To further appreciate the dynamic age of learning to which Chaucer belonged, consider the following excerpt from an essential text on Sufism, The Sufis by Idries Shah:

Our Master Jalaluddin Rumi
He is enlightened whose speech and behavior accord, who repudiates the ordinary connections of the world. (Dhu'I-Nun, the Egyptian)
Maulana (literally, Our Master) Jalaluddin Rumi, who founded the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, bears out in his career the Eastern saying, "Giants come forth from Afghanistan and influence the world." He was born in Bactria, of a noble family, at the beginning of the thirteenth century. He lived and taught in Iconium (Rum) in Asia Minor, before the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, whose throne he is said to have refused. His works are written in Persian, and so esteemed by the Persians for their poetic, literary and mystical content that they are called "The Koran in the Pehlevi tongue"-and this in spite of their being opposed to the national cult of the Persians, the Shia faith, criticizing its exclusivism.

Among the Arabs and the Indian and Pakistani Moslems, Rumi is considered to be one of the first rank of mystical masters-yet he states that the teachings of the Koran are allegorical and that it has seven different meanings. The extent of Rumi's influence can hardly be calculated; though it can be glimpsed occasionally in the literature and thought of many schools. Even Doctor Johnson, best known for his unfavorable pronouncements, says of Rumi, "He makes plain to the Pilgrim the secrets of the Way of Unity, and unveils the Mysteries of the Path of Eternal Truth."

His work was well enough known within less than a hundred years of his death in 1273 for Chaucer to use references to it in some of his works, together "with material from the teachings of Rumi's spiritual precursor, Attar the Chemist (1150-1229/30). From the numerous references to Arabian material which can be found in Chaucer, even a cursory examination shows a Sufi impact of the Rumi school of literature. Chaucer's use of the phrase, "As lions may take warning when a pup is punished . . ." is merely a close adaptation of Udhrib el-kalba wa yatrf addaba el-fahdu ("Beat the dog and the lion will behave"), which is a secret phrase used by the Whirling Dervishes. Its interpretation depends on a play upon the words "dog" and "lion." Although written as such, in speaking the password, homophones are used. Instead of saying dog (kalb), the Sufi says heart (qalb), and in place of lion (fahd), fahid (the neglectful). The phrase now becomes: "Beat the heart (Sufi exercises) and the neglectful (faculties) behave (correctly)."

This is the slogan which introduces the "beating the heart" movements encouraged by the motions and concentrations of the Mevlevi—Whirling-Dervishes.

The relationship between the Canterbury Tales as an allegory of inner development and the Parliament of the Birds of Attar is another interesting item. Professor Skeat reminds us that, like Attar, Chaucer has thirty participants in his pilgrimage. Thirty pilgrims seeking the mystical bird, Simurgh makes sense in Persian, because si-murgh actually means "thirty birds." In English, however, such a transposition is not possible. The number of pilgrims, made necessary in the Persian because of the requirements of rhyme, is preserved in Chaucer, deprived of double meaning. "The Pardoner's Tale" occurs in Attar; the pear-tree story is found in Book IV of the Sufi work, the Mathnawi. of Rumi.

Rumi's influence, both in ideas and textually, is considerable in the West. Since most of his work has been translated into Western languages in more recent years, his impact has become greater. But if he is, as Professor Arberry calls him, "surely the greatest mystical poet in the history of mankind," the poetry itself in which so much of his teachings is couched can really only be appreciated in the original Persian. The teachings, however, and the methods used by the Whirling Dervishes and other Rumi-influenced schools, are not so elusive, providing that the way of putting esoteric truths is understood.