Jalaluddin ar-Rumi

Jalaluddin ar-Rumi was born in 1207, in Balkh, which is in Afghanistan. His father was an important scholar and teacher of that area. Around 1212 he moved his family to Smarkand, a city where the cultures of both Turkey and Persia met. The Mongol invasions were bringing death and destruction to a large part of the Muslim world at that time, and Rumi’s family and friends, journeyed westward to escape it.

They arrived in Konya in Turkey, and Rumi’s father was given a professorship and he taught there until his death in 1231. Jalaluddin Rumi, took over from his father, as university professor.

In 1244 there was a significant meeting of Rumi with a wandering Sufi, a lover of the Prophet Muhammad, the sun of Tabriz, Shamsuddin. Rumi and Shams became inseparable. The university professor in Rumi diminished, and his spiritual side increased. Rumi’s students became jealous of the close friendship with Shams, and this caused Shams to disappear. Forty days after the loss of Shams, Rumi ordered mourning robes. Rumi had changed. He now wrote or spoke poetry as never before. He whirled around reciting poems which expressed his longing and love, and which also expressed his astonishment with his own transformed state.

The message of Rumi is timeless and is one of boundless, and boundary-less love. He said, ‘I am neither of the East or the West, no boundaries exist in my breast’

My place is placeless,
My trace is traceless;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong
To the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away,
I have seen the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see,
One I call.
He is the first, He is the last.
He is the outward, He is the inward;
I am intoxicated with Love’s cup.

Rumi referred to himself as, ‘Dust on the path of Muhammad. Dust can be nothing but dust; it signifies humility, and submission. Even the tiniest insect may move the lightness of dust.’ Rumi had no rigid, ‘stony-hearted,’ attitude toward life.

His message of non-duality speaks to us strongly today. It can also be found in the Christian scriptures, as in the gospel of John, ‘The father and I are One.’ Non-duality is both a spiritual imperative and an ecological one. Mankind is being directed by the eternally fresh voice of the ancient mystics, toward realising the sacredness of the whole creation, and of its unity with the Divine.

In suppressing our grief, jealousies, fears and pains, we also suppress delight, joy and our love. Rumi knew that not to accept, as our own, the so-called, ‘negativities’, within, the way would be barred to owning our birthright: peace, love and contentment

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
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.

It is over 700 years since Rumi wrote these words. How recent it is that our culture was caught in repression, the, ‘stiff upper lip,’ and the psychologically damaging, suppression of the emotions? ‘Modern’, psychology now understands the dangers of suppressing the teachers that make themselves felt within.

'Tis light makes colour visible: at night red, green, and russet vanish from thy sight,
So to thee light, by darkness, is made known:
All hid things by their contraries are shown.
Since God hath none,
He, seeing all, denies
Himself eternally to mortal eyes.

We have green bin collection and black bin collection alternately. Walking out at night I try to discern which colour to put out in the morning by the colour of the ones already out by neighbours. I think of you Rumi, when I cannot tell black from green, however hard I try. Without the light of the sun, there is indeed no colour. Without silence there would be no music. Without space there would be no object. If we do not experience grief we cannot know joy. I was taught as a child, ‘God is everywhere’, but it never penetrated my heart before a Sufi mystic expressed it so poetically, God being everywhere, renders Him invisible.

Rumi died in Konya in 1272. The day of his death has become known as the Shebi Arus, the Wedding Night. This was the occasion when Rumi was united with his Beloved in eternal life. We will find the same idea realised in the Song of Songs, of the Old Testament, ‘My love is mine and I am his’. We will find it in the New Testament with its many references to marriage. In the account of the wedding in Cana, there is no bride or groom mentioned. Their notable absence signifies that the marriage refers to the mystical union.

The poems and stories of Rumi serve as bridge to Reality, and point toward the union of the Soul with the Beloved. The works of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, also known as Mevlana, include the Mathnawi, the Divan-I-Shams-I Tabriz, Fihi Ma Fihi, the Makatib, and Majalis-I-Sab’ah.

He had existed without the petty differences, which divide men, and therefore was free to live in the Pure Light, which existed before the Prophet Muhammad. This place is the same space referred to by Jesus: ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ This place is available to us all.

Get up! Do not sleep! We have come close.
We have already heard the dog and the rooster of that neighbourhood.
By God they were signs from the village of the beloved;
All the flowers that we grazed on.
Get up! Do not sleep! It is daytime.
The morning star has risen and we see the footprints.
It was night and the whole caravan was locked up in a caravanserai;
Get up! For we have to rid ourselves of the dark and of the prison.

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