News — Coleman Barks


Pure Water - Poetry of Rumi with Coleman Barks and Eugene Friesen

Pure water300Today we are happy to bring you this offering featuring two world class performers sharing a performance and learning experience for the mind, body, spirit and soul!

An inspired live performance of the poetry of Jellaludin Rumi (1207-1273) with Sufi stories & jokes, accompanied with music by Bach, O'Carolan, Friesen and others. One of the premier translators of Rumi (1207-1273), Coleman Barks is a renowned poet and bestselling author of The Essential Rumi and Rumi: The Book of Love. In concert, Coleman brings his earthy mastery of Rumi's work to life with drama and humor.

The performance captured on PURE WATER recalls the essence of the communal celebrations of poetry, stories, jokes, prayer, and music in which Rumi's work was first uttered, but in a distinctive contemporary setting. The cello of Grammy Award-winner Eugene Friesen carries the language directly into the heart of the listener with a diverse menu of world folk melodies, Bach and improvisation. "What is the soul? Consciousness. The more awareness, the deeper the soul, and when such essence overflows, you feel a sacredness around. It's so simple to tell one who puts on a robe and pretends to be a dervish from the real thing. We know the taste of pure water..." - Rumi

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Excerpt from Robert Bly's "What Stories Do We Need"

Cover-Bly-WhatStoriesDoWeNeed The following is a transcribed excerpt from "What Stories Do We Need" -- a thought provoking and timeless recording by poet and men's movement pioneer Robert Bly.  "What Stories Do We Need" reminds us that we all carry a personal mythology, but the stories we tell ourselves may not be entirely true... Recorded live at The New York Open Center.

We’re talking about mythology today. And mythology moves towards the soul in the same way that philosophy moves towards the brain. In fact, I think Joe Campbell said the other day, all philosophy is a frozen form of mythology and if you really love a philosopher, then try to recognize the philosopher as being a kind of an ice over the water on which you could walk. And that’s nice, but try to go below and see what the water is doing down there. And in that case, he believes that every philosophical idea has a mythological image underneath it, including all those ones, Heraclitus, and all of that. They come out of centuries of wild mythological imaging.

So the first point I want to make is that mythology is connected to the soul. That doesn’t mean it is unconnected to the spirit, but that mythology in general asked you to go down before you go up. And we’ll have an example of that because I’ll do a story this morning. And the second thing you would say is that mythology is connected with inner figures. It can be said that when you are a monotheist psychologically, all mythology dies. Because monotheism implies that there is a center to the psyche and that all other parts of the psyche will obey them. That’s the hope of the pudens. If you decide that you’re not going to tell a lie, everyone inside will obey. Like hell. That’s why a New Year’s Eve resolution is only until about five minutes to twelve that night.
And when Jim Hillman came to the men’s workshop in California this last year, he told a wonderful story. He said: you see the problem is, if you’re a young male and telling a whole bunch of spiritual young males the problems is the word commitment, it sends shudders through your chest. And we know that and that’s quite right. There is something in the hue that’s aware of the danger of commitment and of course, that causes a lot of grief for everybody. But nevertheless he was also saying there is some truth in that. And he says I’ll give you an example. The young male decides that he is going to get married because he needs to get married. He’s 24 and decides to get married. But he forgets that there is a whole platoon in there. And there may be one or two in that platoon who will suck up to the sergeant, and so when the time is to do the task, they’ll be there. The rest of the platoon, he says, is off in the woods somewhere. And the next morning after the wedding they said, “Wait a minute, you didn’t ask me at all. I would’ve never agreed to this. And because you didn’t even ask me, I’m going to muck the whole thing up. I’m going off into the woods to get drunk. You and your sergeant can do what you want.” Do you understand that feeling? It’s a wonderful idea before you make a commitment, please talk to the rest of your platoon.
And with women, being no different whatsoever. Exactly the same. Even taking a job it is important to check the rest of the platoon. Some of them may not want this job at all. And if they don’t like it… you know, you’ll start dropping pencils and pretty soon you’re forgetting stuff and you get canned. I like this, don’t you? This whole idea of the platoon. You have to check with the platoon.

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Robert Bly Bio and Links



Excerpt from "The Glance"

Cover-Rumi-TheGlance Enjoy this gorgeous passage of Rumi's poetry from "The Glance", as translated and read by Coleman Barks.  Jalalud'din Rumi is one of the world's most revered poets and mystics.

Love is alive, and someone borne alone by it is more alive than lions roaring or men in their fierce courage. Bandits ambush others on the road. They get wealth, but they stay in one place. Lovers keep moving, never the same, not for a second. What makes others grieve, they enjoy. When they look angry, do not believe their faces. It is spring lightning, a joke before the rain. They chew thorns thoughtfully, along with pastured grass. Gazelle and lioness having dinner. Love is invisible, except here, in us. Sometimes I praise love. Sometimes love praises me. Love, a little shell somewhere on the ocean floor, opens its mouth. You and I make we. Those imaginary beings enter that shell as a single sip of seawater.

Coleman Barks Bio and Links

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Excerpt from "Poems of Rumi" read by Coleman Barks and Robert Bly

Poems of Rumi Cover We are delighted to offer this excerpt from "The Poems of Rumi" as read by Coleman Barks, leading scholar and translator of Rumi poetry, and Robert Bly, poet, author, and leader of the men's movement. Jalaluddin Rumi is a beloved as a spiritual master and one of the greatest poets of all time. 

The dictionaries have no entry for the sort of love we have. If you can define a road, it’s not the lover’s road. The high branches of love shoot up into the air that exists before eternity and the roots grow down into the earth after eternity. This tree doesn’t stand around isolated on the earth. We have pulled the sober watcher from his throne. We’ve moved the said rules for animal and instinctual life. The kind of love that we know of is too great for this sober watcher, and for this simple instinctual life. Now, if you believe that your need can be met and you’re wanting, satisfied from the outside, you are really a tiger or a cougar. You pray any longer to wooden idols, then why do you keep praying to your desire? If you become the one you long for, what will you do with your longing? The captain stalks on the deck of his ship. The planks are his spears of the bad things that may happen, and the wood is his longing for marvelous things to happen. When the captain and the board both sink, nothing remains but the drowning. The teacher I love is the ocean and also the pearl deep in the ocean. His personality is the one secret the holy one never gave away. 


Once a sheikh and a disciple were walking quickly toward a town where it’s known there is very little to eat. The disciple says nothing but he is constantly afraid of going hungry. The teacher knows what the student thinks. How long will you be frightened of the future because you love food? You have closed the eye of self-denial and forgotten who provides. Don’t worry, you’ll have your walnuts and raisins and special deserts. Only the true favorites get hunger for their daily bread. You’re not one of those. Whoever loves the belly is brought bowl after bowl from the kitchen. When such a person dies, the bread itself comes to the funeral and makes a speech. “O corpse, you almost killed yourself with worrying about food. Now you’re gone and food is still here, more than enough. Have some free bread. Bread is more in love with you than you with it. It sits and waits for days. It knows you have no will. If you could fast, bread would jump into your lap as lovers do with each other. Be full with trusting, not with these childish fears of famine.”

Coleman Barks Bio and Links

Robert Bly Bio and Links

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