The Whirling Dervishes of Konya

I’ve been always attracted to the dance of Whirling Dervishes of Konya, and found it very mysterious up until the time I learnt about the background behind their custom. After that I found this concept very practical. (The image above: Whirling Dervish - painted by me)

Whirling Dervishes are a Sufi order founded by the followers of Rumi in Konya, present-day Turkey. They are known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as remembrance of Allah. The dervishes wear a white gown, symbol of death, a wide black cloak that symbolizes the grave and a high brown cap that symbolizes the tombstone.

Their dance represents the spiritual journey of man through mind and love, to the ‘Perfect state’. Turning towards the truth, the dervish grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the ‘Perfect state’. The ‘perfect state’ means that the truth has rectified the entire life of the follower and now he will live his life for others.

I find this concept of spiritual journey quite interesting and useful. I think the path of every spiritual journey or learning starts from love. When we love a thing or a person, we are in fact on our way to an adventurous journey that leaves us with a bundle of lessons to learn and help us to develop.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a challenging environment. When we see anything inspiring in others or anything new that we didn’t know before, our existing believes and thoughts are challenged. Friction is in human nature. We resist changes. We usually pull our defenses on, whenever we see a challenging person around and resist change to the extent we can.

Having difficult and challenging people around, is not a disadvantage, it rather is an advantage. Challenging people and environment always develop us. You may have noticed, at workplace as well, often one of the major hurdles that stop us from learning and progressing is usually our ego. Our ego deserves to be deserted when it comes to learning something. When you find your self saying ‘I know it better’ in front of a person of outstanding merit, you are actually depriving your self of a chance of developing.

Imitating the people who are successful in achieving the things we aim for, is a key to success. ‘I measure what's going on, and I adapt to it. I try to get my ego out of the way. The market is smarter than I am so I bend’ - Martin Zweig, a successful and influential American investment advisor quotes.

Even at your personal life and relationships, if you want to be happy, then you should go beyond your ego, your internal dialogue. Make a decision to turn down your need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three major things the ego is doing all the time. It's good to be aware of them every time they arise.

Another concept that I love about the whirling dervishes is when a dervish reaches to the perfect state - he will live his life for other human beings. Apart from Sufism, living your life for others is the best practice I ever came across. In our lives we experience a great deal of joy and often suffer a great deal. But our joys can only be real if we look upon our lives as a service and have some kind of objective in life, outside ourselves.

As we give of our time, talents and resources to tend the needs of the sick, offer food to the hungry and teach the dependent to stand on their own, we enrich ourselves spiritually in true sense. When we concern ourselves with other people, we live our lives to the fullest and feel truly alive.


1705 hours

Saturday 11 October 2008

*published in The Pakistan Times on 8 May 2009*

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