9 Lessons About Love and Life From Rumi's Poetry

Rumi’s beautiful poetry offers timeless wisdom that still resonates today.

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Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Jalal ed-Din Rumi, wrote lyrical verses revealing wisdom about life, love, and spirituality. Although he lived during the 13th century, his books continue to sell millions of copies, making him the most popular poet in the US, according to the BBC. So what makes so many still read him today? Discover these 10 timeless lessons about love and life from Rumi’s poetry that still ring true.

Hope means seeing that there is light despite the darkness.

Only full, overhead sun diminishes your shadow. But that shadow has been serving you. What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.”

When you go through difficult times, remember that the shadow doesn’t exist without the light. Nature goes through phases, and your struggles will eventually pass. Overcoming those challenges help you grow and become stronger. So let “darkness” guide you. As you move out of your comfort zone, past your boundaries, you open yourself up to limitless possibilities.

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Don’t be offended by what other people think of you

“People who insult me, are only polishing the mirror”

Rumi understood that when people criticize, this is a reflection of their own insecurities. Today, psychologists call this projection. You can’t please everyone. So stay true to yourself, have compassion, and remember that when others insult you, they are simply revealing their own negative view of themselves.

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Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

“God picks up the reed-flute world and blows. Each note is a need coming through one of us, a passion, a longing-pain. Remember the lips where the wind-breath originated, and let your note be clear. Don’t try to end it. Be your note.” - Rumi

Sufi was a spiritual man, and in this verse, he describes how the divine expresses itself in each person. Even though it might feel easier to go with the crowd, don’t be afraid to shine. Your unique qualities make the world more beautiful.

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Love is the greatest inspiration

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art. Drumsound rises on the air, its throb, my heart.” - Rumi

In this beautiful verse, Rumi speaks about the inspiration of love. As a spiritual man, he may have referred to his love for God. But love comes in many forms, from a parent, a child, or a companion. That love provides the greatest source of inspiration, expressing itself through art, music, and kindness.

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Simplicity is the key to life

"Humble living does not diminish. It fills. Going back to a simpler self gives wisdom." - Rumi

Rumi explains how true happiness comes when you keep things simple. When you appreciate the basics of life, like a stroll in the sunshine or the breeze on your skin, you learn to find joy in every moment.

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We are all love at our core

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind I was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” - Rumi

This romantic quote from Rumi at first reads like a love story between two people. But take a closer look, and you’ll see a deeper wisdom. Rumi explains how you can look for love from others all your life and never feel satisfied. When you realize your true nature, you recognize that love comes from a spring of well-being within you that you can share with the world.

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Trust the timing of your life

“Don’t grieve from what doesn’t come. Some things that don’t happen keep disasters from happening.” - Rumi

It can really hurt when things don’t go as planned, a job falls through or a relationship doesn’t work out. When you have faith and let go of expectations, you ease your own suffering. Rumi reminds you to trust the direction and timing of your life, and you will flow through the ups and downs.

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Don’t let your emotions get the best of you

“When a wind of personal reaction comes, I do not go along with it. There are many winds of anger, and lust and greed. They move the rubbish around, but the solid mountain of our true nature stays it has always been.” - Rumi

When you let your emotions run wild, they can take control of your thoughts and behaviors and lead to very painful internal states. That’s not to say you should suppress your emotions. Fear, excitement, anger, sadness—these feelings can guide you on your path. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with your emotions, listen to them. Observe them, but stay calm like a solid mountain. You take back the reins without getting pulled in so many different directions with each emotion that arises.

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You need to feel to heal

“What does the patch-sewing mean, you ask. Eating and drinking. The heavy cloak of the body is always getting torn. You patch it with food, and other restless ego-satisfactions. Rip up one board from the shop floor and look into the basement. You’ll see two glints of dirt.” - Rumi

From the poem, The Pickaxe, Rumi explains how each person has a “buried wealth” within. The pickaxe, for Rumi, means anything in life that teaches and helps to grow. But many often cloak growing pains by numbing themselves. Personal development occurs through inner work and lessons learned in life, even when it hurts.

Rather than run from the pain, let the uncomfortable parts of yourself reveal what you need to heal. See it as an opportunity to go deeper. You must dig through your personal rubble to reveal the gem of who you truly are. Then you can shine brightly, like a diamond mined from the earth. 

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