Jelaluddin Rumi

‘Quietness is the surest sign

that you’ve died.

Your old life was a frantic running

from silence.

The speechless full moon

comes out now.’

Jelaluddin Rumi

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.

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Master Dogen

‘When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original selves’

Master Dogen

Born into a Japanese noble family in the early 13th century, Dogen became a Buddhist monk after renouncing his noble heritage.  He travelled to China in order to deepen his understanding of Buddhism and bring what he had learnt back to his homeland. Upon his return, he became one of the early adherents of Zen Buddhism in Japan, and he founded several communities of practise in the Kyoto region.

Dogen was an advocate of the ‘zazen’ form of meditation, and disliked the ritualistic practises of his predecessors. He taught that human beings are already enlightened, and that the journey to attempt to rediscover this is futile and meaningless. He taught that through this understanding, one could attain peace.