Estate Planning and Abwoon Resource Center

by the Rev. Sherron Corneen

Columbus, Ohio, USA

 

Dear Friends,

I believe that Neil Douglas-Klotz’s work is very important. It has been life-changing for me and has the potential to be life-changing for many others. Chances are, Neil’s work and teachings have similarly impacted your life as well. You can help make make his work available for generations to come, even after we have transitioned to a new place in the caravan! We have the power now to leave a legacy for future seekers on the spiritual path. Neil’s unique contribution that has meant much to many already, can be gifted and available into the future.

You might think that leaving a legacy is only for the wealthy, but everyone has an estate. Even you. Even me. Please consider sharing the richness you have experienced as a result of Neil’s inspiration, teaching, and dedication. The process of doing this is called estate planning or planned giving.

I recently updated my will. I included a provision for a percentage of what I leave behind to go toward the perpetuation of Neil’s life work. I hope it will be a lot of money, but in reality it may not be exceptional. No matter what it will be, it warms my heart and brings me joy to know I have helped pass on what has meant so much to me.

To help you pass on your values, I want to share how I did it. First, I asked around and found a lawyer who seemed trustworthy, knowledgeable, and reasonably priced. Some kind of consultation with a professional advisor is good. Be sure to use the correct language when professing your intention. The laws and rules for charitable giving differ from place to place, country to country. It is important to make sure your activism accomplishes your wishes. I contacted Neil about my intention and here is the wording I put into my will. This was corrected by my lawyer to comply with the state of Ohio, USA, where I live. I am part owner of some real estate in the province of Ontario, Canada, and the wording in that will is a bit different as it complies with different regulations:

“I direct that all the rest of my real and personal property of whatever kind, including gifts that fail through lapse or otherwise, be distributed as follows:

1. Xx percent (xx%) of the residue to the Shalem Institute, located in Worthington Ohio, or its successor, to be used for the benefit of the Abwoon Resource Center in support of outreach, publishing and furtherance of the Aramaic Jesus and Native-Middle Eastern peace-making service work begun by Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz. In the event the Abwoon Resource Center is no longer in existence, then this gift is to be given to the Edinburgh International Centre For Spirituality and Peace, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, to be used for the support of outreach, publishing and furtherance of the Aramaic Jesus and Native-Middle Eastern peace-making service work begun by Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz.”

Of course, I put a percent in the document.

If I can help you in any way, feel free to call me at 614-600-7800.

May Sacred Unity bless you and grant you peace,

Sherron Courneen

Stories from the Circle: The Aramaic Jesus in War-torn Bosnia

(This is the fourth in an ongoing series of stories featuring people worldwide who are sharing Neil Douglas-Klotz’s Aramaic Jesus and Desert Wisdom-related work. Our newest profile spotlights Murshida Sophia Gita Onnen, a long-time dance leader and founder of the German network for the Dances.  Editor’s note: If you are offering Neil’s work as part of your dance outreach, please contact Sharon at Nurjehan3@att.net.  We’d love to feature your story in this space.)

 

It was 1989 and Sophia Gita Onnen didn’t know what had just happened.  She had traveled to Switzerland to participate in a Dances of Universal Peace (DUP) retreat with Neil Douglas-Klotz and Kamas A Miller.   This was her first DUP experience.   Just a few short hours after arriving, Sophia found herself in a dance circle chanting the Aramaic words of Jesus for the first time in her life.

“And without knowing anything about any of this,” she recalls,   “I was touched to the Gita_09_Lanzarote_90 copydepths of my being by the sound, the vibration, breathing, the singing and the dancing.”

Sophia knew instinctively that she had come home to her soul – a common experience for individuals who dance and chant the words of Yeshua in his indigenous language for the first time. Without knowing the message behind the words, their vibration nevertheless tunes and refines the soul.

By the next year, 1990, Sophia had immersed herself in the Aramaic. Happily, like the countless other Aramaic newbies around te world, she also now had a visual “take-away,” from dance retreats she could go to at any time for spiritual nourishment.

Neil’s first book, Prayers of the Cosmos, the Aramaic renderings of The Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes, had just been published. It quickly became her constant companion.

pocorigsmallThe book’s cover – Robert Lentz’s “Christ of the Desert,” –worked as an excellent spiritual practice.  (Lentz’s icon appeared on the original cover of the book.)   When Sophia would icon-gaze — stare with soft eyes into the luminous eyes of this dark-skinned Middle Eastern Yeshua — she recalls,  “I felt that the Aramaic Jesus on the book was giving me the message, ‘you are blessed, just the way you are. ‘ From then onwards, no matter what her mood might be on any given day, “this was ‘home’ to me.”

