Some ideas to form a teaching session for Sufi oriented dance leaders
We continually move from what was towards what will be – ever in a state of transition. As seekers, we view this as opportunity to improve ourselves, by releasing inappropriate states in order to make space for a renewal to occur.
The first stage must surely be to identify such unwanted states, and these are shown to us by the Divine dispensation of Ya Darr – the harmful one, the Distresser – which let us become aware of what is to be changed. (Root dar: darvish, darood – doorsill between this world and the next). With guidance – Ya Rashid, Unerring Guide – we can redirect the power of mind towards nature’s way and affirm our faith by witnessing ourselves through God’s eyes. (Relates to Shahid, witness). Further reaffirming our clear intention to move through distress to a healed state, we ask for God’s help knowing that our prayers are answered: Ya Mujib – the one who hears our prayers – and then arrive at Ya Muhyi, the revitalised condition of embodied life force. (Mu – embodiment, Hayy – life).
Die before you die
The Sufi idea to ‘die before you die’ is the quintessence of mysticism. That which dies is the nafs, or false self, and it struggles with all its ego-centric power to avoid annihilation in fear of oblivion. However, if within this lifetime we are able to negate our attachment to the small self, then we will allow the greater Self to shine—the soul's light manifesting in the physical—the highest achievement of the Sufi or any seeker.
The sequence of walks begins with Mu’id—the Restorer—to bring new life energy and vitalize us in preparation for the great task. This dying is not the default process of a sickening being; it is quite the opposite. Muhyi—the Quickener—completes the process of infusing the body with life force. Then comes Mumit—death—the end of all processes, the final curtain. We continue by awakening into new life--Hayy!—and complete with Qayyum—Resurrection—reborn into Unity. In a very real sense we can face our own mortality with the same degree of watchfulness and witnessing as we would on beginning a retreat—neither complacent nor overwhelmed and emotional. Having died to all earthly attachments, we're ready for the journey across the Great Divide.
Incarnation can be studied as a journey of the soul through stages that are suggested by divine qualities. In the time before time, there was no movement, as Spirit had not identified itself in vibration, all was stillness. We cannot reach but only approach this condition – since ultimately stillness is the beginning and the end of all life – and so we may tune into this within the practice Ya Salaam. There is no purpose, no restlessness and no opinion in this timeless practice; we observe the most sublime sense of being held as the centre of God’s Heart.
Bursting out with the explosive vigour of a volcano, the power of God is interpreted by scientists as the Big Bang – the ultimate force that gave rise to Creation and continues to empower all vitality. Ya Qadr. It is felt in the atmosphere of a tiger: focused now and with a specific goal it stalks its intended object with awesome intensity and certainty. Such focus leads towards realization and the manifestation of form of the exact definition of the inner truth, our closet grasp of the ultimate Truth, Ya Haqq. It is what is, without dilution or embarrassment, unambiguous fact beyond all debate or negotiation, a clear statement of our spiritual station. Though our truth is primary, we also are shown how to reach out with love, soft and gentle in relating to others. Ya Rahim enables the receptive aspect so that we have a sense of how best to radiate with compassion towards those in need of kind attention; it is sensitive to the suffering of those unable to remember the Source. To remember the One who has created life, is creating life and always will create life, we affirm our vitality as an aspect of God’s undiminished ever-flowing vibration of life-force around us. Ya Hayy! We exist as an aspect of God’s creative urge in order to create and explore possibilities so that Creator may know itself through the eyes of Creation
The sword of St Michael cuts away anything false from the heart – Ya Haqq – and brings us ever deeper into a place where no compromise is known. Yet by a process of expanding our sense of what is real – Ya Basit – we grow beyond the limited sense that truth is hard and fixed. Ya Wasi is the furthest reach of this, beyond all limits, a place where somehow all relative truths are contained into a sense of the Absolute. Rahim’s gift is of sensitivity and attunement to another’s truth, a softer compassionate perception that enables the hardness of Haqq to take on a more human quality of Hakim – the affirming that when balanced with compassion; Truth becomes Wisdom.
With faith, the seeker can call upon an additional dimension of strength and with absolute faith, absolutely anything is possible. According to Hazrat Inayat Khan there is no difference between faith in God and self-confidence.
With Sabur, we learn the lessons of patience. Even though our progress is stalled and frustrated, we simply keep on going, trusting that forbearance and holding an inner light will lead to more trust. Mu’min is the embodiment of trust – Amin. I have faith, I am faithful, I guard the faith, you, can trust on me to be trustworthy. Matin – a simple straightforward plodding kind of motion, untiring, deliberate and firm of purpose, born out of doubtlessness. Mansur – one name given to the Prophet to convey the sense that develops out of faith – of one triumphant in all the words, fortified by the Archangel Gabriel and by God. Faith may begin cautiously yet it, grows and flowers as its power becomes blatant and incontrovertible – to a glorious triumphant knowledge that one can only ever serve God and be victorious.
