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Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion

Poetry and Teaching Stories of Rumi
By: ,
Contributor Role: 
Translated with commentary by
Contributor name: 
Paperback Book
February, 2000
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Banyen's Description: 

These selections from Rumi’s Mathnawi—a towering classic of Sufi spiritual literature—express the courage and intensity needed to overcome our ego-imprisonment. Much of Rumi’s poetry has circled around the mystery of surrender. Some of it expresses a longing and even a bewilderment, but much of it also demonstrates the discipline, clarity, and integrity that true surrender requires. The lion is that fierce intensity that recognizes no authority except the highest truth. Yet the lion is full of heart and devotion. The translator, Coleman Barks, says, “I hear the lion’s roar in Rumi, but he certainly didn’t stop with that thunderous no to what blocks light, to easy answers and the need to belong. He moved on out into an enormous open, into the creative yes of the child, and beyond.”

Union with God is not

a compulsion. When that wedding

happens, it’s like a drop of water

entering an oyster, like blood

going into a deer’s musk gland.


Don’t say such changes cannot happen.

A vast freedom could live inside you....


A simple piece of humanity takes in intelligence

and cuts through a mountain to find jewels,

or builds a ship to cross the ocean.


That rock-and-mountain-splitting strength

is a likeness for the strength of the soul.

Also by Coleman Barks are The Essential Rumi and The Illuminated Rumi.

Publisher’s Description: 

These selections from Rumi's Mathnawi a classic of Sufi spiritual literature express the "lion's roar" of courage, discipline, clarity, and integrity. The lion represents the fierce intensity that recognizes no authority except the highest truth. At the same time, Rumi's lion is full of heart and devotion. Through these poems the reader will explore the qualities that are vital to the spiritual aspirant who seeks to overcome the imprisonment of ego.

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