Category Archives: News from Neil

Neil Douglas-Klotz

March 25, 2020

These are two selections from the meditation and teaching that I shared in the online Desert Flowers group (https://abwoon.org/desert-flowers/) on March 22, 2020.

The first is a short commentary on the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus for today (13 min):

The second is a longer healing meditation using Aramaic words of Jesus for the four elements (20 min):

To join the Desert Flowers group, please go to the following page on our site:

We are still in the middle of Christian Lent with Passover following a few weeks from now and Ramadan shortly thereafter. These are all traditionally times of going inside more, doing without, changing our behaviour to help benefit others: surrender and resurrection, freeing ourselves from inner and outer Pharaohs (self-constructed fantasies), then receiving a message from Reality that empowers our actions. It is also a time in our culture when selfless leadership distinguishes itself from the “selfie” variety, in all of our institutions. Let’s be part of the former. 

Stay well, stay safe and let your actions match the integrity of your prayer and practice.

Yours in peace,

Neil Douglas-Klotz

Donations for this work gratefully accepted via PayPal to: donations@eial.org

Desert Flowers Special Meeting on Zoom This Sunday: March 22, 5 pm UK time

Dear Friends,

Our thrice-yearly Desert Flowers online group will meet online via Zoom this Sunday, 22 March at 5 pm UK time ( for reference: 10 am North America West Coast time).

I will be sharing a few prayers and practices from the Aramaic Jesus tradition suited for these “virus times.” The group continues to meet, meditate and share over the following two weeks. The one-hour meeting will be recorded, video and audio, and links then posted to the Desert Flowers group.

If you would like to join the Desert Flowers group, please read about it and sign up via the link below:

Desert Flowers

There is no charge; donations are gratefully accepted.

Yours in peace,

Neil

Free webinar on Saturday, 25 January

I am pleased to be sharing an hour webinar online tomorrow with my esteemed mentor Shaykh Fadhalla Haeri, who has been working on a new translation of and commentary on the Qur’an, as well as new friend Issa Baba. The theme is “What does it mean to be a Sufi in the 21st century?” Sponsored by the Beyond Initiative, a project that I very much support.

Register for this webinar at this link for the Virtual event on January 25th, 2020 at 6pm GMT (remember to convert this time to your location).

This webinar will take place on Zoom, so you will need to download this free software on your computer or mobile device. The meeting code is in the poster above. I have been told that the audio at least will be recorded for accessing later.

Yours in peace,

Neil

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/vpQvceGhrT8qSkVSz_oj8uaDvmVO-ZL-nA?fbclid=IwAR1oyWsNP7BCgAWYuOhMfgjWbirAlSINGs766uhfgXkt-63tuxaMEvL7V-0

Gibran’s Little Book of Wisdom Released

Government is an agreement 
between you and me.
You and I are often wrong.

Fife, Scotland: 2 September 2019

The last of my four “little books” of Kahlil Gibran is now out, this one full of wisdom for daily life–living in community and living alone, plus Gibran’s often trenchant and humorous sayings, stories and verse on politics, religion, and economics. (My European friends will need to wait another few weeks for the release here.)

The book also contains the source of JFK’s famous “Ask not what your country can do for you…” speech, in its entirety. Here’s a short excerpt from Gibran’s article written in 1925:

When the spring sings its hymns, the dead of the winter rise, shed their shrouds, and march forward.

Come and tell me who and what you are. 

Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite. If the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.

Are you a merchant using the need of society for the necessities of life for your own monopoly and exorbitant profit? Or are you a sincere, hard-working and diligent person facilitating the exchange between the weaver and the farmer and charging a reasonable profit as a broker between supply and demand? If you are the first, then you are a criminal, whether you live in a palace or a prison. If you are the second, then you are a charitable person, whether you are thanked or denounced by people.

The book contains many stories, my favorite entitled here “A Voice from the Storm,” in which the narrator (Gibran?) encounters an ex-political leader now living as a hermit in the mountains, who tells him:

No, my brother, the West is not higher than the East, nor is the West lower than the East. And the difference that stands between the two is not greater than the difference between the tiger and the lion.”
“There is a just and perfect law that I have found behind the exterior of society, a law that equalizes misery, prosperity, and ignorance. It does not prefer one nation to another, nor does it oppress one tribe in order to enrich another.”

