Poet, spiritual teacher, mystical dancer, and cultural leader: The writer known as Rumi held many roles in the 13th century, and continues to be one of the most popular poets in the world today. Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī was born in Afghanistan in 1207.
He traveled through Uzbekistan, Iran, and Syria, and spent much of his life in Turkey before his death in 1273. He wrote in Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Greek, and is widely seen as the most influential mystical writer in the Muslim tradition. His deeply human and universally inspiring works have now been translated in more than 20 languages and sold millions of copies.
Rumi’s father and grandfather were traditional Muslim preachers and scholars, and Rumi followed in their footsteps. But when he met a wandering holy man named Shams of Tabriz in 1244, he embarked on a new life journey into mysticism and poetry. Rumi’s relationship with Shams and his mourning of Shams’ death a few years after they met fueled his prolific writing.
Rumi wrote tens of thousands of individual pieces, many of which were devotional songs for Shams, the prophet Muhammad, and God, along with his masterwork, The Masnavi, which is composed of 26,000 couplets (two lines of verse that form a poetic unit).
He described transcendent love, the holy nature of everyday experiences, joy, grief, and more with an accessible, lyrical voice. Many of his poems were written as he spun in a whirling dance or were composed to be sung in gatherings of Sufis (Islamic mystics).
Both during his life and after, Rumi’s vibrant musings appealed to people of many faiths and backgrounds. As one of the key translators of Rumi’s work, Coleman Barks, wrote, “He wants us to be more alive, to wake up … He wants us to see our beauty, in the mirror and in each other." Here are 15 Rumi quotes that reveal his unique perspective on spiritual enlightenment and divine love.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.
That which God said to the rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He said to my heart, and made it a hundred times more beautiful.
The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.
Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.
If the house of the world is dark, Love will find a way to create windows.
Your legs will get heavy and tired. Then comes a moment of feeling the wings you've grown, lifting.
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness … meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Friend, our closeness is this: anywhere you put your foot, feel me in the firmness under you.
Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands, or your own genuine solitude?Freedom, or power over an entire nation? A little while alone in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you.
Love is the reality, and poetry is the drum that calls us to that. Don’t keep complaining about loneliness! Let the fear-language of that theme crack open and float away. Let the priest come down from his tower, and not go back up!
Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
While still in the cage of your being, behold the spirit bird before it flies away.
They will ask you what you have produced. Say to them, except for Love, what else can a Lover produce?
Birds make great sky circles of their freedom. How do they do it? They fall, and falling, they’re given wings.
Submit to a daily practice. Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door. Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window, and look out to see who's there.
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