Resurrection of Life: New Course Available for Download

Resurrection of Life: Easter with the Aramaic Jesus

This recording of a retreat which took place in Northern California over the Easter weekend of 2014 has three main themes. The first one is the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus (‘Lord’s Prayer’). The second theme covers Neil’s recent in-depth study of the Gospel of John, and the third theme is that of ‘Jesus and the Sufis’ – this refers to the interface between early Syriac and Arabic Christianity, and Islam; both similarities and differences.

Listen to meditations, chants and Dances of Universal Peace using the words of Jesus to experience his timeless wisdom. Hear Neil’s teachings about the Last Supper, the importance of both light and the breath to Jesus, the link between Jesus and Holy Wisdom, and theories surrounding what really happened at the time of the resurrection.

13 tracks – over 14 hours in total $15.

Available here:

http://abwoon.org/downloads/resurrection-of-life-workshop/

Dances of Innocence, Dances of Experience

(The following article was written for the Dances of Universal Peace International Newsletter for its “Elements of Mastery” series.–Neil)

 

When we talk about mastering the Dances of Universal Peace, we might assume that our beautiful practice is like a door we wish to enter and that we simply need to find which keys fit. Perhaps that’s true when we begin to learn the original Dances of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, which hold a great deal of his direct transmission and baraka. But Murshid really left us an “unfinished symphony.” The Dances have changed and evolved over the past 45 years. As they change, they prompt further change in us. Looking back as well as ahead might help us see more clearly the challenges and opportunities we face today.

“What must remain is the sacred phrase….” Given Murshid Samuel Lewis’s expression of the centerpoint, the number of phrases exploded rapidly in the first ten years.  The original Dances mainly represented the Sufi and Hindu traditions, although Murshid clearly planned for more but did not complete them (for instance, a sketch for the “Moon Dance of Goddess Isis,” which appears in his writings). In the first decade, we saw new Dances birthed representing the Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Sikh, Hebrew, and Christian (Aramaic and Greek) traditions with some tentative attempts to honor native traditions.

These new outer doorways, however, opened new inner worlds. Concentrating on an unknown sacred phrase requires one to confront the depths of oneself in a new way. Each “tradition” carries a bundle of impressions, full of both light and shadow. When a person has the courage to ask, “use us for the purpose that Thy wisdom chooses,” this necessarily includes the willingness to face what might arise within oneself from the reflection of that part of humanity in the soul’s mirror. Chants that go deep require more than words, music and movements. They evoke a feeling-attunement, a type of channeling that can be the equivalent of the shamanic journeying of pre-religious cultures. This why we always experience long-lasting mantric Dances more strongly when led by the originator, or someone who has danced frequently with her/him. The inner pathway that the Dance creates is like a vapor trail in the unseen; the words, music and movements are like the Zen “finger pointing to the moon.”

When one approaches a phrase from the ancient world, one that has no living religious tradition, one can be opening a proverbial Pandora’s box. It is much easier to sing a pleasant English song that appeals to the emotions, for instance, than look Hathor in the eye. One can find oneself needing to literally “heal” an archetype before it is redeemed and shared. C.G. Jung wrote about his experience of this process:

If the archetype, which is universal, i.e., identical with itself always and anywhere, is properly dealt with in one place only, it is influenced as a whole, i.e., simultaneously and everywhere. Thus an old alchemist gave the following consolation to one of his disciples: ‘No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.’ It seems to me that nothing essential has ever been lost, because its matrix is ever present with us and from this it can and will be reproduced if needed. But those who can recover it have learned the art of averting their eyes from the blinding light of current opinions and close their ears to the noise of ephemeral slogans.”

–From Miguel Serrano, C.G. Jung and Hermann Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships.

There is a reason, for instance, why no one has wanted to take up the Norse-Scandinavian god/goddess tradition, given its history of misuse by National Socialists in the 20th century. Yet this, and similar work remains to be done, if we have the courage to undertake it.

Likewise we have discovered that when a native tradition feels itself oppressed and colonized, it can see someone outside the lineage chanting its phrases as just another manifestation of cultural theft. “First liberate us, then we’ll hold hands in the same circle you do.” Most Dancers may not understand how their “universalism” can be seen as oppressive, yet it’s something to which we need to be sensitive.

Looking back, expanding the range of chants and traditions also required that we widen the range of movements and genres of music used. In Dances that penetrate deeply into the psyche, the movements are not mere decorations layered over pleasing music. They articulate the feeling of the sacred phrase in a powerful, non-verbal way. This required Dance leaders (who dared) to go deeply into their own body awareness and discover the roots of holding, rigidity, presence and absence that prevent them from responding authentically to the transformational effect of a phrase. What is an authentically free movement? Similarly, new types of music helped us express new depths of feeling inherent in sacred phrases. The overall effect can accomplish a type of psychic surgery in one’s soul. We can go still further in this direction.

