‘Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.
Your old life was a frantic running
The speechless full moon
comes out now.’
A renowned mystic and poet, Rumi was born on the border between modern day Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the early 13th century. The Persian culture in which he was raised had a great influence on him, especially the mystic sect of Islam known as ‘Sufism’. His father was a theologian and mystic, and Rumi was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps.
After the Mongols invaded the Middle East, Rumi’s family travelled further west to escape the advancing hoard. He lived much of his life in the city Konya, a part of the Sultanate of Rum. It was there that he met Shams, a mystic and friend of Rumi’s who is often alluded to in his poetry. He often refers to Shams as the ‘friend’ who taught him the truth of his nature.
Rumi emphasised a sense of playfulness and delight in one’s being, and taught that it was through the stupor of emptiness that we can find bliss in life. This was reflected in the practice of the Whirling Dervishes, who would spin in circles to evoke this detachment. He uses various forms of imagery in his poems to convey a sense of the delights of our being, and to encourage us to surrender ourselves to that bliss.