As you scroll through Facebook and Twitter it is impossible to avoid a quote or saying from Rumi, a Persian poet and sufi master that was born over 800 years ago on September 30th. Rumi’s life started in a small village in Tajikistan. He then fled to Iran during the times of Genghis khan. Later he went to Syria where he studied. His last fifty years of life, he lived in Turkey. When Rumi was 37 he met a traveling mystic named the Shams of Tabriz, a mystic, and they had a very deep and profound student/master friendship for three years. After that, Rumi became a mystic himself. Three years later Shams disappeared which was devastating to Rumi. Rumi then began to write poetry and “love songs” to Shams. He would combine poetry, music and dance into a religious practice. His method was to participate in a whirling dance while meditating and dictate poetry to a helper with the Sufi tradition of seers. Hundreds of years later, he has become the best selling poet in America.
The Sufi’s are the mystics of Islam, they talk about the mystical truths that speak to our hearts. I guess you could call them the shamans of Islam.
Rumi touches our innate sense of love through the simple yet profound, fresh and witty playfulness in his work. He was a master at capturing everyday life and wrapping it into spiritual meaning. The majority of his teachings were about love.
In this article I would like to share some of his most profound poems and the deep spiritual lessons we can learn from them.
Our greatest lessons can emerge from the moment of grief. This was my experience as it was Rumi’s after losing his friend. These moments break us open and force us into a greater place of understanding. We begin to see ourselves in a new perspective and it s when we realize that our survival depends on being present.
“The fault is the one who blames, spirit does not criticize”
This phrase reflects probably one of the most difficult challenges that humans face when trying to achieve enlightenment as many are in a state of constant criticizing. We battle with others who do not align with our person – “ality”. If our goal is to reach a level of higher vibration, criticizing others is probably the most debilitating to that goal. Receiving criticism can also be devastating, it can destroy us. To rise to the level of spirit it is important to assess it and address it. It is at that moment we deflect it or accept it. If you suffer from low self esteem, you will trust yourself the least. This can be a huge test when we question criticism, so it is best to ask ourselves these questions; Is the criticism credible? Did I do something that was on purpose or was it simply an accident. Is the criticism true or false? Who is this critic? If we accept the critic, we have just given our power and authority over to someone else. This is the moment to turn the tables and realize that the criticism is about them. Their criticisms are all based on whatever is going on in their life, not in ours. We cannot control what others say to us, but we can control how we receive it, respond to it and finally learn from it. When we live in spirit, we release it and move on. This practice keeps us from ever having to forgive. Often criticism can be steps to enlightenment as we learn to sit with the discomfort of it and then do what we can to understand what button it is pushing for us, leading us to a cleaning and a spiritual light.
This brings me to another Rumi quote
“Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak”.
This is a reminder to realize that what is deep within us is not the external dysfunction we display and the resulting personality that we design for survival. We must seek the soul to understand the person we are interacting with, not the cloak. When we see someone through the lens of the soul, we connect on another level and our materialistic boundaries disintegrate. When we are connected to others through the voice of the soul, we can hear.
Rumi says “The soul has been given its own ears to hear things the mind does not understand”.
Listening from the soul level and approaching a relationship from that perspective we can enter into a connection that goes beyond the normal.
Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk”
Rumi has realized the most important elixir of the soul which is gratitude. When we drink in gratitude we are in a state of uplifting ourselves and connecting with the most important vibration of God. When we walk through the world as if we have received everything that we need, then we are full and whole. The universe rewards those of us who walk in gratitude.
“Love cannot be taught or learned, love comes as grace”.
What Rumi teaches is that we cannot find love in the mind, the mind is incapable of expressing love. Love is only expressed with the highest vibration of God, a frequency that transcends all others and brings us splendor and ecstacy.
“Don’t feel lonely, the entire universe is within you.”
What Rumi is trying to say is that it is impossible to be separate from anything. It is the mind that creates loneliness. It is an illusion.
“In the blackest of your moments, wait with no fear.”
What a powerful statement! How often that when we are in the worst moment of our lives, we dive deeper into the darkness, we spiral out of control and cannot find our way out of this thinking. What we must realize is that we have been taken to the launching pad, but at the launching pad, the only thing that will catapult us out of misery is surrender. Often the universe will slam us until we are on our knees, only when we are on our knees will we realize there is nothing to fear. Fear is the future and when we stop the illusion of the future, fear will dissipate. We cannot fear the moment. The past is grief, it is the keeper of bliss if we allow it. Rumi says:
“Let silence be the art you practice”.
When the mind is silent, it is not in the future or the past. Bliss is in silence, when the mind finally shuts down and allows peace to enter it. Rumi then says,
Speak no more, the heart has gone, the mind has gone, the soul too, to the beloved”.
This makes me think of an ocean, deep but silent, a place of flow and movement. You can also think of this as a river or stream, a flow. Allowing nothing that you define, define your state of being.
“Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave ’til it gets to shore. You need more help than you know.”
When we think that we must control we lose the power of the universe, pushing and pulling ourselves into hope, when in reality, riding the wave gives us strength as we partner with the universe, realizing it is much greater and stronger than we can ever imagine.
Rumi also speaks of the seekers, which I am sure anyone who is reading this may define themselves in this way.
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to my the teaching of my soul.
This reminds me of another saying about a person who has been to Tibet, Peru, the Great Pyramids to find themselves and where they truly found themselves was when they realized that the destination was the soul. When we make it there, it is when we experience the separation of the ego that creates illusion on our journey and keeps us from the truth. The way to the soul is to be released from the past. Unfortunately we are molded by the painful memories of the past and deprive ourselves of happiness.
“Rumi says, be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
Then and only then we can be free of our deeply rooted hatred, opinions and biases. It means it is time to declare peace and you will find yourself victorious from the talking in your head. Inside of you is what is waiting to be nourished, it is a place that is often overly neglected as we try to manage the external world.
“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it don’t you? “. He then says “Let silence take you to the core of life” .
If we can just get quiet about things, we can stay out of the incessant mind that wants to take a bite of everything and chew it up and spit it out. We have the possibility of a different reaction, even though we have not been properly trained for it. We have a choice, get quiet or crazed. Rumi also understood the secrets to manifestation when he says
” Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. “
What a lesson this was, and in my case I learned it from my Mayan ancestral spirits. When I realized “I” was the cause of all of my earthly confusion it was my greatest moment of clarity. I finally realized that I lived on a planet of the mirrors, what I reflected created my reality. This is the most empowering realization to know that the power lies within you and not in the external world which in reality you have no way to cleverly control. If you cannot change your frequency, then get someone to help you, a teacher, a mentor, a coach. It is the key to a life of love and abundance versus a clever trap into struggle.
Now I would like to share his most provocative quote.
“Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
This is Rumi’s attack on the ego and how it binds us into simplicity and lack of living. I think of the risk takers, those who realize that there is never a place of failure, only a definition of it. This reminds us that fear limits and worrying about what others are thinking about us is also limiting. When he talks of being notorious, what he is referring to is not limiting ourselves to the norms of our upbringing, not dedicating our lives to the beliefs of others, but to ourselves which may mean being the notorious.
Lastly Rumi says “I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I have been knocking from the inside.
This is the fine line that a shaman walks. When we believe everything is possible, everything is possible. When we walk the world trying to be scientists and prove everything, we miss seeing the world as we spend our time desperately to define it instead of loving it.