“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi
When anxiety fills me, and I feel disconnected from my essence—or when I’m simply out of love—I turn to Rumi.
Rumi didn’t start out as the 13th century Persian poet we all cherish today. He was a wealthy nobleman, theologian, and sober Islamic scholar—until he met the wandering dervish monk known as Shams Al Tabriz.
As soon as Shams spoke, Rumi knew that he had met his soulmate. And Shams knew he had found the star pupil he’d been seeking for 17 years. They retreated to Rumi’s house for almost three months. There, they both touched a source of light that was godly and inexplicable. Each man, with the help of the other, discovered the grace and truth he sought.
After his introduction to the world of mysticism, Rumi learned everything he could about love—unbounded and compassionate and universal. He would go on to become the most famous son of Sufism and the most-read poet of all time.
Rumi’s words speak not to our minds, but to our hearts. We learn more about love from his poems and stories than from any other book.
We don’t just read his words. We experience them. We enter and inhabit his verses, and they take us to another realm that nourishes our longing for spiritual connection and universal belonging.
With Rumi’s poems, we transcend our material existence and move toward joy, inner peace, and our core desire—love.
As humans, we often tap into a certain feeling that makes us come alive. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “We feel a buoyancy, an alchemical quintessence, a shimmering aliveness that is both still and in motion.”
It’s not the same as just having fun or feeling fleetingly happy; it’s something bigger. For those few minutes, time and space collapse into one, and we feel ecstatic. This particular joy can last for minutes, hours, or a lifetime.
Poets describe this as the time when we are in touch with our souls—when we build a bridge between the human self and the higher self, passable in both directions.
Every time I read Rumi, I know that I’m talking not only with my consciousness, but with the collective one as well. I especially enjoy Coleman Barks’ translations, “The Essential Rumi,” “The Book of Love,” and “The Big Red Book.”
I find these 13 poems to be some of his most soul-gushing. I hope they may open your heart as they have opened mine.
1. “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.”
2.“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
3. “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.”
4. “I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.
Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
5. “I said to the night,
‘If you are in love with the moon,
it is because you never stay for long.’
The night turned to me and said,
‘It is not my fault. I never see the Sun,
how can I know that love is endless?'”
6. “You are the Essence of the Essence,
The intoxication of Love.
I long to sing Your Praises
but stand mute
with the agony of wishing in my heart!”
7. “If I love myself
I love you.
If I love you
I love myself.”
8. “Lovers find secret places
inside this violent world
where they make transactions
9. “If you are seeking, seek us with joy
For we live in the kingdom of joy.
Do not give your heart to anything else
But to the love of those who are clear joy,
Do not stray into the neighborhood of despair.
For there are hopes: they are real, they exist—
Do not go in the direction of darkness—
I tell you: suns exist.”
10. “Love isn’t the work of the tender and the gentle;
Love is the work of wrestlers.
The one who becomes a servant of lovers
is really a fortunate sovereign.
Don’t ask anyone about Love; ask Love about Love.
Love is a cloud that scatters pearls.”
11.“This is how I would die
into the love I have for you:
As pieces of cloud
dissolve in sunlight.”
12.“Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment. But the sky’s mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I
sing those words.”
13. “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
Author: Mo Issa
Image: Distel Fliege/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social editor: Catherine Monkman