Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When you will ask me about Love

One day my dear little one
as we will sit looking at the mountains
with our feet dipped in the lake
and the cool winds caressing our face
you will ask me about love.

I wonder what will I say then ?
Will I have the courage to tell you the truth
to share my innermost cave
which even I dread to enter sometimes
will I tell you how many times love crossed my way
and every time I chased them away

will I tell you that no matter how many times your heart breaks
May you always get up and love anyway
completely, foolishly, hopelessly
till one day you will realize
You are that love, you are seeking

Thursday, September 01, 2016

99 days journey

99 days of journey, so many impressions, expressions and experiences. 
Climbed the Swiss mountains and celebrated our oneness in global friends retreat, witnessed silence and celebration in Seva cafe France  , made kites and art work with refugees, tasted the beer made by the monks in Belgium, explored gift culture in Spain, read Shri Aurobindo's Savitri in a retreat in Germany and danced with the sufi's in Turkey. 
Thankyou, Danke, shukran, merci Buco, Muchas Gracias, Salaam to all the friends in the way, you all have been very kind and generous to this pilgrim. I promise to share forward your love with others who cross my way. 
A friend asked, how I have changed, I freel every interaction is changing us. Every eye contact we make, every hug we give and every smile we share, changes us. 
Together we all become whole. In our wholeness, completeness and yet emptiness, we will meet again and again. In love, with love 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Burning of self

Burn in the fire of love
lowest of the lowest
down to the dust
then rise like a sun
shining illuminating light
no need to hide
with the beloved on your side
May I drop all desires
even the desire to walk the path of love
and be an instrument
to your manifestation
your will
your grace

- received in Shams tomb, Konya

Friday, August 26, 2016

With the beloved Rumi and Shams

Ahhh so where to start, last three days in Konya have been so full of impressions and stories. Like a child in the toy store, I wandered in the streets amazed, looking at all the beautiful souvenirs in the shops of Mevlana and Sufis. 
I had heard about the poems of Rumi before, but it became little more intimate after reading the book 'forty rules of love', with it I also became familiar with Shams of Tabriz, the love which transformed The scholar Rumi to Mevlana poet Rumi. This trip has really been a gift from God and made so special with all the fellow pilgrims, the quiet Iranian brother Hussain with beautiful eyes, he was also the first one to greet me when I had entered the Sema gathering in yelova. then there is Premal Ma, enthusiastic, filled with joy and laughter, transition teacher or love guru as I would lovingly call her, a Osho sanyasin, she had spent last twelve years in Goa india. And then our another pilgrim was sister Merium, silent and reflective, had such an intense life in such an young age, that you could only admire her courage and inner strength, originally from America, now living in Fetiah, close to her Sufi teacher baba Sherif. Ulash, our brother who was driving the van, is a beautiful soulful Sufi singer, we couldn't talk much due to language but his spoke a lot and expressed his love and joy. And then my most beautiful Baba Cem, a Sufi dervish, mentor, elder brother. At the age of 60 now yet his spirit felt timeless. I still remember the first time we met in Sema, he gave me an intense knowing look and then smiled with his signature wink in the eye, it was one of the most wonderful warm smile I had seen. He would be the kitchen master in Sema, making food as he would offer his prayers. Coming with him in this trip was so humbling and a precious gift. Sharing stories all the way, he took us around as we walked in the market place or the holy shrines of saints. I was continuously in awe in his presence, asking him many questions and calling him baba. 

"Baba, what is love? I asked
What isn't ? He replied. 

I could feel the constant flow of love in his presence with great wisdom. 
So here's few stories and moments of our time together in Konya. 

