For years, since first encountering it, I’ve loved the beautiful Rumi saying: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” The concept is so touching and inspiring — the possibility of relationships that surpass all judgment. Even more, a paradisiacal reality in which, truly, there is nothing be judged. Beyond right and wrong, beyond good and bad…
A friend shared this quote on Facebook the other day, and at first I grooved as usual right into the sweet heart-space of it. No question, it is an absolutely lovely image.
But I was feeling grumpy, so then I started thinking about what a damned long way it seems like from here to there. And, honestly, on third thought, it occurred to me that we’ve got a lot of rightdoing and wrongdoing to sort out first, before we dream of skipping off into that blissful sunset.
I know some amazing humans, really exceptional people. But I’ve never met anyone, or heard of or read about or seen anyone, in any field, whom I believe has advanced beyond right and wrong. I mean, seriously. Anyone who says he’s that evolved and ego-free is kidding himself or fooling you. Zen Master Linji said, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” We are all reminded to keep practicing, growing, moving.
So as I gnaw on this, I’m wondering: are non-judgment and non-attachment realistic or even desirable goals right now? I’m not in any hurry to vibrate off the planet just yet, and while we’re here together in this physical reality, our ability to discern right and wrong seems pretty important. In fact, it seems to me we ought to invest a little more practice in boning up on our good judgment rather than being in such a danged rush to get over it.
Transcending the conflict and discord of our worldly troubles sounds nice at first, sure. But right now, we have an opportunity to not just look forward to transcendence, but to experience immanence — to experience the divine not only beyond, but rather in and through life here and now. We’re here to live it, to be the living mess of it.
Rumi got this, of course. The first line is gorgeous, but context changes its sense a little. I’d never heard the rest of the quote, the poem from which the famous bit comes:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
I think he’s saying, in the end, that the field isn’t really out “there” in some beyond. It’s here. We can can lie down in it right now, immersing ourselves in the world’s fullness. Judgment isn’t surpassed because we’ve risen above anything, but maybe we can become so inclusive of each and every other that our grass-stained souls lose sight of where you begin and I end.
For me, this is an important distinction — that it’s not about excluding anyone’s judgment, mine or yours, but about including everyone’s, mine and yours.
And this is great! Because, hey, I do want it both ways. I want to be so head-over-heels in love with you and with life that it all feels like carefree cartwheels through a flowery meadow. At the same time, I also want to be fully and richly myself, discerning and wise, complete with an ego and personality and all the cares and passions that entails.
If we commit to both the actualization of our wholehearted selves and a generous love for each other, if we commit to both individuality and togetherness, then we really don’t have to wait to meet “there.” If we truly allow ourselves and each other to be, we can meet right here.
I can’t wait to see you this Sunday, February 24, at Bosque Center for Spiritual Living. Service at 10:00 am. XO, Drew
© Drew Groves 2019