In a poem by Rumi, David asks the Lord the most mystical of all questions:
Why did you create these two worlds?
Reality replied: O prisoner of time,
I was a secret treasure of kindness and generosity,
and I wished this treasure to be known,
so I created a mirror: its shining face, the heart;
its darkened back, the world;
the back would please you if you’ve never seen the face.
Once we have glimpsed the other side, and have seen the shining face, the heart, the kindness, and the pure grace that exists there, we would never again be satisfied with the back, the world. Rumi concludes:
If you wish your heart to be bright,
You must do a little work…
Spirit, find your way, in seeking lowness like a stream.
Reason, tread the path of selflessness into eternity.
Remember God so much that you are forgotten.
Let the caller and the called disappear;
be lost in the Call.
The two worlds are ours to choose from: the temporal or the eternal, but the eternal requires work to stay in. The temporal world is characterized by dualities; the eternal world by oneness, wholeness, and unity. The Call to oneness can direct us toward the life we are most drawn to, the life we most want to live.
7th-century Vedanta philosopher Shankara said, “When a man follows the way of the world, or the way of the flesh, or the way of tradition (i.e. when he believes in… the letter of the scriptures, as though they were intrinsically sacred), knowledge of Reality cannot arise in him.” To seek to know Reality, we have to be open to what is greater than we are and what we already know. This is the way it has always been.
One of the very first archetypes, or patterns of inherited, oft-repeated behavior, is the call to adventure, or the quest to understand reality. This is a theme as old as story itself; it is ubiquitous to all literature and the most common basis for all plots.
The archetype of the call is a quest that always begins with a separation from the familiar (“from the way of the world”), which signals a “departure,” and is followed by the quests’ fulfillment in the closely related archetypes of “initiation” and “return.” This is the three-part pattern of Joseph Campbell’s journey of the hero.
The meaning of this archetype is the unfolding of destiny, the first sign that something of significance is about to happen. This archetype not only marks the beginning of a transformational undertaking, it is, in mystic terms, “the awakening of the self.” Evelyn Underhill characterizes “the mystic type” as the personality who refuses to be satisfied with someone else’s experience.
In the Baha’i tradition, Baha’u’llah, answering a query from a Sufi, explains this mystical quest in the familiar and timeless framework of the seven stages of the journey of the soul, beginning with the motif of The Valley of Search, as did the 12th-century Persian Sufi Attar. This confirms that the spiritual realities, or the inner verities, of all religions are the same. He says the first characteristics of the valley of search, after taking “leave of self,” are patience and perseverance. Other prerequisites of this quest are to “cleanse the heart” and “turn away from [blind] imitation.”
It soon becomes evident in this quest that guidance will be provided when most needed, again from The Valley of Search: “At every step, aid from the Invisible Realm” is offered; as the intensity of the search grows, union with “the object of [the] quest” is desired. When the Call is answered, it signals the awakening of consciousness, leading to the fulfillment of a potentiality, like a seed growing into fruition.