Mevlana Rumi's tomb is beautifully constructed with many towers and a museum built around it, showing the dervish lodge lifestyle and memorabilia of Rumi. However the danger with making it a museum was the modernization of this place which made it more touristic and less a place of Ibadat and silence, as compared Sham's tomb which is 10 minute away from Rumi, is more humble and a place of worship. Yet the love for Rumi fills your heart with excitement and joy when you enter his tomb. A significant symbolic event happened to me here. From the market just before I had bought small toys, 3 whirling Sufi and 1 sheikh and kept it in my hand bag. As I entered the door of Rumi's tomb the toy bag fell from my hand and only one of the statue of whirling Sufi broke, it broke in a very unusual way, from head and two hands. What was Rumi's message for me, was it to leave my 'head' and 'hand' and enter with my heart, or breaking of my ego and self false image ? He always had a beautiful way to give messages through symbols. With a bow, I enter the space and was bit distracted , first with the interior beauty, the carvings and drawings on the wall, tombs of other sufi's in the same vicinity and also with the outpouring of tourist and other guest who were constantly taking pictures and selfies, and yet in this crowd there was joy and excitement, like love itself. I knew I had to come again to feel the silence and I did the next day, standing in one corner, having
my moment of silence and another symbolic event happened. A girl in electronic wheelchair passed by me and accidentally the wheel stepped over my right bare feet, hurting the toe with little pain, ahhh I cried and automatically covered my  right toe with left foot to subside the pain. Later i learnt from baba that this body posture of covering the right foot toe with left foot has story behind it, which goes like this-
Atesbaz was Mevlana Rumi's cook and also for the dervish lodge (like a community space where all the mevlana's students did Sema  and spiritual practices). He was a very important person in the lodge with many physical duties and also spiritual wisdom. 
Once there were some guests in dervish lodge, Rumi asks Atesbaz to cook some soup, to which  he tells Rumi that all the wood they have is wet and they don't have fire. Rumi tells Atesbaz to go and put his right foot under the stove and as he did, there was a green flame and a strong fire, the soup starts to boil immediately.  astonished with this miracle, Atesbaz thinks to himself that if the soup is boiling then why does he not feel his feet burning, and as he doubted it, his right toe immediately start to burn. In that very moment the Rumi comes and asks Atisbaz if the soup is ready, Atesbaz hides his toe with his left leg and bows down with respect. From this day it became a tradition to cover your right toe with left foot when the Mevlevi's greet each other formally or before they started Sema. So maybe my right toe hurting was not a coincidence, but another beautiful insight to learn from beloved Rumi. 

We visited the Tomb of Atesbaz, it was also one of baba's favorite tomb and he shared that everytime he comes here to pray he always smells food. Incidentally I too was dreaming about food as were doing Zikr in his shrine. As we walked out baba gave salt to everyone as Prasad. The salt reminded me of Gandhi ji, he would say be like a salt, also known as 'sabras', it is humble and becomes invisible in the food, but if it tries to be visible and too much then we won't be able to eat the food. Sufis are like salt, I felt, very invisible, very humble. We bade farewell to Atesbaz, the man whose name means, 'the one who plays with fire'. 
Next we visited the shrine of Sheikh Sadreddin Konvi, Sufi teacher of Rumi. They say for him that he laid the woods and shams lit the fire, which transformed Rumi, without this foundation of knowledge, shams could not have done his work on Rumi. Most pilgrims always like to visit the tomb of both masters, first Shams and then of Sedreddin, before they went to visit Rumi. 
Another beautiful story of Rumi I heard for the first time was of his Indian lover, also known as peacock mother or Tavis Ana. Once upon a time there was a very beautiful princess in the ancient land of India. One day as she was going somewhere in her Palki (carrier), the wind bought to her a piece of paper, on which was written a very beautiful poem, which immediately captivated her heart. Upon enquiry it was found that the paper came with the camel caravan, coming from Konya, and the poet was Mevlana Rumi. Such intense was the love in poem that she had an instant desire to go and meet Rumi, however her father was strictly against it. In her longing for Rumi, she fell sick and almost in her deathbed. Feeling helpless, her father had no other option but to let her go. She travels for many months and finally reaches the place where Rumi stayed. Without meeting him, she gets a small place near his house and would play songs of love and longing in her rebab. One day as Rumi passed her with his dervishes, he was instantly captivated. He asked his dervishes to go ahead and he went to the house of the princess and spent the night with her. Next day after Rumi had left, no body could find the princess, instead in her place there were lot of peacock feathers. Realizing that the princess has left her body and united with the divine, they took the feathers and made a burial ground for her there, which is still there today. 

