What is this?

One day Rumi was sitting in his personal library with a group of his
students gathered around him for his lecture. Suddenly, Shems
entered uninvited. He pointed to the books that were stacked in a
corner and asked Rumi, “What are these?”
Rumi, who judged Shems from his appearance to be a beggar,
answered, “You would not understand.” He had not even finsihed his
sentence when flames of fire started to rise from the books in the
corner. Frightened, Rumi cried out, “What is this?”
Shems replied calmly, “Nor would you understand this,” So
saying, he left the room.


One day Rumi was riding on horseback with a crowd of his students
following him. He stopped at the university where he was to give his
regular class. A wretched-looking figure followed Rumi into the
classroom. It was Shems, who asked Rumi, “Who was greater–Bayazid
Bistami or the prophet Muhammad?”
Rumi, who felt the energy of Shem’s glance piercing his soul,
replied, “The prophet Muhammad was greater.”
Shems said, “Did not the Prophet say, ‘We have not known You as
You deserve to be known,’ whereas Bayazid exclaimed, “How great is my
station; glory be upon me who is exalted, whose dignity is
upraised’?” Shems saw that Rumi was unable to answer and explained
that Bayazid’s thirst for God was quenched after drinking a mouthful,
but the Prophet’s thirst was never quenched, for he was always
thirsty for more water of divine knowledge.
Finding himself overwhelmed by Shems’ powerful words, Rumi fell
to the ground at Shems’ feet, crying until he lost consciousness.
When Rumi came to, his head was on Shems’ lap. Shortly afterward,
the two men went into seclusion together for three months.

as collected by James Fadiman & Robert Frager

Leave a Reply