Jul 21 2023

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – During the day I was singing with you

Published by at 9:27 am under Poetry

During the day I was singing with you
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

During the day I was singing with you.
At night we slept in the same bed.
I wasn’t conscious day or night.
I thought I knew who I was,
but I was you.

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

/ Image by Sergiu Valenas /

A snippet of a verse by Rumi today…

During the day I was singing with you.
At night we slept in the same bed.

When Rumi speaks of sleeping in the same bed with God, he is drawing a parallel — as have many mystics — between the ecstatic state and the union of lovers. This can be shocking to more orthodox religious sensibilities, but the comparison can be appropriate.

The sacred experience can be described as orgasmic. There is a sense of ecstasy that goes beyond words, a sense of profound release, and a rising heat often felt to originate from the seat. But, whereas physical pleasure is focused outward and quickly dissipates, this sacred energy turns inward and upward, spreading a glowing awareness of bliss throughout the body and mind.

On an even deeper level, this union is the merging of the individual sense of self with the Divine, the Eternal Self.

When Rumi says he “wasn’t conscious day or night,” he is talking of the mystical experience of being radically free from what most people think of as the normal state of awareness; all of the mental chatter and concepts no longer rule perception. There is no separation between things, no “night and no “day.” And there is no little sense of self from which to view it. What remains, instead, is a blissful, silent, awareness that drinks in everything unfiltered. There is perception, but there is no “I” to perceive or to be “conscious.”

We have spent an entire life time imagining that we know who we are, but do we? In such utter stillness, we discover that this long cultivated me-thing is a mere phantom. We are stunned to discover that there is no difference between oneself and the pure vastness that is the Beloved, that is God.

I thought I knew who I was,
but I was you.

Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom
More Books >>

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

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

Rumi was a war refugee and an asylum seeker. He 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 been pushed back to a small area of control around Constantinople, 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. 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

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – During the day I was singing with you”

  1. Frances Daleon 21 Jul 2023 at 10:59 am

    To me the poem is more simple. He is writing about his master. Not God absolute. Just his master.

  2. Prema Kayeon 21 Jul 2023 at 3:28 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    For many years i’ve been loving you and your commentaries!

    In case you haven’t already read it, I want to turn you on to a MAGNIFICENT Rumi poetry book called Gold, with translations from the Farsi by Haleh Liza Gafori. Born in New York City of Persian descent, she grew up listening to Rumi’s poems in the original Farsi around her dining room table with her mother and close relatives, and for years they also translated the couplets, quatrains and ghazals into English amid spirited discussions! I had the great good fortune to hear her give a magnificent reading of some of these poems amid her commentaries and the beautiful Persian music she played for us. Honestly, there is magic in these translations which go beyond Coleman Barks in my humble opinion! Please let me know if you’ve read Gold, and consider using her for one of your Chaikhanas. With gratitude, Prema Kaye

  3. Ivan M. Grangeron 21 Jul 2023 at 4:33 pm

    Prema Kaye- I love recommendations like that! Coleman Barks does versions that are often delightful, but they are often fairly loose renditions, I know. I have read several other translations of Rumi’s work, some very good and some rather dry and academic. I think I have heard of Haleh Liza Gafori’s work, but I haven’t yet read it. I will make sure Gold is on my reading list. Thanks! ~Ivan

  4. Madathil Rajendran Nairon 22 Jul 2023 at 1:05 am

    I am afraid I can’t share your frequency on that ‘not conscious’ bit. I believe Rumi meant he was ignorant. He was not alluding to any mystical experience. Simply put, the verse says: I was singing with you the whole day, I slept with you the whole night (in both these God is separate from the singer and sleeper as that preposition ‘with’ denotes); yet, I was ignorant and thought I knew who I was. But, the truth is that all the time I was you only and none other! My two cents,Sir.

  5. Ivan M. Grangeron 22 Jul 2023 at 6:15 am

    A good observation. I will reread the verse from that perspective…

  6. Carolon 23 Jul 2023 at 5:22 am

    Oh Ivan, I have loved this ‘snippet’ from Rumi!

    And also your Thought for the Day,
    ‘Use Everything. . .’ I have had this on my fridge for several years.

    And the quote from Gathering Silence ‘Outwardly, determined effort is necessary. But within, nothing is needed, except to yield. Thank You.

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