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Divine Intoxication: : Whirling Over Wine

Konya is a “dry” town and Turkey’s most religious city. While back in Rumi’s day (and in his poetry), one could be a devout Muslim and still drink alcohol, that’s not the case in many parts of the Islamic world today (although most Konya hotels do have the ability to serve alcohol, including the Anemon where we stayed – which has a stunning restaurant in the basement).

But, as you can see here, who needs to drink if you’re a dervish? I feel like I was witnessing an intimate, altered state of these Semazen.

Rumi wrote, “Do you think I know what I’m doing? That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself? As much as a pen knows what it’s writing, or the ball can guess where it’s going next.” Surrender, a word I abhorred earlier in my competitive life but came to appreciate later for the freedom it gave me. Surrender, that’s what these dervishes are experiencing.

Rumi also suggested, “Be helpless, dumbfounded, unable to say yes or no. Then a stretcher will come from grace and gather us up.” I was viewing divine medicine, indeed.

I recommend taking a journal and a camera. While you may initially get enamored with using the latter as you want to capture so many exquisite moments (although flash photos are not allowed), you may find the journal will give you more insightful long-term impressions. By the third Sema I witnessed, I didn’t take a photo. I just drank in the experience, then I wrote down my feelings and streams of consciousness.

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by Chip Conley
Festival Correspondent
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