The term for an Islamic mystic is a Sufi. The word means “wool” in Arabic, and it describes the coarse woollen clothes that Sufis often wore to remind them that this world was not a place in which to find meaningful comfort.
The core of the Sufi philosophy is ‘Fana-Fillah’.’ Fanah-Fillah’ means ‘annihilation in God’. That is similar to the ‘Nirvana’: realize the divine, while still being alive here in this world.
“Listen, O drop, give yourself up without regret, and in exchange, gain the Ocean.“ ---- Rumi (Masnavi).
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273) was a 13th-century Persian Islamic poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.
Rūmī is a descriptive name meaning “Roman”. Rumi was born in the year 1207, in the town of Wakhsh, which lies in present-day Tajikistan. Rumi’s father Baha’uddin was a celebrated scholar in the region and a minor prince of the ruling emirate.
Rumi, was a deeply religious man, a devout Muslim. He believed that everyone could unlock the door to attaining spiritual bliss, if they would only be willing to open themselves, with determination and patience, to their inner potential.
Jalaluddin Rumi headed a religious academy in the city of Konya, in Turkey. Shamsuddin was a mystic who Rumi met by chance and who had a profound spiritual effect on him. In the winter of 1273, Rumi fell ill. He passed away in mid-December of the same year and was laid to rest in a mausoleum in Konya, Turkey, next to the Selimye Mosque.
Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the ‘Mevlevi Order’, also known as the ‘Order of the Whirling Dervishes’, famous for its Sufi dance known as the ‘Sama’ ceremony.
o …… Just look at yourself, how you’re so afraid of becoming nothing.
Know that nothingness is also afraid (that you might become something).
If you’re reaching out for worldly honour and success, it’s merely from the latent fears (of death) you suffer from within your agonized spirit………
o ……… One was far sighted and yet blind; another sharp of hearing yet deaf; and a third naked and yet wearing a long robe. Avarice is blind to its own faults but sees those of others; the sharp eared deaf man hears death approaching others, but not himself, and long robed naked man is he who fears robbers, though he has nothing to loose. In fact all these men are afflicted with follies and self-delusions…….
o ……….. Where there is pain, that’s where the cure goes. Where there is poverty, that’s where the rations go. Where there are difficult questions, that’s where the answers go, and where there is a ship, that’s where the water goes.
Don’t worry about looking for the water; get thirsty so that the water will rush to you from above and below. Unless the precious child is born, how can milk begin to flow from the breast?
Go and run through these hills and meadows so you can get really thirsty; let yourself succumb to the heat! After a while, you’ll hear the noise of approaching thunder, and soon you’ll hear the sounds of water in the stream, O you who would be king! ……
o …… If an ant wants to become as strong as Solomon, don’t laugh at it for its goals. Think of everything you ever gained in treasure and skill—wasn’t there a time when it was all just a dream and a quest?.......
o …… By day and by night there is movement of foam on the sea. You can see the foam, but not the sea—how amazing! We bump into each other like boats in the night; our sight is dimmed, even though we’re in clear water……
o ………This world is like a playground, and death is the onset of night; you come home exhausted at the end of the day with an empty purse. The earnings of spirituality are love, inner joy, and the ability to accept the Light of God, you stubborn one! ………….
o ……..O! you who treat others badly simply because of your high status; know that you’re digging a hole for yourself to fall into. Don’t weave a cocoon (of false pretences) around yourself like a silkworm; you’re digging a hole for yourself! Don’t dig so eagerly!
Many of the evils that you see in others are really just a reflection of your own evil in them. In their reflection, all your hypocrisy, evil, and arrogance are made apparent. You’re the real wicked one! You’re aiming blows at yourself and laying curses upon your own head at every turn.
You don’t recognize the evil within yourself at all, for if you did you would hate yourself to the very core. You’re assaulting yourself; you fool, like a deceived lion who rushed at himself upon seeing his reflection in a pool.
O you who see bad reflections in the face of your uncle, your uncle is not the bad one, it’s you, so don’t run away from facing your own self……..
o …… Hidden things are manifested by their opposites:
But, as Self (God) has no opposite, he remains hidden…….
o …My outward form may not mislead you,
Digest my sweet advice before copying me…..
The power of the light of the eye is mated with fat,
The light of the heart is hidden in the drop of blood.
Joy harbours in the kidneys and pain in the liver,
The lamp of reason in the brains of the head:
Smell in the nostrils and the speech in the tongue,
Concupiscence in the flesh and courage in the heart……..
o …Cleverness is as a wind raising the storms of pride….
