Jalaluddin Rumi Quotes & Poems on Life, Love & Death

Jalaluddin Rumi
Jalaluddin Rumi as depicted in the Masnavi Manavi Molavi

Here are some of the best quotes and poems from the famed 13th-Century Sufi mystic, Maulana (also spelt as Molana) Jalaluddin Rumi – the founder of the order of whirling dervishes, who are largely concentrated in Konya, Turkey today. Sufism has much in common with Indian and East-asian spiritual traditions. Rumi himself considered India to be a destination of great spiritual importance, and his teacher Shams, is thought to have spent some time in India.

Let’s take a look at some sublime words of wisdom from this phenomenal human being.

70 of the Best Rumi Quotes

Here are some of the best quotes from the Sufi Master.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love!

As you live deeper in the Heart, the mirror gets clearer and cleaner!

There comes a time when nothing is meaningful except surrendering to love.

Gratitude is the wine of the soul. Go on. Get drunk!

What a relief to be empty! Then God can live your life.

Everything you see has its roots in the unseen world. The forces change yet the essence remains the same.

The source is within you. And this whole world is springing from it.

I belong to no religion. My religion is love. Every heart is my temple.

This is how I would die into the love I have for you: as pieces of cloud dissolve into the sunlight.

Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.

Out beyond the world of ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

To wander in the fields of flowers, pull the thorns from your own heart.

I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God.

As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.

You cannot learn about love. Love appears on the wings of grace.

Come, seek, for search is the foundation of fortune. Every success depends upon focusing the heart.

Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.

Submit to love without thinking.

Dance until you shatter yourself.

Find the sweetness in your own heart, that you may find the sweetness in every heart.

Fortunate is he who does not carry envy as a companion.

Love is the endless ocean of God.

Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.

Didn’t I tell you not to be satisfied with the veil of this world?

The soul has been given its own ears to hear things the mind does not understand.

Be silent. Only the hand of God can remove the burdens of your heart.

In tears come laughter concealed. Seek the treasure beneath the ruins.

Lovers do not finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.

Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there.

Be occupied with what you really value and let the thief take something else.

And you. When will you begin that long journey into yourself? When?

In silence there is eloquence.

Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves.

What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.

You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?

No more holding back. Be reckless. Tell your love to everybody.

If you find me not within you, you will never find me. For I have been with you from the beginning of me.

Humble living does not diminish. It fills. Going back to a simpler self gives wisdom.

Every moment I shape my destiny with a chisel. I am a carpenter of my own soul.

Love is the vital core of the soul. And of all you see, only love is infinite.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.

I burn each second of my life to love.

When love itself comes to kiss you, don’t hold back.

God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.

You are searching for treasure but the real treasure is yourself.

You will learn by reading but you will understand with love.

Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being.

The lamps are different but the Light is the same.

The heart is the secret inside the secret.

Prayer clears the mist and brings back peace to the soul.

When you see love with all your heart, you shall find its echoes in the universe.

Be warmed with love, for only love exists. Where is intimacy except in giving and receiving?

Truth lifts the heart like water refreshes thirst.

Consider your life and consider your God. Take time – like the river that never goes stale. Keep going and stay steady. There is no hurry, there is no rush.

Never will a lover’s chest feel any sorrow.

Your body is away from me but there is a window open from my heart to yours.

Once you conquer your selfish self, all your darkness will change to light.

My friend, the Sufi is the friend of the present moment. To say tomorrow is not our way.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.

At the end of my life, with just one breath left, if you come, I’ll sit up and sing.

The heart is the secret inside the secret.

If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.

Happy is the moment when we sit together with two forms and two faces, yet one soul.

Exhale only love.

Protect yourself from your own thoughts!

I looked in temples, churches and mosques. I found the Divine within my Heart.

