“Rumi is Social Media Crack Cocaine.” ~ Waylon Lewis

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 30, 2012
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Here’s something a very handsome charming (and modest) author wrote up about how every uberhipsterspiritualist quotes Rumi non-stop:

“I’ll meet you in the field lalalalal”

…his quotes are everywhere and yet no one knows anything about him. He was a Sufi! He was cool. Let’s learn more!

A call for renewed “Slow” Social Media consumption & sharing.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
~ Rumi

Oh yeah? I agree. Probably.

But a little feel good quote ain’t spirituality, or even real joy. Leave me alone with your trite share-happy aphorisms, oh Facebookers, Pinteresters, and other too-speedy-to-be-present friends. ~ ed.

Rumi love quote


“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”

~ Rumi

I gave a little seminar or workshop on Social Media for the Greater Good, yesterday, at the Unreasonable Institute, where I’m honored to serve as a mentor.

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
~ Rumi

The Beloved Poet Rumi


I used Austin’s Black Swan Yoga’s Facebook Page as a prime example of how a small business can go big, gathering community, online, for free.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi




And I said “Rumi is social media crack cocaine,” at one point. It’s true: all of human history, learning, and civilization, and we’ve become Pinterested only in pretty photos and quotes. Put one of those up, and speedy Americans will share, like, and move on. And your brand will grow.


“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”
~ Rumi

Of course, we all need to go deeper. And that’s what yoga classes (in Black Swan’s case) are for. So hopefully all that sharing, liking, and speediness will relax into good ol’fashioned 3D reality: you know…sunlight, fresh air, doing things, with people, making those memories that blow up the balloon that is a life, well-lived.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
~ Rumi

ego rumi quote

Source: piccsy.com via Kimberly on Pinterest

We all love Rumi. But we could love his eloquent, mind-stopping, heart-pounding wisdom more fully.

So let this be a call (to me, to you, to her, to him) for renewed appreciation of Rumi, Hafiz, Dr. Seuss, and other much-overused victims of our quest for more fans.

Let this be a call for “Slow Social Media” consumption and sharing.

Is this call futile? Will it fall on mostly-closed ears and too-speedy minds? Probably.

But that’s no reason not to sound the horn. ~ Waylon Lewis


Let’s learn about Rumi, together!

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom


82 Responses to ““Rumi is Social Media Crack Cocaine.” ~ Waylon Lewis”

  1. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB to: Cultured & Enlightened.

  2. Oh Rumi…I love Rumi but it is all a bit much after awhile.

    I think we need to bring Bukoswki front and center to Facebook and Pinterest land instead. Or maybe just, you know, think things and say them to each other in person for real.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Comments from my Wall:

    Kate: I stand by my favorite Rumism "Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field. And everyone who pissed me off should go to that field and stay there!" or maybe that was just me and not Rumi.

    Jay Winston Not to mention that most "Rumi" quotes, like most "Buddha" and "Martin Luther King" quotes are totally bogus…

    Matson Tew ok Waylon, I am not sure about this one……I love your work, blog, fb occasional page but you are going out on a ledge blasting Rumi, Hafiz, Neruda…where would it end. If it speaks let it speak. Get out of that Boulder heat brother, think its getting to you

    Tobye Hillier My favourite one is "Fuck the begrudgers"

    Jordan Epstein · 20 mutual friends
    give me that real shit.

    Meredith Potter I like your article. I also like Rumi. Inspirational quotes sometimes help my sanity.

    Jayme Peta I've just been thinking this! Thanks for posting it! Pinterest is the worst for the trite aphorism.

    Susi Costello · Friends with Seane Corn and 19 others
    I think many quotes are real shit. They're real thoughts, real truths… and they're put together in a poetic way that seem to speak to a lot of people.
    It's true that once you've heard something for maybe the 500th time, it sounds trite. But that doesn't mean it IS trite; it's just that we start to use it as shorthand which isn't good. But just like I can find inspiration in music or artwork, I can often find it in some bits of poetic philosophy.

