PadOliv ina Turkey – Meetings With A sufi masta

me and olive where in konya in the middle of turkey, we had arrived on bikes. this was because we had been unable to sail a boat to haifa to compleate a pilgramage to the holyest places for Baha’is. this was because the mast had fallen down. haveing found ourselves in athens and in need of a new direction we decided that a pilgramage through turkey to a houce where Baha’u’llah, the prophet of the Baha’is had lived, would satisfie various thirsts, and in a way finish the pilgramidge. Konya, the home and resting place of the Sufi master Rumi was chosen to be a waypoint on our journe/pilgramidge/adventure…

we spent our first evening in the city of  devine love with an american woman from our guesthouce who was visiting after having danced and meditated for a week in the crazy wilderness of Cappidocia. she took us to a caffe where we were entertained by a pakistani lady;”i used to ride bike but i did too much wheely and fell off and my mother told me ” promice you will not ride bycicle” and i tell my mother everything so now i dont ride bike” .  she got me to play some tunes and some turkish girls to dance some turkish dances.

in the warm mid morning me and olive walked the crowdded networks of stalles and shops and marketplaces, though thin streets and bigger streets, sheltered from the sun by tarps strung high above, past woolen thirmell leggings, past buckets, goat bells of all different sises, past carts piled with pencils, past jewls and old rope. we wandered in to a big indoor frute market where a groupe of turkish men befrended us. we laghed together for a while and left with bags of veg thrust upon us. the way was found back to our residence and carrots where eaten. a man arrived and sat in the corner of a big sheltered carpeted and cushoned arior, off from the main cortyard of our guest houce. others arrived and sat about him. it emerged that he was a sufi master. we were asked if we would like to speek to him. we said ‘yes’ and a softly spoken woman called Dariya arrived to inturprit for us.

we sat about the sufi guru and asked him questions about some of Rumi’s poems. he gave answeres that partly satisfied or that where partly understood. he asked about our jobs and what we where doing in turkey. we told him we where vissiting holy places. he told us a story about a fish looking for water, sugesting that our search to find spirituality externaly, by traveling to holy places, was useless. this was intresting because the evening befor i had writen a song inwhich one of the verces went “people travel the world trying to find them selves//go to another county to reach an understanding//this way is an illusion, what is within is always within// its like a fish in the ocian, trying to find the water.” we explained that we where not trying to find ourselves but rather where looking for beauty excitment and adventure.

i told him about the sailing songline adventure pilgramidge to haifa and the subject of the Baha’i faith came up. he hadn’t hured of it befor and asked some questions. when i told him about Baha’u’llah, he  told me that he was a friend of Allah and that if there was such a Manifestation of God he would have been informed by Allah. he told me that in the Koran Mohamed had stated that he was the seal of the prophets. his status as the mester made it hard to have a resoned discussion with him; the master has knowledge and his devoted deciples suck from his full and milkey breast.. the translator had told us that if the master says 2+2=5, then it is true.  the Baha’i interpritation of Mohammed’s clame to be the seal of the prophets (understood by many Muslems to mean that he is the last maifestation of god, who’s teachings will take us forward in to eturnity) is that Mohammed was the last of the prophetic cicle. that is the manifestaions god who gave teachings to the world and prophesised the day of God, or heaven on earth. the Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah is the one fortold in the books of old, who has come with a message that “the earth is one country and mankind are it citizens” he has come with teachings  that will unite all the peoples and create this most glorious day.

the sufi master told me i was full up because of my Belief in Baha’u’llah, that i was like a buss full of people. inorder for me to learn anything i would have to let all of the people off the buss so that new people could get on. i told him that i was maybee only half full of people and that there was space for a few more. he gave us our first lesson. splitting a piece of paper in half with a line drawn, he explaned that there are two parts to reality. below the lighn he wrote the material world, the world of words, and the knowledge of mind. he told us that all of this was imperminant and subject to chainge. he told us that if we base our reality only on this world then we remain in confusion. above the line he wrote Allah at the top then the spiritual realm, and then the gonor or the infannit heart, or the soul. above the line , he said,  is the infanet unchaingable realm and is what the sufi is interested in. i couldnt find the right questions to find from him how it was that one accesed these realities. he told me that the only way was to live the sufi life style. he wouldnt tell me what this was, it seemed that i had to join the club first.

the next day we met again with the sufi masta. i asked him about some lines from an old sufi poem ‘the conference of the birds’ by Atta, where in it talks about forgetting what is and what is not islam.  he explained that in our quest for unity with the Beloved many things can get in our way; food,  clothes, hairstyles, greed, the ego and that ones religion can also become a barior, if it is not being practiced with the intention of drawing neerer to the Source. the masta then brought up the bahai faith again, forcefully denouncing it and accusing us of cultural impearialism. the vibe got a bit heavey and intence. there is a saying that if 2 people argue about god; they are both wrong. there was probalby some element of this in the meating. however the sufe smashed up the bad vibes by smileing a wide smile and asking me to play him a choon. me and olive whipped out the instroments and sang a one about death.

we where invited to go to a session that evening at a sufi center where the deciples and the masta would come together and ask questions. later that night we where whisked away by a sufi actor who was rehursing for a play about the ottoman empire inwhich he got to fight with sawds.  surendered to the whims of the univerce we folowe the sawed fighting sufi  on to a small mini buss that flew though the city night, off the buss, down a dark tree lined road to the dervish centre. inside a collection of about 40 people sat around the edge of a thickly carpeted room on the floor. the master arived and while young boys endlessly filled glasses of tea for us to drink and brought around biscets and treets ( i got to eat olivias and our translators buiscets), people asked questions and the master spoke. he spoke beautifully about desolving befor god and told us that one can see everything in the world extatically prasing god   and calling his name.

back at the guest houce i sat up late with an incredibly gorgius soul who volenteered at the guest houve and his sweet smily sufi friend. we drank tea and smoked ciggarettes and talked music, spinning around , joy and sufism…

‘A lover’, said the hoopoe, now their guide,
‘Is one in whom all thoughts of self have died;
Those who renounce the self deserve that name;
Righteous or sinful, they are all the same!
Your heart is thwarted by the self’s control;
Destroy its hold on you and reach your goal.
Give up this hindrance, give up mortal sight,
For only then can you approach the light.
If you are told: “Renounce our Faith,” obey!
The self and Faith must both be tossed away;
Blasphemers call such action blasphemy —
Tell them that love exceeds mere piety.
Love has no time for blasphemy or faith,
Nor lovers for the self, that feeble wraith.

Farid ud-Attar
 ‘Conference of the Birds’

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