Rumi Quotes & Poems on Love

THE DEVOTED LOVER

That laughter remained with him as an endowment unto everlasting, like the untroubled spirit and reason of the gnostic. How should the light of the moon ever become defiled, though its light strike on everything good and evil? Pure of all (defilements) it returns to the moon, even as the light of the spirit and reason (returns) unto God. The quality of purity is an endowment (settled) on the light of the moon, though its radiance is (falling) on the defilements of the way. Malignity does not accrue to the light of the moon from those defilements of the way or from pollution.

The light of the sun heard (the call) Return! and came back in haste to its source. No disgrace remained with it from the ash pits, no colour remained with it from the rose-gardens. The light of the eye and the seer of the light returned (to their source):the desert and plain were left in passionate desire thereof. A certain man asked a mystic theologian, “If any one weep loudly during the ritual prayer and moan and lament, is his prayer rendered void?” He replied, “The name of those (tears), water of the eye’: consider what that weeper has seen: if he has seen (felt) longing for God or repentance for a sin and weeps, his prayer is not spoilt; nay, it attains perfection, for there is no prayer without presence of the heart; but if he has (inwardly) seen bodily sickness or the loss of a son, his prayer is spoilt, for the foundation of prayer is the abandonment of the body and the abandonment of sons, like Abraham, who was offering his son as a sacrifice in order to perfect his prayer and giving up his body to Nimrod’s fire; and Mutafid (Mohammed), on whom be peace, was commanded (by God) to act after these manners: “follow the religion of Abraham.”

“Verily ye have had a good example in Abraham.”

A certain man asked a mufti in private, “If any one weep lamentably during the ritual prayer, I wonder, will his prayer be rendered void, or will his prayer be licit and perfect?”

He replied, “Wherefore is it named ‘the water of the eye’? You should consider what it (the eye) saw and (then) wept. Consider what the water of the eye saw in secret, so that on that account it began to flow from its spring. If the supplicant has seen yonder world, that prayer (of his) gains a lustre from (his) lamentation.

But if that weeping was caused by bodily pain or by mourning I:!io (for the dead), the thread is snapped and the spindle too is broken .” A disciple came in to pay his respects to the Shaykh-and by this (word) “Shaykh” I do not mean one old in years, but one old in understanding and knowledge (of God), even if he is Jesus, on whom be peace, in the cradle, or Yawid (John the Baptist), on whom be peace, in the children’s school. The disciple saw the Shaykh weeping; he too acted in conformity (with the Shaykh) and wept.

When he had finished and gone forth (from the Shaykh’s presence), another disciple, who was more cognisant of the Shaykh’s spiritual state, impelled by (noble) jealousy, went out quickly after him and said to him, “O brother, (whatever may happen) I shall have told you: for God’s sake, for God’s sake, beware of thinking or saying that the Shaykh wept and you wept likewise; you must practise self-discipline without hypocrisy for thirty years, and you must traverse ravines and seas full of leviathans, and lofty mountains full of lions and leopards, that you may attain to that weeping of the Shaykh or not attain. If you attain, you will often utter thanksgiving (as immense as is the extent of the earth, described in the words of the Tradition), ‘The earth was gathered together for me.'”

A disciple came into the presence of the Pir: the Pir was (engaged) in weeping and lamentation. When the disciple saw the Shaykh weeping, he began to weep: the tears ran from his eyes. The man possessed of an ear (sense of hearing) laughs once, when a friend repeats a joke to a friend; the deaf man (laughs) twice: The first time by way of conformity and affectation, because he sees the company laughing. The deaf man laughs then like them, without knowing the (inward) state of the laughers.

Afterwards he inquires what the laughter was about, and then, having heard, he laughs a second time. Hence the mere imitator (of a Shaykh), too, resembles the deaf man in respect of the (feeling of) joy that is in his head. It is the Shaykh’s reflection, and its source is in the Shaykh: the overflow of joy is not (derived) from the disciples; nay, it is from the Shaykh. Like a basket in water or a (ray of) light on glass: if they think it (comes) from themselves, ’tis (owing to) defect (of intelligence).

When it (the basket) is separated from the river, that perverse will recognise that the sweet water within it was from the river; The glass also will recognise, at the setting (of the moon), that those beams (of light) were from the beauteous shining moon.