For past 20 years, Sophia has been bringing that same  “blessed home” energy to a total of more than 500 traumatized refugee women –women arriving in small groups to become part of her dance circles twice a year in Tuzla, Bosnia.

The women are victims of the 1992-1995 Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict. Since 1996, Sophia has combined her Gestalt therapy training with the Aramaic and Sufi Soulwork to bring healing to these hurting individuals.  Many of them lived through a massacre in Srbrenica, a town where their husbands and sons were shot to death and buried in mass graves; it was a place of horror, where their daughters were confined to rape camps. Incredibly, during those short three years, an estimated 50,000-60,000 women were held in rape camps by Bosnian Serb forces.

According to History.com, the Bosnian war is considered to be the worst act of genocide since the Nazi regime’s   destruction of more than six million Jews. The ethnic genocidal massacre claimed the lives of 100,000 people, 80 percent of them Muslim.

Sophia started working with survivors after learning of their plight from her Swiss dance mureed Maria Muller.  Maria had been asked to bring the dances to Bosnia by the Swiss charity AMICA CH.  “Maria invited me to join her because she felt that my background as a Gestalt therapist would be helpful in working with these women.”

When the two arrived, they discovered a group of women “traumatized and desperate.  They didn’t want to live,” said Sophia.  Ever so slowly and gently,  she and Maria offered up their dance-medicine, “breath by breath, step by step.”

“As they were Muslims, we mostly used Arabic songs and dances.”  Little by little, the healing began working its spiritual magic. The two women next introduced the Aramaic Prayer and the Beatitudes, again witnessing the healing power of Yeshua’s teachings.

Gita Sophia and friends from Bosnia and England

Gita Sophia and friends from Bosnia and England

In Sophia’s words, “The first Beatitude ‘Alaha Ruhau,’—God is Breath/Spirit and the second, ‘Healed are those in emotional turmoil, wandering…they shall be united inside in love — helped to offer them the encouragement to keep doing, to start all over again, breath by breath, step by step. It was this unconditional love and the compassion that they needed very much.”

Sophia adds that the women’s willingness to sing and dance in the original mother tongue of Jesus “was great for them.  To feel the oneness of body, heart and soul – to view Jesus as psychotherapist was a truly cosmic approach. It felt to them like coming home, to themselves, their bodies, to earth, to the here and now of their lives, joyful, in community.”

The third phase of the dance retreats have involved introducing Neil’s dances honoring the DivineMother/Father of the Cosmos. “Through them, the women’s  horizons opened and widened to the concepts of living on a Sacred Earth and being sacred themselves.”

As a result of these retreats,  there are now several dance meetings in Bosnia as well as trainings, lead by Sophia’s students there.

Sophia’s Bosnian work is just one part of her extensive involvement with the Aramaic dances. Since attending her first dance retreat in 1989, Sophia Gita Onnen has plunged into the Dances of Universal Peace wholeheartedly, even to the extent of abandoning her career.

“The dances got me deeply,” she said.  She left her therapy practice in 1990 and traveled to Lama Foundation to be a part of Neil’s retreats. Lama was the first of many she attended during the following year. She stayed with dance community members in New Mexico, California and Missouri. Between retreats and dance meetings, she began translating Prayers of the Cosmos into German (which was subsequently published by Knauer Verlag).

Back in Germany in 1991, Sophia resumed her therapy work only to give it up again. When the German edition of Neil’s book came out, invitations began coming for her to teach the Aramaic. The calls would take her all over Germany, as well as Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Russia. The rest is history.

She has never looked back.  And now, here is where her path has brought her: She has served as the director of the Ruhaniat European Summer School in Germany, as an initiator in the Dervish Healing Order, as a spiritual guide to many mureeds and as a danceSaadi&Gita909 copy mentor.

“I have so much gratitude to Saadi for being my friend and guide for the past 26 years.”

But there is a sense of déjà vu for Sophia, as she reads the daily news reporting on thousands of refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, the Balkans and African who are entering Europe seeking new homes. “They are like the Bosnian women and children, arriving with simply their breath and the hope to be welcomed and to receive help for beginning new lives.”

