sitting with rumi

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I look up to my brother as an intellectual and spiritual warrior.  Several years ago, he introduced me to Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, better known as Rumi.  My brother invited me to sit with his words, his wisdom, cleverly aware that I would not fully understand all of the meaning between hundreds of years, thousands of miles and lifetimes of experience at my initial glance.  But the grains of sand slowly shifted one by one.  A connection grew.  An awareness flowered.  Over the years, I still discover questions and answers while I continue to read the first book from my brother, Coleman Barks’ The Essential Rumi.  This year, I added A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings to my collection.  The short selections each day are a friend sitting with me, offering up what my heart yearns to hear.  The two poems below have stirred within me.  Though I’ve passed the days and continued to sit with Rumi, I’ve come back to these two, now understanding its time to share with you.


The One Thing You Must Do


There is one thing in this world which you must never forget to do.

If you forget everything else and not this, there is nothing to worry

about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you

will have done nothing in your life.


It is as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you

perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do.

So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That

work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don’t

do it, it’s as though a knife of the finest tempering were nailed into a

wall to hang things on. For a penny an iron nail could be bought to

serve for that.


Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord.

Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your

moments. If you don’t, you will be like the one who takes a precious

dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his

dipper gourd. You will be wasting valuable keenness and foolishly

ignoring your dignity and your purpose.


The Water You Want


Someone may be clairvoyant, able to see

the future, and yet have very little wisdom.


Like the man who saw water in his dream,

and began leading everyone toward the mirage.


I am the one with heart-vision.

I have torn open the veil.


So they set out with him inside the dream,

while he is actually sleeping

beside a river of pure water.


Any search moves away from the spot

where the object of the quest is.


Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way.

Maybe some traveler will wake you.


Give up subtle thinking, the twofold, threefold

multiplication of mistakes.


Listen to the sound of waves within you.


You are dreaming your thirst,

when the water you want

is inside the big vein on your neck.


feature image provided by Jose Luis Gomez Abellán


  1. “Listen to the sound of the waves within you.” Goodness. Thanks for this!

    • Sure thing. Rumi has a timeless, placeless presence that can connect all souls through ages. Thanks for reading.

  2. “I am the one with the heart vision, I have torn open the veil.” This is my biggest aspiration and goal right now. Your blog is beautiful and an inspiration.

    • Thank you for your comment, Judi. Isn’t this beautiful? So happy to hear this is your biggest aspiration right now. What a wonderful goal! It can be vulnerable and scary, but oh so rewarding, right? And thank you for your kind comments about the blog. I look forward to you joining along the journey. Blessings.

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