As you can see from his quotes, Rumi has a great connection with Indian spirituality. In fact, at Rumi’s tomb in Konya, Turkey, there is a linga! Spiritual Gateway has more information on this remarkable place.

Rumi Quotes & Poems on Masters

THE MAN WHO CLAIMED TO BE A PROPHET

Story of the person who claimed to be a prophet. They said to him, “What hast thou eaten that thou hast become crazy and not talking in vain?” He replied, “If I had found anything to eat, I should not have become crazy and talked in vain”; for whenever they (the prophets and saints) speak goodly words to people unworthy to hear them, they will have talked in vain, although they are (divinely) commanded to talk thus in vain.”

A certain man was saying, “I am a prophet: I am superior to all the prophets.”

They bound his neck and took him to the king, saying, “This man says he is a prophet sent by God.”

The people (were) gathered round him (thick) as ants and

locusts, crying, “What deceit and imposture and trap is (this)?

If he that comes from (the realm of) non-existence is a prophet,

we all are prophets and grand (in spiritual eminence). We (too) came hither as strangers from that place (realm). Why shouldst thou be specially endowed (with prophecy), accomplished one? “

(He replied), “Did not ye come like a sleeping child? Ye were ignorant of the way and the destination.

Ye passed through the (different) stages asleep and intoxicated, unconscious of the way and (its) ups and downs;

(But) we (prophets) set out in wakefulness and well (aware) from beyond the five (senses) and the six (directions) to (this world of) the five and six.

Having perceived (all) the stages from the source and foundation, possessed of experience and knowing the way like (skilled) guides.”

They said to the king, “Put him to the rack, that a person of his sort may never (again) speak such words.”

The king saw that he was very thin and infirm, so that such an emaciated man would die at a single blow. (He thought to himself), “How is it possible to torture or beat him, since his body has become as (fragile as) a glass? But I will speak to him kindly and say, “Why dost thou boast of (this) high estate? For here harshness is of no use: ’tis by gentleness that the snake puts forth its head (is induced to come forth) from the hole.”

He caused the people to withdraw from around him (the claimant): the king was a gracious man, and gentleness was his way. Then he bade him be seated, and asked him concerning his dwelling-place, saying, “Where hast thou thy means of livelihood and refuge? ” He replied, “O king, I belong to the Abode of Peace: I have come from the road (after having journeyed) to this Abode of Blame. I have neither home nor any companion: when has a fish made its home on the earth?”

Again the king answered him, saying by way of jest, “What (food) hast thou eaten and what provision hast thou (made) for the morning meal? Hast thou appetite? What didst thou eat at daybreak that thou art so intoxicated and boastful and blustering?” He replied, “If I had bread, (whether) dry or moist, how should I lay claim to prophecy? To claim to be a prophet amongst these people is like seeking a, heart from a mountain. No one (ever) sought intellect and heart from mountains and rocks: none sought (from them) understanding and apprehension of a difficult point of discourse. Whatever you say, the mountain replies the same: it makes a mock (of you) like the scoffers. What relation exists between this folk and the (Divine) message? Who can hope for (spiritual) life from a soulless thing? If you bring (them) a message concerning a woman or gold, they will all lay before you their money and lives (in entire devotion). (The message), ‘A sweetheart in such and such a place invites thee (to come to her): she is in love with thee, she knows thee.’ But if you bring (them) the honey-like message of God, ‘Come to God, O thou who hast a good covenant’ (with Him); Go from the world of death towards the (eternal) provision: since everlastingness is possible, do not be perishing’ they will seek (to shed) thy blood and (take) thy life, not in zeal for religion and (spiritual and moral) excellence.

The reason why the vulgar are at enmity with, and live in estrangement from, the saints of God who call them unto God and the Water of Life everlasting. Nay, but on account of their sticking to house and goods ’tis bitter (hateful) to them to hear this exposition (given by the prophets).

