Welcome to Episode 1! I’m so excited you’re here!
Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet, Sufi mystic, and Islamic Scholar. It feels a bit strange to qualify Rumi as a figure of the past as he is so relevant in many of our lives today.
Today we are going to listen to some of Rumi’s words and learn a bit about Rumi’s life. To start, here is a quote by Sharam Shiva, a translator of Rumi’s work:
“Rumi is able to verbalize the highly personal and often confusing world of personal growth and development in a very clear and direct fashion. He does not offend anyone, he includes everyone… Today Rumi’s poems can be heard in churches, synagogues, Zen monasteries, as well as in the downtown New York art/performance/music scene.”
During the research process for this episode, I relied on the book The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks. The book is a collection of Rumi’s poetry with a good amount of background information about his life and his work. Here are some of the words Barks uses to describe Rumi:
Part of the love mystery explored in Rumi’s poetry is how presences flow together, evolve, and create in tandem. In their grief and joy the poems do that. Even at this distance and even after having endured the indignity and betrayal of translation.
His poems have never been for me, or for most readers, museum curios from the 13th century — they are food and drink, nourishment for the part that is hungry for what they give, call it soul.
His poems help us feel what living in the ruins is like, in the blank state of knowing nothing, of loving one we do not know and have never met, yet who is deeply familiar. Heartbroken, wandering, wordless, lost and ecstatic for no reason. It’s the psychic space his poems inhabit.
I love unpredictable spontaneity, the push pull of great tenderness and great loneliness of living beyond psychology, of drifting at ease inside the unsayable.
His place among world religions is a disolver of boundaries. He is the ocean that acknowledges oneness (the seawater) over the multiplicity of waves (our individual circumstances).
Mystical poetry can be a subject for study, but in its essential nature it is not something to locate or describe within a cultural context. It is a way to open the heart, as a Sufi master or any enlightened being is a door to the radiant depth of the self.
Let’s get into Rumi’s life story a bit. Here is what we know, or what we think we know about Rumi’s life. Rumi was born in Balkh, Afghanistan on September 30, in the year 1207. He and his family fled Afghanistan between 1215 and 1220 to escape the army of the Mongols. They resettled in Konya, Turkey. Rumi was known as having an active imagination as a child — he had visions of angels and was reported to have seen spiritual beings that others couldn’t see. This makes sense as Rumi grew up in a religious household, with his dad being a leader in the Muslim community. Once Rumi’s dad dies, Rumi fulfils his father’s role as the religious leader in the community.
This is where things get interesting for Rumi. In 1244, a stranger comes into town named Shams of Tabriz. Shams is looking for someone to pose this question to. He is directed to Rumi. There are different accounts of what the question actually was, but it is said to be in regards to the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Bestami, an Islamic mystic and the founder of Sufism. Shams asks Rumi who is greater, Muhammad or Bestami. The intensity of this question makes Rumi fall to the ground. Rumi ultimately answers that Muhammad is better because “Bestami had taken one gulp of the divine and stopped there, wheeras for Muhammad the way was always unfolding.”
After this first encounter, Rumi and Shams become inseparable. They develop a spiritual bond and friendship, separate themselves from the village, and begin a long, consciousness conversation. Rumi and Shams’ bond spurs jealousy in the community — people want what Rumi and Shams share. The jealousy and unrest in the community causes Shams to leave. Rumi is despondent.
He begins writing poetry.
A quick aside — Rumi was thirty seven years old when he started writing poetry. We often feel so much pressure to figure out life and be certain in our vocation in our early twenties and thirties. This is an important reminder that there is time. We all can still write our poetry.
Back to the story — Rumi gets word that Shams is in Damascus and sends one of his sons to go retrieve him. His son eventually returns with Shams. Upon this return, Rumi and Shams fall at each other’s feet to demonstrate their equal love for each other. Again, the two mystics begin a long, spiritual conversation. People in the community are suspicious and mystified by this bond. Jealousies begin to brew again. One night, Shams and Rumi are talking and Shams steps outside. He is never seen again. It is thought that one of Rumi’s sons had Shams killed out of jealousy.
Rumi is beside himself. He decides this time to go himself looking for Shams. He goes to Syria and he travels through the Middle East looking for his friend. At some point, he realizes that he doesn’t need to continue looking for Shams, because he and Shams are the same, we are all connected.
Here are Rumi’s words:
Why should I seek
I am the same as he
His essence speaks through me
I have been looking for myself!
Rumi realizes that we are all connected and writes and writes and writes. He names an extensive collection of poetry The Works of Shams of Tabriz. This symbolizes Rumi’s union with Shams and ultimately lets us know that Shams is speaking through him.
He continues to write and continues his work as a Sufi leader in Konya, Turkey. He makes other deep connections with people though nothing comes close to his bond with Shams.
Rumi died on December 17,1273. Representatives from all faiths came to his funeral.
While there are abundance of quotes we can choose from, here are the three we are reflecting on today:
What you seek is seeking you.
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
The desire to know your own soul will end all other desires.
With that, we’ll conclude our first episode. Thank you so much for being here. I’m wishing you joy for the spirit, health for the body and a full moon of inheritance (Rumi’s words).
If you liked today’s episode, let me know on instagram @cocoon.work, be sure to subscribe wherever you’re listening so you don’t miss any self transformation treasure, and head over to katyawarner.co for today’s show notes and some self love freebies. Until next time, sending you a third eye light beam and a big ol’ hug.
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