Meditation Articles Series

A Thirteenth Century Story on Meditation

Do you have a book that is a well-thumbed, well-worn favourite, a book that you pick up from time to time that inspires and delights you?

One of my favourite books is a collection of Rumi’s poems, translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne.  Rumi was a mystic who lived in the 13th Century in the country now called Afghanistan.

Often I will pick up the book and just open at any page.  What is so applicable for something happening in my life is phrased in the poetic words and images on that page.

At the beginning of a chapter in the book there is a profound story called, “On the Unseen”.  It’s about meditation, and I would like to type it out for you, and you may enjoy reading it.  It may help you to appreciate your own unique journey in meditation.


“Ibn Khafif Shirazi tells this story: “I heard that there were two great masters in Egypt, so I hurried to reach their presence.  When I arrived, I saw two magnificent teachers meditating.  I greeted them three times but they did not answer.  I meditated with them for four days.  Each day I begged them to talk with me, since I had come such a long way.  Finally the younger one opened his eyes.  ‘Ibn Khafif, life is short.  Use the portion that’s left to deepen yourself.  Don’t waste time greeting people!’  I asked him to give me some advice.  ‘Stay in the presence of those who remind your of your lord, who not only speak wisdom, but are that.’  Then he went back into meditation.”  Ibn Khafif was being taught the importance of having his own experience of the unseen, and not to fret so much about the forms of greeting people, hearing wisdom, and about what we should be doing.”

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