May 11 2012

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing

Published by at 9:06 am under Poetry

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

— from The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

/ Photo by Ktoine /

You’ve been wondering where the poem emails went, right? I had another bout of chronic fatigue, the first in a while. When that happens, I use it as a prompt from the universe to step back, quiet down, refocus, turn inward.

I’ve received so many touching, caring notes in the past expressing concern over these patterns of CFS/ME. Since there has been such interest, I thought I’d use this opportunity to say a little more about what this issue is in my life…

People who are unfamiliar with chronic fatigue syndrome see the word “fatigue” and often assume it’s the same thing as being tired and overworked. The name “chronic fatigue syndrome” is misleading, since the exhaustion felt is more profound than most people experience in normal life, a deep lack of energy that doesn’t renew itself very well even with lots of rest. And fatigue is only one of many debilitating symptoms that can kick in. Other symptoms include shakiness, dizziness, hypersensitivity to noise and activity. Some compare their symptoms with a recurring fever or debilitating migraine. Others experience CFS as something comparable to the post traumatic stress disorder of combat veterans, a shattering overload of the nervous system.

Believe it or not, my case is labeled a “mild” one. Although I can’t work a normal 40+ hour work week, and I occasionally have periods like this past week where I miss several days of work in a row, I can still hold down a job. Not so with more extreme cases of CFS. Some people are literally bedridden for weeks or months at a time. Others can’t process strong sensory inputs and so stick close to home and controlled routines. Unable to fulfill traditional social roles, many struggle to maintain marriages and friendships. Because there is no obvious physical sign of injury or illness, a person with CFS is sometimes thought to be lazy or mislabeled as emotionally depressed. Many with CFS believe these assessments themselves, leading to further confusion and self-condemnation. It can be a very lonely sort of health struggle.

Because I have mentioned my own challenges with CFS in the past, I’ve received quite a few notes of thanks for going public and raising awareness of these issues. I haven’t really thought of myself as an advocate, just someone trying to integrate spirit with the daily experience of life in a body in the world… And I’m a talkative fellow, so, if it’s in my thoughts, it eventually finds its way into this public forum. I’m glad to hear how helpful that has been to some.

I send blessings to all my friends dealing with similar health challenges — you are not alone. Remember: These experiences can be tools for self-awareness along the spiritual path. Don’t waste them. Use them.

Sending much love!

(Back to more poetry next week!)

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

19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing”

  1. Ba Khanon 11 May 2012 at 11:38 am comment upon Moulana’s poetry will be like throwing a pebble into an ocean..What can be said about that great one, whose greatness is beyond the unbound.

    But I convey my warm greetings to you dear Ivan…and blessings to be well and healthy. I do understand CFS being from the profession that caters to the machinery of the human body, but can do little to heal the soul of the same.

    So take care and God Bless You..
    My prayers are with you

    Ba Khan

  2. Jenny Maertenson 11 May 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Re your comments about chronic fatigue that ring so true – “Remember: These experiences can be tools for self-awareness along the spiritual path.” I have also found that the toughest events in life have been the one’s I’ve learned the most from, not always willingly.

    Also love the Rumi poetry, especially this simply eloquent line: “When the soul lies down in that grass”.

  3. SVBrockon 11 May 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing about CFS. I also suffered from it for several years. I found great relief from an “amygdala retraining” program from London created by Mr. Gupta. Google it and see what you think. His science and explanation of what is happening was extraordinarily illuminating, and a great relief. Those of us who have it are not crazy, we are not hypochondriacs, etc. Illness is a message; an increase in necessity. Rumi tells us that in order to make spiritual progress, we need to increase our necessity. Illness then can be considered a great blessing as well as a great challenge to the sincere seeker.

  4. Gemma Wilsonon 11 May 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Ivan your openness is beautiful. I pray that the bouts will get less frequest and that you will be energised to continue the very special work you do for us.
    Returning love… sharing Love…

  5. Auroraon 11 May 2012 at 2:12 pm

    It is with pleasur I just sent a small donationl I have enjoyed reading your chosen poetry and Thoughts for the Day. Wishing you healing thoughts and good energy


  6. franon 11 May 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Be well!!!! Thank you for your love of and expression of poetry.

  7. Bahri Della Pennaon 11 May 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I know it’s easy for me to say, since I’ve never suffered with CFS, but I have suffered depression most of my life. Also, I know you already know this but in a way we don’t understand, your CFS is a gift as was my depression. It’s the ruby hidden in the darkness.

    Thank you for being so candid; already I feel I’ve found a friend in you. I pray you’ll feel like your old self again.

    This poem by Rumi is one of my favorites. I’ve been a Sufi for thirty two years – God has blessed me with this, and I read a Rumi poem every morning.

    Thank you for your commentaries; thank you for the work you do.

    Blessings & peace,

  8. Joyceon 11 May 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    Thanks for the amazing poem and for speaking about CFS. It’s a condition I deal with and any experience or information is helpful because it’s a confusing place to be.

    Sending thanks and love

  9. Claudiaon 11 May 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing about your medical condition. I learned a lot reading your posting. I was not aware of the sensory integration disorder component.

    Thank you for your blog and the extra information included on Rumi… the Roman!

    Blessings and Better Health!

  10. Tiaon 11 May 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Dearest Ivan,
    Thank you for this Rumi, one I particularly love. And thank you, as well, for sharing information about your medical condition. Here’s another site that I invite you to visit as it may be of some interest: It’s a very enlightening site started by a Jungian psychologist who has spent years studying what she classifies as a segment of our human population she calls “highly sensitive.”

  11. maryon 11 May 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you for being a ‘talkative fellow’, Ivan. It makes the world a less lonely place. Sharing your health challenge of chronic fatigue has helped me. Very much. Just yesterday, after many months of feeling depleted and pondering the inevitable, Grace intervened. I found helpful youtube videos on abdominal massage, Emotional Freedom Technique, Qi Gong, and migraines. All the information helped and I was able to put it into practice right away. Feeling so much better already, physically, mentally, emotionally, and as a result was able to meditate better, focus better. I truly feel ‘today is the first day of the rest of my life’. Feeling optimistic on all levels. This is what sharing can do! We are all so similar, more so than dissimilar. And today, reading your account of Chronic Fatigue, I recognise the symptoms. I thought it was the end of the road for me. Did not want to go to doctors. I did see a good naturopath who gave me appropriate supplements and advice. We have to work on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – for balance. Feeling unbalanced is painful and creates more anxiety. Never give up the search for wellbeing.
    Love to you.

  12. vickyon 11 May 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Good humans have always good deeds.
    ” Share a knowledge of good thoughts makes this world heaven on this earth”
    Good work always gives good fruits.
    ” Collecting old mystical thoughts and sharing in this time makes world peace and com.

  13. jagwanton 12 May 2012 at 4:28 am

    Love you Ivan… You are doing Great. Keep going strong. Due to and inspite of all else. As we know (?) all is due to him… for The Greatest of Causes, though probably not known to almost all of us… lol.

  14. Lutgarton 12 May 2012 at 5:34 am

    Dearest Ivan, thanks for charing this beautiful poem en also your charing about suffering from CVS/ME. I also heard from the healing of the amygdala retraining” program from London created by Mr. Gupta. I have only a duth website; however a lot of information is also in english:

    Please look at it; probably it is also something for you.

    Thanks again for your gift and a lot of healing blessings for you!
    Be embrassed!

  15. Jackieon 12 May 2012 at 6:05 am

    Thank you Ivan for sharing so intimately with us. I love what you are doing and benefit so from your efforts. Sending you blessings of peace, harmony, laughter, joy, healing and love.

    I particularly love this mornings poem. Always loved it!!!

  16. Barbon 12 May 2012 at 6:17 am

    Ivan, iRest yoga nidra meditation quiets and strengthens the nervous system. You can get a CD and listen to it: It will walk you through the body, the breath, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and bliss (the knowledge that we are an expression of love itself).

    I wish you well. I enjoy the work you do here and all that you offer. Thank you.

  17. Grandyon 12 May 2012 at 7:17 pm


    Thanks on many levels. Thanks for sharing the wonderful poetry. Thanks for sharing your poetry insight. Thanks for sharing about your illness. And thanks for moving through it. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you. I admire your perseverance and courage. Bless you, my friend.

  18. jzeeon 13 May 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    A wonderful sharing!

    “ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing” is indeed what consumes us all most of the time! 🙁

    I wish you best of health!


  19. Val Leventhalon 14 May 2012 at 8:04 am

    Ivan. Sorry you’ve been feeling at low ebb. I completely agree with you that sometimes what seems to be a negative event or condition in one’s life turns out to be the path to the balance we all need. Creative, bright people need a lot of down time, and sometimes it’s hard to get it in this crazy, busy world. Illness can be a blessing in that it makes us slow down – we have no choice. I’m a writer, so whenever I’m feeling fallow, I try to use that time to polish existing work, or plan future shows, or just be still and meditate. The “unproductive” time often turns out to be just like “resting” a field – afterward comes a time of tremendous “fertility.” So, get the rest you need, and thank you for all you do. I love the Rumi, and the “thought for the day.”

    The “thing you can name” is, after all, not the thing we’re after.

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