We had the good fortune of connecting with Pouria Montazeri, and we’ve shared our conversation below. Here it is:
Hi Pouria, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
First and foremost, I’m inspired by my spiritual teacher, whose presence and teachings have guided and protected my heart since I was fourteen. I’m inspired by my beloved mother, who embodies and shines nothing but love in everything she does.
I’m inspired by beauty, nature, and human beings’ untapped infinite potential (constructive). I’m inspired by music, sacred architecture, geometry, art, and mystical poetry. I’m inspired by heart-centered conversations, encounters, and quality times. I’m inspired by invisible acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness.
I’m inspired by love in its purest impersonal forms and manifestations between humans and all of creation. I’m inspired by new and authentic ideas stemming deeply from one’s core for the greater good.
I’m inspired by providing true education to younger generations tapping into their infinite wells beyond accumulating data and knowledge outside themselves.
I’m inspired by my love affair with aspen trees—their roots, their eyes on their trunks created by the self-pruning process they go through, shedding lower branches, and their quaking leaves trembling, making visible that which is invisible—the wind.
Alright, so let’s move on to what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a very fortunate man to have been raised with Sufi/Persian poetry. My mother and I would read Rumi together (we still do), and I remember how its music to my soul would ignite my heart from a tender age.
As early as the early 2000s, when I was in film school and when Rumi was becoming popular very fast due to Coleman Bark’s The Essential Rumi, individuals, colleges, and institutions would invite me to speak about him and his poetry. I learned immediately that I couldn’t even talk about Rumi’s poetry most of the time, for there was so much context (religious, spiritual, cultural, geographical, etc.) missing. I spent quality time covering what words like wine, tavern, Beloved, and the fire of love and longing represented in Sufi and Persian poetry— a sacred art filled with metaphors and imagery and spilled over the brim with Quranic verses and Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad). I also had to tackle misconceptions and misunderstandings around Islam, Sufism, and that area of the world that is geopolitically called the middle east. In the midst of all of this, I wrote, directed, and shot Shams & Rumi: The Fragrance of Axis Mundi—a personal and poetic account of the pivotal transformation in the life of Rumi, which won many international film awards.
Demands for me to speak about Rumi continued. Grounded in my values, I was hesitant to jump on what I could see as the Rumi wagon—everyone talking, teaching, and writing about Rumi. But not about the Rumi I knew. I did not want to join the “spiritual circuits,” nor did I ever want to be labeled by others as a scholar or spiritual teacher. Grounded in my ethics, I continued with life.
In the mid-2010s, while deep into the dark night of my soul, a light was kindled in my heart. A ladder descending toward that light was a deep realization that I did not have to freeze in fear of being labeled a “spiritual this or that,” for I could encounter such claims with what is called in Tibetan Buddhism, The Vajra Sword. And it’s been successful thus far. I wasn’t interested in becoming “someone” shadowing Rumi’s brilliant Sun. The voice behind my change of mind and heart informed me that I was to share my privileges with the non-Persian-speaking Westerners, and that’s that. That was safe and inviting for me. I knew I could do this without getting in the way or making a “name” for myself, heeding the prayer of that beautiful saint, Francis of Assisi (Lord, make me an ‘instrument’ of your peace…).
In the middle of that darkness, and during my short stay in Taos, New Mexico, the entire curriculum and direction of the first 8-week course, which later became Level I, unfolded and revealed itself to me.
Since then, I have had the honor to gift my heart through conferences, workshops, retreats, 8-week-long Rumi courses, and writings. My lack of interest in wanting to become “someone” coupled with my deep ethics in refraining from tainting Rumi’s pure teachings, which I have been gifted so freely, with capitalism, and abiding by and following the centuries-long tradition of the authentic paths, all proceeds are either obtained by the hosting body or donated to a charity in need.
I make my living as a spiritual, life, and executive coach and an organizational health and renewal consultant. I love nature and have a love affair with aspen trees, and can always be found on one of my contemplative sauntering in the mountains with scraps of poetry in my pocket in my home state of Colorado. If you see me, stop me and recite a poem from your heart, for my heart longs for that language that is beyond words.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them for a drive on Highway 72 (Peak to Peak Hwy) from Highway 7, moving South toward Nederland, CO, especially if it’s early Fall where the aspens have turned golden. And right before getting to Nederland, I would go a bit west and take them for a breathtaking walk through the Caribou Ranch Open Space. For lunch, I would take them to Kathmandu in Nederland for warm and delicious Napali food made with love.
Back in Boulder, I will show them The Pearl Street Mall, where some of the world’s most talented and loving buskers (street performers) perform. I would take them to all the beautiful trails I walk daily. If it’s on a Wednesday evening or Saturday, I would take them to Boulder’s Farmer’s Market and have them try my dear friend Rolando Marroquin and his wife, Belén Díez’s Taco del Norte.
In Denver, I would take them to Denver Art Museum and maybe cry in front of an original Van Gogh.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In this context, of course, Jalal al-Din Mohammad Balkhi Rumi gets all the shout-outs, for he gifted us with such a huge body of work 800 years ago.
I also owe everything to my spiritual teacher, whose teachings opened the door for me to the inner meanings of what Rumi taught.
Throughout the years, so many beautiful people supported my work and took it upon themselves to spread this work to others. This beloved cluster includes Michelle Mott, Chris Janeczko, Ari Honarvar, Melissa and Phil Granchi, Dr. Silver Horse, Markus Stobbs, and Fred LaMotte.
Without the participants who show up for the in-person and online classes and who come to conferences, retreats, and workshops I offer, this work would not be what it is.