Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, known in the West as Rumi, was a 13th century, poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. He inspired the Mevlevi, a Sufi sect known as the whirling dervishes. Sufism is practiced within the context of Islamic culture.
Rumi’s poems have attracted international attention — inspiring many to follow the inner path.
We walk to the Kulturmerkesi (Konya, Turkey), where the dervishes whirl every Saturday night. It is snowing heavily and very cold.
The dervishes file in wearing black cloaks. They bow, are seated, meditate during a vocal recitation and a flute performance.
After ritual bows, they remove their black cloaks, symbolizing casting off the ego.
The Sufi master leads a series of greeting bows, involving about ten dervishes in a circle. The dervishes cross their arms, grasping their shoulders — symbolizing the oneness of God. They then began whirling, in turn, in a ritualized manner.
Eventually, all, except for the master, are whirling.
Periodically, during a transition stage, they cease whirling and form into groups of two or three.
The transition phases are relatively brief.
The dervishes line up and begin whirling again and again, with each phase marked by a different color of light.
After about an hour, they form a line.
The Sufi master performs a final prayer as he departs. The dervishes then bow and file out silently.
The last dervish stays behind and retrieves the master’s sheep skin. He departs silently. This is a religious ritual and there is no applause afterward.
We encounter the snow again as we return to our room.
Lao tsu writes (chapter 66):
All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.
If you want to govern the people,
you must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
you must learn how to follow them.
The Master is above the people,
and no one feels oppressed.
She goes ahead of the people,
and no one feels manipulated.
The whole world is grateful to her.
Because she competes with no one,
no one can compete with her.
Lao tsu and Rumi provide messages that pass beyond words. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Shamanism, all streams lead to the sea.
Practice an exercise that allows you to perceive the unseen world.
I tried whirling in my room. It’s fun. It makes you high and forces you to recognize the transitory nature of consciousness.