Rumi: The Mystical Persian Philosopher-Poet

Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi  (جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى)‎ (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273) was a Persian philosopher, theologian, poet, teacher, and founder of the Mawlawi order of Sufism. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and he has been described as the “most popular poet in America” and the “best selling poet in the US” according to BBC.

The general theme of Rumi’s thought is on the concept of tawhid — union with his beloved (the primal root) from whom he has been cut off and become aloof — and his desire to restore that union. Rumi passionately believed in the use of music, poetry and dance as a means for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees focus their whole being on the Divine until the soul was both destroyed and resurrected.

Rumi encouraged Sama – listening to music and turning or doing the Sacred Dance, representing a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One. In this journey, the seeker turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth and arrives at the Perfect. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service without discrimination with regard to beliefs, races, classes, and nations.

Rumi was an evolutionary thinker in the sense that after devolution from the divine Ego, the spirit undergoes an evolutionary process by which it comes nearer to the same divine Ego. All matter in the universe obeys this fundamental law and this movement is an urge (which Rumi calls “love”) to evolve and seek unity with the divinity from which it has emerged. The evolution into a human being from the animal state is only one stage in this complex process. The French philosopher Henri Bergson’s idea that life is inherently creative and evolutionary is similar; though unlike Bergson, Rumi believes that there is a specific goal to the process: the attainment of God. For Rumi, God is the ground as well as the goal of all existence.

    Song of the Reed

Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.

“Since I was cut from the reedbed,
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 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 it’s 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 reedbed. The sound it makes

is for everyone. Days full 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.

On Language

To speak the same language is to share the same blood, to be related
To live with strangers is the life of captivity

Many are Hindus and Turks who share the same language
Many are Turks who may be alien to one another

The language of companionship is a unique one
To reach someone through the heart is other than reaching them
through words.

Besides words, allusions and arguments
The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak

On Love

Wherever you are, whatever you do, be in love…