Ode to dancing

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The sound vibrates from the heart of the earth all the way to our spine; extend your arms and feel the energy. That same cry of the universe celebrates its birth, and still on lingering intensely through our bodies. OM, life is singing, the sky is thundering, the ocean is roaring and the wind is blowing. Everything moves to the sound of life, from planetary rotations to Sufi whirling, from falling leaves to flitting butterflies. Fast and light, slow and heavy, spinning to party, spinning to pray, spinning to music, this is the highest ode to life. Rumi (Jalal ud-din), the Persian and mystical poet wrote once:

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion”.

Sufi spinning is an active form of meditation performed within a worship ceremony. This is sought through abandoning one’s ego or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun. The influence of the Persian poet Rumi (Jalal ud-Din) on Sufis is significant. It was his meeting with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi on 15 November 1244 that completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic.
Shams had travelled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could “endure my company”. A voice said to him, “What will you give in return?” Shams replied, “My head!” The voice then said, “The one you seek is Jalal ud-Din of Konya.” On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. It is rumoured that Shams was murdered with the connivance of Rumi’s son, ‘Ala’ ud-Din; if so, Shams indeed gave his head for the privilege of mystical friendship. Later, Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. It was from these ideas that the practice of whirling Dervishes developed into a ritual form. Rumi wrote:

“The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries”.

If religion, any religion, isn’t of that beauty, then it is not a religion and doesn’t deserve to be one!

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