Here is my interpretation of Rumi’s unnamed poem:
Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands,
or your own genuine solitude?
Freedom, or power over an entire nation?
A little while alone in your room
will prove to be more valuable than anything else
that could ever be given to you.
In this poem Rumi is trying to explain how important he thinks being alone with oneself is. It is only when we quiet the mouth as well as the mind’s chatter that revelations happen. These aha-moments which happen in a meditative state are priceless according to him.
He compares an extroverted leader who might have power – maybe over an entire nation to a mystic who has freedom and who is completely satisfied in his own solitude, and asks the reader which one they think is worth more? There is no right or wrong here, obviously. Leaders are just as important to the society as mystics. A person who is a good balance of extroversion and introversion, leadership and mysticism would indeed be like a dream come true.
Taken from The Essential Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks
Image credit : me