With many stories and beautiful moments we leave Konya to go further on our journey towards the tomb of another very prominent Saint Hazibektash, and it's here my calling was once again affirmed. 
More about it in next blog. 

26th August 2016, Konya. Turkey

Fellow pilgrims. Hussain, Cem baba, Miriam and Premal Ma

Shams Tabriz tomb

Mevlana Rumi's tomb

Cem baba, Sufi dervish, our brother mentor and guide. 

Tomb of Rumi's cook Ateshbaz and salt as a Prasad. 

With Hussain and Cem baba near shams tomb. 

Whirl with joy 

They say that Rumi started whirling when one day he was passing the market place and heard the sound of iron pounding. Cem baba was sharing this with us and said maybe it's here, in front of these gold jewelry shops that maybe Rumi started to whirl, why not ?

We visited the graveyards and in one of them it was written, "I was like you yesterday as tomorrow you will be like, don't forget this and share and do service in your life. 

One of the incredible felt artist we met in Konya. 

Our dervish van

Mevlana Rumi's tomb

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Road to Konya

I am home, I am home of my beloved Rumi and shams. 

Left the Dergah in Docedere today morning, with Gem baba and few other dervish friends. After a 8 hour drive we reached Konya. 

Initially we were going to come to Konya with teacher Uruc but since there were not many people coming, he cancelled the trip. Bit dissapointed I said to myself whatever happens is for good. 
Last night as we finished the Sema, Uruc shared how when we face obstacles or disease in life, it's because there's clogging of energy and this energy could be released by accepting and giving presents/gifts. I remembered that I had not given my donation yet to the Dergah for my time there so immediately I went and put it on the donation box. Minutes after I had done that, a friend told me that there's a van going to Konya next morning and we can go with them. Immediately there was flow of blessing, you could call it a coincidence but I think it was connected with the giving of present. 

The trip was beautiful with 8 of us, two dervishes and other friends who had participated in the Sema gathering, including dearest Premal  Ma who has been living in India since last 12 years, and other friends from Iran. Our driver Elash was smoking seesha all the way and we couldn't help smiling all the time filled with exhilaration of this trip. 
Along the way Gem baba shared some Sufi stories and wisdom insights. I really liked him, 60 year old yet quite young and powerful spirit and presence. 

As we reached Konya, we first went straight to shrine of Shams. It was closed as it was 10.30pm. We offered our prayers from outside, looking through the window. Immediately I felt a rush of excitement being here finally, a dream since I read 'forty rules of love', where for the first time I was introduced to Shams. On my knees I prayed, prayed to keep my heart open. 
A friend remarked, that there are several shrines of Shams around the world, most don't know where he was buried as he was mysteriously disappeared, some believe he was murdered and his body was put in the well in Konya, which is still here below the shrine till today. Baba said "it doesn't really matter, if people come here for shams, then shams comes here for them."
We then in the silence of night drove towards the center of town where Mevlana's shrine is, in the night, decorated with lights, it looked enchantingly beautiful. 
For the night we stayed in a cafe, which belonged to baba's friend. The name of cafe is Hic, which means 'nothingness'. 

With excited heart of being here in Konya, I fall sleep, dreaming about Shams, dreaming about Rumi and dreaming about love. 

24th August , Konya, Turkey. 

The dervish van and fellow pilgrims. 

First glimpse of shams through the window. 

In the shrine of Shams. 

Hic cafe. 

