The Soothing Joy Of Reading Mevlana Rumi’s Poetry

One vivid memory I have of North America is driving to a grocery store in autumn. The trees were beginning to shed their leaves, and the days were getting longer. Soon, nearly eight months of biting cold and harsh winter would arrive. The garden hose would need to be put away, and the bright, warm days would fade. I felt melancholy as summer came to an end.

While the four seasons of the far north are celebrated for offering a variety of experiences, I couldn’t help but feel sadness whenever autumn arrived.

Peace and Happiness In Mevlana Rumi’s Mystical Poetry

Changes in life, especially those that signal the hardships of winter, used to make me so sad.

As I immerse myself in Sufi thought and grow more confident in God’s kindness, I find myself less perturbed by life’s changes. While I can’t claim to be constantly enveloped in ultimate peace, knowing that these changes are guided by God’s steadfast presence has lessened my despondency.

Now when autumn comes I remind myself of these verses from Surah Al-Qasas:”… Everything is perishable but He…” The awareness that He is with us regardless of all the changes around us gives me comfort.

Sufi mystics teach us that God’s love for us surpasses our imagination. Remembering His eternal presence and love helps us stay focused amidst the changes around us.

Mevlana Rumi’s poetry reminds us:

“He who is bound by melancholy and merriment is living by means of these two transient things.
In the green garden of Love, which is without end, there are many fruits besides grief and ecstasy.
Love is higher than these two states of feeling: without spring and without autumn it is evergreen and fresh.”

Changes happen constantly, every day and every moment.

Recently, on a hot summer day, I drove to the grocery store hoping to pick up some Pepsi or Coke. The day had been going well, and I was feeling peaceful.

After grabbing a Coke (it was on sale), I encountered issues at the self-service checkout counter. An elderly shop associate came over to assist, her tone reminding me of a strict schoolteacher: “…put back the handheld scanner, remove your bag, scan again…” Her manner felt like constant wrist-slapping. By the end of the experience, I was thoroughly annoyed. I struggled to keep my composure and left feeling frustrated.

Reflecting on how my day was soured, I blamed myself for choosing to shop at this crowded and cheap grocery store.

Upon returning home, a verse from a Sufi prayer resonated in my mind: “What God wills is, and what God does not will does not exist.”

I interpreted the incident at the grocery store as perhaps a test from God to challenge my skin-deep ego, or perhaps for reasons known only to Him.

In the past, in such situations I would been tempted to lodge a complaint with the grocery assistant’s supervisor. However another Sufi teaching which has changed my response has been a verse from Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani’s book. Sheikh Jilani, a revered Sufi mystic says, “Do not hurt people who cause you unhappiness.”

Deciding to let go of my urge to call and complain about the former schoolteacher, I realized that causing her unhappiness wouldn’t bring me closer to His love.

I still feel a bit annoyed, but it’s not as strong as before. I hope that over time, I will completely forget about that incident.

Mevlana Rumi’s Mystical Poetry Gives Us Hope

God asks us to remember Him constantly, even though He already knows all our desires and needs. He encourages us to call upon Him repeatedly. In the Mevlana Museum in Konya, there are beautiful prayer beads with 999 beads, which Sufis used in medieval times for Dhikr meditation. Dhikr involves repeating prayers or phrases as a form of meditation and spiritual devotion.

One common form of Dhikr is reciting God’s beautiful names. One night, as I repeated His names, I felt overwhelmed with sweetness. In that moment, all I desired was to continue reciting His names.

Mevlana Rumi describes this experience in his epic poem, Masnavi: “The deliciousness of milk and honey is the reflection of the pure heart: from that heart, the sweetness of every sweet thing is derived.”

I wish I could say my heart is pure, but it’s not. Yet Mevlana Rumi’s mystical poetry gives me hope. Mevlana teaches us that filling the heart with God’s names purifies it. All negative thoughts are expelled, leaving only His sacred names.

“Make thine own mouth pure, make thy spirit alert and nimble.
Praise of God is pure: when purity has come, defilement packs and goes out.
When the pure Name enters the mouth, neither impurity nor sorrow remains.”

Reflecting on my days as a student and in the corporate world, I regret deeply that I let so many pointless activities and impure dreams eat up my time. I wish I then had the guidance of the Sufis, who lead us towards humility and kindness of heart.

Yet Mevlana Rumi’s verses encourage us not to lose heart: “Listen! Set forth without pain or trouble towards the forgiveness and kindness of God.”

Decoding Mevlana Rumi’s Poetry

Mevlana Rumi’s poetry is remarkable because it flows naturally without conscious effort to please anyone. His words burst forth like a rushing torrent through rocks and trees, originating from the depths of his heart and mystical consciousness.

Writing in mystical consciousness means the Sufi’s mind is united with the sacred Presence that permeates all existence. Words are inspired and dictated by the heart’s connection to divine inspiration.

Mevlana’s poetry is deeply personal, rooted in his own life experiences, yet it resonates universally, sharing profound emotions and spiritual insights.

In Mevlana Rumi’s poetry, wisdom is conveyed through stories, anecdotes, parables, and proverbs that seamlessly blend into narratives about Divine love, guiding us back to the central theme.

