Sema as Zikr

By: Vida Mia Valverde  

This paper explores the parallels found in the dance of the whirling dervishes, Rumi’s poetry, and Heidegger’s thought. The dance, or sema, is a remembrance of God, zikr, which Rumi describes in his poetry. It is an honoring and mirroring of the revolutions, cycles, centers, and turnings of life. This poetry in motion done in the silence of the dervish’s being brings us to an experience with language which in turn allows us to encounter Being. Heidegger’s assertion that language is the house of Being is embodied in the sema that links beings, that links the mortal to the divine, that gathers the fourfold: earth, sky, mortal, divinities. The sema has a pronounced capacity to presence because it is both poetry and thing. As poetry, it affords us to undergo an experience with language that silences our calculative thinking and brings us nearer to our center, to Being. As thing, it gathers the fourfold that helps presence Being. It makes near what are distant and separate. There is much that is said in the sema even if nothing is spoken. What is said is heard in the silence cultivated by sema, a silence pregnant with meaning and presence.The paradox of language, as elucidated by Heidegger, that it is revealed when held back and concealed when manifested, is at play in the dance of the dervishes. The dance of the whirling dervishes is a Saying in which Being is intertwined. The dance of the whirling dervishes is zikr, remembrance of God.

Being, Rumi, Semazen, Silence
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Vida Mia Valverde

Faculty Member, Philosophy, Ateneo de Davao University, Philippines