A dervish who had travelled the world, carried a board on his neck, written 'nothingness' (in Farsi). 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sema- dancing with the Sufis

Once a Sufi Saint was walking through a desert with a young boy, 'where are we going'? asked the boy. To a Sema gathering, the man replied. And then the boy asked many questions. 
Where is it?
I don't know 
Who is coming?
I don't know 
Do the people who are coming know it ?
So how will they come?
Old man looked at him with love and said - the ones who need to come will find it and will come. 

Sufi, a word which has been a mystery, fascination and admiration for me, and now it has become an exploration. Experienced my first retreat with two Sufi teachers in feb this year. Met many friends there who became dear as they were in similar path. This enquiry created a longing to come to turkey. Country where Rumi and many other Sufi teachers are from. I booked my tickets and planned to visit at the end of my Europe trip. No one to know, no place to go, just trusting an inner voice that said 'go'. Now I am here, arrived two days back in Istanbul. Hosted in a friend's friend place, by dearest Gozde. Within few hours of my arrival, dear friend David, who lives in London connects me with a dear friend Hatice and who immediately invited me to a Sufi gathering or Sema as it is called, happening an hour away from Istanbul. 
As I was standing in the dock of ferry, looking at the sea waves on my way to this gathering, I was reflecting how every moment in our life is orchestrated. In this trip I have felt deeply held by life, always feeling path opening or emerging as I took the next step. 
From yelova took a bus to Gokcedre and then walked on a small path asking occasionally for Mehmet Rasim Mutlu Dargeh, that's where we all meet. After 20 mins I reached the center, a concrete building with two floors, the bottom one used for serving food and the top floor for Sema, where they do 24 hours, non stop prayers, singing and whirl dancing. 

It was the day of full moon and As I entered the Dargeh, everyone I met greeted me with a smile and a bow with heir hands in their heart. Salaam or Merhaba they would say. I immediately felt home. 

When I was in Spain, a random friend I had made told me that "ahh 
You are going to turkey, you should meet this teacher Uruc, she didn't knew where he stayed or his contact, I  smiled and said, turkey is a big country but you never know, inshallah (by god's will). 

And now in a small village in turkey, where with synchronicity I find myself attending this very beautiful Sema, I met the teacher or Sufi Sheikh who started it all, he was none other than Uruc. When I told him how I came there about this turn of events, he just smiled and said "that's life" :)

Teacher Uruc would share Sufi stories from Rumi's methnava every evening, with joy and twinkle in his eyes, a man with joyful heart. 

"If you are dark like Iron, polish polish, until your heart becomes a mirror filled with images, beautiful images, everywhere inside it"

Their Eyes were soft, warm hugs and deep reverence presence. We would deeply look into each other's eyes and greet with Adab softly saying salaam / Merhaba. They came from all corners of the world, hippies, wanderers, seekers, pilgrims, musicians.. All in the path of Sufi. The gatherings is called 'Sema', in the tradition of Mevlana or Rumi, they would meet to do Ibadat/ Zikr or remember God. This particular one is of 9 days and nights ( also happens for 3, 5, 40, 114 days) chanting, singing , whirl dance to evoke ecstasy and connect with divine throughout 24 hours non stop. Offered in the spirit of gift and donations, the center is open for all. With food and tea always there on the table, pilgrims sleep in their own tents outside or in the prayer hall, dancing, resting and then dancing again. 
I would spend hours, Just listening to the music in Sema hall to various musicians from around the world, Music is healing, it slowly grows on you, it relaxes the nerves, I felt my own presence expanding, more peaceful, and I felt it in the collective energy, so much love, softness, and respect. 
We would enter the Dargeh and the sema hall with Adab (bowing down) and the same we would do when we greeted each other. 
One of the Hadith in the Quran says "two opposite feelings cannot stay together in your heart, if there's love there cannot be hatred" , so greet everyone with love and Adab, even if they don't respond back. 

