My Sufi Dream

It is fitting that this poem by Hafiz seeks to begin for such a ‘wonderful and wild companion’ as Hafiz is just so likely to burst right into the beginning of things. Although it seemed spontaneously chosen when I first opened the book, the poem is in fact a great metaphor for my Sufi Dream , and Hafiz’s poem is the perfect introduction. And as the Friend appears in Hafiz’s poetry, it would seem the same Friend lives in my Sufi Dream; in fact, that same Friend seems to echo throughout the dream-time I have chosen to investigate.

Seeking the Friend. Dancing desire into Being. Catching that one moment that gives Longing to Life … both the dream and its courtship, this dance of discovery, have lately joined into nudging me through a remarkable voyage spanning infinite strands of mystical time. Sufi time. Even writing about it invokes mystical experiences. Sufism has been the lens of my very being these past six weeks and it still seems too soon to focus, freeze/frame and check-in … although living Sufism creates constant check-in. Going to school at Pacifica has required some refocusing, and so each term I see myself revisioning my life from some theme central to my studies. January of 1997 it would seem that Sufism announced itself as the path which beckoned; so although investigating a dream from both a Jungian and a Sufi perspective seemed a tad audacious everything, including the dream itself, conspired to this end.

It’s all about Longing and God and Love. Love is the big word along with Beloved and Dance, and Desire: the desire to serve, to deserve, to live with life as the Beloved. To seek the Beloved. To return Home. And the road Home for the Sufi can certainly be guided by dreams as Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee points out in The Lover and the Serpent:

“The Journey Home is a lover’s return to the center of himself, where He is waiting. And on this journey dreams are of immense importance, for it is through dreams that the inner world communicates to us, and guides us through its maze. The wisdom and understanding which we need for this quest lies within us, and it comes to us most easily in the form of dreams, when our conscious mind is asleep. Thus Sufis have always valued dreams and sought to understand the guidance which they offer.” (introduction xvi)

Even as I write this paper, the extraordinary eros of the dream with its mindful tending carry me through my life and I awaken this morning remembering but a lingering fragment of last night’s dream.

“I am watching this woman walk through the streets to her friend’s where she is to find a box full of old Sufi dreams. And in that box will be some very, very old dreams which will be just what she needs next ”

Sufi dreams. In The Lover and the Serpent, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee discusses dreamwork within a Sufi tradition and he says that:

“the great love affair which is the essence of the Sufi Path, will take the dreamer into the very depths of herself.”

And it was into my own very mythopoetic depths, to the affairs at the bottom of my heart that My Sufi Dream, as I have come to call it, took me. I had this dream October 27, 1993 in Arizona while on a “Darkside” Workshop with Brugh Joy during three days of fasting and silence. In the dream…

“I saw dark baggy panted legs dangling off an edge and feet hanging idly in old well-worn comfortable shoes/sneakers. At first, I was fearful to look up and see where they came from. I did so and as my eye traveled upward, I found myself looking at a gentle old man, sweet and content with himself. He reminded me very much of an old Jewish Rabbi because he had on an old black Hassidic type top hat. All of sudden we were infused in a momentary dance and we bumped our hips together laughingly. As his hips met mine, the most peaceful energy moved through and there was a mellow sunlight around us and especially around my left hip. I wondered who he was and heard a voice say Uncle Joseph … then from the innermost being of my soul, I felt it go – oh Grandpa Joseph and I felt I had met a friend.”

“Met a Friend”. Friend … how that word does weave itself throughout my life, especially lately, living Sufi dreams in Sufi time. It’s amazing to look back and see that three and a half years ago Sufism had already moved into the long-body of my vocabulary. Hillmans’s acorn was well planted and rooting nicely. In many ways the dream seems rather simple; not a complex saga spanning the cosmos; and yet the very naivety and innocence of the dance speak of somatic arche both primal and divine–feet, shoes, hat, black, old, sunlight, hip; each word rooted in mythic vocabulary. To dance, to laugh, to smile; each verb an echo of the collective heartbeat. So moving out of my mind into my heart…

It was such a sweet dream … such a very sweet dream and as I have recently been learning … a very Sufi dream. Sufism made simple…I, Thou and the Dance. The dance with the Divine. For the Sufi, God is Everything and all of Life is lived from that perspective. Although it has its ascetic moments, Sufism is very alive, very vital, extremely romantic: like its counterparts, Chivalry, Kabbalism, and Rosacrucianism, it has as it’s underlying dogma a relationship with the divine through the act of love. The ultimate love affair; Sufism is an extremely seductive path and it’s eros is echoed in my dream, “bumped our hips together laughingly”, even the retelling of it causes me to smile … the power of seduction, the power of the archetype.

