Poems are underrated sources of wisdom.
Emily Dickinson is one of my favourite poets of all time.
But Rumi doesn’t disappoint.
The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi is widely recognised for his poetry, particularly his spiritual writings.
His work explores love, spirituality, and the divine.
Everyone has a loss story. Rumi observed our pain, loss or grief, should not be an end in themselves but the necessary trajectory for resilience.
“Do not try to put out a fire by throwing on more fire. Do not wash a wound with blood. No matter how fast you run, your shadow more than keeps up. Sometimes it’s in front. Only full, overhead sun diminishes your shadow. But that shadow has been serving you. What hurts you blesses you. Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest,” he says.
Transitioning from loss to transformation takes time. Rumi’s quote sheds deeper truth and wisdom on pain and light. He speaks of two sides of the same coin: blessing and burden, joy and sorrow, strength and vulnerability. And course, light and darkness are not enemies.
Hurt, in its raw form, can crush your soul.
It can be the sting of betrayal, the crushing weight of loss, or the consistent ache of unfulfilled desires. These experiences are undeniably painful. They leave scars on our hearts and minds. But Rumi wants us to think of hurt not as a curse but as a “self-transformation” process. Just as fire toughens steel, hardship shapes our souls, revealing hidden strengths. Every tear can deepen your empathy. The cracks formed by pain allow us to connect with the vulnerability of others, forging deeper bonds.
The darkness, too, can be an unexpected source of light.
Like the night sky ablaze with stars, our moments of darkness can lead us to self-discovery. In your moment of quiet reflection, you can set ablaze your inner flame. Many spiritual teachings talk about darkness as a necessary descent before the triumphant ascent. It is in the fertile darkness of the earth that seeds germinate, preparing for the burst of spring.
Light loses its meaning without the contrast of darkness, becoming a mere absence rather than a vibrant presence. However, the paradox of darkness and light doesn’t mean seeking out pain. Darkness is a path of conscious awareness, a willingness to see the thorns beneath the roses. It’s the potential for growth within our wounds.
The candle within
“Hardship may dishearten at first, but every hardship passes away. All despair is followed by hope; all darkness is followed by sunshine.” — Rumi
Rumi’s candle isn’t an escape from darkness but a symbol of awareness. It’s the flame of acceptance, fuelled by both joy and sorrow. The fire of compassion, born from shared wounds, unites us in the face of adversity. Awareness lights the path forward, guiding us through the twists and turns of our experience.
“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle” transcends mere acceptance. It’s a poetic invitation to embrace the totality of our experience, the light and the dark, the joys and the sorrows of life.
Pain leaves scars, but they are also full of lessons for your next experiences in life. Just like a diamond forged under pressure, pain can become the catalyst for growth and transformation.
The absence of light doesn’t plunge us into despair; it becomes fertile ground for introspection. In the quiet of darkness, we listen to our intuition, guiding us towards paths we may have ignored in the day. It’s like the night sky, vast and dark, yet ablaze with the guiding light of stars. The darkness isn’t the enemy; it’s simply the absence of light. You can change the narrative.
Grief and loss are (inevitable) learning curves.
Throughout history, the rich symbolism of darkness has been a place of incubation, transformation, and hidden knowledge. Use it to build inner strength, resilience, and adaptability.
“There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness,” says Rumi.
“Shadow work” practices like journaling, therapy, or meditation help people move from the darkness successfully, leading to greater self-awareness and acceptance. View hardships as opportunities to develop resilience and grit. Whether battling illness, navigating grief, or facing personal struggles, we often discover our inner strengths in the darkest moments.
Think of the stories of people overcoming adversity in darkness, the strength it takes to face your fears and uncertainties and the ability to find your light even in the most challenging times.
Start shifting perspective
‘If everything around seems dark, look again, you may be the light,” says Rumi. Don’t underrate your ability to rise above the storm.
Even in the most difficult times, look within.
Search for your own light. Acknowledge the storm. Ignoring the darkness won’t make it disappear. But Rumi encourages us to “look again,” acknowledging the storm’s presence without succumbing to despair. It’s the first step towards overcoming it.
Harness the power within. When darkness descends, it’s easy to feel powerless. You are always the first source of hope, transformation, resilience and change. That’s why therapists don’t give advice or tell you what to do. But help you help you gain a better understanding of your shadow, feelings and thought processes. They help people uncover strengths and draw wisdom from the inside.
Examine your actions, thoughts, and beliefs. Are they contributing to the darkness or actively becoming a force of the light you need? Reevaluate your perspectives about pain, discover your internal sources of strength, and become beacons of light.
Find your anchor. Pain can disorient and destabilise you. Find your anchor — a person, practice, or belief system that provides grounding. Popular options are meditation (training your attention and awareness), spending time in nature, personal creative projects, connecting with loved ones, or simply reflecting on what matters most.
“This too shall pass.” Use the process of healing learn, grow, and refine your inner compass. Challenges can forge resilience, deepen your empathy, and reveal hidden strengths you never knew you had.
When surrounded by darkness, remember Rumi’s words and look again. You might just discover the light you carry within.