The mystical traditions of Christianity and Islam bear a striking resemblance to one another. The only little knowledge of mysticism that I have is through my experience attending Eastern Orthodox Church services. I have been reading Rumi’s poems and have grown to love them. Each of his poems, like the themes found in Christian mysticism, is about emptying the soul of all preconceptions of God and of the world, and embarkening on a search for truth. The idea is that the material world will often cloud our judgement and it is through avoiding indulging in worldly pleasures that we can truly find ourselves and existence.
It is easy to see why Rumi was, and is, still read worldwide. Regardless of one’s faith, there is much to learn from Rumi, the 12th century Sufi poet, about deepening our understanding of ourselves and of the world around us.
Here are some examples of Rumi’s poems:
“This is love: to fly to heaven, every moment to rend a hundred veils;
At first instance, to break away from breath — first step, to renounce feet;
To disregard this world, to see only that which you yourself have seen6 .
I said, “Heart, congratulations on entering the circle of lovers,
“On gazing beyond the range of the eye, on running into the alley of the breasts.”
Whence came this breath, O heart? Whence came this throbbing, O heart?
Bird, speak the tongue of birds: I can heed your cipher!
The heart said, “I was in the factory whilst the home of water and clay was abaking.
“I was flying from the workshop whilst the workshop was being created.
“When I could no more resist, they dragged me; how shall I
tell the manner of that dragging?”
“Mystical Poems of Rumi 1”, A.J. Arberry
The University of Chicago Press, 1968
“Sweetly parading you go my soul of soul, go not without me;
life of your friends, enter not the garden without me.
Sky, revolve not without me; moon, shine not without me;
earth travel not without me, and time, go not without me.
With you this world is joyous, and with you that world is joyous;
in this world dwell not without me, and to that world depart not without me.
Vision, know not without me, and tongue, recite not without
me; glance behold not without me, and soul, go not without me.
The night through the moon’s light sees its face white; I am
light, you are my moon, go not to heaven without me.
The thorn is secure from the fire in the shelter of the roses
face: you are the rose, I your thorn; go not into the rose garden without me.
I run in the curve of your mallet when your eye is with me;
even so gaze upon me, drive not without me, go not without me.
When, joy, you are companion of the king, drink not without
me; when, watchman, you go to the kings roof, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on this road without your sign; since
you, O signless one, are my sign, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on the road without my knowledge;
you are the knowledge of the road for me; O road-knower, go not without me.
Others call you love, I call you the king of love; O you who are
higher than the imagination of this and that, go not without me.”
“Mystical Poems of Rumi 2” A. J. Arberry
The University of Chicago Press, 1991