“Human beings are discourse. That flowing moves through you whether you say anything or not. Everything that happens is filled with pleasure and warmth because of the delight of the discourse that’s always going on.” Discourse 53
These words are Sohbet with means something like “mystical conversation on mystical subjects. Celaleddin Rumi, known more commonly simply as Rumi, was a Sufi mystic who founded the Mevlevi order – better known as the Whirling Dervishes.
When offered the opportunity to observe a Whirling Dervishes ceremony I was ecstatic. The mysticism of Rumi, his order’s belief that music and dance could induce a mystical state or trance of universal love had great interest and appeal. The sema, or whirling ceremony, is central to the practice of the dervishes. Love is the central theme of the sema – sharing god’s love among earthly beings.
The ceremony, and it felt like a ceremony as opposed to a show, was held in a large caravan. There were maybe 50 observers and we sat on four sides of a square under the stars – a mystical setting in itself. I cannot explain or capture the essence of the ritual – it was mesmerizing, powerful and eerily evocative of an awakening inside me.
As the dervishes greeted one another and shed their dark heavy cloaks – their souls become unencumbered by shapes and bodies. The white garments (beneath the cloaks) that you will see in my whirling video, according to my reading, symbolize the ego’s shroud and the large hats, the ego’s tombstone. The symbolism of the costuming was dynamic and the loss of ego, of self, in giving oneself over to this trance inducing dance was palatable. The live music made me feel as though I, too, was involved in the circular whirling. Whirling envelopes us…the earth rotates, the planets revolve, life is a whirl of birth, experience and death and rebirth.
“Who Says Words With My Mouth?”
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.”