Quick Journey Into Realms of Rumi and Sufism

The Guest House

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 honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Rumi - translated by Coleman Barks (the renowned American "Version-maker" of Rumi).

The Dream That Must Be Interpreted

This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.

But there's a difference with this dream.
Everything cruel and unconscious
done in the illusion of the present world,
all that does not fade away at the death-waking.

It stays,
and it must be interpreted.

All the mean laughing,
all the quick, sexual wanting,
those torn coats of Joseph,
they change into powerful wolves
that you must face.

The retaliation that sometimes comes now,
the swift, payback hit,
is just a boy's game
to what the other will be.

You know about circumcision here.
It's full castration there!

And this groggy time we live,
this is what it's like:
A man goes to sleep in the town
where he has always lived, and he dreams he's living
in another town.
In the dream, he doesn't remember
the town he's sleeping in his bed in.  He believes
the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.

The dust of many crumbled cities
settles over us like a forgetful doze,

but we are older than those cities.
We began
as a mineral.  We emerged into plant life
and into the animal state, and then into being human,
and always we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring when we slightly recall
being green again.

That's how a young person turns
toward a teacher.  That's how a baby leans
toward the breast, without knowing the secret
of its desire, yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course,
through this migration of intelligences,
and though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness
that directs the dream,
and that will eventually startle us back
to the truth of who we are.
Rumi - translated by Coleman Barks (the renowned American "Version-maker" of Rumi).

The Self We Share 

Thirst is angry with water.
Hunger bitter with bread.
The cave
wants nothing to do
with the sun.
This is dumb,
the self-defeating way
we've been.

A gold mine
is calling us
into its temple.
Instead, we bend
and keep picking up rocks
from the ground.

Every thing has a shine like gold,
but we should turn to the source!
The origin is what we truly are.
I add a little vinegar
to the honey I give.
The bite of scolding
makes ecstasy more familiar.

But look, fish,
you're already in the ocean:
just swimming there
makes you friends with glory.
What are these grudges about?

You are Benjamin.
Joseph has put a gold cup
in your grain sack
and accused you of being a thief.
Now he draws you aside
and says,
You are my brother.
I am a prayer.
You're the amen.
We move in eternal regions,
yet worry about property here.

This is the prayer of each:
You are the source of my life.
You separate essence from mud.
You honor my soul.
You bring rivers
from the mountain springs.
You brighten my eyes.

The wine you offer
takes me out of myself
into the self we share.
Doing that is religion.
Rumi - translated by Coleman Barks (the renowned American "Version-maker" of Rumi).

Two Kinds of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its spring-box. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It's fluid,
and it doesn't move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.
Rumi - translated by Coleman Barks (the renowned American "Version-maker" of Rumi).

بلخيم من بلخيم من بلخيم
شـوری دارد عالمی از تلخيم
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

I'm a Balkhi, I'm a Balkhi, I'm a Balkhi*
The world is in uproar
over my heartaches.
Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi 'Rumi'
(my translation)

*Balkhi = from Balkh - a city in northern Afghanistan, hence Rumi referring to his original last name, Balkhi in the above first line. Afghans, Iranians, Tajiks and Persian admirers of Rumi still prefer to call him Jalaluddin Balkhi because he was born in Balkh, Afghanistan [back in 13th century, eastern frontiers of Persian Empire], and later migrated westward to Eastern Roman Empire also known as Sultanate of Rum or Turkish Sultanate of Seljuk in central Turkey...thus Jalaluddin Balkhi became Jalaluddin Rumi because he lived the rest of his life as a Roman or a Rumi in Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire also known as Roum which is the Persian and Arabic name for Roman Empire. I personally prefer Maulana or Mevlana which literally means, our master.

In the path of seeking
the wise and fools are the same.
In the faith of love
the known and unknown are the same.
For the lover intoxicated
by the wine of mystical union with Beloved,
in his or her faith,
Muslims' Kaaba and Hindus' Temple of Idols
are the same.
Rumi (my translation)

در راه طلب عاقل و دیوانه یکیست
در شیوه عشق خویش و بیگانه یکیست
آنرا که شراب وصل جانان دادند
درمذهب او کعبه و بتخانه یکیست
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Close your fault seeking eyes
and open your spiritual ones.
So you won't differentiate
between a Mosques or a Temple of Idols
so you won't draw any distinction
between this believer or that believer.
Rumi (my translation)

بر بند دو چشم عیب بین را
بگشای دو چشم غیب دان را
تا مسجد و بتکده نماند
تا نشناسی این و آن را
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

There is a whole other world out there
beyond just Islam and Infidels.
I'm very interested
to get to know that world.
When Sufi mystics reach that realm,
they simply lay their heads down.
For in that inclusive world
there is no room for Islam or Infidels.
Rumi (my translation)

از کفر و زاسلام برون صحراییست
ما را بمیان آنفضا، سوداییست
عارف چو بدان رسید سر را بنهد
نه کفر و نه اسلام و نه آنجا جاییست
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

Out beyond the worlds of Islam and Infidels,
there lies an egalitarian world
where no one is better, worse, or
more significant than the other.
If you're interested in moving
to that unique world,
you need to first leave you heart and soul
as deposit with its Soul Master!
Rumi (my translation)

بیرون ز جهان کفر و ایمان جاییست
کانجا نه مقام هر تر و رعناییست
جان باید داد و دل بشکرانه ی جان
آنرا که تمنای چنین مأواییست
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

He (God) lives deep inside
the inner and outer parts of my heart,
every single part of my heart belongs to Him.
He (God) dwells deep inside my body,
my veins, and my blood,
every single part of my body belongs to Him.
How could there still be a place
for Islam or Infidels inside my heart,
if my entire being belongs to Him?
Rumi (my translation)

اندر دل من درون و بیرون همه اوست
اندر تن من جان و رگ و خون همه اوست
اینجای چگونه کفر و ایمان گنجد
بیچون باشد وجود من چون همه اوست
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

"This is me:
Sometimes hidden
and sometimes revealed.
Sometimes a devoted Muslim
and sometimes
a Christian and a Jew.
For me to fit inside everyone's heart,
I put on a new face everyday."

ماییم که گه نهان وگه پیداییم
گه مومن و گه یهود و گه ترساییم
تا این دل ما قالب هر دل گردد
هر روز به صورتی برون می اییم
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

If the presence of my Beloved
is felt in the Temple of Idols,
then it's a sin for me 
going to Kaaba and circle around it.
If the fragrance of my Beloved
cannot be traced in Kaaba,
then I'd rather look around
for a Jewish Synagogue.
For the sake of tracing
the scent of my Beloved's union,
the Synagogue will be my Kaaba
from now on.
Rumi (my translation)

در بتکده تا خیال معشوهٔ ما است
رفتن به طواف کعبه در عین خطا است
گر کعبه از او بوی ندارد کنشت است
با بوی وصال اوکنشت کعبهٔ ما است
 مولانا جلال الدين بلخي رومي

"I tried to find God on the Christian Cross,
but God was not there;
I went to Muslims' Kaaba in Mecca,
but God was not there either.
I went to the old Jewish Synagogue
and the Temple of Hindus,
but I couldn't find a trace of God anywhere.
I questioned the scholars and philosophers
but He was way beyond their understanding!
I then looked deep into my heart and
it was there where God dwelled
that I saw Him;
God was no where else to be found."

Hundreds of years from now
My poems will be
Your evening talks
Just like Joseph's beauty!

Masnavi or Masnawi is the great masterpiece of Persian Sufi poet, Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi Rumi who lived in the 13th century. The title Masnavi Manavi literally means, rhyming couplets of profound spiritual meaning. Comprising six books of poems that amount to more than 50,000 lines, Masnavi pursues its way through 424 metaphorical, allegorical, and Sufi mystical stories that illustrate Man's predicament in his/her spiritual journey in search of God.

If you're thirsting for the spiritual ocean,
make a breach in the island of Masnavi.

"The Masnavi is a majestic river, calm and deep, meandering through many a rich and varied landscape to the immeasurable ocean; the Divan is a foaming torrent that heaps and plunges in the ethereal solitudes of the hills.. Rumi is the greatest mystical poet of any age."

Professor R.A.Nicholson- the great 20th century British Orientalist and scholar of Rumi who dedicated 35 years of his scholarly life to translate Rumi's entire Masnavi from Persian into English.

"When I experienced Rumi's poetry, which is vibrant with the tone of ecstasy and with melody, I realized the deficiencies of Shakespeare, Goethe, and Victor Hugo."

Maurice Barres

"The sublime humanism of Rumi fired the imagination of mankind long before the West discovered the dignity of man. Dante was a young boy at the time of Rumi's death. The great humanist of the West, Petrarch came a full century after him; and Erasmus followed him two and a half centuries later. Hegel considered Rumi as one of the greatest poets and thinkers in world history.The twentieth century German poet Hans Meinke saw in Rumi 'the only hope for the dark times we are living in.'...In Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Rumi is honored as a saint, a sage, and a seer..."

Excerpts from Professor Afzal Ikbal, the great Pakistani scholar of Rumi's par excellence book The life and work of Jalaludin Rumi. Late Professor Ikbal's monumental book is A MUST READ if you're interested in scholarly analysis of Rumi's life, works, and teachings.

Read the entire book online:

The life and Work of Jalaludin Rumi - by Afzal Ikbal

"Rumi is thus seen, not just as an icon of Islamic civilization (or of Afghan, Iranian, Tajik or Turkish national heritage), but of global culture. And, indeed, the popular following he enjoys in North America as a symbol of ecumenical spirituality is evident in bookstores, poetry slams, church sermons and on the internet. Some claim that Rumi is the bestselling poet in the United States, achieving great commercial success at the hands of authors who "translate" despite not speaking the original language.

Since another Persian poet, Omar Khayyam (d. 1121), once had societies dedicated to him in every corner of the Anglophone world, but is relatively little read today, we may well ask whether Rumi's recent fame in the west represents just another passing fad. But might he have something profound to say about, not only the paradigm of new age thought and spirituality, but also the mystical traditions of the other established religions?"

One of the greatest contemporary American experts of Rumi, Professor Franklin Lewis on Rumi's influence in our beloved America. He is the author of groundbreaking book on Maulana, Rumi: Past and Present, East and. West; The Life, Teaching and Poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi

Prof. Franklin Lewis' following eight outstanding articles on Maulana Rumi, first published in The Guardian, are also A MUST READRumi: World figure or new age fad?

"The universal message of Rumi is a hopeful alternative to the ignorance and lack of spirituality in modern times. Rumi's writings of the thirteenth century advocate an understanding that there is something beyond religion and scholarly learning that can open our eyes to the reality beyond this existence; for Rumi we must climb a spiritual ladder of love. Furthermore, Rumi envisioned a universal faith, embodying all religions, because he understood that the cause of every religious conflict is ignorance. Rumi implies that religiosity consists in something other than outward religions. Real belief is apparent only on the inside of a person, which is not visible. Therefore, Rumi makes it clear that the religion of love involves loving the eternal and invisible source of existence.."
Excerpts from Rumi and the Universality of his Message, by M. Estelami.

So what is Sufism?
I've heard that ecstasy
of 'Wearers of Wool'
comes from finding
the taste of Divine Love.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.
Sufism is a mystical path,
it is this clear spiritual road.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.
What is Sufism ?
Good character and
full awareness of love,
the cure for all your
hatred and vengeance.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.
What is Sufism ?
The heart attaining tranquility
which is the root and purpose
of practicing any religion.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.

What is Sufism ?
Contemplation that travels
to the highest Divine Throne,
a far-seeing mystical gaze.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.

Sufism is keeping your distance
from imagination and supposition.
Sufism is surrendering your soul
to the care of inviolability
of Divine Love.
Sufism is searching deep within
for inner meanings of your faith,
and a lifelong journey
towards your final mystical union
with the One and Only.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.

