Whirling dervishes dance their way into union with the Divine. It is a different form of meditation from sitting and meditating, but the results are not all that different. Nor are the intentions. Dance requires breath. (In several African languages the word for “dance” and the word for “breath” is the same. And also the word for “spirit.”) Dance is communal. Dance can be a true letting go and emptying experience. Dance connects us to all beings–for all atoms are dancing–and to Divinity for God too is dancing.
Kabir, a 15th century mystic from India sings:
Dance, my heart; dance today with joy.
The strains of love fill the days and nights with music,
And the world is listening to its melodies:
Mad with joy, life dances to the rhythm of this music.
The hills and the sea and the earth dance.
The world of the human being dances in laughter and tears.
Why live aloof from the world in lonely pride?
My heart dances in the delight of a hundred arts;
And the Creator is well-pleased.
Kabir believe that Creation was launched by Divinity dancing.
God dances in rapture,
And waves of form arise from his dance.
Muslim Sufi Rumi too celebrates the holy dance, the remembrance of our deep connections to all beings, the joining of ourselves to the cosmic dance.
When you dance
The whole universe dances.
The world dances around the sun.
The morning light breaks,
Spinning up with delight.
How could anyone Touched by your love
Not dance like a weeping?
Today I spin wildly
Throughout the city;
I am the cup-bearer,
My head is the cup.
Perhaps a scholar will see me
And drop his books.
Perhaps the world will see me
And forget all its sorrow.
The dance moves the heart to oneness and to transcendence and the ecstasy of union. And it gets us out of our heads—a dangerous place to squat.
A secret turns within my breast,
And with its turning The two worlds turn.
I don’t know head or feet,
Up or down—all is lost
In the awesome turning.
Hafiz, a Sufi mystic who came after Rumi, also invokes dance. He says. Dear ones, let’s anoint this earth with dance! For Hafiz, God is the ultimate dancer, whose favorite words are: Come dance with me.
Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’t
Not the God who ever does anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 233-235.
Can you see a scholar dropping all his/her books on seeing dancing dervishes? Or the world forgetting all its sorrow?
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit