Posted by: drjamm | October 30, 2008

Knocking from the inside

Keep on struggling to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you that many people will try to enter, but won’t be able to do so. After the master gets up and closes the door, you can stand outside, knock on the door, and say again and again, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from. (Luke 13:24,25)

I heard someone read the passage above from the Gospel of Luke today. This concept that the path to the Divine involves a necessary passage through a “narrow door” is a metaphor for how we organize our religions and other social structures. The concept of the narrow door simultaneously brings to my mind two images. The first image is a city scene of a back alley door to a dance club with a tough looking bouncer holding back a long line-up of patrons wanting to get in. The bouncer freely chooses a few select people to enter the club regardless of their position in line based on some surface criteria, such as, a person’s gender or manner of dress. The second image is of standing in a train station in Japan waiting for the train. When the train stops, more people than I can count simultaneously pour in and out of the “narrow train door;” all in one brief moment, the train becomes so full that many people do not fit on the train and are left behind. These images both portray the fate of the few “lucky ones” who make it through the narrow door and the many “unlucky ones” who are left behind.

I have lived on the lip of insanity,
wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door.

It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.

(Rumi – translation by Coleman Barks)

But is the door to the Divine really that narrow? Do we have to line-up and hope we get picked by some holy-bouncer who favours our looks, our behaviour, or our religion over those of another? And do we have to risk getting lost in the rush and crush of humanity who also have their eyes on the narrow door of God? I think that Rumi’s revelation when he discovers he has been  “knocking from the inside” provides an awesome reframe about “struggling to enter through the narrow door.” Rumi discovers that we are already on the inside — in fact, there is no INSIDE, and no door at all. Rumi knows that there is no division between the Sacred and the Sacred Self. Rumi affirms that all who exist are already one with the Divine. Our human folly is that we construct and faithfully practice an illusion that there is a “narrow door.” And that practiced illusion of the narrow door keeps us from realizing the truth of our true relationship with the Sacred.

I do find one good use for the concept of the “narrow door,” however. I have found in doing my own spiritual work that there is a “tight” feeling of narrowness in how I need to negotiate through the many socially constructed paradigms of FEAR — e.g., fear that we are not good enough; fear that only some few will “win” and while many others will “lose;” fear that Love is limited and we are, thus, forced to “fight for love.” Sometimes our collective fear paradigms can close in on me so rapidly that they are like the sliding  doors of the Japanese train about to leave the station. I have learned that sometimes the way to bypass believing in the collective Fear illusions and the way to avoid living the Fearful Life is to slip quietly sideways through the narrow gap created just when Fear’s closing door seems like it will box me in. Sometimes I need to make a rapid quick-step to slide through “Fear’s narrow doors” and avoid getting trapped in a paradigm that would keep me from realizing my Divine nature and celebrating a peaceful and loving existence. I still find that this conscious negotiating through Fear’s territory feels very tricky and involves many “narrow” escapes. But by polishing up my sideways-sliding-quick-step and by keeping a careful eye out for FEAR’s exit doors, I seem to be managing some Peace in my life.

Credits and links: For more information on Coleman Barks, translator of Rumi’s poem above see

(bright heart singing, copyright 2008 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)



  1. And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.

    Quran (surah Al baqarah) 2:186

    Remember Me; I shall remember you. Quran 2:152

  2. The doors are never closed God is always welcoming. If we lose a child and he turns up 20 years from now will we love him any less or will we be over joyously ecstatic? it may take time to build a relationship again with him but there would be an open heart.

    In islam we say despondency in Gods mercy is disbelief. Is there any sin too great for god to forgice?

    However He does tell us he dos not forgive disbelief and polytheism ( calling on other Gods besides Him).. Take the example in every day life a woman loves a man she gives her heart to Him, he shows his favours upon her day and night but then she also turns to another…. would that be acceptable?

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