Sufism is this smooth and
highly illuminated path,
it's a spiritual and mystical way
to reach the exalted Throne
of our Friend and Beloved,
the Almighty God.
That’s Sufism, and nothing more.

The term "Sufi" derives from the Arabic word "Soof" (meaning "wool") and was applied to Muslim ascetics and mystics because they wore garments made out of wool. Sufism represents a dimension of Islamic religious life that has frequently been viewed by Muslim theologians and lawyers with suspicion. The ecstatic state of the mystic can sometimes produce extreme behavior or statements that on occasion appear to border on the blasphemous. The cause of this is that the Sufis can sometimes feel so close to God that they lose a sense of their own self identity and feel themselves to be completely absorbed into God. This in fact is the goal of the Sufi. Through following a series of devotional practices, which lead to higher levels of ecstatic state, Sufis aspire to realize a condition in which they are in direct communion with God. Ultimately the individual human personality passes away and the Sufi feels his soul absorbed into God [known in Tassawuf or Sufism as Fana - or Annihilation of Sef & Baqa - or Eternal Mystical Union and Abiding with God ].

Do you know what Sema,
the Sufi Dance of Whirling Dervishes is?
Sema is letting go completely of your existence
and tasting eternity in non-existence.
Sema is hearing the affirmation sound of
separating from self, and reaching God.
Sema is seeing and knowing the State of Lord, our Friend;
and hearing, through the Divine Veils,
the Secrets of God.
Sema is struggling hard with your carnal soul, the ego,
and throwing it to the ground like a half-slain beast.
Sema is opening the heart like Shams of Tabriz
and clearly seeing the Divine Light within.

"Tasawwuf, an Arabic term for the process of realizing ethical and spiritual ideals; meaning literally “becoming a Sufi,” tasawwuf is generally translated as Sufism. The etymologies for the term Sufi are various. The primary obvious meaning of the term comes from soof, “wool,” the traditional ascetic garment of prophets and saints in the Near East. The term has also been connected to safa’, “purity,” or safwa, “the chosen ones,” emphasizing the psychological dimension of purifying the heart and the role of divine grace in choosing the saintly. Another etymology links Sufi with suffa or bench, referring to a group of poor Muslims contemporaneous with the Prophet Muhammad, known as the People of the Bench, signifying a community of shared poverty...

Orientalist scholarship introduced the term Sufism to European languages at the end of the eighteenth century. Prior to that time, European travelers had brought back accounts of exotic religious behavior by Oriental dervishes and fakirs, who were considered important only when their social organization posed a problem for European colonialism. The discovery of Persian Sufi poetry, filled with references to love and wine, allowed Europeans to imagine Sufis as freethinking mystics who had little to do with Islam...This concept of the non-Islamic character of Sufism has been widely accepted in Euro-American scholarship ever since, despite (or perhaps because of) its disconnection with the Islamic tradition, in which tasawwuf and its social implementations have played a central role.."

Professor Carl W. Ernst, one of the greatest contemporary American scholars of Islamic Studies, Sufism, and Rumi. He is the author of some of the most important books on Sufism:

An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of IslamThe Shambhala Guide to Sufism , Teachings of Sufism, Words of Ecstasy in Sufism, Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center, Ruzbihan Baqli: Mysticism and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian Sufism, Sufi Martyrs of Love: Chishti Order in South Asia and Beyond.

"The Sufis never set out to found a new religion, a mazhab or denomination. They were content to live and work within the framework of the Muslim religion, using texts from the Quran much as Christian mystics have used the Bible to illustrate their tenets. Their aim was to purify and spiritualize Islam from within, to give it a deeper, mystical interpretation, and infuse into it a spirit of love and liberty. In the broader sense, therefore, in which the word religion is used in our time, their movement could well be called a religious one, one which did not aim at tying men down with a new set of rules but rather at setting them free from external rules and open to the movement of the spirit.. Perhaps we may say that if, in the past, Sufism's function was to spiritualize Islam, its purpose in the future will be rather to make possible a welding of religious thought between East and West, a vital, ecumenical commingling and understanding, which will prove ultimately to be, in the truest sense, on both sides, a return to origins, to the original unity.."

Excerpts from The Persian Sufis by Cyprian Rice.

"Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam. Today, however, many Muslims and non-Muslims believe that Sufism is outside the sphere of Islam. Nevertheless, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the foremost scholars of Islam, in his article The Interior Life in Islam contends that Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam."

The great American scholar of Rumi and Sufism, Professor. Alan Godlas whose excellent website on Sufism is also 
A MUST SEE:  Sufism, Sufis and Sufi Orders: Sufism's Many Paths

"The earliest introductions of Sufism to America took place in the early 1900’s through scholars, writers, and artists who often accessed information on Sufism through the Orientalist movement. Examples of Western figures who were influenced by Sufism include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rene Guenon, Reynold Nicholson, and Samuel Lewis. These individuals helped to introduce concepts of Sufism to larger audiences through their writings, discussions and other methods of influence. Emerson, for example, was influenced by Persian Sufi poetry such as that of the poet Saadi, and this influence was then reflected in Emerson’s own poetry and essays. Rene Guenon incorporated information about Sufism into his traditionalist philosophy, and Nicholson offered Western readers some of the great Sufi works for the first time in the English language, especially the Mathnawi of Jelaludin Rumi. The first major Sufi figure in the United States was Hazrat Inayat Khan, a musician from India. He blended aspects of Sufism and Islam with other spiritual, musical and religious concepts and practices. He did not actually consider his group a Sufi group and preached a Universalist spiritual movement. Webb (1995) states: “Hazrat believed destiny had called him to speed the “universal Message of the time,” which maintained that Sufism was not essentially tied to historical Islam, but rather consisted of timeless, universal teaching related to peace, harmony, and the essential unity of all being (and beings)”(p. 253). Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Sufi Order in America, called ‘The Sufi Order in the West’ was founded in 1910.."

Excerpts from:  A Short History of Sufism and Sufi Communities in America
by Anisah Bagasra, MA Instructor of Psychology, Claflin University Orangeburg, South Carolina.

