Just before departing on a trip to Iran, Andrew Kosorok comes across a book which explains why Rumi’s poetry is so popular seven centuries after his life.
From my review on Amazon.com
By Andrew Kosorok
In the mundane world, Rasoul Shams (his pen name) is an internationally respected professor of geology, educated and with academic experience in several countries. Over the years he has had to communicate across multiple cultures and belief systems, building relationships of mutual respect and appreciation around the globe.
His broad and varied experience lend a unique flavor to his understanding of a genius who is still recognized as one of America’s most popular and influential voices (BBC Culture) – although Rumi has been dead for centuries.
Founder of the long-running Rumi Poetry Club in Utah, Rasoul has made it one of his life’s missions to share his profound understanding of both the life and work of Jalaluddin Rumi to everyone ready to receive his centuries-old yet timeless message of universal harmony and understanding.
This collection of essays – introducing, analyzing, and comparing many aspects of Rumi’s work – is an excellent source of information regarding the Mawlana (meaning “Master” in Persian) and his teaching, ranging from introductory information to deep philosophical rumination. Rumi taught the “religion behind religion behind religion”, and Rasoul uses his unique perspective of varied experience to share how the Master’s work applies to the human journey of personal growth across a broad spectrum of readers, regardless of faith or spiritual view.
Rumi taught the “religion behind religion behind religion”
Happily, I was able to read this before leaving for my fellowship to study Islamic art in Iran, the country of Rumi’s birth. In our group were academics from a half-dozen countries, both agnostics and practitioners of varied faith traditions. We all spoke English to different degrees, but we were also united by a shared awareness and appreciation of Rumi – his work was a common factor to our interest in Iran. Although drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, the principles Rumi shared in his writing helped us to sidestep cultural preconceptions and develop bonds of deep friendship and respect.
In addition to discussions on Rumi’s work and his role in history and the development of critical thinking, Rasoul also has two very interesting sections of essays – one section consisting of essays dealing with comparisons of the teachings of Rumi and the Buddha, and one section with essays exploring similarities between Rumi’s wisdom and that of Jesus. Aside from presenting several eye-opening revelations, these two sections serve to wake the reader to the profound extent of Rumi’s expansive thought.
- comparisons of the teachings of Rumi and the Buddha
- similarities between Rumi’s wisdom and that of Jesus
These two sections and the resulting intellectual wakefulness serve as a catalyst for bridging cultures and disparate points of view. Keeping the tools I learned from Rasoul’s book in mind, they truly helped me during my Iranian “adventure” to recognize and build on points of commonality, allowed me to more readily see things from the perspectives of others, and open myself to rewarding relationships which could have easily turned out much different.
As an introduction to Rumi this works wonderfully well, but it also serves as a more advanced guide to deeper reflection and discussion. An excellent source to help me in my own continued study of the Master, Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Rumi.
Rasoul Shams’ Rumi Essays: On the Life, Poetry, and Vision of the Greatest Persian Sufi Poet, can be found on Amazon.com