Fihi Ma Fihi (It Is What It Is)
o ……. These thoughts then are like a shroud, and within that shroud someone is hidden. The day reality draws you and the shroud of thought disappears, there will be no disappointment. Then you will see reality as it is and nothing more………
o ………. If you bring a lamp before the sun, do you say, “I see the sun by means of this lamp”? God forbid! If you did not bring the lamp, the sun would still shine. What need is there for a lamp?.......
………..That is where the danger lies; it leads to a fading respect for the true source. When you cultivate the interest of kings, that other interest which is fundamental to the spiritual life becomes a stranger to you….
o …….. A certain king said to a dervish, “In the moment when you find revelation and propinquity in the Court of God, remember me.” The dervish replied, “When I come into that Presence and the Light of that Sun shines upon me, I will no more remember myself. How then can I remember you?”……
o ……. what is truly of importance and touches us more closely than anything else, namely our own Self, this your great scholars do not know. They make statements about everything, saying, “This is true and that is not true. This is right and that is wrong.” Yet, they do not know their own Self, whether it is true or false, pure or impure………
o ……. Take the famous utterance, “I am God.” Some people think this is a great pretension, but “I am God” is in fact a great humility. Those who say, instead, “I am a servant of God” believe that two exist, themselves and God. But those who say, “I am God” have become nothing and have cast themselves to the winds. They say, “I am God” meaning, “I am not, God is all. There is no existence but God. I have lost all separation. I am nothing.” In this the humility is greater……….
o ……… Within the people of this world all things are written, but veils and darkness do not allow men and women to read the knowledge within them. The veils and darkness are those many preoccupations, worldly desires and thoughts of every kind………..
o ….. Action is an inward reality…. Action is not what people think it is. People believe action is this outward show. But if a hypocrite performs only the (outward) form of action…… it gains them nothing……
o …….. You are the true transcription
Of the archetype divine.
A glass through which the Sun’s
Own loveliness does shine.
Within, or without,
Wherever it may lie,
Accept every desire,
And declare, “‘It is I!”……….
o ……. “People are passionate for whatever they are denied.”….. the moment you begin to refuse it, everybody is after it and sets their hearts on it, pleading and protesting ……….
o ……… A mate is for the sake of children, companionship and to satisfy passion. Clothes are to ward off the cold. In this way, all things are desired for some other thing, each desire leading to the next, all ending in the desire for God. He is desired for His own sake, not for anything else……..
o Do not think that saints
No longer travel upon this road.
Perfect in all life’s ways.
Traceless lovers of God.
It is because you cannot see
Their secrets through your eyes,
You fancy in your vain conceit,
No others can gain that prize.
o Speak sweetly when crossing the mountain pass,
Why do you bray like an ass?
The azure sky sends back the note,
Of sweetness from your own throat.
o …..If we knew all that there was to know, and all ignorance was eliminated, we would be consumed and cease to be. Therefore ignorance is a good thing, since through it this world continues to exist. Knowledge is also desirable, for it leads to the awareness of God…..
Divan-e shams (collection of poetry ) :
o ………. “The fewer complications we lay upon our hearts and hands, the more we disengage from the world around us, the happier we’ll find ourselves. A poor man’s pleasure, though gone in an instant, is still better than all the pageantry of a thousand kings.”………
o ……. The rational mind says I’ll win him with my logic. Love says I’ll win him with my silence. The Soul says how can I ever hope to win him when I’m already his? He wants for nothing; he worries not. He’s not in search of a transcendent feeling of ecstasy…. The only way I can ever hope to win the heart of my beloved then—is to give myself up to him…….
o …..I went on a journey without me
There I found joy without me
The moon that hid, could not see
Cheek to cheek with me, without me
For beloved set my soul free
I was reborn without me
Without spirit drunk are we
Always happy without me
Erase me from memory
I remember, without me
Without me with joy I plea
May I always be without me
Closed all doors, I could not flee
Then I entered without me …….
o …….. You who seek God apart, apart,
The thing you seek, thou art, thou art;
Why then search for what you have not lost?
Searching for what’s not lost, distrust, distrust!
Thou art the letters, names and the book
Prophets and angels your word undertook;
Just sit still, this futile search let go
You are the house, master and foe
Essence and form, celestial and from earth
Always eternal, in death and at birth…………..
o I am neither of the West nor the East
Not of the ocean, nor an earthly beast
I am neither a natural wonder
Nor from the stars yonder
Neither flesh of dust, nor wind inspire
Nor water in veins, nor made of fire
I am neither an earthly carpet, nor gems terrestrial
Nor am I confined to Creation, nor the Throne Celestial
Not of ancient promises, nor of future prophecy
Not of hellish anguish, nor of paradisic ecstasy
Neither the progeny of Adam, nor Eve
Nor of the world of heavenly make-believe
My place is the no-place
o My image is without face
Neither of body nor the soul
I am of the Divine Whole.
