The Purity of Desire - 100 Poems of Rumi by Daniel Ladinsky with Nancy Owen Barton


Best selling poet Daniel Ladinsky is mostly known (so far) for his wonderful and unique rendition of the spirit of Hafiz's poetry. His work has this amazing quality that can only be found in rare works blessed by an illuminated soul or a saintly person.

In our present time where we are often reminded of clash of civilizations, where mainstream media is filled with misinformation about Islam and Muslim cultures and Muslims anywhere are portrayed mostly as incompatible with Western notion of progress etc. and yet we find quite an opposite when it comes to Muslim poets of the past who apparently were very devoutly traditional Muslim and their passionate words about God and reality seems to reach people's hearts so easily. In recent times Jalaluddin Rumi, a Muslim and Persian poet of 11th century surprises many by becoming the best selling poet in USA. The phenomena of Rumi is hard to explain but on a broader sense it stands as a testimony that beauty and truth can transcend anything, be it stereotyping, misinformation, cultural difference or media manipulation.

Daniel shares in the introduction of the book, The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi about Rumi phenomenon in the Western world in one line where he uses a Hafiz's line:

"The wing come alive in his presence."

He continues to say, "The wing, the soul, the heart, comes alive in the presence of a real teacher. And we all live to feel alive, don't we? It seems to me our every moment is about that - wanting, needing, to experience life as fully as we can.

Loving is the greatest freedom and fulfillment, so the wise, being wise, cash in on that.

We are all addicted to happiness, and that can serve us well, if we then go about achieving it in what might be called spiritual or humanistic, organic ways. Which basically means: we utilize our intelligence in making decisions that affect our bodies, our minds, and others. Therein, the tremendous value of Rumi. He helps each of us to become more of a friend - first to one's self and to those close.

... Rumi is a perfect for a country like America, with its national symbol of an eagle, and its Wild West heritage and sacks full of assertions and desires. He is a wonderful diplomat from the Mountain, from the Sun, for any nation or individual who cherishes ideals, liberty, vitality, and zest. And for the artist, Rumi may be that rare instructor and guide, having himself made one of the greatest creative outpouring in recorded history with his verse.

... Good poetry, like music or a sweet touch, can doctor us up, be an antidote for an hour or longer, help us to get dressed for another day - combat the blues enough to mount the horse again; and maybe even aid one in laying down the insidious weight of some old grudge or deep-rooted anxiety. Herein enters Rumi.

O yeah, here comes Rumi, with a chuck wagon full of all kinds of stuff. Everything the guy serves is perfectly cooked and draws us near to his - and our own - inner light. His startling synergy of images germinate Realization."

In 2012 Daniel Ladinsky published his first book comprising rendition exclusively from Rumi. Some of the poems in this book have been published before, but they are only three out of about 100 poems.


The words of Rumi translated in the global language English are a great sign of unity of human heart.

Coleman Barks have done a major contribution in that regard and its important to note that his works are blessed by a great Sufi Master, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and it was not an ordinary blessing. Daniel Ladinsky also has a similar story behind his works with Hafiz.

In the introduction of the book The Purity of Desire he says, "I first came across the name Rumi, forty years ago, back in my college days in Arizona, while reading a book called God Speaks, by Meher Baba. I was struck by Rumi then and have reprinted the first poem of his I ever saw, as the opening poem in this book. It was about twenty years later before Rumi again came into my life in any significant way. So, I will tell this story for any who may be interested, for Rumi seems to be a real connection, a bridge if you will, to my work with Hafiz, which has dominated my life for many years now.

It was in October 1992 that my second real encounter with Rumi happened. I was in India, on one of my many visits there, and I was seated near a man (Eruch Byramshaw Jessawala) I considered to be my (living) spiritual teacher... probably a true saint himself, and he is wearing, as he usually did, a simple T-shirt with his perpetual funky, baggy pants. Some very no-bullshit, hip people are eyeing him like delighted bees who just found a pristine meadow in bloom. And Eruch says to a Westerner who is close to him.. "Gary, would you read to me today?"

Gary responds, "Sure, what would you like to hear?"

"Would you mind reading to us some Rumi?" asks Eruch.

Now, I had spent time with Eruch, off and on, for fifteen years at this point. At the time of this incident, I was a guest of his, at a very private household where he lived. I had never known Eruch to call for Rumi when I was around him. But here I am, on this day I am describing..

