book.jpgThe Soul of Rumi
A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

By Rumi, Introduction and notes by Coleman Barks, and contribution by John Moyne
Translated by Coleman Barks


Copyright © 2001 Coleman Barks.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-06-060453-0

Chapter One

A Green Shawl: Solomon's Far Mosque

In the early 1990s — it was December — I was sitting in meditation under the green dome that houses Rumi's tomb in Konya. Someone came up and gave me a green shawl. As you might imagine, I treasure it still and use it in my meditation. I love the wrapped, rapt feeling.

Going in, feeling the limpid contentment in being oneself and the endless discovery there: the green shawl is that, reminiscent of a child's tent-making delight, the rainy-day times when you spread a sheet over a card table and a chair, anchored it with safety pins, and crept under the shelter where imagination could flower. How we forget this tent making for such long spans is a mystery in itself.

Rumi tells of Solomon's practice of building each dawn a place made of intention and compassion and sohbet (mystical conversation). He calls it the "far mosque." Solomon goes there to listen to the plants, the new ones that come up each morning. They tell him of their medicinal qualities, their potential for health, and also the dangers of poisoning.

I suggest we all get green shawls. "Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you" ("Entrance Door"). Mary's hiding place and the great warehouse ("What Was Told, That") are other images of the listening tent, where conversation thrives and love deepens.

Rumi often hears it as the birdlike song-talk that begins at dawn under the dome of meditation. Build a far mosque where you can read your soul-book and listen to the dreams that grew in the night. Attar says,


Let love lead your soul.
Make it a place to retire to,
a kind of cave, a retreat
for the deep core of being.


Entrance Door


How lover and beloved touch is
familiar and courteous, but there
is a strange impulse in that to
create a form that will dissolve

all other shapes. Remember, the
entrance door to the sanctuary is

inside you. We watch a sunlight
dust dance, and we try to be that lively,

but nobody knows what music
those particles hear. Each of us

has a secret companion musician to
dance to. Unique rhythmic play, a

motion in the street we alone know
and hear. Shams is a king of kings

like Mahmud, but there's not another
pearl-crushing dervish Ayaz like me.


What Was Told, That


What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!


Mary's Hiding


Before these possessions you love slip away, say what
Mary said when she was

surprised by Gabriel, I'll hide inside God. Naked in
her room she saw a form

of beauty that could give her new life. Like the sun
coming up, or a rose as it

opens. She leaped, as her habit was, out of herself
into the divine presence.

There was fire in the channel of her breath. Light and
majesty came, I am smoke

from that fire and proof of its existence, more than
any external form.

I want to be where
your bare foot walks,

because maybe before you step,
you'll look at the ground. I want that blessing.

Would you like to have revealed to you
the truth of the Friend?

Leave the rind,
and descend into the pith.

Fold within fold, the beloved
drowns in its own being. This world
is drenched with that drowning.

Imagining is like feeling around
in a dark lane, or washing
your eyes with blood.

You are the truth
from foot to brow. Now,
what else would you like to know?


The Husk and Core of Masculinity


Masculinity has a core of clarity, which does not act
from anger or greed or

sensuality, and a husk, which does. The virile center
that listens within takes

pleasure in obeying that truth. Nobility of spirit,
the true spontaneous energy

of your life, comes as you abandon other motives and move
only when you feel the majesty

that commands and is the delight of the self. Remember
Ayaz crushing the king's pearl!



Excerpted from The Soul of Rumi by Rumi, Introduction and notes by Coleman Barks, and contribution by John Moyne. Copyright © 2001 by Coleman Barks. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.