Rumi Dances Under the May 18th Moon

Rumi at La fontaine May 18

For all you Rumi fans out there!  A Rumi movie.

According to the the movie promoters, Rumi is America’s best-selling poet. Apparently, his popularity as the number one, daily, Facebook quote has helped him leap beyond the previous favorite, Lebanese- American, Khalil Gibran.  That, and the fact that his copyright expired several hundred years ago.

Poor Natasha Tretheway,  probably few of you have even heard of America’s 2013 Poet Laureate.  She has 1,861 Likes versus the Persian’s million plus.  Just give her another 800 years to build an audience.

raise your words not your voice rumi

Don’t get your tailfeathers in a tinzy, dear roosters.  Just having a little Rumi fun.  I LOVE Rumi.

Amazon, helpful reviewer, Nicholas Croft, wrote about the film,

“The first fifteen minutes of the video relate the biography of Rumi, who was born in Afghanistan during the year 1207. Rumi’s family moved to Turkey, where his father became the head of an Islamic Sufi learning community. Upon his father’s death, Rumi took his place as the head of this ancient community of prayer.

Rumi eventually met with a desert mystic named Shams of Tabriz and mentored under him for a number of years. The grief that Rumi felt, upon the death of Shams, led to the birth of his poetry of longing and also to the creation of the Whirling Dervish dance tradition.

The story of how Coleman Barks came to his decades-long project as translator of Rumi’s Persian texts is then revealed. We witness recording sessions where Mr. Barks reads from his acclaimed translations of the poet. These sessions are often accompanied with musical instrumentation such as the oud, harmonium, dotar, tabla, violin, ney and sarod. Video talks by the various scholars, which were often shot within beautiful natural settings, are interspersed among the studio sessions. All of these elements combine to suggest both the tone and the meaning of Rumi’s poetry.

Rumi – Poet of the Heart is a devotional work that gently guides viewers through an introduction to the life and spirit of one of America’s most widely read poets. Join with Coleman Barks and company to explore Rumi’s compelling inner secret world. You will be transformed through their intoxicating spirit of contagious enthusiasm.”

Saturday, May 18th is the quarter moon.  Where? La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art, of course.  This should be one of those beautiful nights we can be outside before the weather gets too hot.


Let the Rumi Begin

This class takes place in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.  Sorry Bahrain.


Perhaps You Will Feast on This Banquet of Love

We are not forced to do anything. We are only chosen. To be chosen does not mean anything by itself, but the meaning of what you are chosen to do does. Once we make that choice, the Divine comes to meet us and gives us assistance that is beyond our capabilities.

Fariba Enteshari,

Jalal al Din Rumi student/scholar

I have never been a big reader of poetry but lately I seem to keep coming across small bits of Rumi’s work.  And although no one is forcing me to read it – I am not “in school” – I find that for some reason I am drawn to his work and find a relevant truth in nearly every passage.  Perhaps this is an example of the Divine meeting me and helping me glimpse Rumi’s magnificence.

My friend Fariba Enteshari has been a Rumi student since I met her nearly twenty years ago at the Immaculate Heart College Center in Los Angeles.    While I waded through Theresa of Avila, Fariba was immersed in Rumi’s six volume book of poetry, the Mathnawi.

The Mathnawi  is 25,000 lines of lyrical verse.  It is referred to as the Persian Koran.  The verse is spoken in the voice of Rumi’s beloved muse, friend, teacher, Shams al Din.  Our bookclub recently read a novel about their relationship called The Forty Rules of Love.  

Rumi, a Koranic scholar, was a popular Imam in Koya, Turkey.   Shams was “delivered” to his doorstep and began a conversation with Rumi that, according to the stories, lasted forty-days and nights.  During that intense period of interaction, Rumi’s heart was opened.  And after Sham’s death, for the first time in his life, he began writing the poetry which has guided people for 700 years.

Indries Shah the great thinker and writer on Sufism said a great part of Sufism “must be personally communicated by means of interaction between the teacher and the learner. Too much attention to the written page can be harmful.”

This Sufism truth was probably revealed by Rumi’s and Sham’s relationship.

If you are interested in entering a conversation with a Rumi scholar, this Wednesday, March 14th, Fariba Enteshari is putting aside her writing for the day to have a Banquet of Love.  She invites anyone interested in Rumi’s poetry to come to this spiritual feast.

