a community of lovers
David Ginsberg has been a lover of Mevlana Rumi for many years and here he shares his reflections on the power of chai (tea) on the spiritual path!
Toward the end of the journey there remain three things of importance: muraqaba [meditation], sohbet [spiritual conversation] and chai. Muraqaba and sohbet are the unity of consciousness expressed inwardly and outwardly. Yet we lose this consciousness to the nafs [ego] each time it meanders down the paths of argumentation, grievance and the rankings of stations and states. The nafs continually reasserts itself; not content on giving up its separate identity for the sake of a promise that it will ‘die before it dies’.
However when chai is poured, the nafs sips contentedly from its lingering warmth and sweetness; grazing, as it were, in the meadows of Paradise. Chai warms our being, courses through our veins, bringing each cellular vibration into awareness. From head to toe a galaxy of neurons spark with light, saying “Look no further, God is here!” The dust on the mind is rinsed away by this pouring and the vitality of the lovers returns. The Chai Bashi [server] is the pourer of the wine of love.
This love is the path of the Mature Ones. Before revelation, even a Mohammed wrestled with the Angel of Wisdom. Afterwards, every Solomon conversed with the Angel of Death over chai. When we no longer wrestle with the image in the mirror, we see the mirror; and have chai.
When chai is shared among the circle of friends, it is an intimacy growing in a spiritual garden. Intimacy blossoms into love, love’s fragrance mingles as essence— muraqaba and sohbet as one.
Some would claim muraqaba and sohbet were complete without chai. Perhaps; though the veils of inner and outer, self and other, thought and dialog remain. But when chai is sipped with the friends, these veils of spun sugar dissolve in hot tea. Only their sweetness remains. Chai with the mature ones is the path that leads to sincerity, to love, to God.
If I said, “Chai is the greatest;” those seeing double would rank me an idol worshipper bowing before the Dunya [world]. But the lovers would know the secret; finding the step from sincerity to tawhid [Oneness] as small as the distance from lip to cup.
Some Sufi’s make bold statements of rejecting Paradise in favor of God. But God does not create without purpose. The nafs has its rights. At journey’s end we do not deprive either our prize stallion or a beloved pack animal: we give them flowering green meadows and comfort and rest— while in that quietude we step inside the home of the Beloved Friend.
Perhaps there is no greater gift for the human soul than sharing a cup of chai.
©2013 David Ginsberg, California
Image from http://www.samovarlife.com