The book closes with a section entitled “Wisdom Beyond Words,” in which we hear some of Gibran’s deepest and most beautiful insights:

Let him who would have wisdom 
seek it in a buttercup or
in a pinch of red clay. 
 
I am still the singer. 
I shall sing the earth, 
and I shall sing your lost dreaming, 
which walks the day 
between sleep and sleep.

I hope you enjoy this last one. it has been an enjoyable two year’s journey for me to select and re-edit one of the best-known and yet under-valued writers of the 20th century, a refugee to America from what was then called “Syria.” Would he be welcome today?

You can order the book through the Abwoon Network site, via various online sources here.

–Neil

End of Year Greetings and News for 2019

31 December 2018

Dear Friends of Abwoon,

Greetings and blessings of Hogmanay, our end-of-the year celebration here in Scotland. While we are experiencing an unusual run of warm-ish weather (10 C, near 50F to you Americans), the early-fading winter light still draws one inside to consider the year past as well as the one ahead.

Below, I have shared a video body prayer based on the first Beatitude in Aramaic. Clearing the heart at the end of the year is a wonderful practice whether one is in the northern hemisphere or, like our Australian friends, baking in the southern heat.

Publishing News: The first two “little books” extracted, edited and, in some cases, re-translated from the works of Kahlil Gibran were released in the USA last year to a very reception, with translations in several other countries. Re-approaching Gibran as an native Middle Eastern (or West Asian) person seems to have struck a chord with many. You can find links to the “Life” (i.e., nature-based) and “Love” (relationships) books at https://abwoon.org/online-store/books/.

The third volume (Kahlil Gibran’s Little Book of Secrets)will appear in April, featuring the author’s focus on life’s puzzles and riddles—those questions that cause us to stop and ask “why?” Good and evil, life and death, justice and innocence, success and failure, as well as the inner way that attempts to bridge paradox and unite opposites. Case in point:

Knocking on the Door

It would be fruitless for the visitor

to knock on the door of the house

if there were no one inside

to hear the knocks

and open the door. 

What is a human

but a being

standing between

the infinitude of his interior

and the infinitude

of his surroundings? 

Were it not for what we have inside,

we would have nothing outside.

We can see the influence of Gibran’s early life story on his fascination with such questions. He was uprooted from his native Lebanon at the age of twelve by his mother, who brought his siblings and him to the USA in 1895. Like many migrants and refugees today, she was escaping a hopeless situation: poverty, a failed marriage, and a husband in prison for embezzling from the government. Gibran experienced a radical dislocation from his relatives and friends in the move to late 19thcentury urban Boston, a very different culture from that of his childhood. We can imagine that from an early age Gibran began to see things from two points of view—that of the native of rural Lebanon and that of the American city dweller. Seeing from two points of view at the same time, a split awareness, could only be integrated by either taking a higher view, or going crazy.

Other publishing news: The fourth Gibran book (“Wisdom”) will be released in autumn 2019 and will focus on his writings on practical wisdom for daily life, both in community and in solitude. Following up on the success of The Little Book of Sufi Stories, I am also working on a new little book of ecological wisdom due to be published in 2020.

Travels and Seminars in 2019: I will be in the USA once next year, in April for consecutive weekends in Cincinnati, Ohio (5-7 April) and Boulder, Colorado (12-14 April ). These will share some of my recent work with the ancient nomadic roots of spiritual practice and are entitled “The Beautiful Names of Life.” Following these two I will again lead an Easter Aramaic Jesus retreat at Bishop’s Ranch in Sonoma County, California (18-21 April).

Weekend retreats in Europe will continue throughout the year. A number of them (Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and England) will be in the form of Aramaic Jesus “sesshins”—alternating chant, movement and silence. As appropriate to the group, I will also be offering guidance on how people in chanting or contemplative prayer groups can add this element to their ongoing work. In Scotland(16-19 May), southern France(19-22 September) and southern Germany(17-20 October), I will be sharing versions of the “Beautiful Names of Life” retreat. Next summer, I will again be sharing the all-school class at the Ruhaniat European Summer School (29-June -6 July) in north Germany, focusing on the “beautiful names of life” as well as the Sufi and Zen flavors of the lineage I experienced with my teachers.

