A tryst with time… my visit to Konya in Istanbul was just that. I have been reading Rumi since my teens deeply fascinated by the Sufi way of thought and life. Konya is the place that Rumi lived, preached, found Shams Tabrizi, found himself, and died… but what he left behind is what continues to live on in the hearts of millions of people who over time have been touched by his words and his life.
For me, the visit was not to find anything, it was a pilgrimage of the heart, it was a deep outpouring of my love for the saint and the man who ignited his spark, Shams Tabrizi. For me this was a coming home to the poetry of the soul.
They say Shams introduced Rumi to ‘sama’ which means deep listening. Conventionally it means to absorb knowledge and build concentration but for Shams, it meant to lose oneself. He introduced this to Rumi through the whirling dance – a devotional practice in Sufism- where the dancer becomes a conduit between heaven and earth while engaging in a 360 degree embrace of creation, one hand towards the sky and one to the earth.
At the heart of Rumi’s poetry is love; the love you feel for God and the love you feel for God’s creation. His words are open to interpretation and carry the desire and anguish of being lost in God or in a companion no longer near him.
To know Rumi’s poetry is simply to know love.
What struck me under the winter sun in Konya were the tombs of Rumi and Shams; one resting in grandeur and the other bathed in humility not so far away. Shams was the heart of Rumi and yet the heart is kept away. Shams end has many versions, maybe some stories remain best untold.
Across time, place and cultures, Rumi words articulate what it is to be truly alive. His poems timeless, and true.