• Update May 2013: This film is no longer being broadcast or distributed as part of the Global Spirit series. It can be purchased from The Hartley Film Foundation.

For seven centuries the spiritual poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) has enchanted, inspired , and delighted people of all religious traditions. In this episode of Global Spirit, host Phil Cousineau talks with Haydn Reiss whose documentary Rumi: Bridge to the Heart is then shown in its entirety.

In the film, narrator Debra Winger begins with a brief profile of Rumi who was born in Afghanistan and moved to Turkey when his father became the head of a Sufi learning community. After his father's death, this gifted young man took over for him until his life was transformed by Shams of Tabrizs, a mysterious itinerant dervish. The result: a profound and prolific poet whose devotion to the Beloved resulted in the creation of the Whirling Dervish dance tradition.

Coleman Barks, who as done the most to popularize Rumi with his translations, reads selections from the Sufi seer's poetry. Huston Smith gives some interesting background on the whirling dervishes. Robert Bly and Michael Meade recite Rumi poems and comment on them. And Deepak Chopra probes this Sufi mystic's great contribution to our understanding of the spiritual dimensions of love. Rumi: Poet of the Heart beautifully conveys the fragrance of his art and his soul.

To Continue This Journey

  • How do you explain the continuing popularity of this thirteenth-century poet?
  • What is your favorite poem recited by Coleman Barks? Why does it appeal to you? Read more of Barks' translations of Rumi in excerpts from his books.
  • Sufism is often called a path of heart. How does this theme come across in this film?
  • Sign up for our e-course Practicing Spirituality with Rumi consisting of 40 emails with poems by Rumi and practice suggestions based on them. It is available on demand so you can choose your own start date and frequency.