I eliminated duality with joyous laughter
Saw the unity of here and the hereafter
Unity is what I sing, unity is what I speak
Unity is what I know, unity is what I seek
o …. You say Illa, “only God,”; then your hungry eyes see you’re in “nothing,” La…….
o ………To believers, it’s gospel. To the lover and the visionary, it’s life as it’s being lived………
o ……..When the ocean comes to you as a lover, marry, at once, quickly, for God’s sake! Don’t postpone it! Existence has no better gift. No amount of searching will find this………..
o ………..Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands, or your own genuine solitude? Freedom, or power over an entire nation? .........
o …..You are an ocean in a drop of dew, all the universes in a thin sack of blood! What are these pleasures then, these joys, these worlds that you keep reaching for, hoping they will make you more alive? …….
o …… I swear by the one who never says tomorrow, as the circle of the moon refuses to sell instalments of light. It gives all it has……..
o .... Time is a sharp down stroke. A Sufi is (supposed to be) a child of the moment! Don’t say tomorrow or later.”…….
o ……..I may be clapping my hands, but I don’t belong to a crowd of clappers. Neither this nor that, I’m not part of a group that loves flute music or one that loves gambling or drinking wine. Those who live in time, descended from Adam, made of earth and water, I’m not part of that…….
o ……. 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…….
o ……This we have now is not imagination. This is not grief, or joy, not a judging state, or an elation, or a sadness. Those come and go. This is the presence that doesn’t……
When the cleansing water has finished its battle, and it’s become dirty so much so that no one wants to touch it, then God brings it back into the Ocean of Purity, so that the Water (of His love) can make it pure once more.
A year later it comes flowing back, (and when it’s asked,) “Hey, where have you been?” It responds, saying, “In the Ocean of Purity! I left here dirty, and I’ve come back clean. I’ve been wrapped in the cloak of honor, and I return to earth once more.”
“Listen!” (the Water says.) “Come to me all you who are tainted, for my soul has been exposed to the nature of God. I’ll accept all your foul nature and transform the demon within you into a pure angel.
“Whenever I become sullied, I return back (to Him) once more— to the original Source of all purities. Once there, I’ll tear this filthy robe off my head, and He’ll give me one as pure as snow once more.”
This is the work (of God), and my task is the same—He is the Lord of all Creation, and the beautifier of the world! ----- (Masnawi)
(i) Fire Extinguisher:
A simple man heard the sound of footsteps in his house at night. He took up a flint to start a flame so he could see. Just then, the thief came and sat down next to him, and whenever the tinder was about to catch fire, the thief put it out by pressing the tip of his finger on it so the spark would disappear.
The good man thought the fire was dying by itself, for he never saw the thief there putting it out. The man said, “This tinder must be wet, for on account of it the spark goes out at once.”
Because it was dark all around him, he never saw the fire extinguisher sitting next to him. In the same way, the person who is (materialistic) doesn’t see a similar fire extinguisher in his heart. - ------ (Masnawi)
(ii) Till man destroys ego he is no true friend of God (Self)
Once a man came and knocked at the door of his friend. His friend said, “Who are you, O faithful one?” His friend said, “It is I”. He answered “There is no admittance. There is no room for the raw at my well-cooked feast. Naught but fire of separation and absence can cook the raw one and free him from hypocrisy! Since thy ‘self’ (ego) has not yet left thee, Thou must be burned in fiery flames.” The poor man went away, and for one whole year journeyed burning with grief for his friend’s absence. His heart burned till it was cooked; then he went again and drew near to the house of his friend. He knocked the door in fear and trepidation. Least some careless word might fall from his lips. His friend shouted “Who is that at the door?” He answered, “It is you who is at the door. O, Beloved!” The friend said, “Since it is I, let me come in, there is no room for two “I”s in one house.” ------- (Masnawi)
1. Rumi: The Book of Love – Coleman Barks.
2. Masnavi i Ma’navi – Tr.by E.H.Whinfield.
3. Fihi Ma Fihi – AJ.Arberry (OMPHALOSKEPSIS edition)
4. Divan-e Shams by Shahriar Shahriari
5. Complete idiots guide of Rumi Meditations by Yahiya Emerick.
“O monarch of all truthful folk,
How can I be called a hypocrite?
With living people I am alive,
And with the dead as dead I sit.”
-------- Fihi Ma Fihi
“Who so says ‘one’ and ‘two’ and so on,
Confess thereby the existence of the ‘One’.
When the illusion of seeing double is swept away,
They who say ‘one’ and ‘two’ are even as they who say ’one’ “
I may be clapping my hands, but I don’t belong to a crowd of clappers.
Neither this nor that, I’m not part of a group that loves flute music or one that loves gambling or drinking wine.
Those who live in time, descended from Adam, made of earth and water; I’m not part of that.