For the past three months or so, I seem to be drawing to me all sort of literature and films that are connected in some way to Rumi. Books. Novels. Documentary films. Poetry. Last week even the Bollywood movie I shared had a song set in a mosque in Turkey – with Sufi mystics dancing in the tradition of the whirling dervishes of Rumi’s time.
With all of these synchronicities, I have to pay attention. 🙂
What is the message being shared?
What is the lesson that is coming for me?
Who is Rumi?
As most of you are aware, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī (1207- 73) or Rumi, as he is most popularly known, was a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions and his poems have been widely translated into many languages. He has been described as the most popular poet in the United States.
Coleman Barks,* widely considered the foremost scholar and translator of Rumi’s poetry, writes that Rumi’s friendship with Shams of Tabriz, another Sufi mystic, whom he met in 1244- would completely transform him. Barks writes that this friendship “galvanized him into becoming perhaps the planet’s greatest mystical poet.” Whereas Rumi enjoyed great respect, prestige, status and wealth in his hometown of Konya, Turkey, Shams was often doing physical labor, working as a mason and weaving baskets. The two fell into a deep friendship and often spent months together in spiritual retreat which took Rumi away from his family and other students. They distrusted Shams and his influence on Rumi. It seems that some of Rumi’s students killed Shams and hid the body.
In his profound grief and sorrow, Rumi began to spontaneously utter words of poetry while circling around a pole in his garden. That circular motion has become the characteristic twirling moving meditation dance of the whirling dervishes. The poetry is regarded as “the most intimate record we have of the search for divine companionship.”
The flow of poetry
What is beautiful is that from such profound grief arose such profound, heart-stirring poetry- which was not planned, or forced, or ‘made to happen.’ It was simply allowed. It seems that the loss of his friend broke Rum’s heart wide open. He was not trying to become famous or win readers of his poetry. The words flowed out from a state of Love- represented in the friendship between Rumi and Shams- that was beyond distinctions of gender, age, romance, teacher or student.
So, what is the learning for me?
I feel that these days I am drawn to write from that space of the heart – where the writing writes itself. Rumi inspires me to think less, and be more- to plan less, and instead love and trust more. I am feeling more like the scribe who listens, follows and writes what is Given. I feel this is a huge shift from me- from all my years of medical training and scientific writing where I would always worry about ‘getting it right’ and making sure I documented everything correctly. Most importantly, and even beyond writing, Rumi inspires me to allow Life to lead me, instead of me ‘trying’ or ‘forcing’ Life to happen.
It is a new space for me. I feel like a little child just learning to walk. Yet at the same time, I feel this sense of utter freedom like a little girl who can simply sing, dance and play!
Let Rumi inspire you
Enjoy, and as always, do write with any feedback or comments 🙂
*Barks, Coleman. The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems