Sep 30 2013

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – I lost my world, my fame, my mind

Published by at 8:58 am under Poetry

I lost my world, my fame, my mind
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Andrew Harvey

I lost my world, my fame, my mind —
The Sun appeared, and all the shadows ran.
I ran after them, but vanished as I ran —
Light ran after me and hunted me down.

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

/ Photo by opal-moon /

Today is Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi’s birthday — September 30, 1207. Poets, seekers, and sages, let’s celebrate! Come on, let’s spin and dance, like the madmen and wild women we are!

The Sun appeared, and all the shadows ran.

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… The name Shams means “the sun.”

The sun for Rumi can be God or the radiance of God shining through his beloved teacher or the light of enlightenment. Though why should we separate them out? They are all the same Divine continuum.

The light of God comes, the clarity of enlightenment shines, and the shadows disappear.

Of course, seeing the world in this way removes us from society’s consensus reality. In that light, we see things simply and purely as they are, not as we are told they are. Standing outside that shadow world, we realize that every role we play in life, in fact, every thought we have, has not come with us across the threshold:

I lost my world, my fame, my mind —

Filled with that light, surrounded by the light, all of existence interpermeated by that light, we can search for some root or tendril of those things that once seemed so immutable and defining, but the more we search, the more we recognize how gossamer thin the very fabric of our own identity actually is.

I ran after them, but vanished as I ran —
Light ran after me and hunted me down.

Then it hits us: We are not really “selves,” we are not the distinct nuggets of identity commonly imagined, we are not even illumined beings surrounded and permeated by light. There is only light, and no “I” in the midst of it. The only “self” we can claim is not really a separate being but, rather, a distinct point-of-view within that one immense shining Being. The enlightened mystic sees only that light, dancing and playing, sometimes eddying into “me” and “you” and all the world, without actually losing its luminescent nature or flow.

So, seekers, while you are on your spiritual hunt, remember to look over your shoulder. That glow you glimpse might just be hunting you.

Happy birthday, Jelaluddin!

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

Afghanistan & Turkey (Persia) (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, in what is today 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. (These lands were part of the Persian Empire, so, while he lived most of his life in what is today called Turkey, culturally he was Persian.)

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.

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. Some believe that he was actually kidnapped and murdered, possibly by Rumi’s own sons! Or he may have simply followed his dervish nature and journeyed on, never to return to Konya.

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

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – I lost my world, my fame, my mind”

  1. Gerryon 30 Sep 2013 at 10:52 am

    Today’s meditation on Rumi is outstanding and I’m very grateful to you, dear Ivan!

  2. marrobon 30 Sep 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Many thanks for today’s selection, Ivan.
    Rumi never fails to touch the heart.

    I happen to be reading ‘The Forty Rules of Love’
    by Elif Shafak. It’s a novel of the meeting of Rumi and
    Shams of Tabriz and how it touches the life of a
    Boston housewife today. Well written ( in my view).

  3. i love Rumion 01 Oct 2013 at 4:20 am

    i love his writing. it touches my soul/

  4. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 03 Oct 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you Ivan. Cause for celebrating today (a little
    late) the birth of Rumi among us. Living with the Light keeps us alive and at peace without being overcome by the shadows. I will remember that.
    May the light fill you with joy–no matter what!

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