May 25 2012

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – The minute I heard my first love story

Published by at 7:23 am under Poetry

The minute I heard my first love story
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

— from Open Secret: Versions of Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks / Translated by John Moyne

/ Photo by Light Through My Lense /

This short poem says so much about the journey and its end. Devotion suddenly collapses inward in self-fulfillment. There is no “I” and “Thou,” only union.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

No words wasted. I won’t waste another word, either. I’ll just say — Have a beautiful weekend!

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

I haven’t yet sketched out a short biography about Rumi. It always feels a bit foolish to try to distill a rich, full life into just a few paragraphs, but it’s especially difficult with Rumi since so much has been written about him and his life.

How about just a few interesting details about Rumi:

Rumi was born in Balkh, Afghanistan. While he was still a child his family moved all the way to Konya in Asia Minor (Turkey). They moved to flee from Mongol invaders who were beginning to sweep into Central Asia. Konya, far to the west of the invaded territories, became one of the major destinations for expatriates to settle, turning the city into a cosmopolitan center of culture, education, and spirituality.

In fact, Rumi wasn’t the only famous Sufi teacher living in Konya at the time. The best known spiritual figure in Konya at the time was not Rumi, but the son-in-law of the greatly respected Sufi philosopher ibn ‘Arabi. The wonderful Sufi poet Fakhruddin Iraqi also lived in Konya at the same time as Rumi.

“Rumi” was not his proper name; it was more of a nickname. Rumi means literally “The Roman.” Why the Roman? Asia Minor (Turkey) was referred to as the land of the Rum, the Romans. The Byzantine Empire, which had only recently fallen, was still thought of as the old Eastern Roman Empire. Rumi was nicknamed the Roman because he lived in what was once the Eastern Roman Empire. …But not everyone calls him Rumi. In Afghanistan, where he was born, they call him Balkhi, “the man from Balkh,” to emphasize his birth in Afghanistan.

Rumi’s father was himself a respected religious authority and spiritual teacher. Rumi was raised and educated to follow in his father’s footsteps. And, in fact, Rumi inherited his father’s religious school. But this was all along very traditional lines. Rumi was already a man with religious position when he first started to experience transcendent states of spiritual ecstasy. This created a radical upheaval, not only in himself, but also within his rather formal spiritual community as everyone tried to adjust to their leader’s transformation.

One more note about Rumi’s father: It was only after his death that some of the father’s private writings were discovered, revealing that he himself was also a profound mystic, though he had kept this part of himself private, apparently even from his son Rumi.

Many of Rumi’s poems make reference to the sun. This always has layered meaning for Rumi since he was deeply devoted to his spiritual teacher Shams of Tabriz… as the name Shams means “the sun.” The sun for Rumi becomes the radiance of God shining through his beloved teacher.

The spiritual bond between Rumi and Shams was profound, but the two individuals were very different. Rumi was a member of the educated elite within the urban expatriate community, while Shams was a poor wandering mystic who rarely stayed in one place long. Shams would often disappear unexpectedly, then return months later. Many of Rumi’s family and students were jealous of Shams, resenting the closeness he shared with their master. Finally, Shams disappeared, never to return. Many believe that he was actually kidnapped and murdered, possibly by Rumi’s own sons!

You’ve heard of “whirling dervishes,” right? Not all Sufis practice that spinning meditative dance. That is specific to the Mevlana Sufis, founded by — yes, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi. The story is told that Rumi would circle around a column, while ecstatically reciting his poetry. The spinning is a meditation on many levels. It teaches stillness and centeredness in the midst of movement. One hand is kept raised to receive from heaven, the other hand is kept lowered to the earth, thus the individual becomes a bridge joining heaven and earth.

More poetry by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – The minute I heard my first love story”

  1. franon 25 May 2012 at 10:00 pm

    ‘What is a friend, but a single soul dwelling in 2 bodies.’- Aristotle
    Interesting…..thank you for the Thought for the day….once again so timely.
    Good weekend to you!

  2. Joanon 25 May 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Oh thank you Ivan. That was so beautiful… and your own Thought for the day too.
    Ever so often you strike match in people’s hearts. May love always burn in yours.
    This poem. What a wonderful way to start the weekend. My heart is full.
    love n blessings.

  3. Marzion 26 May 2012 at 12:59 am

    What a inspring poem, thanks. I’d like to read the origin version of this poem in “Persian”.

  4. Anonymouson 27 May 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks for this, Ivan, especially the Rumi biography. I would have want you to narate his first encounter with Shams.

  5. rena navonon 29 May 2012 at 12:45 pm

    ‘What is a friend, but a single soul dwelling in 2 bodies.’- Aristotle
    Is this philosophy or romanticism? I would not count on this idea being accepted by anybody. But it is a beautiful concept that must strike a chord in many a searcher, and I am one of them.

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