(Suppose) a rag is stuck fast upon the donkey’s sore: when you wish to tear it off, bit by bit, the donkey, because of the pain (inflicted on him), will certainly kick: happy the man who abstained from (touching) him! Especially (when there are) fifty sores, and a soaked rag stuck on the top of them in every case.

House and goods are like the rag, and this greed (of thine) is the sore: the greater the greed, the greater the sore. The wilderness alone is the house and goods of the owl: he (the owl) will not listen to descriptions of Baghdad and Rabas. If a royal falcon come from the road and bring to these owls a hundred reports of the King, (With) a full account of the imperial city and the orchards and the rivers, then a hundred enemies will jeer at him, saying, ‘What has the falcon brought? An old story. He is weaving words of vanity and idle brag. ‘Tis they (that) are old and rotten unto everlasting; otherwise (they would know that) that breath (of prophetic inspiration) makes the old new. It gives life to the old dead (spirits): it gives the crown of reason and the light of faith.

Do not steal thy heart away from the spirit-bestowing heart – no ravisher, for he will mount thee on the back of Rakhsh. Do not steal thy head away from the crown-giving one whose head is exalted, for he will untie a hundred knots from the foot of thy heart. Whom shall I tell? Where in the village is any (spiritually) living one? Where is any one that runs towards the Water of Life? Thou art seeing from Love because of a single humiliation: what dost thou know of Love except the name?

Rumi Quotes & Poems on Death

THE SAINTS AND THE WORLDLY

Love hath a hundred disdains and prides: Love is gained by means of a hundred blandishments. Since Love is loyal, it purchases (desires) him that is loyal: it does not look at a disloyal comrade. Man resembles a tree, and the root is the covenant (with God): the root must be cherished with all one’s might. A corrupt (infirm) covenant is a rotten root and is cut off (deprived) of fruit and grace. Although the boughs and leaves of the date-palm are green, greenness is no benefit (when conjoined) with corruption of the root; And if it (the bough) have no green leaves, while it hath a (good) root, at the last a hundred leaves will put forth their hands. Be not duped by his (the learned man’s) knowledge; seek (to know whether he keeps) the covenant: knowledge is like a husk, and his covenant is its kernel.

Explaining that zohen the evil-doer becomes settled in evil-doing and sees the effect of the (spiritual) fortune of the doers of Righteousness, he from envy becomes a devil and preventer of good, like Satan; for he whose stack is burnt desires that all (others) should have their stacks burnt: ‘hast thou seen him who forbids a servant (of God) when he performs the (ritual) prayer? ‘ When you see that the loyal have profited, thereat you become envious, like a devil. Whenever a man’s temperament and constitution is feeble, he does not wish any one to be sound in body. If you dislike (to have) the jealousy of Iblis, come (away) from the door of pretension (and advance) to the portal of loyalty. When thou hast not loyalty, at least do not talk (presumptuously), for words are for the most part self-assertion-‘we’ and’ I.’

These words, (whilst they stay) in the breast, are an income consisting of (spiritual) kernels: in silence the spiritual kernel grows a hundredfold. When it (the word) comes on to the tongue, the kernel is expended: refrain from expending, in order that the goodly kernel may remain (with you). The man who speaks little hath strong thoughts: when the husk, namely speech, becomes excessive, the kernel goes.

(When) the rind is excessive, the kernel is thin : the rind becomes thin when it (the kernel) becomes perfect and goodly. Look at these three (fruits) when they have passed beyond immaturity: the walnut and the almond and the pistachio.

Whoever disobeys (God) becomes a devil, for he becomes envious of the fortune of the righteous. When you have acted loyally in (keeping) your covenant with God, God will graciously keep His covenant with you. You have shut your eyes to keeping faith with God, you have not hearkened to (the words) remember me, I will remember you. Give ear, listen to (the words) keep me covenant, in order that (the words) I will keep your covenant may come from the Friend. What is our covenant and loan , O sorrowful one? (It is) like sowing a dry seed in the earth.