For Grandpa Joseph is definitely an archetype come calling. Perhaps the wise old man; the senex redeeming my narcissistic (puer) kid-self; perhaps the super – ego in “the old Jewish Rabbi.,” Tradition Incarnate; perhaps the guide, the wise animus; in historical perspective perhaps the man who wore the coat of many colors, Joseph of the Bible, interpreter of dreams, father of a Sufi lineage. It is this face of Grandfather Joseph which is so present in this dream and calls to my attention. To pay attention – one of the great Sufi traits: particularly when ancestors are involved.

I came home from the Brugh Joy workshop and was telling my father my dream. A few weeks later he appeared at my house with a picture. “Your Mother’s Grandfather Joseph,” he said … a picture I had never seen of a man I had never known, or had I? For of course it was the very man of my dream, Grandpa Joseph. Great Grandfather Joseph was very much alive and well in Dream time. I shouldn’t even be surprised; for that’s how it is in the Sufi world. Like last weekend, Saturday at five: I had a spare one-half hour to recolor my nails and I suddenly decided to do something extremely uncharacteristic, I just switched on the television … to channel 24 … the Islamic Hour. Now really! Now really … or as Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee might remind us in The Lover and the Serpent:

“But a psychological phenomenon of this Path is that ordinary, everyday situations become more highly charged, as the activated contents of the unconscious seek expression. Thus, situations that from a ‘normal’ perspective might seem trivial or unimportant can become highly dynamic psychologically.” (12)

Synchronicity reigns supreme and its been like that for the last six weeks since Sufism and I walked onto the dance floor, Dance floor of Life, the Sufi might say. “Who visits?” is the question and My Sufi Dream was the epitome of the calling of my ancestors and the ancestors of my calling meeting, and I want to say mating, in that most mythic of spots the Dance floor of Life, “dangling off an edge” in that most mythic of lands, Dreamtime. Edges, liminal space: Hermes the guide … perhaps it is he who visits in the land of all possibilities, the interface between here and there … ah here and there … reminiscent of last week’s dream which resounded with

from here to here
from here to there
to is the key
to = 2
even the way it’s written

Sufi’s dreams. Hmm … like my life lately, like my dreams lately, this paper itself goes to the same edge, liminal space, Dreamtime, exploring all of its possibilities: life’s edge, life’s possibilities: and as Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in Sufism, Islam and Jungian Psychology puts it:

“For a Sufi scholar browsing through the monumental plethora of C. G. Jung’s literacy legacy, even the most perfunctory perusal strikes a resonant note as meaningful parallels flash through one’s mind.

Foremost, both Jung and Sufis seek access to no-man’s lands beyond the middle range compass of the psyche where a sense of meaningfulness is attained that defies our common-place thinking yet may prove decisive in one’s self image. Both Jung and the Sufis nurture a holistic view of the psyche.” (35)

“No man’s lands,” the edge, eros at the edge “beyond the middle range” … dances are like that ‘beyond the middle-range,’ although often set within a form there is enormous eros in the tangled tango… words and paper, thought and deed, from here to there … echos of my recent dream … the eros of the Sufi Dance floor has definitely invaded my life, singing it’s own tune, keeping it’s own time.

So Great Grandfather Joseph awakens in me a deep sense of longing and yet an even deeper sense of connection; the dance celebrating an alchemical coniunctio perhaps… for as Llewellyn Vaughan – Lee says in The Lover and the Serpent:

“In the very depths of the psyche are the archetypes, the primordial beings or energies that form the very basis of our existence. They form the structure of the psyche. Revered in the ancient world as gods, it is the archetypes which give meaning to our individual lives – Jung called them ‘determinates of meaning’. And yet, over the past centuries, with our belief in rationalism and our devaluing of the inner world of the soul, we have have forgotten about them, just as we have forgotten about the importance of the symbolic images with which they communicate with us. We are only just beginning to rediscover the meaning of this language of images, we are just beginning to reconnect ourselves with these inner gods. For these great beings or energies are a part of us, and only need to be remembered and revalued for their healing and transformative power to flow into our lives. Our relationship to the archetypes can restore much of the sacred meaning to life that for many people appears to been have lost. They can help to heal our wounded world.” (64)