He (Gary) starts to look through this particular Rumi book to find a poem to read, but Eruch reaches over and gently takes the book out of his hand, saying, "I will show you what I would like to hear today." And my little Western brain starts thinking... this should be interesting.

So, Gary starts to read and gets through maybe half of a poem, I can't remember which one it was, for my mind did a kind of somersault and lost its normal ability to function. What I do remember, as if I were there right now, is the effect of the poem had on me: I was stunned by its beauty. I felt like I was face to face with God in words, as much as God can be in words. I realized in a second that this was the first time in my life I was hearing poetry and the first time in my life I felt a deep connection with it. I was overwhelmed.

Then another poem was read, and what I was listening to was literally snapping my head back in amazement, as if something invisible was kicking me with sacred hoofs. Then, a third Rumi poem was read, and now I was just sitting there, zapped to my core, wonderfully dazed."


Daniel Ladinsky in the introduction also mention about a significant dream that symbolizes a transmission from the spiritual teacher to him that speaks volume about transmission of love, grace and blessings from one to another. Here is the dream mentioned by Daniel:

I was seated in a beautiful auditorium that had its main floor sloping toward the stage, and there was balcony seating also. In this auditorium, which could have held a few hundred people, there were only a dozen or so scattered about, watching (my guess is) a marvelous play. At least most there seemed to be watching the play. All of my attention, though, was really focused on Eruch, who was seated almost alone, some two or three rows in front of me and off to the left a bit. So I am really just looking at him- but he is watching the play, and the play is about Rumi. And while some lines of Rumi are being read by the actor playing him, Eruch starts to weep because of the exquisiteness of the poetry. I can see tears rolling down the right side of his cheek, and I have never seen Eruch cry before. Then all of a sudden, my face become close to Eruch, it is beneath his, and a tear of his love for Rumi falls on me.



The body is like Mary, and each of us has a Jesus inside.
Who is not in labor, holy labor? Every creature is.

See the value of true art, when the earth or a soul is in
the mood to create beauty;

for the witness might then for a moment know, beyond
any doubt, God is really there within,

so innocently drawing life from us with Her umbilical
universe - infinite existence...

through also needing to be born. Yes, God also needs
to be born!

Birth from a hand's loving touch. Birth from a song,
from a dance, breathing life into this world.

The body is like Mary, and each of us, each of us has
a Christ within.


At least once before you die, be like a candle that stands
up and burns throughout a whole night in prayer,
keeping a vigil, as you would, if the Prophet appeared
in the room where you live.

There is a devotion I have found that can make God
so intimately close, I can count the hairs on His chest
when He opens His robe.

There are so many nights to sleep. Surrender one, if 
you can. In the most quiet hours, the White Bird sings.

Beseech for a full day, in your heart, the inner kingdom.
Do what you can, my loves, to remove the veil that
keeps you... suffering want.


We started off pure gold. Then people began
polluting us when we were too young to fight

If a jeweler now examined you he might exclaim,
"What happened? You turned into pyrite!"

Don't be worried by such a candid remark; don't
let it depress you, for there is a way

to reverse this process. Everything I write gives
practical clues, clues, clues!


Here is a poem by Daniel Ladinsky, who has this great sense of humor and also a remarkable ability to pour any metaphor no matter how crazy it may be to give you a delight of realization. This poem is a good example of that which made me laugh.


You might have noticed how animals may
groom each other in places that they cannot
reach on their own. That is what my poems
are all about.

What a deal!


In the Afterword of the book we read:

Poetry, at its height, is the Sun speaking. Language, when it mingles with spirit, does a tremendous service to the world; it empowers and changes lives; it awakens love, valor, wonder and reveal the Dance. The words of a poet-saint are unique. They become cherished friends to the heart, for they free - they constantly comfort and free.

The book, The Purity of Desire has the ability to make your free with benevolence and in timeless fashion, no matter how many times you visit a single poem out of the hundreds. Regardless of where you are placed in the map, you may end up delighting in those words in new ways that may surprise your own being.

[+] You can order a copy of the book via Amazon.



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Technology of the Heart: The Purity of Desire - 100 Poems of Rumi by Daniel Ladinsky with Nancy Owen Barton
The Purity of Desire - 100 Poems of Rumi by Daniel Ladinsky with Nancy Owen Barton
A Review of "The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi" by Daniel Ladinsky with Nancy Owen Barton
Technology of the Heart
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