From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tornado: Metaphorical 'whirling of Dervishes'

Sufi Whirling (Photo by diaz)
A tornado, with its energetically rotating earth-to-sky connection, somewhat resembles the whirling of Sufi Dervishes.

Sufism is often called the mystical side of Islam.  Some instead claim that the practices of Sufism predate Islam.  Others claim that Sufism is essentially different from Islam.  According to Wikipedia, even the word “Sufi” is interpreted in markedly different ways. Some say that it is rooted in the Arabic word safa (purity). Others
trace it to the word suf (wool) – which is what the simple Sufi cloaks were made of.  The great medieval Islamic scholar, Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, linked the word “Sufi” to the ancient Greek word sofia (wisdom).

Dervishes are serious Sufi adherents, some of whom practice poverty and asceticism.  Some also practice Sufi whirling, which is a spinning type of meditation.  This spinning is also reminiscent of the movement of planets around the sun.  While whirling, worshippers (semazens) direct their right arms to the sky and their left arms to the earth.  This link between sky and earth is vital to the practice.

There is a common saying:  Watch what you pray for.  Certainly, the power of God is not always a peaceful experience.  That is why the ancients had a healthy fear (which they called “awe”) of the heavens and their multifaceted manifestations.  When God’s ruach (Hebrew), pneuma (Greek), breath (English) is upon the waters, there can either be a welcome cooling breeze or a terrifying wind-whipped event.

Nevertheless, we cannot live without air.  The idea would then be to learn God’s “dance” so that we can closely follow in those sacred footsteps (“Thy will be done - on earth as in heaven…”)  Missteps can tragically occur when humans either downplay or ignore God’s (and nature’s) urgent signals.


Copyright June 1, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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