As a historical tradition Sufism has displayed the rare capacity to harmoniously reconcile diverse cultural and religious paradigms without recourse to compulsion or reductionism. Sufism shows that spiritual unity is not uniformity. Today when globalization is squeezing the world into an airtight grid of commerce and consumption,Sufism possesses crucial clues for the creation of a world civilization worthy of the name.
Video of the following talk: http://www.suficonference.org/2008VIDEO-PZIKahn_TALK.html
Toward the One, the perfection of love, harmony, and beauty. The only Being united with all the illuminated souls, who form the embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Good Morning. I’d like to begin with a note of deep appreciation to Sheikh Llewellyn, and Cleary, the golden sufis, the organizers of this remarkable gathering, for welcoming us here, creating this sacred space And, I appreciate the presence of each one of you who has come to create what is taking place in our midst now. Yesterday, Imam Bilal said something that has continued to resonate with me. He said, we must ask ourselves, from time to time, some questions:
- Where am I in my journey on the spiritual path?
- Where have I been?
- Where am I now, and in which direction am I going?
These seem to me such vital questions. And the question itself is more important, perhaps, than any answer. To keep the question alive, to keep inquiring, to keep looking, witnessing, experiencing. This is crucial for all of us, not to fall asleep on the journey, but rather as Christ said on the eve of the crucifixion:
Stay awake with me,
Stay awake with me.
And these questions are important to us, not only as individuals but also collectively. These are questions for our species to ask itself.
Where have we been? How far have we come and where are we now?
What is the situation on Earth?
And what is the path forward?
If we do not ask these questions, we drift unconsciously, randomly. Yes, grace still reaches us.But we have lost the opportunity to participate consciously, and purposefully in the destiny of the planet. And is there any other reason for us to have incarnated in the first place? Did we incarnate to make a collection of pleasant objects to experience entertainment to pass our time? No.
We came with a driving force that propelled us into embodiment out of the throngs of angels surging, thronging for the opportunity to descend here to the frontier of the divine self-disclosure, participate on the crest of the wave of God‘s self-discovery, to take part in the awakening of the very fabric of the earth.
Where are we on our spiritual path as a species? When we look around the world today we see much that is amiss. As a nation, we have been at war for years now. As a nation, we are deep in debt. We are seeing the signs of living beyond our means, of getting out of balance. We are in debt to other nations. We are in debt to other species. We are even in debt now to future generations. The whole earth is in a fever; temperature is rising. The effects of our over-consumption, the acceleration of our society out of control
Our insatiable hunger is despoiling the planet. And we are anxious and afraid, living under the shadow of acts of terror, weapons of mass destruction, weapons now capable of destroying the whole race, the whole ecosystem of life. The stakes are rising. History is speeding up, and yet we’re drifting, and yet we do not ask the basic questions: Where are we in our path and where are we going? Now amidst all of the portents of danger there are also the most remarkable signs of hope.
We have come a long way. Civil rights, democracy, an egalitarian society in which each human being is respected, recognized as equal under the law. A world in which we are discovering cultures so different to our own. And yet, which carry in their depths, the same truths of the human experience, uniting us in the awareness that humanity is one field of the divine experience. That we are united in our common odyssey, the planetary perspective symbolized in the image of Planet Earth from space, an image that truly represents the myth of our time.
There is tremendous possibility, tremendous blessing, and opportunity in our midst. And there is an awakening As recalcitrant and rigid as the forces of the old order, the forces of strife, competition, and ruthless exploitation of the earth The power of these forces pale in comparison to the creativity, the inspiration, the passion that is beginning to well up and it wells up in response to a cry It wells up in response to the depths of despair that are the symptom of our forgetfulness, our fragmentation, our alienation. It is as if the anima mundi itself cries out.
The prophets have heard this cry over the ages. The prophet Zoroaster lived in a time when the gentle pastoral society was overrun by marauding cattle raiders and Zoroaster spoke for the whole conscience of his community when he turned toward the one to search for a response that was not a response of mere reactivity, mere acquiescence to the logic of violence and competition but a response from a deeper place.
He waded in the river and beheld a dazzling vision that became the first of a series of revelations. And he had a vision in which the soul of the earth appeared to his prophetic imagination in the form of a cow, the cow representing the earth cried out:
I am aggrieved. I am set upon with violence.
He heard the cry of the earth, and this is the cry that every prophet has heard. And the prophet resonates so acutely with that cry that the cry reverberates and stirs the very depths of creation. Creation is born of loving kindness, compassionate love, and when that depth is stirred it cannot but respond with a disclosure of the divine compassion, with a disclosure of guidance and the prophet becomes the conduit of this quality of being that the prophet must then translate into words and forms that people can hear and come together around.
It is the legacy of the prophets that is our greatest inheritance, but all too often we have clung to the outer form of such a legacy, made an idol of it, and prided ourselves for our attachment to this tribal identity, this religious ideology rather than another one, and in so doing we have missed the whole import of the prophetic legacy.
The prophetic legacy is one single lineage that spans the globe. It cannot be torn apart and divided asunder. That is a tragedy, and what is so awesome is to live in such a time when we can see the earth as one, when we can access the heritage of all the world’s divinely revealed traditions, recognize the unity of those traditions, and recognize that the same divine guidance that inflamed each prophetic dispensation is available to us today, and is the source that we need.
The problems that we have created cannot be resolved by means of the mentality that has created those same problems. We need to excavate a deeper, vaster, fuller source of guidance, a source of guidance that collects, synthesizes, and integrates the profoundest sacred visions of the whole experience of humanity’s evolution.
There was a visionary saint of the 12th century, a sufi named Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi who felt the urgency, the necessity of this impulse, the impulse to unify the streams of wisdom, Sheikh Shihab al-Din Yahya Suhrawardi . He drew inspiration from Egypt, from Greece, from Persia, and he was deeply inspired by the revelation of the islamic message, the Koran. He wrote these words in the prologue to his magnum opus, the Hikmat al-Ishraq, the Wisdom of Illumination
In every seeking soul there is a portion, be it small or great, of the Light of God. Everyone who strives has intuition, be it perfect or imperfect. Knowledge did not end with one people so that the doors of heaven are shut behind them and the rest of the world is denied the possibility of obtaining more, rather the giver of knowledge who stands at the clear horizon is not stingy with the unseen.The most evil age is the one in which the carpet of striving has been rolled up in which the movement of thought is interrupted, the door of revelations bolted, the path of visions blocked.
Suhrawardi is quoting here from the Koran… God, the divine Being, is not stingy with the unseen. That should be our motto.
- Can we trace the orgins of Sufism….? (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- The One Mysticism by Sufi Master Hazrat Inayat Khan (mycaravanofdreams.com)