In part one of this post I wrote how I had spent the evening and early hours in the company of some amazing Sufi’s. We sang, we chanted, we cleansed our hearts and purified our souls (whatever that means). Five hours of practicing some amazing Zikr had left me tired and yet refreshed. But the session in its entirety hadn’t finished yet. As we came together after a much-needed break the maestro suggested we go out doors and continue in the early morning sun.
What a brilliant idea. I caught up with the Maestro who was a friend of mine and suggested a bit of pre-dowsing was in order. Thus, whilst the rest of the gathering (of Sufi’s) got ready, I went out into the largish back garden and dowsed some interesting questions…
- Was this a good place and time to do some night of purification work? Yes
- Did it matter where we worked in the garden? Yes
I dowsed for a place where we could ALL work and the rods did a nice spiral, with the center a few feet off from the center (towards the Sun). The grass wash fresh and I was able to shuffle through it in the spiral pattern as dowsed by the rods. The maestro pointed to me and suggested I take the reigns. Now I am not afraid of taking center stage at any event but for some reason I was a bit nervous on this occasion. Nevertheless I acquiesced and organised the group along the spiral. I wish I had had my camera to hand because it was an awesome sight. We couldn’t sit on the grass due to dew so we remained standing.
As temp maestro I got to stand in the core of the spiral. There was silence for a while. They were waiting on me and I was waiting for…inspiration…I could have started along many avenues. There were sacred Quoranic verses, Any of the ninety-nine names of Allah. I knew though that some of the guys here were non-denominational Sufi’s. What I mean is, they weren’t religious. So with some trepidation and quite frankly, nervousness I began with…Love. It was a gentle melodic and with just the slightest hint of head movement…
A really cool and unintended effect occurred. Instead of them all chanting it in harmony with me. It began from me and travelled down the spiral to the last person who said it a few times and then the bounced it back to me again. Wow! That was amazing…to have this magical word, firstly accepted as a Zikr phrase and then have it bounce back and two along the spiral was a truly fabulous feeling.
The word Zikr translates to remembrance so here we were remembering love
We chanted this heart centered word for many minutes and then I had another idea. It came to me in a flash for a few seconds I wondered whether the group would be up for. We had talked on other occasions of whirling as the dervishes do. But again I was willing (courageous) enough to chance it. The eyes of the chanters were closed as the remembered. So I moved to the first person next to and touched him on the arm. He looked at me askance and I held his hand gently twirled him around once – ever so slowly – and then again. He got the idea and motioned me back to my center stage. Then he did what I did to the next guy and so on…That was when we truly turned into a magical dance.
The whirling seekers of love in a garden in Manchester on a dew filled morning. What a sight, what a sound…
The experience took on the epitaph of mysticism when we combined what we were doing now with the journey from sound to silence or as I call it from Zikr to Sama.
Sama (or in Turkish Sema) means listening and although my personal definition wavers from the accepted one. I like to think of Zikr as knocking on heavens door and Sema (I prefer the Turkish) as God or Allah answering it.
Translating that into our current exercise Zikr was knocking on the door of the Heart and Sema was the door opening. Beautiful. As before, it began with gentle word, then moved into murmur, and then into silent thoughts and then into silence (listening). All whilst gently turning, spinning, whirling.