Rumi’s inspiration progresses from the inner to the outer, from spiritual impulse to verbal expression. Thus, the more we are able to penetrate the outer form of his words, the closer we may come to catching a glimpse of the Source from which they came. This requires a considerable mental leap. Rumi is aware of this, for in the collection of his poetry known as the Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi he advises:
Study me as much as you like, you will not know me,
for I differ in a hundred ways from what you see me to be.
Put yourself behind my eyes and see me as I see myself,
for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see.
(Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi 1372: A1: 168)
The ‘place we cannot see’ is the Unseen, the Placeless, also known as the Non-existent. Those who dwell there have attained union with the Source of their being. They no longer exist in the normal sense of this word, having passed beyond the veil that separates us from the Divine Unity. Although they may appear to exist in this world, they are no longer of this world since their human attributes have been drowned in the Ocean of Being. For them, this world and the next have become One. In this state of being, explains Rumi, it is no longer he who is speaking to us.
When a man becomes a vehicle for Spirit,
his human attributes disappear.
Whatever he says,
pure Spirit is speaking,
for the one who belongs in this world
speaks from one who belongs in the other.
If Spirit can have this much effect,
how much greater must be the power
of the One whose Spirit it is!
(Mathnawi IX: 2112-14)
Perhaps this is the key to Rumi’s enormous appeal to a twenty-first-century Western audience. Whatever we may assume his outward appeal to be, at an inner level his words resonate with the Spirit lying dormant within our soul, stirring it into life, a momentary fluttering deep within us like a foetus moving in the womb. But unless we remain alert, the ego-centred self claims this movement as its own.
Source: The Essence of Rumi by John Baldock (pp. 8-10), Arcturus Publishing Limited, 2005.