"If invited to offer prayers in a Church, a Mosque, a Synagogue, or a Hindu Temple, the Sufi is ready to do so, knowing that all people worship the same God, the Only Being, no matter what Name they use. Yet the Sufi's true House of Worship is the human heart, in which the Divine Beloved lives. Sufism is a religion for those who wish to learn religion from it, a philosophy for those wanting wisdom from it, a mystical path for any who would be guided by it to the unfolding of the Soul, and yet it is beyond all these things. It is the light of life, which is the sustenance of every soul."
Sufi Teachings of Rumi.

"The essence of God is love and the Sufi Path is the path of love. Love is to see what is good and beautiful in everything. It is to learn from everything, to see the gifts of God and the generosity of God in everything. It is to be thankful for all of God's bounties. This is the first step on the road to the love of God. This is just a seed of love. In time, the seed will grow and become a tree and bear fruit. Then, whoever tastes of that fruit will know what real love is. It will be different for those who have tasted to tell of it to those who have not.When you find love, you will find yourself. When you have the knowledge of love, you will then feel peace in your heart. Stop searching here and there, the Jewels are inside you. This, my friends, is the holy meaning of love."
Sufi Teachings of Rumi.

The Seven Valley of Love along the spiritual Path of a Sufi Dervish seeking mystical union with God - as explained by the eminent 13th century Persian Sufi poet, Shaykh Fariduddin Attar
- Translation and brief explanations are mine -

The passionate and truly Love-intoxicated 13th century Persian Sufi poet, Shaykh Fariduddin Attar -
 شيخ فريدالدين عطار - is the author of the universally admired classical Sufi masterpiece, The Conference of the Birds or Logic of the Birds-منطق الطير - a highly elaborate allegory of thirty Sufi Dervish seekers [pilgrim birds] led by a Sufi Master [guiding bird] embarking on a long pilgrimage or a long spiritual journey through the Seven Valleys of Love in spiritual quest of ultimate Sufi enlightenment, annihilation of self and eternal mystical union with God [Who's depicted as the Persian mythical bird, Simorgh or the immortal Phoenix bird].

The annihilation of self or FANA - فنا - and eternal abiding with God or BAQA - بقا - are not only the two main tenets of Sufism, but also the last spiritual 'Station' or 'Valley' for a Sufi dervish journeying upon the path of Sufi enlightenment. Hence, Attar's 'Logic of Birds' is unanimously considered as one of the greatest poetic manifestations of Sufi teachings bearing in-depth explanations of Sufism. The 'Seven Valley of Love' that Attar's "Birds" journey to, are the very foundations of spiritual doctrines and mystical teachings of Sufism.

The conclusion of Attar's heavily Sufi-infused masterpiece, 'Logic of the Birds' is quite astonishing and leaves the reader in awe and amazement: The truly exhausted thirty Sufi dervishes or "Birds", after journeying through all the 'Seven Valleys of Love' and overcoming numerous obstacles and challenges along the arduous spiritual path, finally get to meet the 'Simorgh/Immortal Phoenix Bird' or God ,only to find out that the Divine Truth they've been seeking all along is none other than themselves!

Reaching the very end of their spiritual journey, the "Birds" realize that they, themselves, are the clear and true manifestations of Divine Reflections. The ultimate spiritual awakening or realization of Attar's "Birds" lies deeply in the following Sufi teachings: The Ever-Present Beloved/God dwells deep within the hearts and souls of true believers, therefore a true lover is the reflection of the Beloved. Attar's shocking final conclusion might come as a huge surprise, but he did not actually invent any new Sufi teachings concepts. Attar simply reiterated one of the main concepts of Sufism: God Created Man in His Own Image.

In his masterpiece, 'Logic of the Birds', Attar also makes reference to the Sufi teachings of 'Mirror of the Heart': as long as the mirror of our heart is not brightly shining and completely polished, the reflection of 'Simorgh' or God will not appear in it. But Attar digs even deeper by forcefully arguing that even if we possess the most shining and spotless mirror, no lover can possibly bear the Beloved's astonishing Beauty and blinding Light face to face. That's precisely why God has placed a mirror inside our heart, so we can search for a fleeting glimpse of His beautiful reflections deep within. To see God, we must possess a brightly shining inner mirror and a purified heart. 

Attar, through his magnificent allegorical "Bird" tales and spiritual journey through the 'Seven Valleys of Love', also deeply ponders over yet another one of the main Sufi doctrines, 'Wahdat-al-Wujud -
  وحدت الوجود - or the Transcendent Unity of Being-- all things exist ONLY within God and are an emanation of All-Encompassing God. The soul of a Sufi is temporarily trapped in the cage of a mortal body in this materialistic world, and it's only through inward journeying, spiritual awakening, and digging deeper within self that a Sufi seeker can finally find the true essence of his/her soul's attachment and unification with God. Only an awakened soul blessed by the shining Light of God can journey upon the enlightenment path of Sufism in quest of final self-annihilation and eternal abiding into God. Therefore, in Attar's metaphorical Sufi journey of the 'alone to the Alone', The Creator and His creatures are in reality ONE. All Is God, we're merely non-existence in the protective shadow of the Absolute Existence. God is the Absolute Reality, we as His humble and perishing creatures, are absolutely nothing.

Yet for Attar and genuine practitioners of Sufism, God is both Immanent and Transcendent. We all possess Divine Qualities since humans are created precisely in the Divine Image of God. For a Sufi seeker journeying upon the enlightenment path of Sufism, the spiritual journey of the “alone to the Alone”, is the journey of a separated  Divine creature striving for the ultimate reunion with the Divine Infinity. To summarize it strictly within the Sufi doctrines and teachings, the microcosm (MAN) is the clear and true reflection of the macrocosm (Universe), because both are blessed by the Divine Qualities. Therefore, the Universal Man or Perfect Man is actually a Divine Man.

