I love stories. I heard this story the other night, and although I don’t know how accurate it is, I loved it for the way it made me feel. It’s a story about how the poet Rumi met his teacher.
Jalaluddin Rumi was the son of a nobleman, and was born into a life of wealth and privilege. He was expected to carry on the tradition of his father and take over his father’s divinity school. He was willing to do what was expected of him, but he had a deep hole inside of him that longed to be filled. Rumi wasn’t sure what he was seeking, but he knew something was missing from his life.
Shams was a dervish who was very wise, yet lonely. Although he was a spiritual man, he was cantankerous and difficult for people to be around. He longed for someone to impart his knowledge to and share his deepest, heartfelt thoughts. He was a lonely wanderer, setting up camp wherever he happened to be each night. One night he looked up at the stars and wailed up into the sky, “please send me someone to care for and impart my wisdom.” He then saw a falling star that seemed to fall directly on a nearby town. He headed for the town and it was there that he met Rumi. As they locked eyes, each of them knew they had found what they were looking for.
Rumi left with Shams and they went to a nearby cave where they chanted and sang together for hours. They poured out their souls as if they were free-style rapping. In this way they communicated with each other on a deep level. Shams showed Rumi that the hole in his heart could only be filled by recognizing his own true nature.
Rumi’s family did not approve of this friendship, as Shams was poor and not at the same social level as Rumi. Eventually Shams was killed by Rumi’s son, unbeknownst to Rumi. Rumi was grief stricken by the disappearance of Shams. One night he looked to the sky and called Shams’ name. He heard his voice from many different parts of the sky, and as he stood twirling around to locate the voice, he realized that Shams was everywhere (thus the term whirling dervish). He began to write about finding love within each one of us. His love and grief over Shams expressed itself through music, dance and poetry.
Rumi felt that fear-based religion was poisonous. He taught a love-based way of life, free of guilt, shame, or fear. One of my favorite poems he wrote:
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 are 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 whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
Sometimes I wonder, sweetest love, if you
Were a mere dream in a long winter night,
A dream of spring-days, and of golden light
Which sheds its rays upon a frozen heart;
A dream of wine that fills the drunken eye.
And so I wonder, sweetest love, if I
Should drink this ruby wine, or rather weep;
Each tear a bezel with your face engraved,
A rosary to memorize your name...
There are so many ways to call you back-
Yes, even if you only were a dream.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.