Subtle Degrees. Commentary on a much loved poem by Rumi

A friend sent me  this Rumi poem,

Rumi (1207 – 1273) , a Persian poet, was born in Balkh, Afghanistan and died in Konya,Turkey.

I have written a commentary after the poem.


Subtle degrees
of domination and servitude
are what you know as love

but love is different
it arrives complete
just there
like the moon in the window

like the sun
of neither east nor west
nor of anyplace

when that sun arrives
east and west arrive

desire only that
of which you have no hope
seek only that
of which you have no clue

love is the sea of not-being
and there intellect drowns

this is not the Oxus River
or some little creek
this is the shoreless sea;
here swimming ends
always in drowning

a journey to the sea
is horses and fodder
and contrivance
but at land’s end
the footsteps vanish

you lift up your robe
so as not to wet the hem;
come! drown in this sea
a thousand times

the moon passes over the
ocean of non-being

droplets of spray tear loose
and fall back
on the cresting waves

a million galaxies
are a little scum
on that shoreless sea

A Commentary on Subtle Degrees by Rumi

Gross or subtle, we become hostages and show servitude to ours self and others.

You will be released into love when you see through both,

So you can find your way to the sea without a shore.


Love is different because it arrives complete.

Love cannot be complete without incompletion.

Just as the infinite cannot present itself without the finite

Or it would not be infinite


The arrival of the sun embraces the dual of East and West.

The only authentic desire is called longing.

Long for what has no sight, sound, smell, taste or touch

Long for that what has no feeling and no thought.

This longing confirms the Sea, the unlimited.


Enter the Sea and sink into its Depth

Rather than trying to swim above everything

For the Deep allows the drowning of the ego


Horses and fodder will carry you to the edge of  the sea.

For if you don’t feed the horse, how can it accompany you to the sea?

The paddling of the ankles fevers the mind and body in its incompleteness.

The whole being (mind and body) demands a whole immersion.


You go in naked into the sea

To drown the ego a thousand times.

Rumi says there are a 100 ways to kiss the Earth.

You drown in the Sea a 1000 times, not just once.

Once is incomplete.


The Sea knows no shore, no limits,

knows a million galaxies in the universe as mere froth on the Sea.




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