Dear Yogis.

ZOOM THIS WEEKEND:  Saturday 2pm Tarot/Art,   Sunday 10am The Gita Group,  Tarot Readings available by appointment.

RUMI (Tuesday 7.30pm) – The Dervishes.

Last evening at the RUMI CLASS (7.30pm Zoom) we discussed the Sacred Dance.  The Whirling Dervishes.  Many people think that it is just a matter of putting on a white skirt and a turban and rotating to music.  It might be fun, but not entirely respectful of the rituals, probably because of alack of understanding of what is happening.  It is a complex dance,  intricate and rapturous, and can continue for 6 to eight hours.  Not just the “Las Vegas” half hour commercial representation.

This dance echoes the laws of the universe. The planets revolving about the sun, each turning on its own axis.  Three salutations symbolise degrees of faith, the drums evoke the sound of the last judgement.  The circle of dancers divides into two semi-circles, one representing the involution of souls into matter, the other representing souls returning to the Divine.

The Dervishes enter into the room of the TARIQUA, the meeting.  They are dressed in white which is a symbol of the death shroud, covered with a large black cloak which represents the tomb and wearing their unusual felt hats or turbans which represent the stone which was placed on the tomb..  The image they present as they enter is one of death to the world, death to attachment and desire.  The Sheik (in the beginning this was Rumi, and symbolically remains so), the leader (originally Rumi) enters last.  He represents the axis the QUTH, the point where time and timelessness intersect.

Rumi or the Sheik in the centre represents the secret centre of everything, the message, the inspiration.  Rumi is acknowledged in this way in every dance as the centre point and the source of grace of the whole order.    The Sheik wears a high turban which is rolled back to show a black scarf which indicates his stature and dignity – his place in the Order.  He salutes the dancers who acknowledge him in turn.  He sits in front of a red carpet which represents the colour of the setting sun,  spreading its light over Konya as Rumi was dying,  entering eternal union with his Beloved.  Everything in the dance, everything in the ceremony has deep significance – it is not just dancing in circles.

There are three rounds to the dance which represent the three stages that take you nearer to God.  The path of science, the path to vision and the path to Union.  Circling they dance around the room.  The right arm/hand up towards heaven to receive Grace, the left arm/hand down to direct the Divine Grace into the earth – keeping nothing back for themselves.  They are the channel.  At the end of the third turning the Dervishes drop their cloaks which represents dropping their earthly material existence for a second birth.

Towards the end, the flute enters and the SAMA (the dance) stops..  This sound represents a moment of true union with God.  By the time this moment arrives each movement of the dance leads us to understand the sacredness of the experience.  When the flute stops, the singer sings words from the Qur’an and in this way the word of God arrives in response to the passionate energy of the Dervishes dancing.  It is said that nothing in the world can compare to a great Sufi singer at the end of the Divine dance singing in ecstasy from the Qur’an.

“What is the sama? A message from those hidden within the heart,
A message which gives the heart – a stranger, peace….

Ordinary people dance and frolic in the square
Men of God dance in their own blood”   (Rumi) 

Although I did not see the dance, I had the joy of hearing this song from the Qur’an 30 years ago.  I can still hear it in my mind.  Each minute, each feeling,  is still as fresh and ecstatic as it was then – it has not faded from memory.  Even  though I do not understand the Arabic,  the moment of the song is with me,  and will stay with me.  I also remember the profound and wonderful silence at the end, and the understanding that it is from this core the music and the dance are born (and born again countless times).