Rumi Quotes & Poems on Life

KEEPING FAITH WITH GOD

From that (sowing) neither do glory and grandeur accrue to us the earth, nor riches to the owner of the earth. (‘Tis nothing) except an indication, as though to say, ‘I need this kind (of produce), the origin whereof Thou didst create from non-existence. I ate, and (now) I bring the seed as a token, begging Thee to send to us such bounty (as before).’ Abandon, then, the dry (verbal) prayer, O fortunate one; for the tree demands (presupposes) the scattering of seed. (But) if you have no seed, on account of that prayer God will bestow on you a palm-tree, saying, ‘How well did he labour I’ Like Mary: she had (heartfelt) pain, but no seed: an artful One made green that (withered) palm-tree (for her sake). Because that noble Lady was loyal (to God), God gave unto her a hundred desires without desire on her part. The company who have been loyal are given superiority over all (other) sorts (of men).

‘Seas and mountains are made subject to them; the four elements also are the slaves of that class. This (miraculous power) is only a favour (conferred on them) for a sign, to the end that the disbelievers may see it plainly. Those hidden graces of theirs, which come not into (the perception of) the senses or into description.

Those are the (real) matter: those are enduring forever, they are neither cut off nor reclaimed. Prayer. O Giver of (spiritual) nutriment and steadfastness and stability, give Thy creatures deliverance from this instability. Grant unto the soul-for it is bent (crooked)-to stand up­ right (to persevere with rectitude) in the work wherein it ought to be stable. Bestow patience upon them and heavy balance-scales: deliver them from the guile of impostors; And redeem them from envy, O Gracious One, lest from envy they be devils accursed.

How do the vulgar burn with envy for the fleeting happiness of riches and (pleasures of) the body I Behold the kings, how they lead armies (to battle) and slay their own kinsmen because of envy. The lovers of filthy dolls (darlings) have sought each other’s blood and life. Read Khusrau: (you will see) what those fools did because of envy.

(You will see) that the lover perished and the beloved too: they are naught and their passion also is naught. Holy is the God who brings non-existence into collision with itself and makes non-existence to be in love with non-existence. Envies arise in the heart that is no (real) heart: thus doth Being subject not-being to compulsion. These women, who are kinder than all (other creatures)-(even amongst them) two fellow-wives devour each other from envy, So that (you may judge) in what degree of envy are the men who indeed are stony-hearted.

If the Law had not exercised a gracious spell (over them), everyone would have torn the body of his rival to pieces. The Law makes a plan for repelling evil : it puts the demon into the bottle of (legal) proof. Witness and oath and shrinking (from the oath)-till (at last) the insolent demon goes into the bottle (prison). (The Law is) like the balance whereby the two adversaries are surely united in contentment , (whether) in jest or earnest Know for sure that the Law is like the measure and scales by means of which the litigants are saved from wrangling and enmity.

If there be no pair of scales, how shall the litigant escape from disputing when he suspects fraud and deceit? (If), then, there is all this jealousy and litigation and injustice in respect of this foul faithless carcass , How, then, must it be when genies and men become envious in respect of that fortune and felicity (hereafter)? Truly those devils are envious of old: never for a moment do they cease from waylaying; And the sons of Adam who have sown (the seed of) dis­ obedience-they too have become devils from enviousness.

Read in the Quran how by Divine transformation the devils of mankind have become homogeneous with the Devil. When the Devil fails to tempt (any one), he seeks aid from these human (devils), Saying, ‘Ye are my friends: (perform) an act of friendship towards me ; ye are on my side : (perform) an act of partiality.’ If they waylay anyone in the world, both kinds of devils come off rejoicing; And if anyone has saved his soul and become eminent in religion, those two jealous (parties) keep up lamentation. Both gnash their teeth in envy at any one upon whom the (spiritual) Teacher has bestowed wisdom.”

Rumi Quotes & Poems on Spirituality

THE MAN WHO CLAIMED TO BE A PROPHET

How the king asked the man who claimed to be a prophet, saying, “The person who is a thee Messenger (of God) and becomes established (as such)-what has he to give to any one, or what gifts will people obtain by consorting with him and serving him, except the counsel which he utters with his tongue?” The king questioned him, saying, “Master all, what is inspiration, or what has he got who is a prophet?”

