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Pay Attention to Whose Shoes You Are Wearing

May 13, 2009

I read this short lesson from Shams today, and found it to be so simple yet profound.

whose-shoes“If you depart a little from a conclusion to which you had come by yourself, this doesn’t mean that you are always fickle in your decisions.  On a dark night, someone wanting to leave a crowded place may happen to mistakenly put on someone else’s shoe and tear one side of it.  Now, he doesn’t need to leave wearing the wrong shoe.  Here, to apologize makes sense – it was dark.  But at such a time, each person should keep an eye on his own shoes. [‘If the shoe fits, wear it.’  If you recognize that it doesn’t, don’t wear it home just to cover your mistake – acknowledge your mistake. Be watchful, especially in moments of darkness.]”

– From Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz, Pg. 105 – Translated by Refik Algan and Camille Adams Helminski

What arises in me as I read this are several clear thoughts:

  1. The importance of developing a sense of and trusting one’s own intuition. As for myself, I always struggled – and still often do – with accessing my intuition, and distinguishing this genuine inner voice from my fears and desires, which often like to disguise themselves as intuition.
  2. We human beings are very impressionable creatures; hence, we are always “putting on someone else’s shoes” (an analogy for ideas) that don’t fit.  Shams urges us not to be, or whenever possible, to acknowledge when we have been weak (“in moments of darkness”).
  3. Acknowledging our mistakes. God only knows how stubborn I can be in this regard.  I struggle with the word “mistake” because I feel that such a level of judgment and stigma have been created around “making mistakes”.  I suppose nobody really likes to admit mistakes.  Shams makes an excellent point about the value of acknowledging mistakes, rather than going along just because we made a choice and feel “now I should stick with it no matter what.”

I can go on about each of these three topics, and I will in upcoming posts.  For now, let’s just sit with this wonderful lesson and let it cook us.  What does it bring up for you?

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