Thursday, June 5, 2008

Istanbul 04: The Dervish

By revolving in harmony with all things in nature--with the smallest cells and with the stars in the firmament--the semazen testifies to the existence and the majesty of the Creator, thinks of Him, gives thanks to Him, and prays to Him. In so doing, the semazen confirms the words of the Qur'an (64:1): Whatever is in the skies or on earth invokes God.

Monday, May 19, 2008, Turkoman Hotel, Istanbul

Ate at the Rumeli restaurant before going to the large outdoor tourist cafe to watch a whirling dervish spin and spin. He was such a beautiful boy, probably in his mid-20s with a heavy five o'clock shadow and exquisite Sufi outfit. I kept thinking of how he (the man) disappeared in his dancing à la anātman in Buddhism, yet really more akin to Western mysticism because the experience of Śūnyatā within Buddhism is not supposed to be mystical at all.

Here he was, dressed all in "death": his robe a shroud for the ego; his camel-hair hat, a tombstone. But as any mediocre Tarot card reader will tell you, death is merely a symbol for change.

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