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11 Lessons From Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

The Forty Rules of Love is a beautifully crafted novel that weaves together two parallel narratives: one set in the contemporary world and the other in the 13th century. This intricate storytelling offers a rich exploration of love, spirituality, and personal transformation.

The novel's modern narrative follows Ella Rubinstein, a discontented housewife in her forties, living in Massachusetts. Her mundane life takes a turn when she begins reading a manuscript titled "Sweet Blasphemy" by a little-known author, Aziz Zahara. As Ella delves deeper into the book, she finds herself profoundly moved by its content and increasingly drawn to Aziz. The manuscript recounts the spiritual journey of the famed Persian poet Rumi and his transformative relationship with the wandering dervish Shams of Tabriz.

The historical narrative set in the 13th century focuses on the mystical bond between Rumi and Shams. This part of the story is presented through various perspectives, including Rumi, Shams, and other characters who are impacted by their union. Shams introduces Rumi to the forty rules of love, which serve as guiding principles for leading a life filled with divine love and spiritual awakening.

My lessons from the book

  • Change is an inevitable part of life. And embracing change, rather than resisting it, is crucial for personal growth.
  • Love can transcend all barriers and lead to spiritual awakening. Divine love can open one's heart and mind to new perspectives and greater understanding.
  • True fulfillment comes from cultivating inner richness and connecting with the divine, rather than accumulating worldly goods.
  • It's very important to live an authentic life, true to oneself and one's passions. 
  • Accept and understand people from all walks of life, regardless of their background or beliefs.
  • Holding onto anger and resentment harms oneself more than anyone else. By practicing forgiveness and compassion, one can achieve inner peace and harmony.
  • The importance of looking inward for answers and understanding is essential. In the end, inner journeys lead to profound personal revelations. Because true wisdom and enlightenment come from within.
  • A true teacher challenges and inspires the students, pushing them beyond their comfort zones to reach new heights of understanding and spirituality.
  • Live fully in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. 
  • Fear often holds us back from experiencing true love and fulfillment. By facing and overcoming our fears, we can lead more authentic and enriched lives.
  • The openness to different perspectives enriches one's understanding and fosters a more inclusive worldview.

"The Forty Rules of Love" is an exploration of love, faith, and self-discovery, making it a must-read for anyone interested in spirituality and personal growth. Its interwoven narratives and complex characters invite readers to reflect on their own lives and the transformative power of love.  

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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