A conversation I had with my friend Jordan seems indicative of the elastic borders of a Sufi life. Jordan asked me, if I could make just one cosmic leap in time where I might want to go. “Back to the beginning”, I replied instantly. “Why there?” he asked. “What’s the rush; if I got here before I can get here again.” I said “and I wouldn’t mind a check in with the Beginning, be that what it may!” Such a conversation. So like the uroboros, my history marches full circle into my future as Grandpa Joseph waltzes into my life, and as I delve deeper into my dream I spiral deeper into my dance. As time marches through my memory all of Life becomes my alphabet and age-old symbols summon: like shoes, especially the shoes in My Sufi Dream.

For me, the most haunting part of the dream, the part which resonates at the very deepest level has been the imago of the shoes. As a motif, shoes have starred in many of my dreams and black shoes in particular are amongst the regular cast of characters. Shoes; all kinds, all styles, all black. One’s stance in life; the interface of sole and The Mother … Sole and soul; the Dance floor of Life, “no man’s lands”, life at the edge, on one’s feet … dancing. Black boots, feet firmly on the ground. In my dream, those well – worn Rabbi boots are also a far off memory of black dancing boots summoning Eros onto the dance floor! Come to me… come to me.

The dance … the magic part of the dream, alchemy at its finest moment or the Daughter redeemed by Dancing with Dad or Grandfather Wisdom comes calling … the dance announces the probability of Birth, meta-physical to be sure perhaps around nine months later. And of course nine months later at the end of July 1994, I had a dream where

“I entered my bedroom and found an ever growing number of moths in cocoons on the ceiling with a large three foot one in the center…”

Birthing Psyche; quite the off-spring! And as I go downstairs this morning a small moth dances out of my hair into the hallway; living dreams; Sufi dreams. So that is how Sufi dreams can go, and what happens when one has the impertinence to try and untangle them.

It is no small matter to take any single moment out and dance with the Divine, surrender to the here and now, the Isness of Life … to do so with any sense of consistency to regularly tune in and be present ‘more often that not at least,’ demands a decided sense of discipline, and as I have learned, an immense devotion to the Love of God in all of God’s infinite forms.

To regularly be thinking about God, about dancing with God, about serving God with abject devotion, about the thousand loving ways a lover loves… to use this thought as the summoning mantra … to continuously center on the Sufi concept of existence these past six weeks has taken me to my most organic core, constantly re-imagining the metaphor of Dance seducing the imago of the Moment. Life lived daily at the heart of the affair. Heart, another word basic to Sufi Life.

My Sufi Dream also reminded me of Angeles Arrien’s profoundly simple question “When’s the last time you danced?” and I treasure the dream for that heartfelt reminder; to touch the earth sole to soul. “It’s enough with that dream already,” I can hear my ancestors calling, “Get a little sunshine. Go play. Too soon it will be cold again.” Or as Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in The Lover and the Serpent says:

“For the wayfarer, there comes a moment when a psychological approach is no longer appropriate,…” (21)

So, I have not only dreamed the dream, I have lived it … am living it, in fact the dream and I are dancing quite clearly together, weaving our stories into the Dreamtime. The many coats of Joseph have come to offer themselves in my dream: just maybe the inheritance of my calling. My affinity for the dreamtime, for tending soul through dreamwork… affirmation from the Homefront. I had asked to touch center, “Back to the beginning,” I had said to Jordan: and centering on My Sufi Dream put me at the center of the Sufi universe … dancing with Grandfather on the Dance floor of Life. Home. Such a gift … dancing with Grandfather Joseph … dancing with my Friend.

Works Cited

  • Al-Akili, Muhammed M. I.B.N. Serrin’s Dictionary of Dreams. According to Islamic Inner Traditions.
  • Cover painting by Deis, Ishaq. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Pearl Publishing House, 1992.
  • Ladinsky, Daniel. I Heard God Laughing. Renderings of Hafiz. Oakland, California: Dharma Printing Company, 1992.
  • Spiegelman, J. Marvin and Fernandez, Tasnim, and Khan, Pir Vilayat Inayat. Sufism, Islam, and Jungian Psychology. Scottsdale, Arizona: Falcon Press, 1991.

Vaughan-Lee, Llewellyn. The Lover and the Serpent. Dreamwork Within a Sufi Tradition. 1st published Great Britain by Element Books Ltd, 1990. Rockport, MA: Element Inc, 1991.