The Way Of The Heart With Rumi with Coleman Barks

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When asked about living a life of the heart, Coleman Barks says, "Rumi has many ways of talking about that. Somehow breaking the container of the ego and moving out into some mystery." He says, 'Jars of spring water are not enough anymore. Being contained is not enough. Take us down to the river and then eventually to the ocean, the shoreless ocean.' [There is a] kind of tenderness toward existence and a generosity toward human beings, and I'm still trying to learn it from doing the poems and just living my life." In this far ranging conversation, Barks takes us on a journey with stories of Rumi: Rumi talking to the ducks, his meeting with Shams, his fleeing Afghanistan with his father and 90 camels loaded with books, and more. Barks also talks of his own teacher, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, and his first encounter with him in a dream, as well as Bawa's death and burial. All of this is delightfully interspersed with the reading of some poems from Rumi: The Big Red Book. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Coleman Barks is a renowned poet and bestselling author. He was prominently featured in both of Bill Moyer’s PBS television series on poetry, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. He taught English and poetry at the University of Georgia for thirty years, and he now focuses on writing, readings, and performances.

He is the author of many books including

To learn more about the work of Coleman Barks go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What happens when the heart opens
  • Who was Shams, a companion of Rumi
  • How Rumi was like an indigenous shaman, in tune with the animal mind
  • How Barks found his teacher and their mystical connection
  • Why Rumi uses many references to cooking
  • How Rumi fits into the Walt Whitman tradition
  • What advice Indian teacher Osho gave to Barks

Host: Michael Toms         Interview Date: 12/12/2010         Program Number: 3393

Music Playlist

From Album: Call of the Mystic
Artist: Karunesh
2004 Real Music RM 4159

Opening Essay: Track 04 Mount Kailash
Music Break 1: Track 01 For the Joy of it All
Music Break 2: Track 08 Ancient Voices
Music Break 3: Track 03 Monsoon's Dance