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In short, trust in higher reasons for the events of your life. Submission is a form of accepting wisely.
The Forty Rules of Love is a bestselling novel by the acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak. In this post I’m going to summarize the plot and go into the theme through quotes.
So, what is The Forty Rules of Love about?
It’s about an unhappily married housewife, Ella, living in the States. She is forty years old and works for a literary agency. When she is given a book named “Sweet Blasphemy” written by Aziz Zahara, the second narrative of novel-within-the-novel begins, unfolding the story of the meeting and ‘mystical union’ of Shams of Tabriz with Rumi, in the 13th century.
Wandering dervish, Shams, knows his death is coming and seeks a companion on his travels: someone to whom he can deliver his knowledge, his ‘forty rules of love’. And this someone, he finds out, is none other than Rumi. One thing leads to the next and he unites with Rumi in Konya.
While Ella is reading this novel and getting more and more captivated by it, she starts an email correspondence with its author, Aziz. On both sides, there is an exchange of a mystical love between Ella and Aziz; and Shams and Rumi.
In the end, Shams faces his inevitable death after setting Rumi on a different path to his life of sermons, by revealing to him that he is a born poet.
Similarly, Ella is set free from her old life: she decides to give up her role as a housewife and walk out on her family (including her adulterous husband) to be with Aziz – as far as I know, their relationship is platonic. He tells her that he has cancer and not much time to live.
After his death, she continues life with an open heart, to see where her path takes her now that she has learned to live in the present moment and listen to her heart.
There is a radical transformation in both narratives.
So, what is The Forty Rules of Love *really* about?
This aspect is most obvious in the character of Shams. He is responsible for Rumi’s ‘Scholar to Poet’ transformation. He challenges a scholar-teacher in front of his young class. He goes into the tavern and the prostitution house to bring potent wisdom to those who need it and are ready to make a change. He sees God in everything and everyone and is quick to challenge those who comfortably stick to dogmas, book knowledge and societal tradition.
His message is: you can find God anywhere and everywhere, even in the most unlikely places, those places that society shuns or condemns. His forty rules make spirituality practical, attainable and more heart-oriented than fear-based or head-based.
Meet life with an open heart and see where it takes you! Be light, be free and find out what you are meant to do. Be present to what is needed of you: it will be different for each person and situation. This is what Rumi and Ella needed to learn for their life to flow again.
We either try to fight against the flow of life and resist it or we throw up our hands and give up. It’s easy to ‘get on with life’, even if we don’t find any meaning in what we do.
This quote encourages us to intentionally take hold and yield to life’s unpredictable, fast-moving and sometimes incomprehensible ways. It encourages us to trust and be awake at the same time.
Our focus in life should be love. Love has many sides to it, so we need to be open and flexible to ask for each situation and each person we encounter: ‘What is needed? How can we approach this from a place of love?’
Shams and Aziz embodied love; and Rumi and Ella were the ones who had come to a place in life where they needed to take the next step on the inner journey. Their mystical companions came to set them on that path to Oneness: looking at the world through the eyes of love.
For more life-changing quotes from this novel, visit Thought Catalogue.
Image is the cover of the book
Sahya Samson is a freelance and fiction writer interested in the arts, spirituality and self-help. [email protected] read more...
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When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
Half a decade ago marriage was a bargain between two famlies. Most of the women were married off to a man who was either well off or who could fend for his wife and family. Today the parameters of marriage have changed. Women no longer marry for the sake of economic security. Their expectations from marriage have changed in the course of years because of their changed status.
As women grew independent, their patterns of choosing partners have changed dramatically. Now women choose men who they feel can satiate their emotional as well as physical needs. Intimacy is no longer the physicality that happened between two people under the supervision of elders of the family for the sole purpose of procreation. Intimacy in today’s marriages involve understanding and fulfilling each other’s emotional as well as sexual needs.
So before you decide to hook up see if you know these five things about intimacy.
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