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(c. 35 AD – 108 AD)

It is better to keep quiet and be real, than to chatter and be unreal.  It is a good thing to teach - that is, if the teacher practices what he preaches. There was one such Teacher, who “spoke and it was done”; and what he achieved even in his silences is worthy of the Father.  They who have really grasped the utterances of Jesus will also be able to grasp his silence, and thus reach full spiritual maturity, so that their words have the force of actions, and their silences have the significance of speech.   Nothing is hidden from the Lord; even our most secret thoughts are ever present to him.  Let us, then, do everything with the knowledge that he is dwelling in us.  Thus we are his temples and he within us is our God; and that is literally the case.   This will be clear to us just to the extent that we love him rightly.   (Letter to the Ephesians, 15)

(1207 – 1273)

Five hundred of Rumi’s odes conclude with khamush, silence. Rumi is less interested in language, more attuned to the sources of it.  He keeps asking Husam, 'Who's making this music?’ He sometimes gives the wording over to the invisible flute player: 'Let that musician finish this poem.' Words are not important in themselves, but as resonators for a centre. Rumi has a whole theory of language based on the reed flute (ney). Beneath everything we say, and within each note of the reed flute, lies a nostalgia for the reed bed. Language and music are possible only because we're empty, hollow, and separated from the source. All language is a longing for home.  (Coleman Barks)
Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.
‘Since I was cut from the reed-bed,
I have made this crying sound.
Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.
Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.