    Waylon Lewis Matson, my post has zero criticism of Rumi, Hafiz…not sure you understood the point, brother. The point is that our Facebook ADHD speediness treats these masters (I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove Neruda) like fast food. Like, like, like, like…that is not how poetry is meant to be read. It's meant to be read in a bathtub, crying on yourself, smoking a Sherman, making love, drinking scotch.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    I wonder why there's so little Bukowski on Pinterest? Doesn't MarthaStewartland have a place for dark?

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Comments from our Main Page:

    Truth is most of us who post Rumi-isms couldn't walk that talk if our lives depended on it.

    elephantjournal.com ‎Tom Grasso – I think they are worthwhile in that they remind us to make those things our aim. I like Bukowski better: "Don't Try." ~ Kate

    Robin Kusilka I do not know how old you are Waylon, but I am 57, and started reading Rumi when i was 20. His words showed me a new and more enlightened way of experiencing who i was, and guided me to where i wanted to be. Plus, in sharing his wise words, others have opened their hearts and souls…sorry you are so

    Capri Kurtz wow online humans SUCK don't they. I posted a rumi-ism last week. hollaaa

    elephantjournal.com Robin, case in point: you haven't read the article. If you had you'd know I looove Rumi. My criticism is of those of us (most of us on FB, Pinterest) who treat such masters too speedily, without slowing down and learning from them. ~ Waylon

  6. LGeffn says:

    Rumi is wack- better than crack

  7. Sherri says:

    I really enjoy many articles in the Elephant Journal however there is, sometimes, a sense of "better than". My yoga is better than your yoga, my veganism is better than whatever you're eating, my spirituality kicks your spirituality's ass, I am better than you because I study and breathe Rumi in private and you just have a Pinterest page… I know more, I think more, I am more. I am better than you because i do things differently.

    And I don't agree. I love it when someone posts an inspirational quote on Facebook – in that moment it is a reminder of those words, those thoughts – sometimes it is only for that moment, and sometimes I go back to find a quote that so and so put up, because I am thinking of it. And therefore thinking of them – and we connected, just a little bit more, through a silly post or picture that has been posted a thousand times before and liked countless times. Little connections, lovely connections.

  8. slsimms says:

    Mr. Lewis has a wonderful point…our spirituality does have a bit of fast food-ish feel to it. That may be all some people are willing to invest or afford presently which makes those pretty pictures and their pretty sayings so useful.

    The important thing is, this is a community where people can be uplifted, incensed, informed, and ready to take on the world. I fully believe in militia journalism!

  9. Maria says:

    i love rumi, and don't care if the person posting his poems is spiritual or living his words or not.
    he has the ability to stop my mind for a second and bring me deeper. keep 'em coming.
    i agree with sherri.

  10. yogasamurai says:

    The Rumi fetish is fascinating because Rumi was actually in love with his Guru, Shams, who also had a Guru. And Rum's devotees were supremely jealous of Shams, and some believe they knocked him off, actually.

    It's worth asking questions about this in light of other guru fetishes, which so often lead to real-world ecstatic unions, and Muse-like enchantments.

    But why do so few produce memorable poetry? Or perhaps there's a John Friend/Anusara anthology in the works?

    I know quite a few followers who are sitting on their own "Ode to my BFF."

  11. Robin Turner says:

    Well Rumi himself said "Poetry is tripe" (but then added "But people want tripe, so I write poetry").

  12. nancey says:

    If we (myself included) can remember that everyone is in a different place in their spiritual practice, we might not be so quick to judge what someone is putting on their FB page, or otherwise. I broke up with FB a couple years ago for the second and last time. I personally think FB is a waste of my time — but that doesn't mean I judge others who have a FB page. Or if I do, I recognize quickly that I'm making the judgment and move on. If the intention behind the quote is to share something positive, thought-provoking or serve as a reminder to come back to your practice, then I'm all for it. If it is designed to promote/market the person or their yoga business, I suppose that is a different story. Either way, unless I know the person, I'm just making up a story in my head — an assumption — so why not choose the story that sends you off in a positive direction. To coin another quote or having heard it enough it feels like a quote — how 'bout we meet everyone wherever they are on the mat, instead of the other way around? Secretly or not so secretly, I love what you're saying here and it's good to remember that everyone is just doing their best.