The journey we are on is a process through which we strive to know God, in the hope that God’s Divine Knowledge Alim then expresses itself as us – at least an aspect of it. The world of our experience is a particular facet of God through which both we and the Omniscient Being gain deeper awareness. With guidance, Hadi, we develop our sense of right direction. This can perhaps appear to us inwardly as the archetype Khidr – the ‘Green Man of the desert’ – who leads us towards Truth when we digress. Such teaching can also take outer form as an embodied guide, which is a central aspect of the Sufi path and helps us to stay focused clearly and honestly upon our avowed spiritual purpose.
Spiritual awakening necessarily involves emotional process, and occasionally overwhelmingly difficult life challenges. Wakil is the guardian angel who is ever-present and always there when we need comfort and support so that we are carried through the ‘bad times’ until we’re able again to attend to our chosen work. As-Salaam is the end of our toil, the perfection of peace, the natural condition at the end of all restlessness. This series of walks is particularly refined and requires a measure of preparation in order to hold the attunement. Alim is almost tuneless and so requires the leader to create and hold the appropriate atmosphere throughout the whole practice. Hadi demands a very good level of concentration. Wakil is sweet and self-nurturing – a favourite melody – and Salaam is, of course, very inward and still, so needs time in silence to complete.
The word for mosque is Jāmi' – its where energy is gathered together with a very clear alignment – everyone who conjoins has the same agenda so that a build up can take place and added value is achieved. Jāmi' has a long first vowel and a clipped second. The energy builds, much like a number of people congregating, until a precious collective state forms simply out of the act of gathering.
Within the congregation of Sufis – some 40 million world-wide – there exists much that is similar and much that is special to particular groups. Those following Hazrat Inayat Khan will probably tend to be able to tune in to his tenderness. Inayat as wazifa promotes this quality – a blend of strength and gentleness. One could use the image of Joseph – the male who serves the female.
By whatever method we worship, we become more available to embody the Divine Light of Nur. It takes many forms – the light of Truth, the light of Intelligence, visible light and so on – and yet within all forms of light Nur is the quintessential Divine Light that is God, through which we come to have knowledge of Unity.
As we embody these various archetypal states, we grow in awareness of ourselves as aspects and expressions of God’s magnificence. The soul exalts in knowledge of itself as a part of this glory. Dhull Jelal wal Ikram and its sister Khanun Jamil wal Ikram are powerful – even overpowering – swellings of abundance that can wash over us or carry us as surfers on the wave of Absolute Splendour. This study of Worship leads us through the strait gate of congregation towards the wild glory of Divine Splendour and Majesty through the gentleness of care and with extreme sensitivity of Light. It is a celebration of community that dances between the male and female polarities.
According to Ibn ‘Arabi ‘knowledge veils the Known’. Clarity helps to pierce the obscuration – how thick is the veil? Language can hide knowledge as much as it can illuminate it – as much as a mind can be foggy or clear. Alim is the mind of God, Divine Intelligence, Absolute Knowledge. How can we touch the relationship between cause and effect without this?
How can we grasp the patterns inherent and hidden in all life, unless we have God’s mind? Khabir unfolds a degree of awareness that may allow us to contemplate the possibility - that we are unable to determine our own degree of clarity with mind alone. By thought we cannot overcome thought!
We invoke more light – Essential Light – Nur. Nur is beyond all concepts, beyond all ideas of God, and illuminates from within. Sabur helps to overcome the effect of emotions upon the operation of mind by the mastering of impatience – which itself influences the clarity of our thoughts. Mubin is divine clarity; the explainer/the distinguisher, a test of our understanding. Can we explain ourselves? We may have awareness, but can we explain it? Can we explain who we are in our words and behaviours? We are all facets of God. The principle quality which distinguishes us is Mubin. Yet what we feel we are is different from whom we are. Self-image is subject to correction.
Openness is an aspect of God and a requirement for the disciple. In early life we all suffered a constant background of energy that offended our sensitivity, and so to protect ourselves from hurt and harm, we defended by closing our receptive nature against the intrusions. This was appropriate and important to our survival and yet also it was damaging to our psyche. Now we are repairing this damage. We do this by becoming open to some of these offending energies and yet we are capable of affirming positive qualities as we open. We have strength of will and strength of mind to persist even when the pain seems intolerable. It is not less painful now; it is simply less overwhelming because we are more conscious and emotionally mature.
To break the crust of our resistance, we need a sharp concentration of clear intent. Ya Fatah. To develop a true perception of ones own perspective on life and to open inner awareness. Ya Batin. To transform the pain of separation into a yearning to be beautiful in God’s eyes. Ishq Jamil. To surrender completely, to be one with the One. Hu.