How To be A Dervish

How To be A Dervish

You can never “try” to be “Sufi.”
You must know how to say this name
so that it cracks open the heart
while your lips are sealed.

It is a journey for strangers
that are too strange to be
anything but always alone,
and so they never are.

The dervish walks his life
as if he had a Love-knife
piercing each eye.

He is a thought on the breath
until he is the breath of Love only.

Sufis are not crazy to be seen,
and so are visible only to lovers.

They know how to disappear
in front of the merely curious.

They work silently
pulling their belief-mountains down
stone by stone,
to feed hungry ghosts with that dust,
until they eat themselves to be new earth
in which to grow fresh flowers.

A Sufi gives away his very breath
to be Love’s pick-ax,
and makes a ruin of his house,
until only a roof remains,
a canopy of sky
where his love songs can be heard
by the wind of this worlds soul.

He has a hundred names for God,
but listens, to be a silent conversation
that is Love’s language of remembrance.

He seems to woo God in every form,
but secretly destroys every shape
in the fire of his passion.

He prays to be the kindling of longing,
so that the slow smolder of his self,
can be a light for his own pyre.

Yet he denies not his body’s desire,
but takes the hand of duality
and dances at his own wedding.

His death is always imminent
for he dies each moment to live,
and so he is the light of life itself.
A life he does not claim,
and so he is free to be the gleam
of the eye of God.

He is change,
he cannot be pinned down by any hat.
He is a hare twitching for the trace
of the hawk of transition.

His nature is to be a lion also,
yet he will only hunt that self
that is fearful of being consumed.

His work is to be empty
in order to be occupied
with a wild Beauty.

He swims his soul
as if that craft were real
but he knows how to drown
when the ocean finds him.

Oh yes, he is the very paradox of his love.
The Beloved is his mystery,
and he lives to be Her love bed.

There is no complication in him,
he is his own simple birthing
and accepts without question
that God is continually making love
to be the answer of this ecstasy.

He begs at his own court,
that he may never wear any crown,
but the one forged in his own alchemy,
and he throws that away to be Love’s slave again
at the slightest scent of the Beloved’s presence.

There are no robes noble enough to clothe him,
and so he travels incognito
covering his naked flame with any garments
to conceal the ash of his burning self.

But do not think he is a religion or any gender,
or saint, or sinner,
or any form of being that you know.

He is neither good nor bad,
nor compassed by any morality but Love.
He is the fulcrum of polarity,
and abides as the pole star of any direction,
and so he is always the perfect balance.

He is his own way yet utterly pathless.
An expression arriving as an original song
that holds within it a singer born from the unseen.

He has become the dance and the dancer,
and he lives a life
as if he had never been.

—author unknown


I’d like to comment on the topic of “Lineage.” There are certain things about it that are not perceptible from outside, especially in our current ethos of DIY spirituality and Western hyper-individuation.

In the East, it is considered a mark of authenticity that a teacher is connected-to or represents one or more initiatic lineages. This is true in Sufism, Taoism, Buddhism, Yoga — and many shamanic paths. Among the Sufis, when a student is elevated to the rank of “lineage holder” (a Buddhist term, but the concept exists in all the paths), s/he is presented with a scroll iterating the names of the masters in the line, with one’s own name added to the bottom.

The “Initiatic Lineage” is a real thing. It’s not a human contrivance, but a particularized stream of Divine Guidance having a certain integrity and reality that originates beyond the “mind realms.”

The masters who form the historical embodiment of the Lineage were living human beings who had human problems and attained awakening in their human life. They are, in a sense, more alive than we here in 3-D reality, and because the Lineage is beyond time & space, they are as alive “now” as they were in historical life — AND they are free of the constraints of their human bodies & personalities, though the felt-sense of their natures and predilections still comes through at times.

So it’s not just history; it’s more like a pedigree carrying the genetic traces and natures of the masters in the line. It’s not just the blessing-power but the aggregate practical wisdom of what’s needed to catalyze human transformation.

“Initiation” is the connecting of a living person’s incarnation with this stream of spiritual power. In theory, it can happen without the agency of a living initiator, but the actuality is more rare than the claims of it. Let’s say that the external, living Initiator is a living part of the stream. You need wheels for the car to move.

The capacity to act as an Initiator, a living agent of the Lineage, depends on a certain level of *developed capacity*. The empowerment is in a sense “grafted on” by one who has the authority to act as an Empowerer-of-Initiators (e.g., the head of an Order), and it confers the authority/permission-under-guidance to act in certain ways as a catalyst to the spiritual unfoldment of other human beings. (The wheels need properly-inflated tires properly bolted to the axles…)

What’s transmitted through the Lineage can be spiritual power, it can be overall guidance to a particular tack in life, it can be insights into what’s happening “under the hood” of perceptible reality, and it can even be practices & techniques, new or old.

And to be very clear: This is quite different from “channeling.” I have difficulty explaining just how, but it’s got to do with how the mind-realms are constructed and what lives there, and how individuated consciousness can abide in “the stack” of the planes of reality.

AND it is accountability. As an Initiator, I am VERY aware of the living presence of my Lineage acting upon me in the “relative world.”  As a lineage-holder, I am accountable to the living Lineage itself, which I feel as a powerful presence enveloping and interpenetrating me when I teach, and to my own living mentors, peer-advisers, dharma-family.

Of course all this can be misused, as anything real can be misused. There are false claims of lineage. And a lineage-teacher is not immune to fucking up, GOK. Sometimes we receive the empowerment as an Initiator because we need it, not because we deserve it, and in that case we have to trust that our own Initiators know what they’re doing…

Spiritual Teaching

The purpose of a spiritual teaching is not to give you more bullshit for your head.

If you just take on a teaching as another belief, it has failed and you have failed to benefit from it — regardless of how inspired you are by the lofty ideals and by the person who spoke them.

What happens to many people is attachment to a belief, which then becomes a pivot for more beliefs until they are living inside an elaborate, internally-consistent simulation of spiritual knowledge but which leaves their ego structure and felt-identity basically untouched — regardless of their access to and facility with “altered states.”

The purpose of a teaching and an authentic spiritual practice is to change how your perception itself functions at a fundamental level … for a totally new mode-of-knowing to open in you… and you can’t get it from a book or a lecture, or a music or dance event.

Psychedelics will give you look through the window, but won’t take you through the door.

It’s like the first time you find balance on a bicycle: you are forever changed and you can’t-not know what that is, even though you may still wobble and occasionally even fall.

If your spiritual practice isn’t regularly forcing you to change your life through what you can’t now un-see… go deeper.

“The mouse is a nibbler.
God gave him brain in accordance with his needs.
God gives nothing without need.
So if you would Attain,
increase your need, O Human.”