She reflects, “Life goes on and there is so much to do.”

Murder at Armageddon: The Volatile First Century in the Holy Land

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“The scribe Shemuel ben Yahayye sat down heavily in the dust, hearing a waterfall that didn’t exist….”

 

Over the 25 years that I have been talking with people about the Aramaic Jesus, I am often asked questions about the life and culture of Yeshua’s listeners.

As I investigated this, I became increasingly intrigued with the history and ecology of the time and place called by many the “Holy Land.”

If anything, what I found was decidedly un-holy.

On one level, I found many similarities with life today: an enormous disparity between rich and poor, many people taxed into destitution, corrupt officials and bureaucracies, great empires clashing over trade routes and spheres of influence, networks of spies and bandits, other-worldly visionaries, renegade scribes (like our computer experts), and underground revolutionary and terrorist cells.

Stepping back further, I found enormous forces rising from underneath people: two gigantic tectonic plates pushing together, forming a “great rift valley” that creates earthquakes and unusual ecological features. For one thing, enormous aquifers—huge underground lakes—formed under the area now called the West Bank. In ancient times, and even more so today, water can become as valuable as gold. And well worth going to war over.

The ecosystem at Jesus’ time was very diverse, much more so than today. Far from being a desert, a large part of Galilee was a wetland, complete with lions and wild animals no longer there. In the early 2000s two other colleagues and I visited many of the natural areas that Jesus walked, surveying the remnants of the ecology and natural world that he and his listeners would have experienced. Almost all of Yeshua’s teaching occurred in nature, not within four walls.

As I described what I had found to various audiences over the years, I pondered the best way to communicate it. Scholars clash over their interpretation of much of the archeology and anthropology of Roman Palestine in first century CE. Some of the best known scholars of the “historical Jesus” seem to reap a bonus from their publishers and the media for keeping the whole story as safe as possible, that is, fitting within a scenario that doesn’t threaten Western Christianity’s side of the story, with clear (and imaginary) demarcations between “Christians” and “Jews.” At the same time, I found other scholars who were not afraid to tell a different story: one of a volatile time and place, with many diverse groups clashing over how best to rid themselves of an oppressive empire and its collaborators.

Perhaps using fiction was a way to engage people. As I began to tell more Sufi and other teaching stories in my seminars, I enjoyed the experience of spinning a yarn. I also enjoy reading historical fiction and mystery novels in my spare time. Think Tony Hillerman or Rex Stout in first century Roman Palestine. So another story gradually began to form in my subconscious:

A murder at Megiddo, an ancient pagan site later reputed to be the site of the apocalyptic Armageddon at the end of time. A group of revolutionary scribes. A fictional back story for Judas Thomas, the reputed author of the Gospel of Thomas (and other gnostic Thomas books), as well as for Ioannis-Yehohanan, the reputed author of the Gospel of John. Plus: an extended family influenced by ancient matriarchal pagan culture that saw itself as the savior of the Israelite people.

The first novel, part one of a planned series, is now finished, and you can read about it (and even order it) here:

www.tinyurl.com/armageddonmurder

If you’re in North America, this is the best place to order the book (at least for me). If you live elsewhere, just go to one of the international Amazon sites, where you will shortly also be able to find the Kindle ebook version.

I wrote A Murder at Armageddon under a penname, so that no one should be in any doubt that this is work of fiction. Having said that, it is as accurate as I could make it to the life and times of the volatile first century in the Holy Land.

I hope you enjoy it….it makes a good summer read, if I do say so myself!

Neil

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A Murder at Armageddon: A Judas Thomas Mystery (The Judas Thomas Mysteries Book 1)


 

Chants, Meditations, Teachings, Stories–New Index to Audio Online Now

Dear Friends,

An amazing new resource went online today in the Library section: an index with live links to audio of some the major chants, meditations, teachings and stories that I have shared in seminars over the past five years.

This volunteer project was accomplished  by Jannat Granger in the UK, assisted by our own webmaster Chris Granger. The current index includes the three retreats currently available for sale in the online store (Green Sufism, Aramaic Jesus and the Sufis and Way of Renewal: Healing Pathways of the Heart) as well as the class on  healthy boundaries and self-protection I led in 2014 at our Ruhaniat European Summer School (Walking Our Path with Strength and Peace).

