We are living in the midst of very challenging times. Shams and Mevlana also lived in the midst of very challenging times, yet what a possibility opened with the example of being they unveiled. They invite us into the garden of seeing God’s beauty and abundance in the midst of everything, seeing the Unity, and encouraging souls to be people of Paradise now, here.
It has been a privilege and an honor to be associated with this Mevlevi tradition. It has shaped our thoughts, values, perceptions, and prayers. We draw upon the inspiration of Hazrati Mevlana and we are also grateful for the centuries of wisdom and beauty that true Mevlevis have left as a legacy. We have been following the Mevlevi Path since we took hand with Suleyman Dede in 1980 and he gave us permission to teach and lead zhikrs. In 1990 the honorable Celaletttin Celebi gave us permission to wear the Mevlevi Destar and specifically to “teach the mystic path of the Mevlevis.” Our journey on this path continued with the kind support of the noble and generous Celebi family, and along the way was strengthened by many friendships with beautiful Mevlevis, including the faithful and humble Sefik Can Efendi.
Konya! Mevlana! Ashk! For the past thirty years or more a current has run through my life, our lives, sometimes as a subtle guidance, sometimes as a sense of meaningful coherence, and sometimes as an upwelling force that makes the eyes glisten, if not overflow with tears.
We send you our warmest greetings, just a few days after the end of Ramadan and Mevlana's birthday (September 30th). The Wednesday night before (9/24), in the midst of the current financial crisis, we were gathered to read Mevlana's Mathnawi, III, 1721. . . The reasons Pharaoh's magicians had the courage to suffer the amputation of their hands and feet. It's interesting how Mevlana addresses worldly concerns from the perspective of the deepest spiritual understanding. Pharaoh is, of course, the archetype or symbol of the blind, worldly power that tries to strike fear into everyone's hearts, while the magicians are those who have developed a high degree of spiritual perception and realization
If you feel as if you are living through uncertain, disturbing, hopeful, chaotic times, you're not alone. Given the harsh economic demands, the frenzy of everyday life, the delusions of the prevailing culture, keeping our spiritual life alive requires not just intention but a passion for the Truth. It is that passion that will bring the consistent and deep practice, the deep remembrance and trust that will guide us to the Truth. Recently, a national group of activists held a conference here in Santa Cruz on the theme of a Truth Emergency. Given the national corporate media, not only is reporting distorted, there is virtually a black-out of the major issues that should concern us. There seems to be a tragic failure of leadership.
We lament the violent and disrespectful actions of a tiny minority of Muslims toward Christians in various parts of the world as a result of the Pope's recent remarks. Such actions only advertise the ignorance of those engaged in them and, as these images are aired by the media worldwide, contribute to the misconceptions of non-Muslims. These reactive outbursts are, for some reason, more likely to be picked up by television producers than examples of humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Acts of rage make for dramatic viewing; patience, forbearance, and similar virtues attract far less attention. But inflammatory remarks by world leaders and the rage and reaction they provoke are part of an especially counter-productive cycle of irrationality and do not lead to the mutual understanding and respect that we must attain in the circumstances of today's interconnected humanity.
There have always been schools of transformation operating behind the scenes of conventional life. These schools existed to free human beings from inner slavery and to awaken them to the responsibilities and joys of being fully human. Their teaching was based not on beliefs, but on principles that could be tested in everyday life. These teachings shed light on the unconscious assumptions that motivate most human behavior.
For me, dervishhood is a total commitment to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet, Mevlana Rumi, Shams, and all the blessed ones who traveled the way of love. There are many aspects to this following and over the years it has been shown to me that the sincerity of commitment to this path is manifest in knowing that one is a servant and living one's life in this truth. What are the practical aspects of this way of living? For me there are several dimensions, there is a state of being, an active practice, a quality of self-reflection and self-knowing, and a way of conduct in daily life.
"Welcome, welcome! Peace upon you," he says as he kisses Kabir and then me. His face is as bright as I remembered it. His voice is full with the vigor of life. He smiles broadly when he sees us and he is filled with delight as he introduces us. The living room is filled with people. I recognize the faces of my dear friends and devoted students of Dr. Ali. There is Dr. Ali Himdan, the talented calligraphic artist, and there is Ramadan who is Dr. Ali's nephew. I look around and see the room is as it was seven years ago. The windows are covered with green drapes, and the walls are adorned with Quranic verses and pictures of the sanctuaries of the Prophet and his family. The room is filled with books neatly arranged on shelves with the title of volumes colorfully written across the books' bindings. The furniture is the same simple chairs and couches with Damascene patterned cushions. We have entered into the presence of our master, our living Mawlana.
The recognition is beginning to dawn that we are on the threshold (there's that word again) of a major change in human life. It's even being talked about on the evening news. Thirty years ago we might have thought that this change would come about through a revolution in consciousness. People would begin to wake up! To some extent we have woken up. At the beginning of this millenium we -- and I mean the population of this whole world -- are more conscious of and sensitive to issues of gender, race, human rights, and ecology. At the same time, we seem to have created a frantic pace of life for ourselves and sometimes it seems that the developed world has slipped into the trance of materialism. The purpose of life is to have fun, right?