The idea that we are constantly recreated is not a new idea. The Greeks spoke it, as did the Sufis. Rumi loves the concept because it means we can break and rebuild ourselves. We can end and begin the way the seasons do. In this episode, you will hear many more lively and musical verses from the Divan, Rumi’s collection of lively lyrics. Through them, he shocks, and enchants his readers as he pushes them to ignore every limit – even time and space – to be a part of the world’s constant recreation.
In the last program I told you about Shams of Tabriz, the simple basket-weaver who turned into an influential teacher transforming Rumi’s outlook on life. Today, we will continue with that conversation by listening to some of Shams sayings where his thoughts are crystallized in his candid – yet caring – words. Being down to earth, so to speak, is a major characteristic of Shams and Rumi both. Presence, and teaching, for both of them are discrete qualities rather than loud words. Stars shed light on your way without uttering a single word. To recognize these presences, however, it is important to protect your solitude particularly when surrounded by people. Thus you will notice the beloved walking inside your soul invisible to others — and that you are a sea without shores.
In this program, I will introduce you to Shams of Tabriz, Rumi’s teacher. We will talk about who Shams was as his influence had a great impact on the next two decades of Rumi’s life; on who Rumi became. Even though Shams was something of a recluse, he had a rather refreshingly candid personality. This was particularly apparent when he spoke truth to power in political times that were fraught with turmoil. Shams was in his 60s, a couple of decades older than Rumi, had traveled much and was a learned person. Furthermore, his profession was basket-weaving, a metaphor often used for weaving and shaping one’s personality. Listen to the program to see how Shams reshaped Rumi’s life!
We live restless lives feeling – always – that we have not done enough. This is not a modern condition. Rumi’s poems refer to it often. His cure is the concept “Bikhodi,” literally being free of oneself, being enchanted. He asks his readers not to fall for binaries that run our lives: right, wrong, belief in God, or disbelief in Him. This far too simple, he would say. See the world, and be enchanted by it. That is his message. The poems I will read in this program are focused on the connections between our inner feelings and the world outside us. If you see the moon and be enchanted by it, the moon will come down and sit with you!
Opening song: Arayesh e ghaliz, Homayun Shajarian
Producer: Sogand Seirafi
Graphic Designer: Amaal Yazdi
Editorial Consultant: Faezeh Lotfalian
Project Manager: Samar Ata
Audio editing: Tommy Hegarty
Technical assistance is provided by the Center for Innovation in Teaching at Learning, University of Maryland
Rumi shows great recognition of the fact that we may be in full peace one instance and agitated the next. These changes are often caused by being too focused on what we are afraid of loosing: control. If we come to terms with who we are, and stop being obsessed with ourselves, he tells us, the whole world will look different. More importantly, we will stop and see the world. That is why in the middle of a verse, as we think we are gaining full control of what he speaking about, he’ll introduce a whole new topic. Surprise is what he likes to keep alive in us. The ultimate goal is to see that we are not one thing but many, light and smoke at the same time. Free yourself of unchanging definitions, he would say, tear down the house that can become your prison.
Transcript of program 12
Storytelling is humanity’s oldest and most favorite way to connect with one another. Those who tell their life story well are no longer strangers to others. In good stories, complicated thing become clear and palpable. Rumi is a great storyteller. He makes his thoughts accessible. In one story, he tells us about an elephant who goes to a pond to drink water. Seeing his reflection in the water for the first time, he is so scared that he runs away. Rumi’s point? We do not look at our shortcomings because you we know will be scared. But we see the shortcomings in others easily and blame them. “Look at yourself, and see the good and the bad” he says. “It will encourage you to fix it — and to be kinder when you see it in others.” There are many more stories to listen to.
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