He replied, “What is there indeed that he has not got, or what fortune is left whereunto he has not attained? I will suppose (for argument’s sake) that this prophetic inspiration is not a treasurer (of Divine Revelations); still, it is not inferior to the inspiration in the heart of the bee. Since (the words) God hath inspired the bee have come (in the Quran), the dwelling-place of its (the bee’s) inspiration has been filled with sweets. Through the light of the inspiration of God the Almighty rzso and Glorious, it filled the world with wax and honey.

This one who is (the object of) We have honoured (the sons of Adam) and is ever going upward-how should his inspiration be inferior to (that of) the bee?” Have not you read (the words) We have given thee Kawthar? Why, then, are you dry and why have you remained thirsty? Or perchance you are (like) Pharaoh, and for you Kawthar, like the Nile, has turned to blood and (become) impure, O sick man. Repent, renounce every enemy (of God) who hath not the water of Kawthar in his cup. Whomsoever you see :flushed (with joy) by Kawthar, he hath the nature of Mohammed: consort with him, That at the Reckoning you may become (one of those who) love for God’s sake ; for with him are apples from the tree of Al’tmad (Mohammed). Whomsoever you see with lips unmoistened by Kawthar, always deem him an enemy like death and fever, Though ’tis your father or your mother; for in truth he is a drinker of your blood.

Learn these ways of acting from the Friend of God (Abraham), who first renounced his father, That in the presence of God you may become (one of those who) hate for God’s sake, lest the jealousy of (Divine) Love take offence at you. Until you recite “(There is) not (any god)” and “except Allah,” you will not find the plain track of this Way.

Story of the lover who was recounting to his beloved his acts of service and loyalty and the long nights (during which) their sides heave up from their beds and the long days of want and parching thirst; and he was saying, “I know not any service besides these: if there is any other service (to be done), direct me, for I submit to whatever thou mayst command, whether to enter the fire, like Khaltl (Abraham), on whom be peace, or fall into the mouth of the leviathan of the sea, like Jonah, on whom be peace, or be killed seventy times, like Jirjis (St George), on whom be peace, or be made blind by weeping, like Shu’ayb, on whom be peace; and the loyalty and self­sacrifice of the prophets cannot be reckoned”; and how the beloved answered him.

A certain lover in the presence of his beloved was recounting his services and works, saying, “For thy sake I did such and such, in this war I suffered (wounds from) arrows and spears. Wealth is gone and strength is gone and fame is gone: on account of my love for thee many a misfortune has befallen me.

No dawn found me asleep or laughing; no eve found me with capital and means.” What he had tasted of bitters and dregs he was recounting to her in detail, point by point, Not for the sake of reproach; nay, he was displaying a hundred testimonies of the trueness of his love. For men of reason a single indication is enough, (but) how should the thirst (longing) of lovers be removed thereby? He (the lover) repeats his tale unweariedly: how should a fish be satisfied with (mere) indication (so as to refrain) from the limpid water?

He (the lover), from that ancient grief, was speaking a hundred words in complaint, saying, “I have not spoken a word.” There was a fire in him: he did not know what it was, but on account of its heat he was weeping like a candle. The beloved said, “Thou hast done all this, yet open thine ear wide and apprehend well; For thou hast not done what is the root of the root of love and fealty: this that thou hast done is (only) the branches.” The lover said to her, “Tell me, what is that root?” She said, “The root thereof is to die and be naught. Thou hast done all (else), (but) thou hast not died, thou art living. Hark, die, if thou art a self-sacrificing friend!” Instantly he laid himself at full length (on the ground) and gave up the ghost: like the rose, he played away his head (life), laughing and rejoicing.

