Did Rumi know he was Rumi?
99.9% of people, if asked to seriously consider your question would respond with something like, "What are you talking about? The question makes no sense. Did he know he was himself? What kind of question is that?" It might upset or anger or confuse them a bit. But I love your question, and I take your point. This guy was gone. I suspect in his heart of hearts he no longer knew who Rumi was. No doubt people continued to relate to him as a personality, but he realized the personality "Rumi" had shriveled and dried up like a desert fig, lost long ago in the sands of Love. And what was left was so open, so vulnerable and sensitive, so empty it was able to contain the whole universe. Whatever remained on the spot where Rumi once stood was so overflowing with a joy that came from within that he was swept away in a lifelong flood of gratitude. This gratitude was uncontainable and turned his life into a love song. He had so much gold in his chest, he had to share, he had to sing, to celebrate, to rejoice in the presence of the Beloved, the Lover who emerged from his own naked emptiness.
Yes, Rumi was well aware of God pretending to be Rumi. And at some point the pretense fell away. It was no longer necessary and just dropped like a piece of ripe fruit. This pretense, this pretending is indeed killing us, and killing our loved ones and the environment. Pretending to be a self keeps us in a trance. The immediate result of this trance is suffering, the end result is death. Awakening from this trance of self is bliss and eternal life. In this awakening you realize your godliness, your vastness, a wisdom that contains and skillfully makes use of the personality, the intellect, which is a very small thing. But we are wedded to this trance, committed to the idea of and belief in self-identity. When one looks, it appears that our fidelity is to the maintenance of this illusion of a permanent and continuing self. It's what is emphasized and supported in conventional reality from birth to death.
Rumi suggests to the man sincerely interested in awakening be sure of two things: "One, that he's mistaken in what he's doing or thinking now. And two, that there is a wisdom he doesn't know yet." But this is hard for a man wedded to self-identity, clinging so desperately to that which is familiar and predictable. It is hard for a man conditioned and programmed from birth, to divest himself, dehypnotize himself from the trance of self-identity. It is hard for a man to give up pretending. It costs you everything, all your beliefs, all those principles that guide moral and ethical behavior, everything you identify with, everything you take as real, everything you think is good and right and true, everything you use to create the pseudo-security of the cocoon. Emptiness asks for nothing, but to get to this nothing you have to let go of something. You have to recognize that you're holding on to something in the first place. To empty out, to shed, to wake up into nakedness you have to allow for the fact that you are mistaken in what you're doing or thinking now, and that there is a wisdom you don't know yet. This is something most people are unwilling to do. Instead they tend to do the opposite: auger in and try to acquire more knowledge, more experience, more things and relationships, external evidence of success, in an effort to protect, defend and bolster the ego, the fragile self-esteem. Who wants to acknowledge that all the effort and striving, the acquisition, the justified and rationalized aggression has been "mistaken," and that there is a wisdom they have no concept of? Who wants to acknowledge that all of our efforts in this ego fixated enterprise through time and space results only in the finality of death? No, we resist considering ourselves mistaken or that there is a wisdom beyond our rational intellect. We tend to respond to such suggestions -- which are actually forms of deep love -- with fear or contempt. To this contempt Rumi might say, "Don't scold the Lover. The 'wrong' way he talks is better than a hundred 'right' ways of others... The Love-Religion has no code or doctrine. Only God."
Deep, deep down in our psychology there is a need to control. This need is tied to survival, and it is not given up easily. Rarely is it even accessible to conscious awareness, this desperate need to control ourselves, others and our environment. If you are sincere in your interest in awakening, you will eventually encounter this tight fist of control deep in the psyche. Here's Rumi on the subject: "A man or a woman is said to be absorbed when the water has total control of him, and he no control of the water. A swimmer moves around willfully. An absorbed being has no will but the water's going. Any word or act is not really personal, but the way the water has of speaking or doing."
This is beautiful and releases us from the neurotic compulsion to constantly check ourselves, to see whether we're on the side of the true, right and good. We've opened our hand, released the fist of control, and to our delight we realize self-existing wisdom knows how to brush its teeth, knows how to love and nurture others, knows how to conduct itself with dignity and decency, with gentleness and warmth, with generosity and genuineness. Absorbed in the waters of love, where the water has total control, the checkbook still gets balanced, the dishes get washed, the laundry done; rewarding and fulfilling careers happen, meaningful relationships unfold, children get raised -- all by "an absorbed being." This is no resistance -- "no will but the water's going." This is responsiveness, responsibility, the ability to respond to what is; this is the wisdom which perceives what is wanted and needed moment to moment; this is getting out of one's way. This is love. This is freedom. "An absorbed being has no will but the water's going."