Attar in his Conference of the Birds teaches us that for a Sufi seeker journeying upon the path of Sufi enlightenment, there are seven 'Cities' or 'Valleys' of Love that he or she must visit first, before reaching the ultimate spiritual destination, the Divine Convent of Love:

It's said that there are seven Valleys on our Path.
Once we travel though all those seven Valleys,
then we reach the cherished Convent of Love.
To begin with,
the very first Valley is the Valley of Quest and Yearning.
Then comes the vast and border-less Valley of Love.
The third Valley is the Valley of Mystical Knowledge.
The fourth Valley is the Valley of Total Detachment.
The fifth Valley is the Valley of Pure Illumination.
The sixth Valley is the Valley of Spiritual Astonishment.
And the seventh Valley is the Valley of Spiritual Poverty and
Annihilation of Self into God.
After the annihilation of Self, there is no more journeying.
At that final Stage, your spiritual seeking comes to an end.
Once getting completely annihilated,
you'll be absorbed entirely into Love.
You'll become another pure drop in His vast Ocean of Unification.
Shaykh Fariduddin Attar

گفت ما را هفت وادی در ره است
چون گذشتی هفت وادی،درگه است
هست وادی طلب آغاز کار
وادی عشق است از آن پس ، بی کنار
پس سیم وادی است آن معرفت
پس چهارم وادی استغنا صفت
هست پنجم وادی توحید پاک
پس ششم وادی حیرت صعبناک
هفتمین وادی فقر است و فنا
بعد از این روی روش نبود تو را
در کشش افتی روش گم گرددت
گر بود یک قطره قلزم گرددت
شيخ فريدالدين عطار نيشابوري

The great English writer, Evelyn Underhill beautifully explains Attar's Seven Valley of Love in her masterpiece, Mysticism (you can read it online by clicking the link...it's an astonishing book which has changed my life)

"The Sufi poet ‘Attar, in his mystical poem, “The Colloquy of the Birds,” has described the stages of this same spiritual pilgrimage with greater psychological insight, as the journey through “Seven Valleys.” The lapwing, having been asked by other birds what is the length of the road which leads to the hidden Palace of the King, replies that there are Seven Valleys through which every traveler must pass: but since none who attain the End ever come back to describe their adventures, no one knows the length of the way.

(1) The first valley, says the lapwing, is the Valley of the Quest. It is long and toilsome: and there the traveler must strip himself of all earthly things, becoming poor, bare, and desolate: and so stay till the Supernal Light casts a ray on his desolation. It is in fact, Dante’s Purgatorio, the Christian Way of Purgation: the period of self-stripping and purification which no mystic system omits.

(2) When the ray of Supernal Light has touched the pilgrim he enters the limitless Valley of Love: begins, that is to say, the mystic life. It is Dante’s “Earthly Paradise,” or, in the traditional system of the mystics, the onset of Illumination.

(3) Hence he passes to the Valley of Knowledge or Enlightenment—the contemplative state—where each finds in communion with Truth the place that belongs to him. No Dante student will fail to see here a striking parallel with those planetary heavens where each soul partakes of the Divine, “not supremely in the absolute sense,” as St. Bonaventura has it, but “supremely in respect of himself.” The mystery of Being is now revealed to the traveler. He sees Nature’s secret, and God in all things. It is the height of illumination.

(4) The next stage is the Valley of Detachment, of utter absorption in Divine Love—the Stellar Heaven of the Saints—where Duty is seen to be all in all. This leads to—

(5) The Valley of the Unity, where the naked Godhead is the one object of contemplation. This is the stage of ecstasy, or the Beatific Vision: Dante’s condition in the last canto of the “Paradiso.” It is transient, however, and leads to—

(6) The Valley of Amazement; where the Vision, far transcending the pilgrim’s receptive power, appears to be taken from him and he is plunged in darkness and bewilderment. This is the state which Dionysius the Areopagite, and after him many medieval mystics, called the Divine Dark, and described as the truest and closest of all our apprehensions of the Godhead. It is the Cloud of Unknowing, “dark from excessive bright.” The final stage is—

(7) The Valley of Annihilation of Self: the supreme degree of union or theopathetic state, in which the self is utterly merged “like a fish in the sea” in the ocean of Divine Love."

For more on Attar and his profound Sufi teachings, you can read my previous post which contains extensive translations of his Sufi mystical poems:
The Seven Valleys of Love and Religious Tolerance in Attar's Mystical Sufi Poetry

Quick Glossary of Sufi Terminologies

The mystical dimension of Islam or Islamic Mysticism. Sufism teaches the relationship between Man and God on the one hand, and Man and Man on the other, and the various mystical stages of Man's spiritual evolution in his/her journey towards God in quest of everlasting mystical union.

A seeker, a dervish, a fakir, a qalandar, a lover or a mystic. A Sufi is the one who embarks on a spiritual/mystical journey towards God by means of love and devotion. A Sufi believes that the only way to becoming perfect is by the purification of self.

The 4 stages of self-purification in Sufism:

1. Self becoming emptied
2. Self becoming illuminated
3. Self becoming adorned
4. Self-having-passed-away and in eternal mystical union with God.

Murid: Novice student of Sufism, or the one who follows a Shaykh, Pir, Murshid, or a spiritual guide.

Pir/Murshid/Shaykh: Spiritual guide, Sufi guru, or the Sufi teacher of traditional Sufi teacher-student relationships. Pir-o-Murshid or a spiritual teacher's presence is an inspiration to the spiritual development, maturity, and illumination of a novice student of Sufism.

Salik: A wanderer or seeker of knowledge of Sufism who may follow many different teachers, seeking personal goals, and different states or levels of spirituality in his/her journey towards God.

Suluk: The spiritual pathway of a salik/seeker's inner and outer mystical journey in his/her quest for ultimate mystical union with God.

Khanaqah/Zawiya/Tekke/Ribat: Meditation and prayer center for collective practice of Sufi spiritual disciplines. It's also the traditional lodging place for wandering Sufi dervishes and fakirs. Sufi Khanaqah is better known in English as Sufi Convent or Sufi Lodge.

