Once a month I meet with several like-minded (read “nerdy”) friends under the guidance of a Sufi guide to discuss The Masnavi of Rumi.  This week we visited his parable about the all-powerful king who fell head over heals for a beautiful slave girl who in turn pined for the love of a shallow but attractive goldsmith (the actual title is a bit shorter, but you got the synopsis for free – here’s two versions A, B).

As with every parable, the story is read from the perspective that aspects of ourselves are reflected in each of the main characters.  The character of the King is seen as that part of each of us which guides us to show divine, selfless love for those around us.  What inspires this love?  It’s a thumbprint or mark on our soul from our Creator – God made us because He loves us, and the pure, selfless love resonating in each of us is the echo of God’s love.  This beautiful idea vibrates through the best parts of most of the world’s religions, and gives us a wonderful thing to be thankful for and aspire to.

Of course my mind turned to my hero, Desmond Tutu, and his explanation.