Thursday, February 17, 2011

7th Crystal: At the Tomb of Jelaluddin Rumi in Konya, Turkey

        I was ready to return to Konya, but was delayed in getting back across the border from Syria into Turkey by an unlikely rainstorm (the first in the year) followed by snow, making the nearby bigger mountains a range of glistening whiteness. It took a day and night on various buses, taxis, a tram and being walked to my hotel by a young Turkish man who recognized me as a likely "Lover of Mevlana" (Rumi) at 3am, for me to arrive in Konya where I was joining my Mevlevi Sufi turning group on Pilgrimage.

(Photo from Wikipedia)
       On December 17, 1273 at about sunset, the Sufi Master, Jelaluddin Rumi (known lovingly in Turkey as "Mevlana"), died and returned to God (his "Beloved"). People of all religions in Konya, came together to honor the memory of this amazing man. He had told his students to "dance" when he died, rather than to be sad. His son orchestrated a special ceremony to commemorate his father in a ritual named: Sema. For the past 700+ years, a special Sema called "Shebi Arus" (The Wedding Night of the Soul), has been done on the night of his death wherever "Whirling Dervishes" are found throughout the world. Those who are lucky enough, come to Konya to join in this joyous celebration at the spot where he lived, taught, composed his (now famous) poetry, died and was buried.

     It was in Konya on December 17th, 2010, that I deposited our last Crystal in the flowing waters of the fountain and recited the Peace Prayers from twelve of the major World Religions while sitting on the old turning floor within the museum within the sight of Rumi's tomb. A blessing for the world!

       I have been fortunate enough to go to Konya several times over the years as I have gradually learned to "turn"--which is a spiritual practice reflecting some of the mystical wisdom that Rumi exemplified. I have even had the amazing opportunity to "turn" in one of the ancient Semehane's (turning halls) which has been used only by Whirling Dervishes since before America was founded--an especially incredible experience, since Turkish women dervishes are not currently allowed to turn publicly!
      Our group of dervishes, came this year to celebrate Rumi's life from various places throughout the globe. I was especially pleased with the fact that we had kids, young adults and elders from America, Germany, Israel, Palestine, India and South America who have been Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sufis, Buddhists and others who have come together to learn about Loving--as Rumi taught in his time.

      Some of our Pilgrims were initiated for the first time, receiving their "Sikke" (high conical white felt hat) and thus becoming "Semazens" or being awarded their green belt (called an "Alif  Lamet and symbolizing a further stage of learning). We turned together simulating "planets in the universe" while we received energy from our right hands and channeling it into the earth through our hearts. 

  Each night we would gather to make music, turn together, share tea and sweets, and celebrate the life of Rumi and our connections to his life and poetry. The women in the group also learned about the lives and  wisdom of Sufi women in Turkey from our teacher's family members. 

    One of the treats for me in going to Turkey, is to be in the presence of  my friend, Esin Celebi,  the 22nd generation great-granddaughter of Rumi himself--here shown with the new 24th generation granddaughter--at the location of a newly-renovated ancient turning hall and newly-forming University to teach the cultural music, art, dancing, turning, etc. coming out of Turkey and other parts of the world.
    Esin's family has worked with the government and UNESCO to revitalize these ancient traditions. She is also currently a major speaker regarding Rumi (Mevlana), who has now become one of the most widely-read poets throughout the West, as he has been for over 700 years in Turkey and the Middle East.

    Back in Istanbul, I had a last evening  to walk around the old  Sultanamet area with its famous structures of Hagia Sophia (one of the earliest Christian Churches in the world) and the "Blue Mosque" sitting across a park from one another. Truly beautiful!

                                            The Moment

In every instant there's dying and coming back around.
Muhammad said, "This world
is a moment, a pouring that refreshes and renews itself so
rapidly it seems continuous,
as a burning stick taken from the fire looks like a golden
wire when you swirl
it in the air, so we feel duration as a string of sparks."

                                                                             By Jelalluddin Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks in "The Soul of Rumi"

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels bless'd; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones,
To Him we shall return.

                           (Another Rumi Poem as found on Wikipedia)



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