There are free live links to the audio in the Summer School class. Just click and listen, or download.

The links to the three classes in the online store take you to the page for that e-course, each of which also now features a contents list for the workshop. We have reduced the cost for all three courses today by $10, so each is now only $15. Three for less than the price of two.

The plan is to add more free and paid content to the index in the next few months. Stay tuned….

To find the index, go to our Library section here.

All the best,

Neil

New collection of Aramaic Dances from the last decade posted today

Dances of Universal Peace and chants 

related to the I Am audio teaching program

and the book Blessings of the Cosmos

These 20 dances follow the order of the story I tell in the I Am Sounds True program (published in 2011) and include the following in the list below. Most of them came through in past ten years.  In general, I now see the ‘I Am’ Dances in the context of the progressive story of Jesus’ inner transmission to his disciples before he departs, as told in the Gospel of John. I have updated a number of older ‘I Am’ Dances (like Inana Lahma d’Hayye) with new write-ups and alternate movements from what I previously posted. Finally, I have added some Dances to sayings in the book Blessings of the Cosmos (2006).

My thanks to Mary Qahira Richardson and Ellen Bush for the lion’s share of the work drafting and putting together the descriptions of the movements and commissioning and checking the musical notation involved. Others who helped in this work were Jo Jibrila Curz and Munira Elizabeth Reed, whose annual summer Abwoon Dance group ‘test drove’ a number of the descriptions for clarity. Thanks to them all and to the One!

You can find a pdf download (59 pages, in US and A4 size) of the whole file in the Library. If you find these write-ups helpful, please consider making a donation for the upkeep and maintenance of the website via PayPal at: payment@eial.org

–Neil

Inana Lachma d’Hayye (“I am the bread of life,” John 6:35)/

Inana Nuhre d’Alma (“I am the light of the world,” John 8:12)

Ninhar Nuhrakun, Qadem Bney Nasha (“Let your light so shine before men,” Matthew 5:16).

Inana Thara (“I am the door,” John 10:9). Chant followed by Dance

Shelu wa Nethyahb l’khun  (“Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” Matthew 7:7).

Inana Raya Tauba (“I am the good shepherd,” John 10:14).

Ina wa Aby (“I and my father are One,” John 10:30)

Inana Nuhama wa Hayye (“I am the resurrection and the life,” John 11:25).

Shimeny Khaotham (“Set me as a seal,” Song of Songs 8:6, Hebrew)

 Ina d’Tayeb l’Khun ‘Atra / Hayye d’Alma (“I go to prepare a place for you,” John 14:2 / Renewable life energy).

Kyrie / Inana Urha Partner Dance (“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14:6).

 Nahaseh Adam (“Let us create man in our image, after our likeness,” Genesis 1:26).

Abba Abada Haimanuta Alaha (Uniting our own creative ‘works’ with the creating Source, together with grounded trust in Sacred Unity. Key words from John 14:9-12).

Shlama l’ki (Mariam) Shlama (“Ave Maria” in Aramaic, Luke 1:28).

Inana Gepeta wa Aton Shibishta (“I am the vine and you are the branches,” John 15:5).

Det Haboon Had l’Had Aykanna d’Ena Ahebtakoon (“Love one another as I have loved you,” John 15:12).

Alaha Abaru “Become Passersby” (Words from Gospel of Thomas saying verse 42 together with remembrance of Sacred Unity).

Alaha Hedi / Hayye (Sacred Unity, rejoicing, guidance, key words from the Beatitudes in Luke 6:20-26 / Life energy).

Alaha Nyach (Rest and be renewed in the arms of the Holy One! Key words from Matthew 11:28 in the Syriac Aramaic version).

 

 

Postmodern Sufis in the World Today

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Sufism and Social Integration: Connecting Hearts, Crossing Boundaries

Edited by Mohamma H. Faghfoory and Golam Dastagir

Preface by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Published by ABC International Group

 

 

 

Five years ago, a Bangladeshi Sufi scholar working at the University of Toronto wrote to me about a project to report on contemporary Sufis around the world who were involved in social education and action in their communities. In this age of the Internet and an infinitely expanding blogosphere, Dr Dastagir could have easily posted reports online. However, what he wanted to do was to edit an anthology of articles that could be used in universities around the world.

