Love Was His Journey
“Love is that flame which, when it blazes up,
it burns everything except the beloved.”
Many of us have quoted him. Others have fallen in love with his verses and poems. He is one of the most enduring poets of all time.
Love was his journey and also his destination: he was a visionary beyond his time. He is none other than the great master philosopher, writer, poet and Sufi Mystic, Mevlana Jalaluddin Mohamed Rumi.
Rumi was born on September 30, 1207 in the city of Belh, Horasan, which at the time was inhabited by Turkish tribes; now it is to be found within the boundaries of Afghanistan.
“A loving eye does not find faults,
While an angry eye sees all faults.”
At a very young age he became a student under the tutelage of his father, learning many subjects from history to medicine. He also learnt Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and common and classical Greek. He studied other religions along with Islam. He was also taught by the renowned Seyyid Burhaneddin Tirmizi and other top scholars of the time. Later on, he himself, in turn, taught hundreds of students in Madrassahs (theological universities).
His teachings were inspiring and far-reaching and for those of all faiths and all backgrounds. He welcomed all without discrimination with the word ’gel’ which means ‘come’. He received everyone regardless of stature, creed or colour: “Come, no matter how much you have fallen, come…”.
Rumi’s ‘seven advices’ transcend religious boundaries and epitomise the essence of all religions today: compassion, tolerance, patience, acceptance, and beyond all love!
- In generosity and helping others: be like the river
- In compassion and grace: be like the sun.
- In concealing others’ faults: be like the night.
- In anger and fury: be like the dead.
- In modesty and humility: be like the soil.
- In tolerance: be like the ocean.
- Either you appear as you are, or: be as you appear.
Here is an example of Rumi’s advice to his son on how to conduct himself in the world:
Bahaeddin! Should you wish to be in Heaven forever, be a friend to everyone.
Cherish not grudge in your heart.
Demand not extra nor be extra.
Be like ointment and candle, not a needle.
Should you wish no evil from anyone,
Speak not of evil, Nor preach of evil, Nor think evil!
Should you speak of a man in goodwill, you will always rejoice,
And that joy is Heaven itself.
Should you speak of a man in hostility, you will always despair.
And this is Hell itself .
As soon as you ponder friends, flowers will bloom in your heart’s garden, filling it with roses and basil.
As soon as you ponder foes, your heart’s garden will be filled with thorns and serpents.
Your heart will grow tired and you will lie idle…
At the age of thirty-six and already an established scholar and religious leader, Rumi came across Shams of Tabriz, a wandering Mystic whom he recognized as a great master. They spent endless hours together discussing spirituality, poetry and heavenly wisdom. They enjoyed each other’s divine company, to the exclusion of others. Shams encouraged Rumi to resign from his teaching, throw away his books and instead follow the path to the love of God through insight, music, dance and poetry.
Jealousies arose because of the closeness of the divine friendship between Rumi and Shams, and Shams left for Damascus. Rumi was distraught. Eventually Shams returned, only to disappear once more, this time without trace. The agony of separation from his friend and mentor was almost too much for Rumi to bear, yet this was a catalyst for an outpouring of poetry in praise of Shams, and also of Higher Truth and of Love.
According to Rumi’s son: “Shams led Rumi from the stage of a lover to a beloved of God”.
The lover visible
And the Beloved invisible –
Whoever saw such a love in the world?
“Soon shall you see when the dust settles down,
What you are riding on, on a donkey or a horse.”
Rumi passed away on December 17, 1273. His disciples called this night Seb-i Arus (wedding night), the night of unity, when he was finally united with his beloved – Allah.
“The result of my life is no more than three words:
I was raw, I became cooked, I was burnt.”
Rumi advises the mourners not to be sorry for his death because love can never be buried:
“When you see my funeral, don’t say “What a separation?”
It is time for me to visit and meet the Beloved,
Since you have seen my descent, then do see my rising,
Why complain about the setting of the moon and sun?
Which seed that went under the earth failed to grow up again?
Then why should you feel doubt about this seed (the corpse)?
The major theme of the six volumes of Rumi’s Masnevi is the love of God. Prof Dr Erkan Turkmen explains: The Masnevi is actually a love letter written to the Unseen Beloved. Love is neither touchable nor perceptible by the carnal senses, therefore, love can be explained only by love.
Rumi may have died in Konya, but his thoughts, words and deeds are scattered all over the world and probably in outer space too, as people take comfort and solace from his poems and writings. Rumi leaves us thinking about how much we trust in the power of love and believe it can work. That it is a force stronger than no other. We need to breathe love and exhale love and only love. Divine Love!
It’s Time… to heed to some of Rumi’s deep wisdom:
“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes.
Because for those who love with heart and soul
there is no such thing as separation.”
© ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK