rumi

Rumi, Sufism, and the whirling dervish

 

Combining the topics of my last two posts (ecstatic prayer ritual and Rumi, because why not?) I figured I’d mention the whirling dervishes.

This tradition originates from the Mevlevi Order of Konya, which was founded by the followers of Rumi (13th century Sufi mystic and poet). It is believed that upon hearing rhythmic playing and prayer in the outdoor market, Rumi was overcome with mystical bliss, threw up his hands, and began whirling in ecstasy.

For the dervishes (which is the name for initiates in the Sufi tradition) ritual dance and whirling is part of a mystical ecstatic tradition and ceremony known as the Sama. It is understood as a spiritual journey of ascent through the mind and love to union with the divine.

“Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the “Perfect”. He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, able to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.” Wikipedia

Sound familiar?

The spiritual order (and Sufi practice) was outlawed in 1925 under Turkish law. The dervishes are currently permitted to perform their dancing, but only as a tourist attraction.

For an interesting look at Sufism and the various levels of tolerance throughout the Islamic world, check out the documentary Sufi Soul: The Mystic Music of Islam (available on Netflix).

If you have an interest in a deeper look at Sufi traditions, spiritual teachings and practice, visit the work of Kabir Helminski, a prolific and erudite Sufi teacher. Also, the work and writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee are fantastic and worthy of exploration.

 

Oneness

 

Last night I met with Rumi. I met him in that field he talked about, you know the one – that place that is beyond judgment and acceptance, beyond right and wrong. 

The field came to me at night, and woke me from my sleep. Between waking and dreaming, I recognized it immediately, as I struggled to find my words.

This field transcends right and wrong. It is simultaneously higher than, and fully merged with, the human condition. It gives the impression that it is above, way above. But like different layers of a cake, it’s not separate; it’s all part of one thing. From the field, you can sort of look down and see everyone right there below.

Timeless and weightless, being in this field feels sort of like being suspended in honey. Visually it’s translucent, and kind of thick and gooey. These places always seem to have a slight yellow tinge to them.

In this place, the love is so strong, and the power so great, that it doesn’t waste time or energy on judgments. Judgments, labels, and the struggle to accept the unacceptable are silly here. Good and evil irrelevantly cancel each other out. It is love beyond those things; it has no concern for them. The love is so deep, so unconditional, so unilateral, that everything is perfect. Everyone is perfect. It doesn’t matter what they are. It doesn’t matter what they do, or fail to do. It loves wholly and completely, without question. It loves solidly, without a fluttering of doubt. It loves always, because it is one with everything there is.

I only got to stay for a moment. And as it was fading away, it left me with a single thought: “This is oneness.”