That was a different story. As I knew well from my time in academia (as co-chair of the American Academy of Religion Mysticism Group), most of what passed for academic study of either Sufism or Islam was based on ancient texts, which budding young scholars perused and dissected in order to find some overlooked nugget for either their PhD thesis or for an academic article based on postmodern ‘discourse.’ (The latter philosophy, in case the trend has bypassed you, essentially says that there is no essence to anything except what we say about it.)

Dr Dastagir had a great deal of difficulty finding a publisher for the book. Like academic recognition, funding in this area follows the script that everything must be based on an ancient manuscript, not living experiences. Surely, there are no real Sufis today!

Finally, through enormous perseverance, my friend has published his book, and with an introduction by renowned Sufi scholar (and longtime correspondent of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis) Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr. In his introduction, Dr. Nasr writes:

“Sufism is of the utmost importance in the Islamic world today, where it confronts the challenges of modernism–and now post-modernism–on the one hand, and what has come to be known as fundamentalism on the other, both of which are anti-Sufi while being on a certain level opposed to each other, although in a deeper sense they are two sides of the same coin.”

For the book, I contributed a chapter on Murshid Samuel Lewis, who was fond of quoting the medieval Sufi Al-Ghazali: “Sufism is based on experiences and not on premises.” My chapter (which combined two previous papers I I gave at the American Academy of Religion) is entitled “Languages of Experience: Personal Integration and Social Cohesion in the Work of a Twentieth Century Chishti Sufi.” That’s real academic title for you, but the article, if I do say so, is a) readable and b) actually has something to say (an anomaly for academic articles). For those who think they know everything about Murshid S.A.M., the article helps one understand why he was so keen on Alfred Korzybski’s “General Semantics” school of philosophy/psychology. This is all over Murshid’s letters, which often flummoxes people reading them. The article will tell you why he was so enthused about it, how it all relates to the quote by Al Ghazali above, and why Murshid felt that, if applied rigorously, it would help solve most problems in the world today. I wouldn’t want to hold you to ransom, so both papers are already online in the academic section the Abwoon Network Library.

Some other chapters consider subjects like contemporary Sufism in Bangladesh (where some Sufi groups have formed political parties), Sufism and ‘green Islam’ in Indonesia,  Sufism in contemporary Egypt, Iran and Turkey, and Sufism in response to contemporary global crises. Some of the ariticles are more historical, some more theoretical. All are relevant to living Sufism today, a prophylactic counter-report to the mass media’s lazy stereotyping of ‘normative Islam.’

The book is currently a bit pricey (yes, it’s costed for universities), but should be available in ebook or pdf form shortly:

http://www.amazon.com/Sufism-Social-Integration-Connecting-Boundaries/dp/1567444326/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432231890&sr=8-1&keywords=Sufism+and+Social+Integration

 

Bryn Beorse: In Search of Mystic Balance

Published today in the Mainstream Articles in the Library:

A 1978 interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse in the New Age Journal. We talk about the spiritual path, Hazrat Inayat Khan, psychics, solar energy, ecology and much more. Shamcher has been a great inspiration in my life. He left his body in 1980, but is still with us!

You can find more of his archives here at the site lovingly maintained by Carol Sill: www.shamcher.org  His wonderful, prophetic books are being gradually republished. One of my favorites is This Mysterious Universehttp://www.mysterious-universe.shamcher.com

Body of Bliss, Body of Blessing

Posted today in the Library section (mainstream articles), an article that had been previously unavailable in digital form, but much requested.

Body of Bliss, Body of Blessing:

The Elemental Purification Breaths of Hazrat Inayat Khan and Their Relation

to the New Physiology and Ecology

Published in: Toward the One: A Journal of Unity (produced by the Federation of the Sufi Message); Volume Eight, Spring 2007, pp 29-35. Eugene, OR, USA. A consideration of the breathing practice of Hazrat Inayat Khan in light of current somatics research, holistic health and ecological principles.

Access the article here

Presence and Holy Wisdom – Sacred Sense

Dear Friends,

Here is an hour-long interview with Janet Conner from her show on Unity Radio last week. In it, I offer two body prayers and some commentary on her theme of the month: Sacred Presence. As you might expect, Holy Wisdom – Hokhmah- plays a large role as do the words of Jesus in Aramaic.

http://www.unity.fm/episode/TheSoulDirectedLife_022615

You will also be able to find this interview posted on our Abwoon podcast page in a few days.

All the best,

Neil