I came across these words in a poem from the Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi over 30 years ago when I was looking for inspiration for a lecture that I was asked to present on beauty. Reading them completely changed the way I was looking at the presentation and they elevated my subject from what might have come across as purely conceptual to the experiential. Since then they have been an integral part of my life, informing not only the way I see the world I live in, but the way I try to respond to it. That they would be my company’s motto was always a given.

Therefore I am delighted and just a little surprised by the number of people who have contacted me about this quote since it first appeared on my website. Some want to know its significance, some want to know which poem it came from, and still others want a copy of the calligraphy.

Simply, the significance of the quote for me, lies in the fact that while it may be a lovely concept and it may touch the heart, it is so much more; it is and can be a way of life. This is the poem that it comes from:
 

Spring Giddiness

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?
All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 AD – 1273 AD)

(Excerpts from The Essential Rumi,
translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, 1995).

 
let the beauty be what you do

Deirdre Hassed, Calligrapher
 

For those who have requested a copy of the calligraphy, I have to confess that although I actually commissioned the piece, we couldn’t use it in my website in its initial format and it had to be modified to fit. However, the original by the renowned calligrapher, Deirdre Hassed is far more elegant and her careful and loving execution of the quotation is an exquisite example of what Rumi is saying - it is an expression of the beautiful itself. Therefore I have made this version available for anyone who would like to download it.

Simply click on the format below that you'd prefer.
A4 pdf
A4 jpeg