Suddenly, in the sky at dawn, a moon appeared

by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Andrew Harvey
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Suddenly, in the sky at dawn, a moon appeared,
Descended from the sky
Turned its burning gaze on me,
Like a hawk during the hunt seizing a bird,
Grabbed me and flew with me high into heaven.
When I looked at myself, I could not see myself
For in this moon, my body, by grace, had become soul.
And when I traveled in this soul, I saw nothing but moon,
Until the mystery of eternal theophany lay open to me.
All the nine heavenly spheres were drowned in this moon.
The skiff of my being drowned, dissolved, entirely, in that Sea.
Then, that Sea broke up into waves, Intelligence danced back,
And launched its song,
And the Sea covered over with foam,
And from each bubble of foam something sprang, clothed in form,
Something sprang from each light-bubble, clothed in a body.
Then each bubble of body-foam received a sign from the Sea,
Melted immediately and followed the flow of its waves.
Without the saving, redeeming help of my Lord,
Shams-ul-Haqq of Tabriz,
No one can contemplate the moon, no one can become the Sea.

-- from The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, by Andrew Harvey

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Wow! Rumi's working his magic again! A wondrous description of mystical absorption...

Three fundamental esoteric metaphors appear strongly in this poem: the moon, the sea, and the disappearance of self.

Suddenly, in the sky at dawn, the moon appeared
Descended from the sky
Turned its burning gaze on me...


The moon is used in sacred metaphor throughout the world. The blissful state reveals itself as a shining light, as a luminescence permeating the still field of the mind. There is a sense of light from an undefined "above," silence, a fullness of vitality, and deep rest.

When the moon, consciousness, is full, it is round, whole, complete, perfectly reflecting the light of divine awareness. The full moon is enlightenment. It is the soft light that illumines the land below when all is at rest.

When Rumi experiences this "moon," he is "grabbed" and ascends to heaven. Yet he himself has disappeared: "When I looked at myself, I could not see myself / For in this moon, my body, by grace, had become a soul." That is, in the radiance of this enlightenment, Rumi has completely lost his ego, and even his physical body is perceived as being illusory; or, in this exalted state, he does not perceive the body at all. He has lost the little self, the ego, and he "has become soul" the true, divine Self.

Absorbed in this heavenly awareness, the true nature of Reality reveals itself to him: "I saw nothing but moon, / Until the mystery of eternal theophany lay open to me."

Then his metaphor shifts to being "drowned, dissolved" in a divine Sea.

A common spiritual metaphor describes each individual as a drop of water within the Ocean of God. In deep bliss, however, this becomes a perceptual reality. The mystical state reveals a shining golden-whiteness, radiating from a central point. It seems to flow outward, like water. There is an almost physical sensation of floating; you are immersed in that living Ocean. This Ocean is warm, embracing, vitalizing, made of pure love. You immediately recognize these boundless waters as your true home.

Rumi witnesses how each form, each element of manifestation emerges as a "light-bubble" from the surface "foam" of this divine Sea. Yet, just as each thing is born of that Sea, so too does it merge back into the Sea and, in fact, it is never truly separate, for each thing is made entirely of that Seawater.

Rumi ends with praise for his teacher Shams of Tabriz. Without the spark of his initiation, that "redeeming help," opening to such truth so nakedly would not have been possible.



Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Open Secret: Versions of Rumi The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi
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