Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207 – 1273) was a Persian poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. His influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions, and his poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages. At age twenty-five, Rumi began service as a Molvi (Islamic teacher) and later became a Jurist, but his life completely changed following a trip to Damascus. Here he met a teacher under whose instruction he chose the way of the mystic, becoming an ascetic, devoted to the unorthodox spiritual path. Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. His best-known work, the Masnavi (Spiritual Couplets), is a six-volume poem that holds a distinguished place within the rich tradition of Persian Sufi literature, and has been commonly called “the Quran in Persian.”
Quotations by Jalal al-Din Rumi…
I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?
Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.
By love, bitter things are made sweet and copper turns to gold. By love, the sediment becomes clear and torment is removed. By love, the dead are made to live. By love, the sovereign is made a slave.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
True seekers keep riding straight through,
whereas big, lazy, self-worshiping geese
unload their pack animals in a farmyard
and say, “This is far enough.”
An empty mirror and your worst destructive habits,
when they are held up to each other,
that’s when the real making begins.
That’s what art and crafting are.
A tailor needs a torn garment to practice his expertise.
The trunks of trees must be cut and cut again
so they can be used for fine carpentry.
The beast you ride is your various appetites,
change your wantings. When you prune
weak branches, the remaining fruit
get tastier. Lust can be redirected,
so that even when it takes you backward,
it goes toward shelter.
A strong intention can make “two oceans wide”
be the size of a blanket, or “seven hundred years”
the time it takes to walk to someone you love.
There is nothing worse
than thinking you are well enough.
More than anything, self-complacency
blocks the workmanship.
Put your vileness up to a mirror and weep.
Get that self-satisfaction flowing out of you!
The body is a device to calculate
the astronomy of the spirit.
Look through that astrolabe
and become oceanic.
You’re water. We’re the millstone.
You’re wind. We’re dust blown up into shapes.
You’re spirit. We’re the opening and closing of our hands.
You’re the clarity. We’re this language that tries to say it.
You’re joy. We’re all the different kinds of laughing.
Language does not touch the one who lives in each of us.