Not another book of rules, I thought. But having been written by a celebrated woman author of contemporary writing, who was once put on trial for her writing, I had to give it a try.
The Forty Rules of Love is a tale about friendship and love. It is an allegorical writing about personal journeys. One that does not necessarily entail going far and wide physically, but about the passage through life – the choices and the changes. And on this note, I personally favored how the author, Elif Shafak, phrased her thought useful to all the travelers in this journey of life:
“East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole world and beyond.”
The book has been described as kitschy by some. True in some portions, but it is not overbearing, just enough for some sentimental moments in the book. Nevertheless, the story is enchanting, inspiring, and a less preachy reminder on the so-called rules of love and life. The Forty Rules of Love finds significance not on romantic love, but on the more essential spiritual love, irregardless of religion. And as nota bene, the women characters are compelling, clearly mirroring the author.
This book is engaging, prompting one to read quickly and know what will transpire next. But read this unhurriedly, take time to ponder and ruminate on the messages and its bearing:
“Most of the problems of the world stems from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.”
“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remained closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.”
“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never runs out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.”
“Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.”
“Try not to resist the changes that comes your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do yo know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
“Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.”
“If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lessons and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to the Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.”