Ancient Wisdom

Last week I wrote about Ancient Music. Today, I want to tell you a bit about Ancient Wisdom.

An Ottoman era manuscript depicting Rumi and Shams-e Tabrizi

Most people have heard of the  13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic, Rumi. But what do you really know about him? Why is he still so revered? After all, he was born a very long time ago – 30.9.1207 in Balkh, a city on the Eastern shores of the Persian Empire.  The area is now known as Afghanistan.

Rumi is said to have been a charming and wealthy nobleman, a genius theologian, a brilliant scholar. In his late thirties he met a wild and poor, wandering holy man called Shams.  Rumi’s time with Sham, who moved in for two years, left a profound and lasting impression on him.

Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. Following his death in 1273, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the Sama ceremony.

His work has been described as a collection of ‘all embracing universality. A call from an independent soul yearning for true freedom from dogma and hypocriscy….Rumi also writes about the abolishment of the established fear-based religious orders of the world. For Rumi fear-based religion is poison and his remedy is love-based doctrine – a life journey free of guilt, fear and shame.’  

People across all cultures, countries and traditions find they can relate to his poeming, finding it as relevant now as it was during his lifetime.

Here’s a selection –

I saw Sorrow

holding a cup of pain.

I said, hey sorrow,

What’s troubling you ?
What’s with the cup ?
Sorrow said,

what else can I do?

All this Joy you have brought to the world has killed my business completely.

Either give me more wine or leave me alone

Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.

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.


©  Raili Tanska

Steps for Peace

But listen to me. For one moment
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you.”
Jalaluddin Rumi

12 thoughts on “Ancient Wisdom

  1. Absolutely fascinating. Thank you for sharing the history (and the glorious video) about Rumi and whirling dervish dancing. I attend a dancing exercise class with fabulous music, and totally agree that letting ourselves go with/into music and dance helps us find ourselves and commune as ONE. BUT, I can’t whirl that much – I get too dizzy!

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