Dervishes are those among Sufis who adopt a certain method of progressing through the spiritual path and who try to live a life as much away from the midst of the world as possible. Dervishes are called Faqirs and are most powerful in their power of wonder-working and in their power of insight. They are dreamers and lovers of God. They worship God in nature, especially in human nature.
Among many ways of spiritual development, they have one that is called sama, listening to music. They listen to music in an assembly of the initiated; no uninitiated person is allowed to enter their assembly. They address one another, saying, “O king of kings, O sovereign of all sovereigns,” and are mostly clad with patched robes or in rags. They never think of tomorrow, their thought is only for that moment, to quench the thirst of the moment and to satisfy the hunger of the time. The care of tomorrow they leave to the morrow; it is with just now that they are concerned, if they are at all concerned with life. They are the ones who are really entitled to enjoy the beauty of music, whose spirit and soul are responsive with open centers, who make themselves as a medium of resonance of the music they hear.
Therefore, music touches them differently from any other person. Music touches the depth of their being. So moved by music, they manifest different conditions, termed by Sufis, hal. This means spiritual condition. Anyone among them who is moved by the spirit may manifest ecstasy in the form of tears, sighs or dance. Sufis call this wajad. It is, therefore, that those who do not understand the meaning of their dance, call them howling dervishes, or dancing dervishes.
The gold of heaven is dust to the worldly person, and the gold of the earth is as dust to the heavenly person. To either the gold of the other means nothing but dust. Their coins are not interchangeable. Therefore, the bliss of the dervish is understood by very few. Something that we can learn from this is the theory of the whole process of their spiritual development. By making God their Beloved and by seeing God in the sublimity of nature, they create the Presence of God. As the whole day’s affair in life constitutes joy and pain both, so the life of the dervish is also filled with joy and pain, both, in the Presence of God.
By the help of concentration, poetry and music, both joy and pain are felt more deeply. Therefore, to the dervish, God becomes living, the Divine Presence before them in all their moods. In the sama, the musical ceremony, when once the dervish’s pain has had an outlet in some form or other, the condition that follows it is that of deeper insight into life. Upon whatever object or person they may cast their glance, the deepest nature, character, and secret of that object or person is revealed to their soul. Thus, the whole life is made clear to their vision in the Light of God.
July 18, 1923
CW 1923 Vol. II pp. 142-143.