After an intense week for me, with moments of exhilaration, joy and also sometimes deep exhaustion and emptyness, the Sema finished yesterday. We closed with dance and prayers. This week has been really a big gift from God, one of the most beautiful gathering of my life where my every breath said 'ahhhhha'

One of the dervishes I met, summarized this event very beautiful my to me, he said "the work we are doing here is creating a wave of positive energy, the work done by Mystics and Rishis since thousands of years. This is real activism, creating inner change and this further creates a flow of love which vibrates in our environment wherever we go. It's creating a balance in the world."

As we said good byes today morning, my heart was full with love and hope which I have seen many around the world in different forms and yet in same universal spirit, towards oneness. 

Finally leaving for Konya, my beloved Rumi's place with few dervishes in their van. 

With teacher Uruc

Story time in the evening. Inside the dergah. 

Sema hall in the Dergah. 

Saw this in the center - 
"Sufism is not mere looking inside but to invite the entire existence inside". 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Savitri - bringing heaven on earth

"O Satyavan, I have heard thee and I know. I know that thou and only thou art he. "
Savitri thus recognizes Satyavan for who he is, the eternal soul, the divinity who needs to come to the earth and thus create heaven on earth. 
A story of a grand dream, our greatest possibility, our highest truth and brightest light. Shri Aurovindo pours his heart and soul in this epic creation of his. 
This week has been a beautiful exploration of this magnificent creation. Annette very beautifully brought the essence and helped collectively imagine what seems almost impossible, to have heaven on earth and our individual role in making it happen, our commitment to say 'yes' to our highest potential, our inner light and hearts calling, if not this than what. What will be life worth leaving for. 
The retreat was entirely in German with long periods of silence. Not knowing the language helped me to listen from my heart, to feel beyond the words, to have a glimpse in people's eyes and see their soul, and not judging them from the words they speak. It helped me intuitively tune in and to trust that whatever needs to be transmitted will be done energetically. Annette also did a session on dream work where many shared with her about their dreams. "What does the person or thing in your dream represents for you?" She would always ask. Dream work has been very important in Sufi tradition, as we get a glimpse of our true selves through our dreams. The people or things we see in our dreams are mostly always us, our own projections, our own longings and expressions. "Trust your intuition, you know what they mean to you", she would say. 
Many a times she would invite people to ask her any questions and very beautifully, with a clear sharp clarity she would deeply listen and answer in short, sometimes with humor but with lot of compassion. People would share their deepest feelings and vulnerabilities, breaking down in process and very delicately she would hold them all. It was interesting for me to see her in action. A Sufi teacher for modern times, always encouraging to listen to your own heart, without many rituals, without any exaggeration, always direct and simple. 
I had the opportunity to read few passages of Savitri in English and i loved it. I would pray to Shri Aurobindo before starting and calling him in spirit and i always felt supported. Many came and shared how they enjoyed listening to me. Some who I had never spoken in the entire week would come randomly and tell me how much they enjoyed my presence and soul. Most of the participants were clearly quite evolved in their spiritual practices, you could tell the depth of their journey through their presence. And I felt grateful to be in this circle. Various time I was touched by moments of generosity and kindness, people would offer me food, and invite me for dinner, taking care of me throughout. With a prayer you take it all with a promise to share this forward. 
Today morning I left Windschnur , Germany with Bettina in her car and after 5 hour ride she dropped me at Pfaffikkon train station in Switzerland, even buying my train ticket, sharing immensely till the last moment. I meet another friend Julia in Winterthur and stay with her tonight and then depart tomorrow morning from Zurich Airport to Istanbul, where a new adventure awaits. 
15th Aug 2016 - Flah, near Zurich, Switzerland. 

Retreat room in Windschnur, reminded me of Sufi lodge

Passages from Savitri

In Julia's beautiful home in Flah

With shining light , dearest friend Julia