  13. @gmcheeseman says:

    I think you bring up a good point. It's great to use social media to promote our brands, but sometimes I just want to share insights with people in a shorter manner than a blog post or article allows. Lately on Facebook when I put up a quote, I explain what that quote means to me. For instance, in a Facebook group I started called "Prayer requests" I put up a quote by Bruce Lee, and added about four or five sentences about how that quote is helping me to understand the symbolism of water in Christianity. I find that when I explain the importance of the quote in my life, I get better comments.

  14. Chelsea Goodyear says:


    Thank you for this article. It has caused me to evaluate my use of “fast-food poetry” (love that.)

    For the past four months I have been in limbo. My husband and I have moved across the country with our son, to be with our family. Neither one of us have had a job since we moved here. Taking care of my son, and discovering my left brain have been my daily bread. A lot of my time has been spent online — consuming poetry, science, sustainable living practices, and a few other inspirators. I have used my Facebook page to expose others to much of my buffet. Sometimes I post something for someone specific, but I don’t include their name. I usually wonder if they have seen it, but I never ask. How do I know that it was actually for them anyways. Perhaps another received it into their heart that day, or even maybe not. Maybe I am getting warmed up to the idea of speaking to people about these things every time I talk to them. I can hope that when they do receive it, it becomes a light that draws them nearer to the depth of meditation. But it might not. Again, maybe it’s simply practice for myself, I don’t know. I would love to know that every time I experience a greater understanding, my brother or sister could experience the same.. it’s worth a shot I suppose.

    I really don’t want to feel bad about blasting my Facebook with quotes, poetry, music, photography, lessons, that have all inspired me to slow, deepen, and love more. After reading this article though, I am feeling a sense of loss for all that was behind the majority of my posts…


  15. jane b. says:

    I totally agree with your points here, Waylon. Though, with all due respect, I usually think of EJ as embodying that speedy, sound byte approach to journalism. Too often it seems like a battle for who can stick the catchiest title on their latest insubstantial gripes about spirituality. In fairness, there are great articles that get posted here, and EJ seems to reach, and thus benefit, a lot of people. Given the topic of your post, I'm wondering if you or anyone else feels similarly, and if so, what could be done about it?

  16. Shona says:

    Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the most spiritual of all?????

    The role of social media (whatever we think of it)is recognised and utilised directly by many modern religious leaders, teachers and opinion formers as a means of reaching a great many people and were Rumi alive today perhaps he would would have had his own page.

    Mr Lewis – you pressed a few buttons for me not least because I love and have been known to share Rumi quotes but also because I am an adult, capable of forming my own conclusions and making my own decisions and following my chosen path. I try to live a simple and
    honest life and not to water any more, the seeds of judgement and criticism in me. On Fb, I try to post or share from a place of, and with an emphasis on – joy, happiness, love, compassion, gratitude and kindness and health.

    The posts I see on Fb – be they self promoting, repetitive, misquoting or operating within terms of reference similar to my own; whatever..The intention is usually palpable and that is what is most important.

    However in my reaction to your post there has been more learning for me and I thank you for that. I see you too are prepared to learn from the mindful and helpful observations of others such as Robin, Nancey, Sherri and others and
    that is surely one of the greatest gifts that we can offer and accept from others.

    So to finish, borrowing some great words from Rumi – Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

  17. KThorpe says:

    Words point to an experience. You can stay with the nice sound of the words or you can seek the experience behind the words. It's up to the reader or listener to decide what to do with the words.

  18. happytreepose says:

    Hahaha, fantastic!! Totally true, there are a few too many pretty landscape pictures with words to inspire out there at the moment, which is a shame. Each quote/picture is usually very pretty and a nice reminder, but when you're bombarded with them all day on blogs/twitter/pinterest etc they all begin to lose their meaning…

    Thanks for the food for thought, as someone who does blog and does use quotes from time to time its certainly good to remember to step back and decide if I'm adding to the conversation or just repeating like a parrot without actually thinking the message through…

  19. Dee says:

    Post your own lovely thoughts if you think they will inspire more sincerity. That is fair. But I too have found so many moments that, just for a second or two, I have made contact with my soul by reading Rumi on FB.

