Sufi spiritual gathering starts next week

Joan Levy is one of the handful of followers of Sufi teachings who gather every year to participate in a two-day retreat in which they build their connections to God. This year, they’ve added an extra day.

“There are two circles that happen. There’s the Universal Dances of Peace circle. You’re going around in a circle and you’re doing movement. You’re connecting with others, and by looking into their eyes and seeing the divine in them, you’re seeing the divine in yourself,” Levy said.

The second part is the Zikr, also a circle dance, which involves chanting.

“It nourishes my spirit,” Levy said. “These are not academic studies, they’re experiences.

I feel happier when I do these. I bring that back with me to work.” This year’s retreat will start with the Dances of Universal Peace Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Kapa‘a Middle School gymnasium. The actual three-day retreat will follow on Jan. 20-22.

Pir Shabda Kahn, spiritual director of the Sufi Ruhaniat International Society, will be back again this year to preside over the retreat.

Gabriela Taylor of Kapa‘a, like Levy, attends the Sufi retreat every year.

“What attracted me was the joy of celebration, the celebration of the divine,” she said. “It’s not ‘hellfire and damnation.’ It’s the teaching that God is loving and all-embracing.” Participants of the dances represent different religions. Sufi is not religion-specific, Taylor explained. Participants can come from any belief.

“The retreat will be mostly silent, but with the repeating of some mantras,” Taylor said.

For more information on the retreat or to register, contact Levy at 822-5488.

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