In the last week of December, 1273, Konya was immersed in deep mourning, deprived of their great mystic leader, without voice for their deepest spiritual feelings, the population of that mid-Anatolian town had just lost their revered teacher Mevlana Celaleddin. It was not his death as such they mourned, as Mevlana had expressed repeatedly in his later years his belief that one passed from this world into a greater joy in the world beyond, and had openly voiced his longing for that ‘reunion’ with the eternal forces. But they were mourning their own loss of that extraordinary figure. On his first arrival in Konya forty-five years previously, Mevlana had ensconced himself in a corner of his father’s madrasa with very different intellectual aims in mind. His aims then had been to acquire the wisdom of ultimate learning, through the study of the great philosophical works and through the absorption of scientific knowledge. Towards this end, he sat before his father’s lectern, and then before that of his tutor and mentor Tirmizli Seyyid Burhaneddin after his father’s death. He studied under the leading mystics and philosophers of the day at Aleppo and Damascus, returning to Konya to complete his education before beginning to teach there.

The arrival of Semseddin of Tabriz changed his entire approach to mysticism, and indeed to life and his pursuit of learning as a whole. He returned, as it were, to begin from nothingness, setting aside his learning in order to comprehend, to experience fully the wisdom of a different kind offered him by his contact with Sems. He did not analyse the change in himself, nor did he attribute it directly to Sems. Indeed he did not see the mystic of Sems as an individual, but rather as a spiritual essence, a vision, a flash of lightening, a manifestation of sound and spirit. He was incapable of existing without him, and became dependent on him at every level of his existance, but was deprived of his presence by the unthinking, ruthless actions of a group of reactionaries around him.

One night Sems suddenly disappeared. But perhaps being deprived of his sufic mentor this loss shaped his spiritual development. Mevlana became as if the source of a great ocean of spiritual emotion, the waves of which welled up from his soul to crash against his frame, expressing his grief in the loss of his spiritual guide with the moan of each falling swell. He was later consoled in the presence of the goldsmith Selahaddin, and later still by Celebi Husameddin, who became his closest companions. It was to Celebi Husameddin that he recited the Mesnevi who inscribed the original text in full. He wrote verse after verse of mystic poetry, which was eventually gathered into his great work, the ‘Divan-i Kebir’. He attained the heights of mystic ecstasy and reached to the depths of his own soul. He embraced the entire universe, the whole of creation in his mystical being. But his physical self was unable to bear the burden of such an esoteric load. His longing for eternity was fulfilled by his release into the everlasting sphere on his death

The Mevlevi

“Come, come again, and again… Come, be you unbeliever, idolater or worshipper of fire… Our hearth is not the threshold of despair If you have broken your resolve a hundred times, come again.”