  20. Angie says:

    I'd much rather enjoy a lovely Rumi quote on someone's FB page, than to read what they ate for breakfast, what their last workout routine was, or why they are fighting with their loved one. More and more people these days are spreading positive, loving vibes instead of crap! That's all that matters :) Things are looking up! :)

  21. tony f says:

    Lately I've been skipping over the inspirational quotes in my feeds. But half way through the article, I had that magic "ah ha moment" when for the hundredth time I read:
    “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
    Either way, if an overused quote lights a single person up, it was worth posting. Thanks for posting this and for keeping it positive!

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  23. […] Twain, C.S. Lewis and “Anonymous.” Whoever said it, it’s important to remember. We get so speedy and busy. We worry about lots of different things we need to have or do, that in the long run might not matter […]

  24. […] quote about adversity. You can’t handle every difficult situation in life by throwing Rumi quotes at a Facebook Wall and hoping one […]

  25. Patrycja says:

    I can be totally guilty of spreading too many words and not letting them process. I do think, however, that if people are attracted to the organization I work with because of a good message, then heck yeah! Most importantly, though, thanks for your article; I appreciate the call for embodiment of the words we use.

  26. […] give a lot of talks on how to do social media right. I gave one two days ago, as part of the Unreasonable Climax. In it I emphasized that, really, even when you’re swimming in a digital world, we […]

  27. […] Western culture, we like the slogan idea. We love sharing inspirational quotes (especially on Facebook!), but we often gravitate towards the superficial, happy “everything is great” style […]

  28. […] Rumi quotes alone will not save you. I am so grateful that poets such as Rumi, Rilke, and Hafiz march their way wall to wall on Facebook. The poets alone cannot save us until we internalize their words. There words will effect us over time. Allow them to walk ephemerally in and out of our consciousness. […]

  29. […] AC is on full blast 8. Worrying about your love life, consoling self with trite, soon-forgotten, loosely translated Rumi quotes on Pinterest 9. surfing the internet, reading articles with funny headlines that make you feel even worse about […]

  30. […] can be typed out with quotes around it, but very few deserve to be Photoshopped over a sunset and posted on Pinterest. The yoga world has been up to their crown chakra with these things for as long as I can remember. So […]

  31. […] I’ve found myself getting lost in a sea of chia-seed appreciation groups, love hearts and Rumi quotes. This non-stop bombardment of information feels more like a fancy marketing strategy than a […]

  32. […] Positivity is no longer just a New Agey spiritualist‘s naive obsession. It’s no longer a teenage dream. It’s gone mainstream through yoga classes and greeting cards and half-baked faux-Rumi quotes on Facebook. […]

  33. […] $300 in Wah!, Krisna Das and Deva Premal. How could I not bring my future students the words of Rumi, Mary Oliver, Lalla, and Hafiz? Into the bag went the sacred music and […]

  34. […] think you messed it up. I need to read a professional meditation teacher, like Rumi, I […]

  35. Lokken says:

    This is super-cynical and presumptuous. How do you know what people do with positive quotes?
    Bashing positivity like this does not create enlightened society in my book. You are creating more karma,
    in fact causing ME to create Karma by writing this. I have a headache. Are you doing this in the name of Shambhala?

  36. Sense says:

    This is one of the most pretentious things that I’ve ever read.

  37. JenG says:

    When spirituality is broken down into easy-to-understand bullet-point lists, and 5 Free (or Cheap!) Ways to Find Your Center, then is has become marketable.

    But you still have to chop the wood and carry the water.

  38. allison says:

    HA i love this! well written..

  39. elephantjournal says:

    Shireen Q Sufis like Rumi (and HIS mentor, Shams of Tabriz) would hate over consumption and social sharing of sound bytes like the one you mention in your article. It goes against everything they believe in.