If you are uncertain whether you are interested in poetry or are capable of understanding Rumi’s deeper meaning, you can take heart from Indries Shah who said

“Rumi, like other Sufi authors, plants his teachings within a framework which as effectively screens its inner meaning as displays it.  This technique fulfills the functions of preventing those who are incapable of using the material on a higher level from experimenting effectively with it; allowing those who want poetry to select poetry; giving entertainment to people who want stories; stimulating the intellect in those who prized such experiences.”

Indries Shah, The Way of the Sufi, 1970.

If you are near beautiful Santa Barbara, California this Wednesday, go spend the day at La Casa Maria with Fariba and other Rumi devotees and see what message Rumi’s poetry has for you.

Banquet of Love is Wednesday March 14th 9:30-3:30 at the La Casa de Maria, in Santa Barbara, California.  Donations will be taken at the door.  To make a reservation for the $14 lunch go to or call (805) 969 – 5031.


Don’t Go to Sleep This Night

August Full Moon over Iowa Corn Fields, 2011

Don’t Go to Sleep This Night

don’t go to sleep
this night
one night is worth
a hundred thousand souls

the night is generous
it can give you
a gift of the full moon
it can bless your soul
with endless treasure

every night when you feel
the world is unjust
never ending grace
descends from the sky
to soothe your souls

the night is not crowded like the day
the night is filled with eternal love
take this night
tight in your arms
as you hold a sweetheart

remember the water of life
is in the dark caverns
don’t be like a big fish
stopping the life’s flow
by standing in the mouth of a creek

during a night
the blessed prophet
broke all the idols and
God remained alone
to give equally to all
an endless love.

                              Translated by Nader Khalili
                              Rumi, Fountain of Fire

A Bahraini friend sent this poem to me today.


Finding Ourselves in Our Soul Mirror

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by my Bahraini book club.  The Bahraini women are the majority but the group includes a Mexican, a Belgium, a couple of Americans and a French woman.  We read books from an international selection of authors including Elif Shafak the female, Turkish author of this month’s choice.

The Forty Rules of Love is a multi-layered novel.  An American housewife is charged with editing a novel about the mystic Rumi and it changes her life.  Rumi was a gifted Islamic preacher and teacher who, in the book, developed into RUMI the Sufi poet after he met his soul-mirror named Shams of Tabriz.

In the novel within the novel, the dervish Shams’ forty rules are rolled out like an antique Persian carpet.

One of Shams’ rules is

“Loneliness and solitude are two different things.  When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path.  Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely.  But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror.  Remember, only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.”  Pg 72.

In modern Western culture the idealized life partner is called our soul mate.  But a soul mirror is different.

Rumi and Shams’ friendship reminded me of my friend YeYeIfe.

Like Ella the female protagonist in the novel, YeYeIfe was an American housewife who after raising her children discovered her husband was not her soul mate.  They divorced.  I met her when we both became students at the Immaculate Heart College Center.

She was a kind of exotic bird: a white woman wearing a leopard print skirt, armloads of African bracelets and high heeled mules.  Shortly after meeting her, YeYeIfe became an initiate of an African spiritual practice and had to cleanse herself of her previous life.  I was shocked when, wrapped in a white smock, she cut off her hair and swore off cosmetics for one year.

As we studied theology, YeYeIfe actively transformed her body, mind and spirit.  Like Shams who taught Rumi the twirling dervish dance, YeYeIfe used dance to connect with God.

I watched YeYeIfe’s progress with awe.  After the end of her year, when her mind and her time were freed, we started talking.  In her I discovered my soul mirror.  Like Shams and Rumi, we sat by ourselves in a room and talked about everything to do with spirit, God and existence.  When we were apart we wrote to each other.

A couple years later, the distance between us literally grew when I moved to San Francisco from LA.  But that did not end our friendship.

But after I married, I quit looking at my soul.  Instead I became mesmerized by my face reflected in my babies’ eyes.  During those years the distance between me and my friend became so great that we lost contact.

Now my babies are children and as I read Elif Shafak’s book I wondered, where is my soul mirror?

A Google search found her referenced in a book.  I contacted the author.  He said after he interviewed her several years ago, she moved to South America.  I imagine her like the itinerant Shams trading healing stories for food and teaching those who are called to dance.

I describe The Forty Rules of Love as Sufi-light.  It is entertaining while explaining Sufi thought without having to read Rumi and tease out the meaning behind his poetic metaphors.  Perhaps it will inspire more people to seek out their soul mirrors who can help them see God within.

An interesting publishing note: Elif Shafak’s hardcover book can be purchased on but not the ebook.  For the Kindle version, you have to use



Tales by Chapter

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