Zikr/Zekr: The Sufi practice of repetitious remembering of God. Zikr can be performed individually or collectively through recitation and silent meditation, or by the Sufi practices of chanting, dancing, and musical instruments playing rituals as a means of prayer and remembrance of God. The Sufi Zikr ceremony is based on the following Quranic teaching: "Remember Me, and I shall remember you." Holy Quran 2:152.

O my soul, where can I find rest

But in the shimmering love of his heart?
Where can I see the pure light of the Sun
But in the eyes of my own Shams-e Tabriz.

The Meeting of Two Oceans

"By all accounts, Rumi lived a grand and illustrious life-he was a respected teacher, a master of Sufi lore, the head of a university in the Anatolian capital city of Konya (in present-day Turkey). At the age of thirty-four he claimed hundreds of disciples, the king being one of them. And what is so remarkable and unforgettable about Rumi's life is that in one moment all this changed-the moment he met a wandering dervish named Shams-e Tabriz.

Rumi was riding on a mule through a square in the center of Konya. A crowd of eager students walked by his feet. Suddenly a strange figure dressed in black fur approached Rumi, grabbed hold of his mule's bridle, and said: "0 scholar of infinite knowledge, who was greater, Muhammad or Bayazid of Bestam?" This seemed like an absurd question since, in all of Islam, Muhammad was held supreme among all the prophets. Rumi replied, "How can you ask such a question?-No one can compare with Muhammad." "0 then," Shams asked, "why did Muhammad say, 'We have not known Thee, 0 God, as thou should be known,' whereas Bayazid said, 'Glory unto me! I know the full glory of God'?"

With this one simple question--and with the piercing gaze of Shams' eyes-Rumi's entire view of reality changed. The question was merely an excuse. Shams' imparting of an inner awakening is what shattered Rumi's world. The truths and assumptions upon which Rumi based his whole life crumbled..Shams represented the replacing of Rumi's book-learned knowledge (and his lofty regard for such knowledge) with divine knowledge and the direct experience of God..after Shams' question, Rumi entered a mystical state of ego annihilation that the Sufis call fana. When he regained consciousness, he looked at Shams with utter amazement, realizing that this was no ordinary dervish, but the Beloved himself in human form. From that moment on, Rumi's life was never again the same. Shams catalyzed a profound experience for Rumi that transformed him from a dry academic to a mystic drunk with God. Shams enabled Rumi to encounter the divine reality that Rumi yearned for but until then had only known second-hand..He took Shams to live in his home and the two men were inseparable; they spent hours a day together, sometimes isolating themselves for long periods to pray and fast in divine communion with God.

Rumi was totally lost in this new found love that his master revealed, and all his great attainments were blossoming through that love. Every day was a miracle, a new birth for Rumi's soul. He had found the Beloved, he had finally been shown the glory of his own soul.

Then, suddenly, eighteen months after Shams entered Rumi's life, he was gone. He returned some time later, for brief period, and then he was gone again forever. Some accounts say that Shams left in the middle of the night and that Rumi wandered in search of him for two years. (Perhaps a symbolic and romantic portrayal of the lover in search of his missing Beloved.) Other accounts report that Shams was murdered by Rumi's jealous disciples (symbolizing how one's desires and lower tendencies can destroy the thing held most dear).

Without Shams, Rumi found himself in a state of utter and incurable despair; and his whole life thereafter became one of longing and divine remembrance. Rumi's emptiness was that of a person who has just lost a husband or a wife, or a dear friend. Rumi's story shows us that the longing and emptiness we feel for a lost loved one is only a reflection, a hologram, of the longing we feel for God; it is the longing we feel to become whole again, the longing to return to the root from which we were cut. (Rumi uses the metaphor of a reed cut from a reed bed and then made into a flute-which becomes a symbol of a human separated from its source, the Beloved. And as the reed flute wails all day, telling about its separation from the reed bed, so Rumi wails all day telling about being separated from his Beloved.)

It was Shams' disappearance, however, that ignited the fire of longing within Rumi; and it was this very longing that brought him the glorious union with the Beloved. Years later Rumi wrote: "It is the burn of the heart that I want. It is this burning which is everything-more precious than a worldly empire-because it calls God secretly in the night.."

Excerpts from Jonathan Star's excellent book, Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved 

Who is an Anatolian Turk?
Who is a Persian Balkhi?*
Who is a  black Zangi?*
Who is a white Rumi?
Where did I come from?
Where did all this poetry come from?
Yet somehow,
these poems are breathed into me
and all this poetry simply pouring out of me...
Rumi - My translation

*Balkhi = From Balkh (a historic city in northern Afghanistan where Rumi was born).
*Zangi = from Zanzibar, the ancient Farsi name for the entire East African Coast. Zangi in Farsi or Persian also means a Black Person.

ترکی کی بلخی کی زنگی کی رومی کی
من از کجا شعر ازکجا لیکن بمن در می دمد
مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

"What have I to do with poetry? By Allah, I care nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes than that. It has become incumbent upon me, as when a man plunges his hands into tripe and washes it out for the sake of a guest's appetite, because the guest's appetite is for tripe. I have studied many sciences and taken much pain, so that I may be able to offer fine and rare and precious things to the scholars and researchers, the clever ones and the deep thinkers who come to me. God most High Himself willed this. He gathered here all those sciences, and assembled here all those pains, so that I might be occupied with this work. What can I do? In my own country and amongst my own people there is no occupation more shameful than poetry. If I had remained in my own country, I would have lived in harmony with their temperament and would have practiced what they desired, such as lecturing and composing books, preaching and admonishing, observing abstinence and doing all the outward acts.."
Rumi in Fihi-Ma-Fihi or Discourses of Rumi.

"There are wandering Sufi Dervishes called Qalandars,
who are constantly tickled with life.
It's scandalous how they love and laugh
at any small event.
People gossip about them,
and that makes them deft in their cunning,
but really a great God-wrestling
goes on inside these Sufi wanderers,
a flood of sunlight
that's drunk with the whole thing..."

