An Afghan man, who once had to flee his homeland from Mongol invaders some 700 years ago, took the world by storm with his remarkable gift of writing. His name was Rumi, and he wrote volumes of the most exquisite poems about life, love and loss. Ironically today, as America shuts its doors to refugees, Rumi remains the best-selling poet in the United States.
Let's retrace our steps from dramatic recent news to the last couple of years when the world witnessed a disconcerting modern phenomenon - mass migration of people desperate to leave their homelands due to wars, drought and more.
We have entered an era where our emotions consume us, our ideologies divide us, our culture binds us, and our beliefs build barriers. Yet we all share a humbling commonality with all other life forms, including the lowly bacteria: We breathe. So let's take a step back from the noise, and ask ourselves a fundamental question -How do we become more human amid the chaos that surrounds us?
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi was a man who wrote some of the most beautiful poems the world has ever read. He breathed life into words when most of us struggle to communicate our most basic emotions. He turned his tragedies into life lessons powerful enough to spark change in people. His work has become a continuous source of inspiration and enchanting music to the world today, even making him the most beloved poet in America.
Gathered here are selected poems from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks. They are Rumi's life lessons on how to be human and navigate the complexities that come with it.
Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any
origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.
Not A Day On Any Calendar
My Life Is Not Mine-
Give up wanting what other people have.
That way you're safe.
"Where, where can I be safe?" you ask.
This is not a day for asking questions,
Not a day on any calendar.
This day is conscious of itself.
This day is a lover, bread, and gentleness,
More manifest than saying can say.
Thoughts take form with words,
But this daylight is beyond and before
Thinking and imagining.
A moment of happiness
A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden's beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.
When actions come from another section, the feeling
disappears. Don't let
others lead you. They may be blind or, worse, vultures.
Reach for the rope
Of God. And what is that?
Putting aside self-will.
Because of willfulness
People sit in jail, the trapped bird's wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.
The anger of police is wilfulness. You've seen a magistrate
Inflict visible punishment. Now
see the invisible. If you could leave your selfishness, you
would see how you've
been torturing your soul. We are born and live inside black water in a well.
How could we know what an open field of sunlight is? Don't
insist on going where
you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring. Your
living pieces will form a harmony.
There is a moving palace that floats in the air
with balconies and clear
water flowing through, infinity everywhere, yet contained
under a single tent.