    A Sufi

    Shireen Q "I find these “Facebook Rumi”s as a sign of contemporary individualistic, feel-good consumerism that is interested in “individual experience” more than any type of spiritual transformation." – by Omid Safi

    Jessica Johnson I love Rumi, but this is funny.

    Elephant Journal We love him too! So let's learn about him, more, let's go deeper!

    Jessica Johnson I used to teach Rumi to 10th graders – great experience!!

    Leila J OK guilty. Rumi has the best quotes ever & I love them. But I did know that his birthday was a couple days ago & there is a big festival of celebration marking it.

    Kalika H Hahaha …..

    Jenneen C: Love it, Funny, cause it true! But … it's RUMI so could we ever go wrong!?!

    Sarah Z: Rumi is my crack cocaine

    Joanne M: Rumi would appreciate this

    Jackie G noooooo

  40. Jenna B. Wiser says:

    There can only be two important questions that are asked with regard to human relationships:

    1). Where am I going?

    2). Who is going with me

    Do not invert the order of these questions.

    Now that we have that clear remember this:

    What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame, but something wild to run with.

    And that concludes this session of “Deep Thoughts” by Jack Handey. :)

  41. Stacey B says:

    Awesome. Waylon – I like your style. I want to type something in here to everyone who’s being overly sensitive like, “go eat (an ethically raised) steak and get over it, but is probably get in trouble. As I traveled on Grateful Dead tour I had a book of Rumi poems and a copy of The Prophet. Let’s start a trend of everyone quoting Gibran!

  42. Rachel says:

    I can’t tell if you are pro or anti black swan but for what it’s worth when I visited Austin recently I was sure to take a class at the studio only because we followed each other on Instagram and I wanted to put a name to the face plus I enjoy their posts.

    It was a great class.

  43. jaleeza says:

    Is it wrong that I immediately Pinned this article? Valid points. :-)

  44. Ginnie Dickinson says:

    I enjoy the excerpts of Rumi’s work that cross my feed because they DO remind me of his greater body of work and its meaning.
    The same is true of all the poets, philosophers, poets, mystics, and musicians I’ve encountered in my life. Then again, I had a few decades prior to the advent of social media to experience life and literature first hand.
    I think the meme-based “quote mania” of modern social media is a double-edged sword: for one thing, almost no one seems aware of the grammatical fact that “quote” and “quotes” are verbs, and the corresponding noun is “quotation”.
    It is a little too easy to graze on these snippets, like using snack foods to replace nourishing meals.
    On the other hand, if these excerpts do encourage the people they touch to read the original works, and creating/sharing the memes helps us recognize like-minded souls out there in the virtual world, helping us to create communities, I find some value in that.
    I prefer it to relentless recaps of people’s workout regimens, or trite , not-inspiring-at-all memes with cliches like “everything happens for a reason”.

  45. sparkleduck2014 says:

    Lighten up. And the yogis @ Black Swan have a great sense of humor. They mostly post things that are legitimately funny, and not already posted ad nauseam anywhere else.

    You gotta love people complaining about the very readership benefiting them on facebook.

    You know what I dislike? Sites that provide a link to something I'd like to read, and upon my clicking it, asking me to pay for a subscription first. How dare they make money by using such an obvious marketing scheme?

  46. loveyogalivewell says:

    Sorry, but Waylon's right. What good is a brief moment of 'inspiration' ala Rumi/The DL or Gandhi or whoever else is the quote of the day when we don't live it and digest it….and we can't possibly digest it all at the rate these things are shared. It's just like, yeah that's nice…how lovely…move on…and we still behave in the same way as we did before. Maybe not the best example, but it's like if you swear every time you open your mouth, it loses its meaning and impact and becomes just another part of general conversation…If you're going to consume it, take time, sit down with it, really think on it and move forward with awareness. Those who are objecting so vehemently are missing the point entirely. Take a breath, unjerk your knees and chill the hell out. Try to understand what he's saying and you'll see that the man makes a good point

  47. Thomas says:

    Honestly, don't you think there are more important things to give your attention to?

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