This is unprecedented! The monthly Kubrick poetry gathering is supposed to last for one hour, but this time, it was two hours. Our speaker, Sayed Gouda, and our audience were so into the discussion that no one paid attention to the fly of time. We felt “spiritual drunken” after the poetry gathering! How could this happen? What made us drunk?
To most of us, Rumi, a Persian mystic poet in the 13th century, seemed to be speaking another language and too old to be understood. However, it is not the case; otherwise there would not be ceaseless questioning and arguing. We immediately jumped into a puddle of debate after reading the first poem, “Enough Words?” Can the essence of something leave its basic quality? Does truth exist in the essence of words? If truth cannot be told or expressed in language, where can we find it? In complete silence? A question like “Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea.” from Rumi’s poem named Who Says Words With My Mouth?, as a participant put it “It is still a question asked by secondary students nowadays.” We all laughed knowingly. One of the most interesting debate occurred in the last poem about “you” and “me”.
When you are with everyone but me,
you’re with no one.
When you are with no one but me,
you’re with everyone.
Instead of being so bound up with everyone,
When you become that many, you’re nothing.
It can be a love poem. It can also be a poem about the relationship between God and the poet. But who is God in this poem? You or me? Most of us perceive “me” as God, but there is one participant insisted that “you” represent God. There always can be a pluralistic point of view in understanding the same poem. We respect that though most us did not agree. In this short and powerful poem, we can see Rumi is very clever in playing words to convey complex relationship in a philosophical way. To understand Rumi’s poems, sometimes we need to know the symbolism of the Bible and Qur’an and the historical background of his era. More importantly, we need some wisdom in reading between the lines. His thinking was beyond his time that it became so timeless. He asked questions we still ask today. He asked questions we ask regardless we are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or Taoists. Perhaps, it is the reason why Rumi is universally loved and respected.
Lastly, we were so grateful to have Sayed Gouda as the speaker who is so generous in sharing his knowledge and understanding and we were impressed by his patience in explaining! The joy in exploring Rumi’s poems together made this month’s poetry gathering an unforgettable and eye-opening experience.