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Rumi in a Pandemic

When a 13th century poet captivates a 21st century audience, his words must ring true. Rumi is the Sufi mystic and philosopher that has universally enthralled the modern era with words being reposted either as Instagram captions, something to be analyzed by university lectures, or maybe used to be reflected by the self. Not only do his words captivate the human essence, but they bestow a coherent magic that can be translated into any language, with his prose flowing like a serene river into the human spirit.

He incorporated poetry into religious practice, very similar to how we define spirituality today. Instead of identifying with one deity, spirituality can be something poetic and all-encompassing. Rumi dissolved religious boundaries through his potent words and, today, his contemporary audiences uses social media to express that all-encompassing love through reposts of his poetry.

And perhaps we need that now more than ever.

Rumi is regarded as the greatest of Sufi spiritual masters. Sufism is an inward mystic philosophy, and their followers belong to different orders or congregations around a grand master that strive for the perfection of worship. Rumi believed that all lives were sacred and was passionate about the use of music, poetry, and dance as a path to spirituality.

He also wrote a lot about love. He identified love as the medium through which Divine law is executed by human beings. Love was a necessity in religion, something that I believe there’s a lack of today, especially when there are religions that claim they are all loving, with the exception of certain groups that don’t fit their criteria to be loved or seen as an equal.

Mixing love with Rumi’s bewitching interpretation of mysticism is something that transcends time itself.

Humans, whether they believe in mysticism or not, are attracted to it. From fiction films and novels like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings—there’s something curious about not accepting the world as is and yearning for a force greater than ourselves. Philosophy and Science don’t exactly have all the answers, so some may rely on spirituality or religion to comfort them during times of uncertainly. And Rumi’s poetry really captivates and comforts the human soul like warm soup when it comes to those troubling existential questions.

After all, humans are limited by their set cognitive systems—which can be scary or uncomfortable. When you read works of Rumi, he puts that existential fear to rest. He doesn’t just mix a little love and mysticism, he mixes mysticism and philosophy. His poetry teaches us that ignorance is prison, and when we let go of who we presently are, we are able to become who we might be.

2020 has been a year of solitude. It’s been a year of unnecessary death that has sadly been made political. It’s been a year of divide. It’s been a year where a strong stage light has been pointed to the inequality Black Americans face in a country where the police is overfunded.

I truly believe that at the height of 2020’s chaos, art and philosophy is at utmost importance, specifically Rumi’s philosophy on solitude, equality, and unfolding the self.

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