This is the most accessible work in English on the greatest mystical poet of Islam, providing a survey of the basic Sufi and Islamic doctrines concerning god and the world, the role of man in the cosmos, the need for religion, man's ultimate becoming, the state and the station of the mystical ascent to God, and the means whereby literature employs symbols to express "unseen" realities. William Chittick translates into English for the first time certain aspects of Rumi's work. He selected and rearranges Rumi's poetry and prose in order to leave aside unnecessary complications characteristic of other English translations and to present Rumi's ideas in an orderly fashion, yet in his own words. Thorough, non technical introduction to each chapter, and selection that gradually present a greater variety of terms and images, make this work easily accessible to those interested in the spirituality of any tradition.
In referring to form and meaning or the outward and the inward, Rumi employs another set of terms which emphasizes the "negative" face of meaning in relation to the "positive" side of form. From this point of view form is "place" and meaning is "No-place"; form is "colour" and the sea is "colorlessness". For meaning is opposite to form and can only be attained by form's negation, by "formlessness".