Wisdom of the Ages

People can get locked in their familiar routines. When something unusual happens, however, it can suddenly awaken new feelings within us. And if we don't catch them in time, they may slip away as we settle back into our normal pace of life. For Rumi, that moment of opportunity came when a frantic dervish named Shamsuddin stopped him by chance in the market and asked him a seemingly incomprehensible theological question. Rumi described it as, setting my thoughts on fire. This is what set him...

The King and the Band of Thieves

The following story takes place during the reign of Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni (d. 1030). Following the practice established from the earliest days of the caliphs of Islam, Sultan Mahmoud would sometimes walk the streets of his capital city (in what is now Afghanistan) in disguise to check on the welfare of his citizens. Rumi begins the story thusly King Mahmoud was wandering in the city alone one night when he came upon a band of thieves. When they saw him they asked, Who are you, good sir I am...

Introduction

Poetry has been one of the most common vehicles for expressing wisdom and cultural knowledge throughout human history. When words are strung together like pearls on a golden chain of rhyme and rhythm, they float much more easily into the heart and mind than mere lecturing. Moreover, when a weighty message is carried on the gentle stream of a poem, it's unthreatening, easy to remember, and a delight to hear. We are, in fact, creatures attuned to poetry Some of the greatest religious works of...

Let Your Heart Carry You Forward

There once was a hermit who lived in the mountains. Solitude was his bedfellow and his closest friend. Because tranquility was coming to him from the Creator, he grew tired of the company of others. Just as staying home is easy for some, so, too, is traveling easy for others. In the same way that you're in love with power and control, another person finds pleasure in simple occupations. Everyone's been made for a particular kind of work, and the desire for that work has been implanted within...

The Man Who Fled from Death

One day a nobleman burst into King Solomon's hall of justice. He was pale with despair and his lips were blue with fright. O noble sir, Solomon asked, what's wrong with you The man answered him, saying, The Angel of Death came and looked at me with eyes filled with anger and hate. The king then said, Come now, what favor would you ask of me The nobleman replied, saying, O protector of my life, order the wind to bear me swiftly (on a ship) to India, for maybe when your servant has arrived there...

The Man Who Befriended a Bear

A dragon was pulling a bear into its jaws a brave man arrived and rescued it. Brave men are a source of aid in this world and react whenever the cry of the oppressed reaches them. They listen for the cry of the oppressed from every direction, and instantly run there to help, just like the mercy of God In the same way, when the bear had cried out for help against the dragon, that brave man rescued it from the fight. Cunning and courage helped each other that day, and through this union of...

Vji Footprints of the Master

Rumi had many female students and disciples. They attended his lectures, were teachers to others, and would also participate in the whirling meditation sessions he led. The most famous of Rumi's female acolytes was Fakhr un-Nisa', who was known as the Rab'iah in her day. (Rabi'ah al-Adawiyya, who passed away in 801, is perhaps the most famous female Muslim mystic in history.) Of what value are all of our accomplishments, if we leave this life without ever having a deeper understanding of who...

The Overlooked Treasure

Have you ever felt that you didn't know who you were Not the mundane things like your name, your history, your job, or your daily routines, but knowing who the real you is, deep down, in that spot inside, which nobody knows about but you. Has there ever been a time when you literally woke up from your busy life, even just for a moment, and suddenly felt like a swimmer coming up for air after having been under for far too long Have you ever found yourself becoming unusually afraid that you might...

The Writing of the Mathnawi

Some time between the years 1259 and 1260, Rumi's top student, Husamuddin Chelebi, asked his master to leave a record of his teachings for posterity. As the story goes, Rumi pulled a page of 18 verses out of his turban to signal he had already begun thinking in that direction. For the next several years, Rumi dictated his epic collection of poetry, Mathnawi, or Rhymed Couplets, as Husamuddin recorded them. At the completion of each volume, out of a composition that would eventually span six...

Selection of Quatrains

Some of Rumi's shorter quatrains from the Divan, as follows, speak of loss, while others speak of hope, reflecting the many facets of Rumi's talent. I spent years copying others in my quest to know myself. Within my heart, I never knew what to do. When I could see no longer, I heard my name being called from somewhere. Then I took a walk outside. My heart, leave me if you cannot stand the pain. Leave me, for the streets are full of homeless lovers. My soul, if you're not afraid, then come to...

Dont Put Off Remorse

Be warned Don't commit a crime while taking refuge in the thought, I can repent of it later on and be safe. True repentance requires a flash of realization in the heart that's followed by a flood of tears. That kind of lightning flash and rain cloud is a prerequisite for sincere repentance. Fruit needs a flash of lightning and the resultant rainfall to grow therefore, rain clouds and lightening are an essential component to growth. Unless there's a flash of lightning in the heart and streaming...

The Hero of Qazwin

In this story, set in the Persian town of Qazwin, we learn of how one man's courage was put to the test in a way he didn't expect. Rumi begins the action in this way Listen to this tale from the storyteller, and what it says of the ways of the people of Qazwin. They tattoo themselves with blue ink delivered lightly on the point of a needle on their bodies, hands, and shoulders, taking every care not to feel any pain. A certain warrior of Qazwin went to a tattoo artist and said to him, Tattoo me...

The Story of the Three Fish

Here is an aquatic tale that Rumi borrowed from an existing story collection he was familiar with called Kalila and Dimnah. Rumi put his own spin on the account and drew out several spiritual lessons. This is the story, O stubborn one, of a lake in which there were three huge fish. You've already seen it in Kalila, though that book only had the outer shell of this tale, while here you'll find the hidden meaning. Three fishermen once passed by the edge of this lake they saw that there was much...

What Love Sometimes Brings

I often wonder at the seeker of purity, who shies away from harsh treatment when it's time to be polished. Love is like a lawsuit rough handling is the evidence of its passing. Where there is no evidence, the case is lost. Don't feel wronged when this Judge demands your evidence. In order to unlock this treasure, you sometimes have to kiss a snake. The rough handling is not directed toward you personally, O child no, not at all, but rather it's directed toward the bad qualities you harbor...

The Seven Sermons

Throughout his life, Rumi gave many sermons in the mosques of Konya and many addresses and speeches to gatherings of his students, followers, and others. On seven of these more auspicious occasions, either Rumi's son, Sultan Walad, or his top student, Husamuddin Chelebi, recorded what the Master said. These seven recorded sermons, together, are known as the Majalis-i Saba which translates as the Seven Sermons. Each of these seven speeches centers upon an important saying, or hadith, of the...