Inspiration for today comes from the Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi. Born Jalaluddin Muhammed Rumi in 1207, his family emigrated from Persia to what is now Turkey when the Mongols invaded Central Asia. At the age of 37, Rumi experienced a turning point when he met an itinerant mystic named Shams of Tabriz, who convinced Rumi to abandon his career as a lawyer for a life of love, music, poetry and an ecstatic whirling dance he incorporated into his spiritual practice. It’s not known whether Shams eventually left of his own accord or was murdered, but afterward Rumi found solace in writing verses about the bliss of personal and spiritual reunion — a recurring theme throughout his work.
Here is a poem by Rumi titled “Inner Wakefulness”:
This place is a dream
only a sleeper considers it real
then death comes like dawn
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought
was your grief
A man goes to sleep in the town
where he has always lived
and he dreams
he’s living in another town
in the dream he doesn’t remember
the town he’s sleeping in his bed in
he believes the reality
of the dream town
the world is that kind of sleep
Humankind is being led
along an evolving course,
through this migration
and though we seem
to be sleeping
there is an inner wakefulness,
that directs the dream
and that will eventually
startle us back
to the truth of
who we are.
Life is the process of waking up. It’s about learning to see ourselves and the world as they actually are. But as we sleep, Rumi tells us there is an inner wakefulness — an awareness of something deeper. That awareness guides our dream and “will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are.”
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See Coleman Barks’ The Essential Rumi
More inspiration for today
- On this day in 1521, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic church by Pope Leo X. Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Wittenberg when he wrote his 95 theses condemning the selling of indulgences, and then nailed his theses to the door of All Saints’ church. Three months after his excommunication, Luther defended his beliefs to Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms. When he refused to recant his views, Charles declared him an outlaw and heretic.
- Today is the birthday of the social reformer and Quaker minister, Lucretia Mott. Born on Nantucket in 1793, Mott was an abolitionist and an early activist for women’s rights. After being blocked from speaking at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, she teamed up with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to organize the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Speaking of Mott, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “She brings domesticity and common sense and that propriety which every man loves directly into this hurly-burly, and makes every bully ashamed.”
- Today is also the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien. Best known for his high-fantasy novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was raised Roman Catholic by his mother before being orphaned at the age of 12. But he remained a devout Catholic for the rest of his life and was a major influence in C.S. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity.
Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.