Program 15: Weave a Basket, Part II

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.

Program 14: Weave a Basket!

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!

program transcript

Program 13: If you are Enchanted, the Moon will Visit You

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!

program transcript

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

Program 12: Light & Smoke: Am I Together or Dispersed?

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

Program 11: Rumi, the Storyteller: the Lion, the Rabbit, and the Elephant


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.

Episode transcript

Program 10: I wonder Which “me” is me?

Who are we, what controls us, emotion or rationality. How should we approach Rumi’s poetry, with our hearts or our minds? After the enlightenment, thinkers and philosophers – starting with Descartes – divide human beings into body and soul, one earthly and the other heavenly. For Rumi, we are one big bundle of many things: fear, courage, analytical abilities, and total confusion. There is no either/or because our human experience is a continuum. Emotion and rationality are not enemies, they are each other’s extension, sometimes the same thing. Getting confused can be a prelude to seeking clarity. Think what you would do if you had a great piece of fabric and wanted to have a dress made…

Program 9: All Existence is but One Light!

This program looks at the Sufi concept of Oneness of all existence. For Rumi, the source of all existence is one light and we are windows through which this light shines. Our ability to let this light come through, and be colored by our thoughts and actions, makes the world what it is. We all matter regardless of our age, race, color…We are like words in a sentence. Every word matters even one as small as “and.” To be true to our role in the universe, we must never stop searching. We do not have the answers. But the good news is that asking questions is more important than knowing the answers.

Program 8: Love … Again! How to Speak of the experience?

While the theme of love is going to come up time and again in these podcasts, this is the concluding episode focusing on it as its main theme. How do we speak of love with our limited and over-used human vocabulary? If we cannot describe this complex experience, what else can we do with it?  If it is supposed to build us a new self, why does it feel overwhelming?  Why is it so prevalent in our thoughts, words and other and other artistic creations? what do we give to Love? What do we gain from it?

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

Program 7: Kiss my Soul on the Lips

This episode which was recorded soon after the general election, emphasizes the significance of love as a lasting theme that can help us through disagreements and social rifts that often divide human society. Furthermore for Rumi, this worldly love, love connected to erotic desire, is not separate from or antagonistic to spiritual love. More than anything else, for Rumi love is a tool for bringing about positive change. In that sense, it is not passive or melancholic but a source of energy, action, and agency. Love is a process of searching, discovery, creation, and ultimately liberation.

Program 6: Don’t let Your Habitat be your Prison: Albert Einstein and Rumi

In this episode, recorded last October, we connect Rumi and Einstein separated by centuries. They are astonishingly similar in their aspiration to make us see how connected we are with the universe — neither separate from it, nor captive in it. They both see knowledge as healing and liberating. They both see that everything perishes except for love. And what we run after, often in circles, is much closer than we think. Dive deep within, Rumi says, strengthen your wings. Now fly out, for you no longer need a ladder.

Listen to “Radio Rumi Program 6: Don’t let Your Habitat be your Prison: Albert Einstein and Rumi” on Spreaker.

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

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