Rumi’s Poems on Disciples

THE IMITATIVE DISCIPLE

When the (Divine) command “Arise I” opens his (the imitator’s) eye, then he will laugh, like the (true) dawn, a second time. He will even laugh at his own (former) laughter which was produced in him in that (period of) imitation, And will say (to himself), “(Travelling) by all these far and long ways, and thinking that this was the Reality and that this was the Mystery and Secret, How forsooth, in that valley (of imitation), did I rejoice from afar through blindness and confusion? What was I fancying, and what was it (in truth)? My weak perception was showing (only) a weak image (of the reality).” Where is the thought of the (holy) men in relation to the child of the (mystic) Way? Where is his fancy in comparison with true realisation?

The thought of children is (of) the nurse or milk or raisins and walnuts or weeping and crying. = The imitator is like a sick child, although he may have (at his disposal) subtle argumentation and (logical) proofs. That profundity in (dealing with) proofs and difficult problems is severing him from (spiritual) insight. It took away (from him) the stock (of insight), which is the collyrium of his inmost consciousness, and applied itself to the discussion of (formal) problems. O imitator, tum back from Bukhara: go to self-abasement (ba-khwdrf) that thou mayst become a (spiritual) hero. And that thou mayst behold within (thee) another Bukhara, in the assembly-place whereof the champions are unlearned.

Although the courier is a swift runner on land, when he goes to sea his sinews are broken He is only (like those of whom God says in the Quran) We have borne them on the land; (but) that one who is borne on the sea-he is somebody The King (God) hath great bounty, run (to receive it), O thou who hast become in pawn to an imagination and fancy. From conformity that simple disciple, too, was weeping in concert with the venerable (Shaykh); (For), like the deaf man, he regarded the (Shaykh’s) weeping in the manner of a conformist and was unaware of the cause.

When he had wept a long while, he paid his respects and departed: the (Shaykh’s) favourite disciple came quickly after him, and said, “O thou who art weeping like a witless cloud in concert with the weeping of the Shaykh (possessed) of insight, For God’s sake, for God’s sake, for God’s sake, O loyal disciple, although in (thy) conformity thou art seeking (spiritual) profit, Take heed not to say, ‘I saw that (spiritual) king weeping, and I wept like him’ ; for that is denial (of his exalted state).”

A weeping full of ignorance and conformity and (mere) opinion is not like the weeping of that trusted one. Do not judge (one) weeping by the analogy of (another) weeping: ’tis a long way from this weeping to that (weeping). That (weeping) is after a thirty years’ (spiritual) warfare: the intellect can never get there Beyond reason there are a hundred stages: deem not the intellect to be acquainted with that caravan. His weeping is neither from sorrow nor from joy: (only) the spirit knows the weeping of (him who is) the fountain of beauties. His weeping, his laughter-(both) are of Yonder (World) and transcend all that the intellect may conceive His tears are like his eye: how should the sightless eye become a (seeing) eye?

That which he sees cannot be touched (apprehended) either by the analogical judgement of the intellect or by way of the senses. Night flees when Light comes from afar: what, then, should the darkness of Night know concerning Light? The gnat flees from the keen wind: what, then, should the gnat know of the (delicious) savour of the winds? When the Eternal comes, the temporal is made vain: what, then, should the temporal know of Eternity? When Eternity comes in contact with the temporal, it strikes it dumb; when it has naughted it, it makes it homogeneous (with itself). You can find a hundred parallels (of this sort) if you wish, but I do not care (to supply them), dervish.

Rumi’s Poems & Quotes on Saints

THE PROPHETS AND SAINTS UNIQUE

A staff that any one takes on trial-how should it be described as being like that staff (Moses’ rod)? This Breath is (like the breath) of Jesus (in its effects); it is not (like) any wind and breath that arises from joy or sorrow. Mohammed is composed of flesh and skin; (but he is unique) although everybody is homogeneous with him in its composition. It hath flesh, it hath skin and bone ; (yet) has this (ordinary) constitution the same (qualities as his)? (No); for in that constitution (of Mohammed) there appeared miracles by which all (other) constitutions were vanquished. Likewise, the composition of the (Letters) lfd-Mim in the (Holy) Book is exceedingly lofty, while the others are low (in comparison), Because from this composition comes life, like the blast of the trumpet (of Resurrection), (to those) in helplessness. By the dispensation of God lfi-Mim becomes a dragon and cleaves the sea like the rod (of Moses).

