When the Student is Ready

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Fri December 14, 2012 | 00:00 AM

Turkey-Shams1The tomb of Shams who was the poet Rumi’s transcendent teacher

…the Teacher will come. But, in the case of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, the reciprocal was true as well: when the Teacher was ready, the Student showed up. Some have called it “the meeting of two beings who are each reflections of the Divine for each other.”

Rumi was a well-regarded scholar in Konya, Turkey before his fateful meeting with Shams but there seemed to be some inner dissatisfaction in him. He prayed to meet one of God’s hidden saints and be transformed by him. When he met his teacher for the first time, he wrote, “What I had thought of before as God, I met today in a person.” Similarly, Shams was looking for a younger, but wise student with whom he could download his unorthodox philosophy of Divine Love.

Soon after they met, they secluded themselves for 40 days to soak up each other’s wisdom. It was not long after this that Rumi seemed to be able to channel sacred poetry from a source beyond himself. But, many in Konya became increasingly jealous of Shams’ influence on Rumi and, one day, there was a knock at the door when Shams and Rumi were meeting and Shams left into the night saying to Rumi a verse from the Koran: “The sun and the moon have their predetermined course which none can deter.” The story suggests that some of the town people killed Shams, but somehow this tragic experience empowered Rumi to even greater philosophical and poetic heights.

Shams is now seen in a much better light. There’s even a tomb for him in the center of Konya and, according to my guide, Shams is the only person in Turkey who has both a tomb and a mosque in the same building. The lower picture is the mosque that is just 20 feet from Shams’s resting place and in the same room.