Mystical poets, like Mevlana Rumi, convey their heartfelt emotions rather than conforming to academic poetry rules. His poetry reflects the untamed energy of a rushing river, marked by its beautiful chaos. Despite the “chaos” and an unconventional approach to poetry, Mevlana Rumi’s sincerity in expressing love and longing always resonates deeply.

Mevlana Rumi’s closeness to God transcended everyday language; it could only be sensed intuitively and conveyed through subtle allusions. Each reading of Mevlana’s poetry deepens our understanding of the Divine reality he hints at.

Mevlana Rumi’s poetry, with over 30,000 verses in total, isn’t abstract or dreamy. Instead, it speaks directly from everyday life, using vivid language and imagery that feels fresh. Sometimes, his poems even resemble – popular folk poetry – the kind of poetry that people sing and share in everyday conversations.

The extensive commentaries written on Mevlana Rumi’s poetry and the widespread translation of his poetry into numerous languages highlight its profound impact on mystical poetry and spiritual philosophy over time. A translation – however faithfully done – break the melody of these wonderful hymns and brings their soaring passion down to earth. But the love of Truth and the vision of Beauty which inspired Mevlana’s poetry still shines through even in the translations:

“He arrives like a moon unseen before in waking or dreams,
Crowned with an eternal flame no flood can extinguish.
From the goblet of Your love, O Lord, my soul swims,
And my body’s clay home is ruined.

When the Giver of the grape first befriended my lonely heart,
Wine ignited my being and filled my veins.
But when His image fully possessed my sight, a voice proclaimed,
‘Well done, O sovereign Wine and unmatched Cup!'”

Mevlana Rumi stresses that faith relying on intellectual proofs, external authority, self-interest, or any form of self-regard is ultimately futile. Mevlana writes:

“Unless I have the face of my heart towards Thee,
I deem prayer unworthy to be reckoned as prayer.”

In Mevlana Rumi’s poetry, sometimes, the storyline may not have a clear path, making it a bit confusing to follow, especially if you attempt to interpret it intellectually. But if we let the poetry sing into our hearts we can intuitively relate to Mevlana’s words and teachings.

Who Was Mevlana Rumi?

Mevlana Jalal al-Din Muhammad, a 13th-century poet, jurist, and Sufi mystic, hailed originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran. Born in a small town near Balkh (present-day Afghanistan), his family later migrated to Konya (present-day Turkey) and settled there.

Konya, during the time of Mevlana, served as the capital of Rum under the Anatolian Seljuq dynasty. This historical connection led to Mevlana Jalal al-Din becoming widely known as “Rumi.”

Afterword

Once a soul is touched by divine influence and sincerely returns to God, it feels an instinct to seek complete union with Him. This instinct varies in intensity, but all souls feel a deep urge to purify themselves and return to their origin, like rivers flowing steadily towards the sea. Some souls progress steadily, while others rush forward with intense determination, overcoming obstacles in their path.

Mevlana’s faith embodied the wild current that could not be contained. His teachings inspire us to deepen our faith so we too can drink the elixir of love.

Mystical poetry overflows with hope and optimism, filling our hearts with pure joy. Henry Longfellow’s beautiful poem captures the essence of this pure mystic joy.

“Laugh of the mountain! lyre of bird and tree!
Pomp of the meadow! mirror of the morn!
The soul of April, unto whom are born the rose and jessamine,
leaps wild in thee!”

Over the past few years I immersed myself into Mevlana Rumi’s life to grasp and glean from his spiritual and physical voyage. I documented my study of Mevlana’s mystical journey in my book about his life: The Candle That Lit The Fire Within Our Hearts: Mevlana Rumi’s Mystical Journey

Rumi Biography

Unlike a typical biography or hagiography, this account of Mevlana Rumi is written for those beginning on their spiritual journey. Delving deeply into Mevlana’s life has been eye-opening for me, making his poetry much more meaningful. I hope you find this book equally enriching.

Here are my other writings and books on Mevlana Rumi’s teachings.

(1) A list of books about and by Mevlana Rumi that would benefit any serious student of Mevlana Rumi 35 Best Mevlana Rumi Books For Beginners

(2) 13 beautiful stories from Mevlana Rumi’s Masnavi together with interpretations The Rose That Perfumed The World: Stories from Mevlana Rumi’s Masnavi

Rumi Poetry

Though there are a lot of books on Mevlana’s stories and poems, there are almost none that seek to provide thoughtful interpretations. I studied many different interpretations and commentaries on Mevalana Rumi’s poetry and made a sincere effort to understand his message. This book documents my study of his poetry and stories. I hope this book is of value for those who want to enjoy but also learn from Mevlana. The beauty of Mevalan’s poetry is that this can be enjoyed by kids as well as adults. You can read aloud Mevalan’s stories to your children at bedtime or talk about these wonderful stories during family gatherings. Or just enjoy them personally.

(3) I was surprised to learn that Layla and Majnun story is a true story. In the 7th century there was a beautiful girl called Layla bint Mahdi who lived in the hilly village of Jabal-Al-Toubad. This is her fascinating story. Interpreting Sufi Stories of Mevlana Rumi: Layla and Majnun

I hope you enjoy this post and find it useful. Thank you for visiting!

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