Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Gravestone & the Death Shroud, The Dustbin & the Garbage

A small furry dustbin from Turkey
The Semazens.
I visited Ihsan the Turk recently and he gave me what appears to be a small furry dustbin. Very chic, very post-Modern. Of course, I am kidding with you. It is in fact a gift from Istanbul, a headgear (It sounds weird to just call it a 'hat') worn by the Mehlevi Sufis in their Sema, that famous whirling form of worship. It is more than one foot tall in a beige velvet-like material. The original headgear used by the Mehlevi Order would traditionally be made of camel felt, an excellent material for cold climates but a sauna-on-your-head in the tropics. It appears that the its high profile is analogous to your gravestone and their wide white skirt is symbolic of the death shroud. All sufis are big about spiritual death, not just the Mehlevi devotees of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi. They are so enamoured by the transformation of death that they would all like to spiritually die before physically dying. "Only then..." they would tell me, "...would you truly understand and appreciate God, love and life." Some people also call this 'dying' as fana or annihilation in the Oneness of God, the fanafillah.

I recall a grand old shaykh of another Sufi order once advised, "You must all be like dustbins. You must accept the refuse and garbage of this world!" Hmm. So maybe the tall headgear is actually a dustbin. Does that make me the garbage? I guess it does. Wonderful!

After receiving the gift, I felt compelled to visit a Sufi dergah nearby. A big Shaykh was in attendance last Thursday night. I brought my new headgear, but I did not wear it. I kinda just lugged it around under my arm, feeling terribly self-conscious. It was absolutely the biggest thing to put on your head, you know. But minutes before the end, I put it on anyway, feeling safe as I was, alone and outside in the dergah's garden. Later Heche texted whether I was wearing that godawful 'hat'. I replied, "You misunderstand, I am not wearing the hat. The hat is wearing me."

When the 'hat' is this big, you are never wearing the hat.
The hat is wearing you.
Life is beautiful. Have a salutary Sabbath, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

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