As Phil Cousineau said in our interview back in April, “Rumi is omnipresent in Turkey, his face on the money, his presence in music, on the stage, in movies, and he is a huge source of pride to those who live there… [not knowing Rumi] would be like going to England and not knowing a thing about Shakespeare.”
If you’ll be joining us on our journey to Turkey in October this year or are planning to visit another time, learning more about Rumi will most definitely enrich your visit and will encourage more joy and happiness into your life!
Statue of Mevlana Rumi, photo by I, Maderibeyza
The Spiritual Significance of Rumi
Coleman Barks, who has been translating Rumi’s works into accessible, “lively American free verse” since the late 1970s perfectly sums up Rumi’s universal spiritual appeal in a piece for the Huffington Post:
“Rumi very consciously made himself and his poetry a bridge between cultures and between religions. There is nothing exclusivist about him. He includes everyone in his embrace. He was, and is, a healer of whatever might separate us.”
That healing comes from and pushes the reader towards a place of enlightenment, a place of expansion, not only of our own capacity for love but also of our understanding of our relationship with earthly reality.
Love in both Sufism and Rumi’s works is a freeing experience. As Barks said in an interview with Andrew Lawler, “[Love is] beyond our ideas of mentoring or romance or even friendship. It’s a place beyond the synapse of relationship. ‘Fall in love in such a way that it frees you from any connecting,’ Rumi said. All his poetry is about love as a region, not a relationship.”
To conceive of love on this level, of course, takes daily spiritual work and a process of inner transformation.
The Threshold Society, a Foundation rooted within the traditions of Sufism and inspired by the life and work of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, say this about Sufism:
“Sufism is above all about the inner transformation of the human being, resulting in increased capacities of presence, will, and love. Its stock-in-trade is marifa, inner knowing, through which the heart is purified…”
A purified heart, then, enables us to transcend categories, emotions, religions, our own bodies to a place of enlightened being.
Rumi moved with his family to Konya in present-day Turkey when he was a young child and died in his bed there in 1273. The Mevlana Museum in Konya is a natural place of pilgrimage for all those, from all – and no – religions, touched by Rumi’s compassion, wisdom, humour and poetic skill. We hope it’s now also on your must-visit list!
This World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness
Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:
This place made from our love for that emptiness!
Yet somehow comes emptiness,
this existence goes.
Praise to that happening, over and over!
For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.
Then one swoop, one swing of the arm,
that work is over.
Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,
free of mountainous wanting.
The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw
blown off into emptiness.
These words I’m saying so much begin to lose meaning:
Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:
Words and what they try to say swept
out the window, down the slant of the roof.
Rumi: The Big Red Book with translations – and elucidating notes – by Coleman Barks was released in 2011 and is available at all good book stores.
Phil Cousineau will be exploring the poetry and influence of Rumi as he guides our group through Turkey, October 10-22, 2014. There are still a few places left on this journey – visit our website for full details.