A Recent Sohbet: What Is Whirling?

Peace, one and all…

HU Dost! At a recent sohbet, we explored whirling and together shared our experiences of this central Mevlevi rite. Our sharing was both beautiful and possessed of a fine, subtle energy, and the accompanying zikr felt as though it were bathed in light. The text of this sohbet is given below. Dem-i Hazret-i Mevlana

May the hearts of the lovers be opened.

What is Whirling?

Do you know what whirling is? It is hearing the voices of the spirits saying, “Yes!” to God’s question, “Am I not your Lord?”
It is deliverance from ego and reunion with the Lord.

Do you know what whirling is? It is seeing the Friend’s states,
hearing the secrets of God from across the curtains of the unseen.

Do you know what whirling is? It is escaping one’s existence,
continuously tasting the everlasting existence in the absolute non-existence.

Do you know what whirling is? It is making one’s head a ball in front of
the Friend’s kicks of love and running to the Friend without head and feet.

Do you know what whirling is? It is knowing Jacob’s sorrow and remedy,
it is smelling the smell of the reunion with Joseph from Joseph’s shirt.

Do you know what whirling is?
It is swallowing Pharaoh’s spells just like Moses’s staff every moment.

Do you know what whirling is? It is a secret from the Prophetic Tradition:
“There is a moment for me with God where neither archangel nor prophet can come in between God and me.”
It is reaching that place without any means where no angel can fit.

Do you know what whirling is? It is, like Shams-i Tabrizi,
opening the eyes of the heart and seeing the sacred lights.

It was clapping hands because it escaped death and
was dancing in the air like the branches and the leaves of trees.

When the branches and the leaves come out of the prison of soil
they raise their heads above the ground and become friends with the wind and start to dance with it.

When the leaves break out of the buds on the branches they climb up to the top of the tree.
Each leaf and each fruit sings the graces of God with the tongue of the bud.

Without mouth or lips, every branch, every leaf, every fruit recites praises and remembrance of God.
They say, “God who has a lot of graces and favours has nourished our root and from the root a strong tree grew, it grew wide, erect and high.”

And when the souls that had been in water and mud were saved from the swamp of water and mud, their hearts were filled with joy.
They dance to the tune of love and attain perfection as the moon when it reaches its fullness.

Their bodies move and dance. But in what state are their spirits? Don’t ask in what state their spirits are.
And when it comes to those in whom there remained no material body and who completely turned into spirits, do not ever ask about them.
There is no way to explain them.

The following event is related in Ibn ‘Arabi’s book, Al Futuhat al-Makkiyyah: Shaykh Ja’far relates, “We were on the road for the pilgrimage to Makka with Junayd of Baghdad. On our way, we climbed Mount Sinai. We sat on the ground where Moses sat. We came under the influence of that blessed place, Mount Sinai. There was a singer with a beautiful voice with us. Junayd asked the singer to recite something. He recited such a touching couplet that when Junayd heard it he went into a state of ecstasy and began whirling. We, too, were enraptured and started whirling. We reached a state where we did not know whether we were on earth or in the heavens.

There was a church nearby. There was a priest in seclusion there. He came out of the church and called out to us. We did not reply. He then called out again, ‘O Muslims, answer me.’ We were in such a state that none of us was able to answer. The priest could not help but call out again, ‘O Muslims, reply for the love of God. Why are you silent?’ Again there was no reply from us.

Afterwards we became tired of whirling and came to ourselves. We told Junayd that the priest had called out to us but we did not reply, although he urged us to reply for the love of God. Junayd asked us to call the priest. We called him. He came and greeted us. He asked, ‘Who is your shaykh?’ We pointed at Junayd. The priest asked, ‘Is what you did a custom of yours? Does it have a place in your religion? Do all of you whirl?’ Junayd replied to him, ‘Whirling is for some people in our religion. That is, not all Muslims whirl. Only some of us do.’ The priest asked, ‘What is your intention in whirling? Do you whirl in order to plead for something from God? Or do you whirl in order to find happiness and joy inside yourselves?’ Junayd replied, ‘We whirl to feel the pleasure of the spiritual address of ‘Am I not your Lord?’ that occurred in the world of spirits.’ The priest asked again, ‘What purpose do these beautiful sounds serve?’ Junayd replied, ‘These beautiful sounds remind us of the eternal call and take us from ourselves. When these beautiful sounds stop, we again come to ourselves.’ This explanation touched the priest, and he embraced Islam.”

Both the poem and the story from the Futuhat were taken from Sefik Can’s beautiful book, The Fundamentals of Rumi’s Thought. I have added some beautiful Mevlevi music, for the barakah.

Ask olsun! May love increase!

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