a cacophony of voices swirling around like race cars at Daytona Speedway, saying things like, “Go to a great college.” “Get a high profile job.” “Be the best.”
Not Me Stew
The voice urging me to be myself, the voice that actually is myself, the voice that Rumi wants us to listen to, was drowned out. Why is that so? Because as most of us develop into adults we incorporate the voices of our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, Instagram, the covers of Cosmopolitan and the rest of society into one big, noisy pot of stew. And unfortunately, if I were to give that concoction a name, it would be Not Me Stew.
Even with a completely still, quiet mind, that all-knowing voice inside is elusive. Because it’s subtle. And it doesn’t typically deliver its messages in the form of direct, hit-you-on-the-head epiphanies. When we throw in that goulash of discordant babble flying around our heads, that faint voice speaking from our depths doesn’t stand a chance of being heard.
The Tuner and the Station
Here’s an analogy that illuminates this dynamic. Think of yourself as a car radio and the radio station you want to listen to is God/Jesus/Allah/The Universe/Yahweh/The Supreme Being/The Genius of Nature…whoever or whatever you think is running the cosmic show.
These Gods/Divine Beings are beaming out signals to you from their radio stations, signals whose purpose is to guide you to your destiny, or Providence. The reason our “car radios” don’t receive these messages/signals is that our racing minds create static. The messages can’t get through.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can slow this thought traffic in our heads to the point that we can hear the intelligent voice within. Improve communication with it. Develop a relationship with it.
How? Through regular meditation. Really? How is that possible?
Because meditation quiets the mind. And in so doing it allows our tuner to adjust, allowing these all-important cosmic signals to pervade our being.
Cosmic signals? Yeah, it sounds a bit nutty California Granola Guy-ish. But give it some thought. It makes sense.
Man, what I would give to have developed a regular meditation practice at age seventeen. I might have left politics ten years earlier to pursue my creative passions, which have been central to who I am for as long as I can remember.
Quieting our minds is absolutely central to accessing the wonderful things life has to offer, like listening to that sacred voice within. If you want to follow Rumi’s recommendation to listen to the voice that doesn’t communicate in words, start a meditation practice.
If you’re looking for a place to start, go to my website, davidgerken.net, where I have a free, easy to follow program. I designed it for regular Joe’s like me, not for those aspiring to be Tibetan monks meditating in Himalayan caves ten hours a day. Good luck!