a short biographical note:
Rumi was born September 30, 1207 in Balkh, Afghanistan, which was then part of the Persian empire. Rumi followed in his father, Bahauddin Walad's footsteps by becoming a theologian and a mystic. At his father's death Rumi took over the position of sheikh in the dervish learning community in Konya, Turkey where they'd emigrated around 1216. Rumi led a fairly straight-forward life as a religious scholar until the late fall of 1244 when he met the wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz, who had traveled throughout the Middle East searching for someone who could "endure my company." The two became inseparable and their friendship caused problems with Rumi's students and family. Shams disappeared as suddenly as he appeared and it is believed that this loss led to Rumi's transformation into a mystical artist. They met again to continue their long and marvelous conversation. But alas Shams was murdered or so it is believed. Rumi searched for him and journeyed to Damascus and it was there that he realized,
Why should I seek? I am the same as
he. His essence speaks through me,
I have been looking for myself!
He spent the rest of his life writing poetry for both Sham and a new companion, Saladin Zarkub, the goldsmith, followed upon Zarkub's death by Rumi's scribe and favorite student, Husam Chelebi. For the last twelve years of his life, Rumi dictated the six volumes of his master-work, the Mathnawi, to Husam. He died on December 17, 1273.
Choosing the poems to contemplate:
I will choose the poems that I wish to contemplate by chance - opening the book at random or letting passing family members shout out a number. I will label each post with the name of the poem and that way make it through the book. Barks has divided the poetry into 28 sections with numerous poems in each one. I will try and move between the sections but I want to see how it goes before I tie myself down. Ah, yes - a trial marriage.
Section 18 The Three Fish: Gamble Everything for Love
to a frog that's never left his pond the ocean seems like a gamble.
Look what he's giving up: security, mastery of his world, recognition!
The ocean frog just shakes his head. "I can't really explain what it's
like where I live, but someday I'll take you there."
~ ~ ~
If you want what visible reality
can give, you're an employee.
If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy.