By: Eileen Guo
From Jelaluddin Rumi’s excerpt, “The Guest House”, he uses the metaphor of a guest house to describe life’s journey. A guest house is comprised of an assortment of all different types of people; whether they be polite or impudent, Rumi’s sublime and eloquent poetry makes us appreciate the uncertainty of life and embrace mindful living.
In The Guest House, Rumi is using the metaphor of a guest house to form an image that each day is an opportunity to experience something new in our lives, even if it’s unexpected. And just like the house guest whose arrival at our guest house can sometimes make us uncomfortable, our life too can get frustrating at times. We wait impatiently for these unpleasant house guests to leave so that we can put our house back just like it was before they arrived. However, if we treat the house guests with warmth, generosity, and courage, we can learn invaluable lessons from the experience and strengthen our souls.
The soul is something that does not directly correlate with the body. The soul is something that transcends the physical world and teaches us lessons on mindfulness and the absolute truth, if there is one. That’s what makes human beings so special: we’re compartmentalized of not only the physical, but also the spiritual. Though to a materialist, the spirituality aspect cannot be seen, it’s what differentiates us from every living being on Earth.
When we correlate this poem to the concept of mindfulness, we realize that our mind too, is like the guest house. Thoughts arrive one after the other just like house guests. Some make us happy, some make us sad, and some make us downright uncomfortable. And then we try our best to avoid these uncomfortable thoughts, inadvertently giving them more strength and control over us. But if we take Rumi’s advice and face these uncomfortable thoughts with acceptance and courage instead of contempt, not only will these thoughts lose their power and control, but we’ll learn invaluable lessons from the experience.