Turkey Is Beckoning: An Interview with Phil Cousineau

In this interview, Phil Cousineau describes Turkey’s great appeal to the spiritual traveller, the importance of Rumi and Sufism as well as Phil’s own favourite places in this rich, ancient land. You can join Phil in Turkey this October 10 – 22, 2014 on our: “Sacred Journey to Turkey with Phil Cousineau: Long Conversations in the Land of Troy, Rumi and the Goddess”.
KB: What is it that particularly appeals to you about Turkey as a destination?

Phil Cousineau: Turkey is the great crossroads between East and West, a place like no other. There is a distinct Oriental flavor to Istanbul and also all over Eastern Turkey. Western Turkey is ancient Anatolia, essentially Eastern Greece for centuries. Sites like Hisarlik, ancient Troy, are crucial for understanding the very roots of Western civilization, art, drama, even opera. Besides the food is fresh, affordable, plentiful, and Turkey, especially in the fall when we will be there, will be among the least crowded corners in Europe.

KB: What place or site are you most excited about taking participants to visit on this sacred journey to Turkey?

PC: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Troy, which I read about as a boy, Ephesus, the most intact ancient city, thanks to the German archaeologists, the ports along the south, Catal Huyuk, the ruins of the oldest known city, and Konya, where we will visit the tomb of the Shakespeare of the East, as Mevlana Rumi is known.

KB: This journey is built around “long conversations” – what is it about Turkey as a destination (and this particular journey) that lends itself so well to conversation, pilgrimage and exploring the concept of spiritual/sacred travel?
PC: Over thirty years of leading tours and workshops I have found that it is in these Long Conversations where the real meaning of our travels finally emerges. These journeys are not just about viewing things, which can be voyeuristic, but in experiencing the world – and then reflecting about the experiences. The casual pace of travel around Turkey, the immense depths of history, such as knowing we will visit three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, are so provocative they call out to us to be more contemplative.

KB: What can participants expect from this journey to Turkey that they wouldn’t find elsewhere?

PC: Time, contemplation, local speakers, friends for a lifetime.

KB: Sufism and Rumi also strongly feature in this journey: Do participants need any prior knowledge of the works of Rumi or of Sufism? Will those who are very new to Turkish culture find this journey “accessible”?

PC: I highly recommend that our participants read some Rumi before they leave, or see a documentary film about him. Not doing so would be like going to England and not knowing a thing about Shakespeare. Rumi is omnipresent in Turkey, his face on the money, his presence in music, on the stage, in movies, and he is a huge source of pride to those who live there. It’s a gesture of respect.

KB: Is there anything else you would like to tell me about this journey to Turkey?

PC: Remember what Rumi wrote 750 years ago: “What you seek is seeking you.” In some mysterious way these great lands and cultures are seeking travelers like you to make them come alive again.

Read more about this enticing journey to Turkey with Phil Cousineau and Sacred Earth Journeys here.

~ Kim Bridgett