Thursday, July 03, 2008


This introduction to Rumi was put together by River Junction Poet member Sue Nearing. :^)


Rumi was a Sufi which is a form of Islamic mysticism named from the coarse wool garments its adherents wore. The Sufi's wanted God to be center stage in their lives. Those who tried to gain the knowledge to do this were shaikhs or masters and formed Sufi Orders.

Rumi's father was a shaikh in Turkey and when he died, his son succeeded him. With Rumi's creativity the Mevlevi Order evolved. It became famous for its sacred dances that were a central practice. Rumi liked to circle a pillar in his mosque with one hand around a pillar which supposedly symbolized planets circling the sun. The movements elevated him and caused poetry to pour from his lips in ecstatic torrents. The Mevlevis came to be known as the Whirling Dervishes. Dervish was a Persian work for “poor” and took on the connotation of “poor in spirit” or “humility.”

The dance required months of practice and the novice wedged a large exposed floor nail between his big and his second toe of the left foot. Then, they pivoted around this with both arms extended. Several would whirl at the same time sometimes. The first part of the dance reportedly symbolized Creation and started out clockwise. When the shaikh entered, night changed to dawn and the sun rose metaphorically. The dancers reverse and return to the starting point which was God.

Union with God in this life is the goal of mysticism. There were three forms. The Ecstatic Union elevated one to a state so completely occupied with God that no room remained for him to be aware of who he is. The second mode of Union was the Noetic from the Greek word for intellectual. This is seeking to know God through factual knowledge and was more like seeing than thinking. The third variety is Love Union. This dwelled on longing as love is never more evident than when the object is absent (in this case God). Rumi's flute was described as a lament; hollow, empty, and torn symbolizing the soul's severance from the Divine.

Rumi was born Sept. 30, 1207 in Afghanistan. The name Rumi means “from Roman Anatolia.” His family, fleeing the invading Mongols, moved to Turkey between 1215 and 1220. His father was a theologian and a jurist.

As a religious scholar, Rumi as an adult, taught, meditated, and helped the poor until 1244. At that time, he was questioned by a wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz. Shams' questions made Rumi faint due to their depth. Shams and Rumi became inseparable, but soon Rumi's students felt neglected. Shams sensed the trouble and disappeared. Rumi then transformed into a mystical poet and began to listen to music, sing, and whirl. He sent his son to bring Shams back again and Shams and Rumi again fell into an intense relationship. Jealousies grew and it was thought that Shams was murdered.

Rumi set out searching for Shams and journeyed to Damascus. He decided that Shams and he were one and called his odes and quatrains “The Works of Shams of Tabriz.”

Rumi then had an intense relationship with Saladin Zarkub, a goldsmith and began addressing his poems to Saladin. When Saladin died, his scribe and favorite student, Hasam Chelebei became the object of his writing.

Rumi died 12-17-1273.


Last year, I admired wines. This,

I'm wandering inside the red world.

Last year, I gazed at the fire.

This year I'm burnt kabob.

Thirst drove me to the water

where I drank the moon's reflection.

Now I am a lion staring up totally

lost in love with the thing itself.

Don't ask questions about longing.

Look at my face.

Soul drunk, body ruined, these two

sit helpless in a wrecked wagon.

Neither knows how to fix it.

And my heart, I'd say was more

like a donkey sunk in a mud hole,

struggling and miring deeper.

But listen to me: for one moment,

quit being sad. Hear blessings

dropping their blossoms

around you, God.


Listen to the story told by the reed,

of being separated.

“Since I was cut from reed bed,

I have made this crying sound.

Anyone apart from someone he loves

understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source

longs to go back.

At any gathering I am there,

mingling in the laughing and the grieving,

a friend to each, but few

will hear the secrets hidden

within the notes. No ears for that.

Body flowing out of spirit.

spirit up from body: no concealing

that mixing. But its not given us

to see the soul. The reed flute

is fire, not wind. Be that empty.”

Hear the love fire tangled

in the reed notes, as bewilderment

melts into wine. The reed is a friend

to all who want the fabric torn.

and drawn away. The reed is hurt

and salve combining. Intimacy

and longing for intimacy, one

song. A disastrous surrender.

And a fine love, together. The one

who secretly hears this is senseless.

A tongue has one customer, the ear.

A sugarcane flute has such effect.

Because it was able to make sugar

in the reed bed. The sound it makes

is for everyone. Days of wanting

let them go by without worrying

that they do. Stay where you are

inside such a pure, hollow note.

Every thirst gets satisfied except

that of these fish, the mystics,

who swim a vast ocean of grace

still somehow longing for it!

No one lives in that without

being nourished every day.

But if someone doesn't want to hear

the song of the reed flute,

it's best to cut conversation

short, say good-bye, and leave.

This information and poetry came from The Essential Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks.

-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

1 comment:

Rythm said...

Mevlana Rumi, a great sufi, I love to read about him and listen to his poetry & Sufi Music.

I want to share with you some phrases of rumi poetry which I read on Soulcurry,

"Empty yourself from within -- like a ney -- so that, just as the Prophet kept his lips on one end of the ney and the Almighty's songs began coming out from the other end, similarly,,,,,,,"