A wandering Afghan Sufi Dervish , known as Malang.

    A wandering Sufi Dervish of Indian Subcontinent.

A wandering Sufi Fakir


Persian Sufi Dervishes outside a Sufi Convent in Tehran, Iran, c.1920.

Jewish Sufi Dervishes of Iran: Agha-Jaan Darvish and his brother, patriarchs of the Darvish family.
Tehran, Iran, c.1922.

A wandering Arab Sufi Dervish. Fez, Morocco, c.1953.

Turkish Sufi Dervishes of Ottoman Turkey (Practicing Sema with Semazen ney-flute player).

A 'Pir', 'Shaykh', 'Murshid', Sufi Master, or spiritual guide of a novice Sufi.

The passion and ecstasy of Kurdish Sufi Dervishes during the Sufi Zikr ceremony.

The ruins of a Sufi Convent/Khaneqah in Balkh, northern Afghanistan where Rumi's father taught and young Rumi studied before fleeing the onslaught of Genghis Khan and his dreaded Mongol army, and finally settling down in the Turkish town of Konya (in central Turkey).

    Maulana Rumi's Sufi Convent in Konya, Turkey

A typical Sufi Convent better knows as Zawiyah - زاويه, Tekke - تکه or Khanaqah - خانقاه - which can still be found throughout the Islamic world...the above Sufi Convent is in Cairo, Egypt. 

For more on Rumi and Sufism, please also see the following related posts:

¿Qué puedo hacer, oh Musulmanes?
Pues no me reconozco a mi mismo:
No soy Cristiano, ni Judío, ni Musulmán.
No soy del Este, ni del Oeste,
Ni de la tierra, ni del mar.
No soy de la mina de la Naturaleza,
Ni de los cielos giratorios.
No soy de la tierra, ni del agua,
Ni del aire, ni del fuego.
No soy del empíreo, ni del polvo,
Ni de la existencia, ni de la entidad.
No soy de este mundo, ni del próximo,
Ni del Paraíso, ni del Infierno.
Mi lugar es el sinlugar, mi señal es la sinseñal.
No tengo cuerpo ni alma,
Pues pertenezco al alma del Amado.
He desechado la dualidad,
He visto que los dos mundos son uno;
Uno busco, Uno conozco, Uno veo, Uno llamo.

"El Masnavi esta imbuido de profundo misterio, y es el mas importante libro en el estudio del Sufismo...misterio que, en su mayor parte, queda a discernimiento del lector. Rumi fue no solo un poeta y un mistico, y el fundador de una orden religiosa; tambien fue un hombre que comprendio profundamente la naturaleza del hombre. Rumi es el mas grande poeta mistico de nuestra era. Muy bien se lo podria considerar el mayor poeta mistico de toda la humanidad. Nada mas equivoco que ver en la simbolica poesia mistica de Rumi el molde original que grabara el modelo de un sutil lenguaje metaforico, tan rico en la tradicion poetica Islamica. Con profundidad de pensamiento, ingenio de metaforas, y un triunfante dominio del lenguaje, Rumi sobresale como el supremo genio del misticismo Islamico."
Prologo de Alberto Manzano en El MASNAVI-LASENSEÑANZAS DE RUMI.

پارسی گو گرچه تازی خوشتر است
عشق را خود صد زبان دیگر است
مولانای بلخ و روم

وزبان پارسی را چه شده است؟ بدین لطیفی و خوبی، که آن معانی و لطافت که در پارسی آمده است، ودر تازی نیامده است
مولانای بلخ و روم - فیه مافیه


گویند در خانه مولانا ستونی بود که چون او غرق محبت شدی دست درآن ستون زدی و به چرخ آمدی و اشعار پرشور گفتی و مردم آن اشعار می نوشتند..و جاذبه شور وسماع تمام وجود او را تسخیر کرده بود..مولانا و یاران مجالس وعظ را ترک کرده و مجلس سماع بنیاد کردند و شور کنان و چرخ زنان از مسجد به کوی و بازار بیرون آمدند
 نقل از کتاب: پله پله تا ملاقات خدا-در باره زندگی, اندیشه و سلوک مولانا
 نویسنده: داکتر عبدالحسین زرین کوب

رابطه ما با مثنوی رابطه ای است خشک و بی محتوا, رابطه ای در سطح الفاظ وادبیات, حال آنکه مثنوی پیامی بس عمیق در خود نهفته دارد, پیامی که شرح رنج و اسارت و غربت او از موطن اصلی خویش است.پیام مثنوی هشداری است به انسانی که خودرا در تاریک هستی مجازی از الفاظ و صورتها پیچانده و عمر خودرا در ترس و رنج و تضاد می گذراند. پیام مثنوی فریادی است برای بیداری و خروج از حصار نقش ها, و برگشت به 'بحر جان' به هستی فراسوی مجازها و پندار ها , به 'باغ سبز عشق' , آنجا که همه وجد و سرور است و نشانی از ترس ها و دلهره های این هستی مجازی نیست. مثنوی مارا با شرح رنج های خویش در یاس و نومیدی رها نمی کند, با صد ها اشاره و تمثیل نوید می دهد که می توان ترک غربت کرد و به نیستان اصیل خویش بازگشت. کجاست این بحر جان و این باغ سبز عشق? می گوید در خودت, اما هرچه بیشتر به جست و جویش     بروی ازآن دور تر می افتی
        تو گوهری هستی در بطن دریای وحدت, و صدف  پنداراست که تو را ازاین دریا جدا ساخته است...
نقل از کتاب: با پیر بلخ: کاربرد مثنوی در خودشناسی
نوشته: استاد محمدجعفر مصفا

درجهاني كه عشق و محبت از آن رخت بربسته ، مولانا سفير عالم عشق است و كلام او سفير سيمرغ ساكن در كوه قافي كه از آن آب رحمت بر جويبارهاي دنياي خاكي جاري مي شود . در عالمي كه آغشته با زشتي است و در آن زيبايي به صورت تجمل در آمده است ، مولانا بيان كننده اهميت بنياد زيبايي است و او است كه در زيبايي تجلي حسن يار مي بيند و ما را يادآور مي شود كه خداوند زيباست و دوست دارد زيبايي را . هر تجربه از زيبايي براي او دري است به سوي جمال مطلق و ياد آورنده آتش عشقي كه درميافتاده
استاد سیدحسین نصر