Its external appearance resembles (other) appearances, but the disc (round cake) of bread is very far from (being) the disc of the moon. His (the Shaykh’s) weeping, his laughter, and his speech are not from him: they are the pure nature of Hu (God). Since the foolish took (only) the external appearances (into consideration), and (since) the subtleties (inward aspects) were very much hidden from them, Necessarily they were debarred from (attaining to) the (real) object; for the subtlety escaped (them) on the occasion when it (the object) presented itself.

Rumi's tomb in Konya, Turkey
Rumi’s tomb in Konya, Turkey

About later versions of the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi

Fortune does not always favor the brave, and the name of the earliest European translator of the Mathnawi is all but forgotten. Although his (or her?) work may have had more elegance than scientific value, the person’s spirit and resolution deserve a tribute. The most recent, well-recognized translation by a Western are those by Reynold Nicholson from the 1920-30s.

The Mathnawi has often been printed or lithographed in the East, and some of these editions are good of their kind . The best, is considered to be the one in six volumes containing the Persian text with Turkish translation and commentary by Ismail Rusukhi of Angora, who lived in the early 17th century; but copies are extremely hard to come by, while the editions of Bulaq and Teheran also lie beyond the reach of most . Apart from this, however, these editions differ greatly from each other, and even those which give something like a standard text are falsified and interpolated to a considerable extent; for example, the Bulaq text of Books I and II includes about 140 and the Teheran text about 800 verses which are wanting in the oldest Mathnawi versions. There is ample evidence that at an early period the copyists began to alter the text of the poem for reasons best known to themselves! In many cases it is still possible to detect these corruptions and restore the original readings from earlier versions that have most faithfully preserved the ancient verses containing only the first of the six books of the Mathnawi. Another grave, though less vital, defect in these editions is their ambiguity. The Mathnawi demands thought and intelligence from those who study it, and they on their part have the right to expect that its meaning shall not be obscured by doubts as to orthography and syntax, which is the case in these versions.

Reading and Appreciating Rumi’s poems

Anyone who reads the poem attentively will observe that its structure is far from being so casual as it looks. To say that “the stories follow each other in no order” is entirely wrong: they are bound together by subtle links and transitions arising from the poet’s development of his theme; and each Book forms an artistic whole. Familiarity does not always breed disillusion. One of the great mystical poet of any age, with Rumi’s poems, it is hard to find such a panorama of universal existence unrolling itself through Time into Eternity? And, apart from the supreme mystical quality of the poem, what a wealth of satire, humour and pathos, what masterly pictures drawn by a hand that touches nothing without revealing its essential character! In the Diwan, Jalaluddin soars higher; yet we must read the Mathnawi in order to appreciate all the range and variety of his genius. Whether it his quatrains or his odes, whethe his Rubayt or his ghazals, Rumi is indeed the master of words – and this shines through even in Persian and Arabic translations. His literary influence is found in Urdu poetry, Hindu literature, Punjabi classics and in the Pashtun people’s stories as well.

Sufism in India

Mansur Al-Hallaj, the 9th-Century sufi mystic is also said to have visited India. Many sufis still live in India today, and the pirs or resting places of many sufi saints are worshiped by Indians of all faiths. Apart from Mansoor as mentioned above, India has also produced its fair share of Sufi mystics. Amir Khusrao and Baba Farid, and Kabir himself are very much in the Sufi tradition. In fact, according to Osho, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Mira Bhai are not all that different from the Persian Rumi, though they were born centuries and thousands of miles apart. Their expression of devotion and unmitigated love for the divine is what binds them together. You will often find singers of the Sufi Qawali traditions singing verses from Kabir, Khusrao, Farid and Mira Bhai and Chaitanya as well! So, though most refer to Rumi and Sufism as an offshoot of Islam, it is in fact a mystical process, the outcome of the work of many great mystics down the centuries.

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