I do not lead nor am I able to attend a regular dance meeting. Rather, I use the dances in my interfaith retreat work and find the dances to be an excellent vehicle for my simple message, one I always say when presenting this sacred work to others, usually newcomers who may be feeling stretched. "You do not have to give up anything of your own faith tradition to be blessed and enriched by the faith traditions of others." People often respond by saying something like, "No one ever gave me permission to be inclusive of other traditions in this way." To be respectful and inclusive of all faith traditions is my understanding of the spirit of Murshid SAM and the dances he gave us. Communicating this clearly at every dance meeting puts us in touch with this spirit. Perhaps those of us who are fortunate enough to have had deep experiences of the dances and belong to a dance community need to remember that it is pretty scary for people to even be invited to stand in a circle and hold hands and then sing and dance besides. One rule I have for myself is to teach every dance I lead for the newcomer, even is there is only one in the circle.
Our time together at the Parliament was indeed a blessing and the attention to the many details that brought us together was a service of love. I am deeply grateful and send my love to you all.
Shalom, Shlama, Salam,
Brother Joe Kilikevice, O.P.
The reach continues.
Wayne and I have been singing in a mini rock n roll band for a "Forest Gump" series at the Methodist church in our small town here in Idaho. We went in this morning and the pianist told us that she saw us on television this morning. It was a Religion and Ethics program and they showed some videos of us dancing at the Parliament. Pretty cool.
The love goes on!
Zareen (Connie Delaney)
We had a small few gathered at our home this evening to sing, not enough to dance, but we reviewed our experiences at the Parliament, and our take aways. For me it was the amazing energy which is propelling me on with deeper commitment toward the path, the purpose, dances, gathering, teaching, work with elders and youth, community engagement and connections already in motion, Deeper into the Heart! Thank you all so much!!!! So very much!
When we danced in the North Foyer, the place with the wild carpet, the acoustics amplified our voices until it seemed like thousands of people, embodied and unembodied, were singing with us. And I’d look at the circles, where there were people of every color, wearing saris, robes, suits and ties, turbans, yarmulkes, tee-shirts, tight dresses, and everything in between, all smiling and holding hands and singing and Dancing together. Murshid SAM had the vision that the Dances would go around the world (and his birthday was 18 October, the Sunday of the Parliament), and there we were, living his vision. It is a vision that will live in me forever.
One of the most heart felt experiences of the POWR for me, occurred in the lunch line. The Sikh community provided a free lunch every day for thousands of attendees, with superb organization, hospitality, and devotion. This is one of their spiritual practices, known as langar. Following one of our Dance sessions, a group of us was singing as we stood in line. We were joined by a Krishna devotee, who then led one of his chants. As we approached the servers, I started a Sikh chant, to honor our hosts. As our singing came to an end, they cried out for us to keep going, and were obviously pleased and surprised that we were familiar with their tradition. After lunch, one of the Sikh men thanked me for singing and invited me to come chant with them the next day, before lunch. I feel blessed to be part of this tradition of music and mantra, and able to sing as One.
6:00 am, driving to pick up Salim and then to the Salt Palace. The morning quiet fills with voices as we enter the corridor of ballrooms where prayers will take place in separate rooms hosted by leaders of various faiths. The corridor is lined with beautiful wall hangings of indigenous art forms. We enter a door between two beautiful hangings and prepare to transform this empty room with high ceiling and red chairs into a palace of spiritual practice. Musicians gather and tune while I connect my computer to the projector. The words of my power point appear on the large white screen. There is one slide for each Zikr and several slides for the Isaiah Zikr that includes brief phrases from 7 or 8 faiths. Every slide includes a reminder that we are praying for Yezidis, Assyrians and all facing genocide in Iraq and Syria.
We begin chanting while sitting. Then we rise, form a circle and chant with hadrat movements to the words Modeh Ani – I give thanks. Next is the Isaiah Zikr. We learned the words and melody in our seats and now we learn the dance. From language to language and faith to faith, we move into ecstasy. Our Zikr includes Yah Xode Beh Naveyta, a Yezidi phrase in the Kurmanji language, meaning Oh Lord, in Your Name.
The Zikr dances are a whole heart whole voice whole body practice. Participants include practicing Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, universal Sufis and Jews. We chant in the different languages as if we always knew them. Our movements are fluid. A few attendees are sitting or standing away from our circle, chanting along or watching in silence. The room is electrified by our collective spirit.
We complete the Isaiah Zikr and stand in silence, sending the energy to Yezidis, Assyrians and others who need it. Now comes the healing Zikr. We call out the names of those in need of healing and chant the sacred words of Moses. We conclude with a peace chant. Shalom, Salaam. Shanti Om.
Thank you Murshid SAM for the beautiful practice of the Dances of Universal Peace. Thank you Pir O Murshid Inayat Khan and Murshid Hassan Moumani for the beautiful practice of Zikr. How blessed we are to live in a time when these practices are welcome in so many communities and settings. May the Message of God spread far and wide, illuminating and bringing all of humanity into one single sister-brotherhood in the mother-fatherhood of G-o-d. Amen.
Rabbi Pam Frydman
Still in the glow of the togetherness the Parliament bestowed upon us all, mostly I feel great gratitude for the Dances of Universal Peace and our Sufi path, which have set me up as one already doing so much of the work we were all asked to embody and carry forward into our post-Parliament world. And, many thanks are in order!
Thanks to Sky, Narayan and Jen for all their work in getting the DUP on the program! Many thanks to Pir Shabda for your leadership at our scheduled circles and for your inspiring talk and musical presentation! Thanks to all the leaders and musicians who rose to serve the Dances on this Murshid SAM birthday weekend, and to Parvati for so beautifully representing the Divine Feminine and Tara Dhatu in leading the Tara Mantra Dances; to Wayne, Zareen, Michael and all who provided essential technical support for our sessions, and – though the DUP did not win the award (this year!) - thank you Nuria Jenny Mish for submitting our award application for the Cultivation of Harmony Award. Thanks to all who served at our DUP booth, a wonderful service. And, a special thank you to all who came and danced at our sessions. Our hearts shone out along with our voices echoing through the great halls of the Salt Palace, inspiring and uplifting so many! All of the many thanks I received from folks who discovered the Dances at the Parliament for the first time are really meant for each of you.
May the glow of the flame stoked in our hearts continue to shine out brightly for the benefit of all, and may we meet again – and Dance together again – at future Parliaments!
Love to all,