Rumi: The Book of Love

Are you jealous of the ocean’s generosity?

Why would you refuse to give this love to anyone?

Fish don’t hold the sacred liquid in cups.

They swim the huge fluid freedom.



Eternal Statement

A distinct individual expression in a tattoo may not be in a picture format.  Some would choose a typographic or lettering tattoo.  This type of tattoo is not just about letters, numbers, punctuation or character; it can create something that makes social or political statement on an issue you have a strong opinion on.

The book by Ina Saltz, author of Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh, certainly reflecting what typographic tattoo is all about.  It presented a fascinating and unusual new book of photographs that will appeal to typophiles everywhere.  The book also focuses more on the meanings, rather than the fonts.

Saltz is a designer, art director, and an associate professor of electronic design and multimedia at the City College of New York.  She is also obsessed with the world of ‘typographic’ tattoos, the result of a serendipitous bus ride and a man with the word ‘happy’ tattooed on his arm.  What made that tattoo stand out to Saltz was the fact that it used an ‘appropriately kerned’ version of Helvetica.  She took a photo of that tattoo, and discovered that there was a whole class of tattoos that were created with typography in mind.

It is not just a photo book, although the photos are the main attraction.  Saltz includes many of the stories – some sad, some uplifting – attached to the creation of many of the tattoos, and she sheds light on different categories of presentation, as well as unique and rare typefaces.  We found this book, and I immediately love it, in Kinokuniya Suria KLCC last year.  It is truly an inspiring one, no matter how many times I have looked at it.  View some of the photographs from the book at


Another amazing reference is the famous ambigram done by John Langdon (  Ambigram is word(s) which can be read from two different vantage points.  It can have the same reading, for example from his famous Earth, Air, Fire, Water or Angels & Demons; and many many more creations.

As I mentioned in my earlier entry, I can’t get enough of Ampersand.  Check out a collection of ampersand format in

I also found that a NZ tattoo studio called Otautahi Tattoo at the centre of Christchurch presented their neat works, especially on lettering tattoos. Check out their website on

Lastly some tips in selecting lettering tattoo:

  • The word/sentence/paragraph chosen is key
  • How they are visually presented
  • Location on the body in relation to the message.


A poetry by Rumi

From Bridge to the Soul





Do you want the sweetness of food

or the sweetness of the one

who put sweetness in food?


There are amazing things in the ocean,

And there is one who is the ocean.


Think of a carpenter’s alert comprehension

when he builds a house.


Now think of the one

who creates consciousness.


It takes skill to extract oil from a nut.

Now consider how sight lives in the eye.


There is a night full of the wildness

of wanting.  Then dawn comes.

You take my hand in yours.


There are those who doubt

that this can happen.


They pour powdered gold into barley bins

They follow donkeys to the barn.


Enough words. Friend,

you can make the ear see.


Speak the rest of this poem

in that language.



A poem by Rumi

From Bridge to the Soul


Today I see Muhammad ascend.

The friend is everywhere,

in every action.


Love, a lattice.

Body, fire.


I say, Show me the way.

You say, Put your head

under your feet.


That way you rise through the stars

and see a hundred other ways

to be with me.


There are as many as there are

flightpaths of prayer at dawn.





[Photo illustration of Upala Yoga by Shane Hart]

Rumi..oh Rumi…

In the next parts of this blog entries, there will be my other love of beautiful poem and poetry by Rumi, as translated by Coleman Barks.  My first Rumi book which I read cover to cover and again, and again is titled Bridge to the Soul.  I have been observing Rumi’s books for a while, scanning through briefly, knowingly aware that once I get started, I cannot stop but to continue to read and love the beautiful work which quite perpetual and eternal in meaning – mostly about love, life, the Great Divine.


No matter where I read this book, as if it transported me to a different phenomenon and ambience.. so peaceful, beautiful, I can almost hear a serene musical background to each poem.  Too much?  No, I think it is just my own personal experience and feel.


In addition to bridging cultures and religions, serves as a bridge to carry the reader into the interior silence and joy of the soul.  His poems bridge the gap between conscious knowing and soul-deep understanding, bringing the reader into wholeness through the job of his words; they are a bridge between the mystery of being human and the mystery of the divine – the Soul Bridge. The above was a review done by Baker and Taylor in Kinokuniya BookWeb.


As it read in the inner cover: ‘ 2007 is the ‘Year of Rumi,’ named UNESCO and who better than Coleman Barks, Rumi’s unlikely, supremely passionate ambassor, to mark the milestone of this great poet’s 800th birthday?  A review of this book was made by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussa, in Spirituality and Practice website.  Coleman Barks has translated this splendiferous new volume of Rumi poems to celebrate the great mystic’s of Rumi’s birthday.  Here you will find 90 poems, 83 of which have not been previously published.  In the introduction, Barks talks traveling to Iran with fellow poet Robert Bly where Barks received an honorary doctorate in Persian language and literature from the University of Tehran.  Pondering the Khajou Bridge in Isfahan, he comes to a deeper appreciation of Rumi as a bridge-builder between people, especially due to his love of all religions.


Barks sees in these poems an appreciation for music and the silence of the heart [also implies as the tag line of title of this book].  Many of them bring us to a place where we can enter a fresh immersion in silence and its ample bounties.  Another theme throughout the collection is love.  In ‘New Blossoms,’ the poet notes:


‘Your loving alertness is a lantern.

Keep it protected from wind

That makes it crazy.’


In ‘We cannot decide, ‘ Rumi salutes the only beauty that takes his breath away and leaves him speechless:


‘There has never been beauty like yours.

Your face, your eyes, your presence.


We cannot decide which we love most,

your gracefulness or your generosity.’


God’s graces are numberless, and his traces are in all that he has generously bequeathed to us.  Both gifts elicit surrender and adoration.  These poems are cause enough to celebrate Rumi’s 800th birthday!