Step Back and See: Quran, Hadith, and Rumi

Recently I’ve been thinking about how dependent virtue is on vision. I mean the kind of vision that Rumi hints at above – a sight that includes insight. It’s the ability, for instance, to see the repercussions of our actions for ourselves and others, both now and in the future, as well as the ability to re-vision similar experiences in the past to help guide us in the present. When we are tempted by some returning desire, fear, vanity, or anger, what often saves us is the ability to step out of the heat of the moment and expand into this greater frame of reference, taking in a wider, deeper perspective. Isn’t virtue just a great view?

It’s true that sometimes we are not able to act from this elevated perspective; sometimes our short-sighted egos just won’t let us. But when the pull of that wider vision is powerful enough, we might be able to restrain ourselves from some ultimately unsatisfying indulgence, or direct ourselves to act upon something the eye of the heart has glimpsed. So much depends on stepping out of ourselves, detached, and taking it all in: witnessing.


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