We also learned that merely adding more fast breathing and quick energy did not always cause lasting change, at least not for the better. If dancers wish to skate on the surface, experiencing only the “buzz” or “high” of a new Dance, then they might miss the opportunity to allow the surgery to work. The self of habit (which the Sufis call the nafs) can quickly adapt to any new experience without change. “Wherever you go, there you are.” For years, people fled the Dances to join Sufi zikr groups, often because they didn’t want to feel the prodding to look at the variety of their inner world, the foibles and fables that make us who we think we are. Zikr, like a “pure wine” washes all of that variety away and can allow us to see ourselves more objectively, from the point of view of Unity. But zikr, too, can be experienced as only a surface “high.” And in all cases the self returns, waiting to be dealt with. Somehow or other our soul-force wants to witness more of life’s perfection—the so-called divine attributes—in all of our desires, needs, celebrations and complaints. Alternatively, the self can divert itself chasing the rainbow outside in new forms of addictive activity.

The growth of the Dances from less than 25 to more than a thousand may seem uncontrolled. No doubt, some Dances stay for a season then disappear like flowers that don’t self-seed. But where Dances remain they have arisen in response to specific cries from the soul of humanity. The early Dances channelled baraka and life energy; they addressed a real need for Murshid S.A.M.’s early circles to explore the inner life with love, power and effervescence in community–“joy without drugs.”

Like the process I described above—turning from outer variety to inner—the next generation of Dances began to touch very human, everyday life experiences. Not the ‘peak’ experiences but the the ‘trough’ ones:  grieving, feeling confused and acknowledging parts of one’s subconscious that had been neglected. As we expanded beyond the circles that birthed the Dances and Walks, we began to engage those in therapy, halfway houses, addiction programs, and a variety of gender, sexual equality and protest movements. And in fact, many of us were them or became them.

We also expanded outwardly to different countries. The Dances brought us together in a type of “spiritual Esperanto”—a shared feeling-language beyond our usual languages and cultures. That created (and creates) a burst of life energy when one leads them in a new country. But again, paralleling the “settling” process I described above, in the next phase we began (or  in some cases, are beginning) to acknowledge the very real differences in various cultures and the unique gifts and burdens that each carries in its “group nafs.” In this phase, we must leave behind the inner (and perhaps unconscious) identification as a universalist missionary and be present to see the very real and often nitty-gritty needs we face when we are away from home. Perhaps it’s better to help one group or a few in which one invests time in learning the language and culture, than hop from country to country gleaning adulation and new highs. Better the slow organic compost than the quick, inorganic growth stimulant.

What about looking ahead a bit? How does the future call to us now? What challenges face us as we seek to keep the Dances living rather than as a parody of their past?

The early Dances featured the simple, acoustic folk music of the 1970s and the people that gathered in person to celebrate it. That era has passed, and we are challenged by a culture that values highly-processed, digitized music, largely manufactured by media combines and shared virtually. One finds hope in the indie and world music scenes, which keep the vitality and creativity of live music vibrant. Can we stop imitating or cloning Dances that worked in the past and genuinely allow new forms of music to transmit the living essence of sacred phrases today? Even zikr can become a form of ‘creative anachronism,’ a sterile performance art, if we don’t allow real feeling now to take us in new directions of the soul. Authentic feeling always communicates, heart to heart and soul to soul, as Hazrat Inayat Khan says.

Equally challenging is the increasing phobia to simple touch in Western culture. This is inculcated into everyone for fear of being labelled ‘abusive.’ No doubt, decades of real physical abuse have been covered up, especially on the part of celebrity and authority figures (both popular and spiritual). However, this does not negate the need of human beings to learn simple, compassionate touch–not pushing or pulling, not taking from a person more than they want to give nor giving them more than they want to receive. The Dances have a great potential for teaching this type of somatic hygiene, if we can create the conditions where people feel safe to simply join hands. The 20th century psychologist Wilhelm Reich noted in the 1930s that totalitarian governments assert their authority first by discouraging or prohibiting people from reaching out and connecting—physically—with one another. Text-to-text does not carry the power of body-to-body.  Repeatedly, recent research shows that the younger generation is taking fewer drugs (mind-altering or otherwise), having less sex, feeling more depressed and doing more self-harming than any previous one. All of this reflects an ever-increasing emphasis on virtual rather than in-person, embodied life.

Paralleling this, world interfaith movements in much of the world have become increasingly ‘balkanized,’ for want of a better word. Instead of being willing to eat and pray (much less dance) with one another, interfaith representatives appear on panels representing fixed positions that attempt to exaggerate differences rather than find common ground. This belies the fact that in the real world, there are multiple Buddhisms, Christianities, Islams, etc. And on the grassroots level, as Hazrat Inayat Khan noted trenchantly, every person is really his or her own religion. One poll showed that slightly less than half of the people in the US feel that organized religion is a big problem in the world, and the other half feel that their own organized religion is the only way. Where I live in the UK, and in Western Europe in general, there are now many more people who identify with ‘none of the above’ than with any named religious or spiritual tradition. Can we begin to contemplate something like ‘secular spirituality’ in any sense of real depth rather than intellectual lip service? Without being a caricature, what would a secular spiritual Dance look (sound or feel) like?