فاسقان زشتند
و زاحدان مزدور بهشتند
اي آفريننده خلقان ز آتش و آب
فريادرس از دل بحجاب وفتنه اسباب
گريه گرفتارآن دردم كه تو درمان آني
بنده آن آشنايم كه تو سزاي آني
من در تو چه دانم
مناجات نامه-  پیر هرات خواجه عبدالله انصاری

باده نوشی که درو روی و ریایی نبود
بهتر از زهد فروشی که در او روی و ریاست
بیا به میکده و چهره ارغوانی کن
مرو به صومعه، کانجا سیاهکارانند
در میخانه ببستند، خدایا مپسند
که در خانه تزویر و ریا بگشایند
دور شو از برم ای واعظ و بیهوده مگوی
من نه آنم که دگر گوش به تزویر کنم
مبوس جز لب ساقی و جام می، حافظ
که دست زهد فروشان خطاست بوسیدن
 حافظ شیرازی

خود شناسی در عرفان و تصوف 

خود را بشناس تا شناسی حق را
حق را نشناخت هر که خودرا نشناخت
بنگر که چه یی و از کجا آمده یی
میدان که چه میکنی کجا خواهی رفت
 پیر هرات خواجه عبدالله انصاری

خالقا بیچاره راه تو ام
همچو موری تنگ درچاه تو ام
من نمیدانم که من اهل کیم
یا کجایم , یا کدامم , یا کیم
شیخ فریدالدین عطار

سودیم سراپا و به پایی نرسیدیم
ازخویش گزشتیم و بجایی نرسیدیم
آن بی پر و بالیم که در حسرت پرواز
گشتیم غبارو بهوایی نرسیدیم
ابوالمعانی بیدل

دی شیخ شهر همی گشت گرد شهر
کز دیوو درد ملولم و انسانم آرزوست
گفتند یافت می نشود جسته ایم ما
گفت آنکه یافت می نشود آنم آرزوست
 مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

میان عاشق و معشوق هیچ حایل نیست
تو خود حجاب خودی حافظ از میان برخیز

ای خودستا بیرون کن پاازسرای هستی
تا چند از دنائت دربند خودپرستی
تاکی روی شتابان درپرتگاه پستی
هنگام تنگ دستی درعیش کوش ومستی
 حافظ شیرازی

چه پرسی از کجایم چیستم من
بخود پیچیده ام تا زیستم من
زمن گو صوفیان با صفا را
خدا جویان معنی آشنا را
غلام همت آن خود پرستم
که بانور خودی بیند خدارا
علامه اقبال لاهوری

مسافر چون بود، رهرو کدام است؟
که را گویم که او مرد تمام است؟
دگر گفتی مسافر کیست در راه
کسی کو شد ز اصل خویش آگاه
مسافـر آن بـود که بـگذرد زود
ز خود صافی شود چون آتش از دود
بـه عکـس سیر اول در منـازل
رود تا گردد او انسان کامل
شیخ محمود شبسترى

اگر خواهی خودرا شناسی بدانکه الله تعالی ترا آفریده است از دو چیز: یکی کالبد ظاهر که آنرا تن گویند و بچشم ظاهر بتوان دید و دیگری معنی باطن که آنرانفس گویند و دل گویند و جان گویند و آنرا به بصیرت باطن توان شناخت و بچشم ظاهر نتوان دید
شیخ احمد غزالی

درین عبرت سرا عرفان ماهم تازگی دارد
سراپا مغز دانش گشتن و چیزی نفهمیدن

:هفت وادي (مرحله) عرفان
طلب، عشق، معرفت، استغناء، حيرت، فنا، بقا

تصوف چيست؟

تصوف دو چيز است، يک سو نگريستن و يکسان زيستن. و اين تصوف عزتيست در دل، و توانگريست در درويشي، و خداونديست در بندگي، سيري است در گرسنگي، و پوشيدگي است در برهنگي، و آزاديست در بندگي، و زندگاني است در مرگ، و شيريني است در تلخي

تصوف يعني گسيختن ارتباط از هر چيزي که غير از خداست. قسمت دروني صوفي خدا، و قسمت بيروني او انسانيت است و در ميان مشايخ اين طايفه، اصلي بزرگ است که اين طايفه همگي يکي باشند و يکي همه - ميان جمله صوفيان عالم هيچ مضادت و مباينت و خود دوي در نباشد، هر که صوفي است، که صوفي نماي بي معني در اين داخل نباشد. و اگر چه در صور الفاظ مشايخ از راه عبارت تفاوتي نمايد، معاني همه يکي باشد چون از راه معني در نگري، چون همه يکي اند، همه دست ها يکي بود و همه نظرها يکي بود
شيخ ابو سعيد ابوالخير

:برای مطالعه بیشتر درباره مولانا و تصوف مراجعه فرمائید

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Thank you for visiting Maulana Rumi Online, a blog dedicated entirely to the life, works and teachings of Maulana Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi better known simply as Rumi here in our beloved America. Just as a memory refresher, all articles, e-books, images, links and reading materials listed in this Blog are solely for Educational purposes. This Blog is designed and maintained by yours truly, your comments, critiques or suggestions are quite welcome and greatly appreciated. As for my own Rumi Translations, you are welcome to copy and use them as long as it's not for commercial purposes. For best viewing, please try this Blog on Google Chrome Browser. This is a very long Blog though, so please make sure to use the Scroll To Top or Bottom Buttons at the left side, or Back To Top Button at the bottom right corner of your screen for smooth navigation. If you have any question, comment, critique or suggestion, please contact me by clicking the Contact Box embedded at the right middle corner. As Rumi would say, "Come, come, whoever you are, come back again.."!

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