When asked about living a life of the heart, Barks says, “Rumi has many ways of talking about that. Somehow breaking the container of the ego and moving out into some mystery. He says, “‘jars of spring water are not enough anymore. Being contained is not enough. Take us down to the river and then eventually to the ocean, the shoreless ocean.’ [There is a] kind of tenderness toward existence and a generosity toward human beings, and I’m still trying to learn it from doing the poems and just living my life.”
In this far ranging conversation, Barks takes us on a journey with stories of Rumi: Rumi talking to the ducks, his meeting with Shams, his fleeing Afghanistan with his father and 90 camels loaded with books, and more. Barks also talks of his own teacher, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, and his first encounter with him in a dream, as well as Bawa’s death and burial. All of this is delightfully interspersed with the reading of some poems from Rumi: The Big Red Book.
Coleman Barks is a renowned poet and bestselling author. He was prominently featured in both of Bill Moyer’s PBS television series on poetry, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. He taught English and poetry at the University of Georgia for thirty years, and he now focuses on writing, readings, and performances. He is the author of many books including The Essential Rumi (Castle Books 1997), The Soul of Rumi (HarperOne 2002), Rumi: The Book of Love (HarperOne 2005), A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings (HarperOne 2007), Rumi: Bridge to the Soul: Journeys into the Music and Silence of the Heart (HarperOne 2007), Winter Sky: New and Selected Poems 1968-2008 (University of Georgia Press 2008), and Rumi: The Big Red Book (HarperOne 2010). To learn more about the work of Coleman Barks go to www.colemanbarks.com.
Topics explored in this dialogue include:
- What happens when the heart opens
- Who was Shams, a companion of Rumi
- How Rumi was like an indigenous shaman in-tune with the animal mind
- How Barks found his teacher and their mystical connection
- Why Rumi uses many references to cooking
- How Rumi fits into the Walt Whitman tradition
- What advice Indian teacher Osho gave to Barks
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