Likewise, even within our ‘home’ tradition of Sufism, we find a much greater variety in the world today. We enjoy and celebrate our flavor of universal Sufism. Yet not every Sufi in the world is a universalist, Rumi-loving, pacifist. Some genuine mystics, like the Christian liberation theologians of South America, must live under intense cultural and political oppression. They need to go deep in one well rather than dig many. For instance, a Middle Eastern Sufi sheikh in exile might be holding together a community’s whole culture and manner in the hope of returning home when the influence of Islamism wains. Other Sufis (for instance in Bangladesh) have formed political parties, which disagree greatly with one another. Others are involved in armed liberation movements of one sort or another (as are Aramaic Christians in northern Iraq). It’s safe to say that not all Sufis are mystics, not all mystics are Sufis and many genuine mystics—of any label—may not feel they have the luxury to outwardly proclaim universalism. A Westerner trying to force-feed it to them may not understand that for the potential recipient it comes with baggage ranging from McDonalds to the World Bank. And that can be life-threatening, depending on where one lives.

All these current trends challenge our usual way of ‘doing’ the Dances of Universal Peace. What opportunities does the world today present?

Well, the digital era not only takes away, the digital era gives. Without the advent of email about thirty years ago, we could never have built the international Dance Network. The new tools have allowed us to make recordings, videos and descriptions of the Dances available much more widely and much quicker than ever before. The new tools also allow people to connect with one another more easily or to find a Dance circle.

On a deeper level, the development of the internet itself only expresses humanity’s nascent desire to feel globally, to recognize suffering on the other side of the world and to realize that we live in one, interconnected ecosystem called the earth. Can we allow these real concerns, which reach beyond and beneath established ‘religions,’ to begin to shape new types of Dances and Walks? Can these practices assist human souls to find authentic journeys of return that do not merely focus on outer conditions, but help transform their inner experiences into realization? Are we prepared to be channels for Dances that redeem the inner ecology,  that evoke the “zero-point field” or that celebrate the cellular membrane (see epigenetics)?

This is not simply a matter of making up new English phrases that offer humanist ideology in honey-coated music and movements. That’s already been tried and found lacking. As I indicated, many old mantric phrases wait to be explore, redeemed and shared. But we can also use established phrases with new attunements (for instance, traditional Sufi zikr is being used with an ecological attunement in Islamic boarding schools throughout Indonesia). Are we willing to, as Joe Miller used to say, really feel without sentimentality? That would call for something akin to Murshid Samuel Lewis’s practice, which originally helped spark the Dances:

“When I saw 600,000 homeless in Karachi, I went almost mad (or maybe it was becoming sane)—what to do! The events leading to  mass hysteria and migrations still go on and will go on, undisturbed by any and all political philosophies or whomsoever. An editorial never saved anybody’s life, and editorials have led to wars and massacres.” (September 26, 1962, Sufi Vision and Initiation, p. 313.)

Imagine that Murshid lived before instant, global news feeds via the internet. Now we are exposed to similar suffering on our screens every day, and blogs and tweets one-a-penny. What would he do? More importantly, what do we do, or more accurately, what is ours to do? Instead of “joy without drugs,” perhaps what we need today from the Dances is “hope and courage without sedatives.” An alternative response would be to mouse-click and change the page, but that weakens our concentration and quickly erodes our ability to stay with one feeling longer.

We can easily become side-tracked in either idealism or despair. By outer conditions, which sometimes seem dire, or by the inner world, which offers a lifetime of psychological (pre)occupation. Perhaps the ability to hold all these opposites in our hearts a bit longer, breathing “Toward the One,” would free up some hidden life energy that is currently tied up in pushing one or the other extreme away.

We can be comforted (mildly) that this is simply the human condition. For instance, William Blake, the 18th century English visionary poet, embraced both sides of life and expressed it creatively in verse. In “Songs of Innocence (1789),” Blake writes tender, idealistic lines like:

Little lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Gave thee life & bid thee feed

By the stream and o’er the mead….

 And:

All must love the human form

In heathen, turk or jew.

Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.

In his “Songs of Experience,” he changes his tune:

Cruelty has a Human Heart

And Jealousy a Human Face

Terror, the Human Form Divine

And Secrecy the Human Dress.

And:

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

When the stars threw down their spears

And water’d heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the lamb make thee?

            Can we face the world as it is and respond creatively, with what is truly ours to do? The Dances have helped millions of people, but lives changed are not measured on any economic or social network index. Might not a healthy goal be to help a few people and help ourselves at the same time, avoiding both grandiosity and self-abasement?

Can we move with both our dances of innocence and our dances of experience? If we can, while smiling at and in the world, then perhaps we can begin to talk about mastering the Dances of Universal Peace.

–Neil Douglas-Klotz, September 2015

 

 

 

 

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

ssicover

 

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