Looking forward to seeing many of you in the New Year…

You can find details of all these retreats at https://abwoon.org/workshops/ the website of the Abwoon Network, where you can also find links to books, audio downloads, podcasts and videos.

As our beginning of the year thank-you, Abwoon Resource Center offers you a 25% discount on all our own (i.e., self-produced)audio downloads until January 15if you use the following offer code: NEWYEAR19 (must be all CAPS).

Body Prayer: Here is the practice I promised, based on the first Beatitude in Aramaic (from the book of Matthew): Tubwayhunl’meskenaee b’rukh dilhounhie malkutha d’ashmaya.(“Tuned to the Source are those who live by breathing Unity, their ‘I can!’ is included in the universe’s own sound”).Counter-melody:Alaha Ruhau(Sacred Unity Breathes!)

I invite you to join me in my office and take a few minutes to chant and enter the silence, as we find our home in the one breath together, preparing for the new year. Even in dark times, we can breathe, find our center and then feel what is really ours to do in life.

Love and blessings to you all for a healthy and balanced New Year!

Neil

Announcing: The Little Book of Sufi Stories…pre-order now!

 

Dear Friends of the Abwoon Network,

I am happy to announce a new book published by Hampton Roads, due in June of 2018. The Little Book of Sufi Stories retells some of my favorite stories, and a few you haven’t heard before. I am just finishing proofreading the final galleys and find that the publisher has done a beautiful job. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Although the release is a little ways off, I would encourage you to pre-order it now using the links below. It will help create some early interest (that’s the way things work in our world) and you won’t find a better price later!

Yours in peace,

Neil

 

The Little Book of Sufi Stories

Hampton Roads Publishing Company

240 pages, 5 x 7 paperback

ISBN-10: 1571748296

ISBN-13: 978-1571748294

Due: 1 June 2018

 

From the Foreword:

“If you want to hear a good story but prefer to read it instead, then read Douglas-Klotz! He writes as if he’s sitting in your living room, invited over for afternoon tea to entertain you with some heart-pleasing, often humorous, yet soul-searching Sufi stories. His modernization of these old texts is gentle and mindful, yet unapologetic.”

–Maryam Mafi, author of Rumi Day by Day

The stories in this book are drawn from the dozens that Douglas-Klotz has enjoyed telling in his seminars over the past 20 years. Most of them appear in works of the classical Sufis, such as Rumi, Attar, or S’adi. To preserve some of the in-person feeling and bring the language up to date, he has given them his own improvised turns.

From the Introduction:

As the German novelist and storyteller Hermann Hesse once wrote, the great stories of humanity—like fairy tales, Hasidic stories, Celtic stories, Zen stories and Sufi stories—provide us with incomparable examples of the “genetic history of the soul.” We share this depth of soul with all human beings. So, hearing a story live and unrehearsed brings us closer together, creating and re-creating our all-too-fragile sense of human community.

I have drawn the stories in this book from the dozens that I have enjoyed telling in my teaching seminars over the past 30-plus years. Most of them first appear in works of classical Sufis like Rumi, Attar or Sa’adi. Others simply come to us without a name, passed down from person to person with variations for hundreds of years.

Telling an oral story in print is challenging. One can strip the story back to its bare bones, thereby losing much of its flavor and aroma. Or one can treat the story like a prehistoric insect caught in amber: one leaves all sorts of cultural detail in, but the story doesn’t breathe. I am a great fan of live storytellers, but some so-called professional storytellers err on the latter side, because they don’t understand the transmission of the story—its life as an inner experience that everyone can share. The “wow” factor may be there—the special effects—but not the wisdom.

Likewise, some authors overly embellish or interpret Sufi stories with an agenda in mind (often psychological or theological). They map out the whole story as an allegory that supports a principle they want to convey. In my view, this is (as one Zen master commented) like going to a restaurant and ordering a vitamin pill. Where is the art of life, the joy of discovery?

Hopefully, I have woven my way between the extremes. I have modernized the dialogue, and so there will be deliberately anachronistic references. Hint: this is one technique for using stories as spiritual teaching. Another technique: there will be plot elements that seem to end nowhere. A third: No ‘trigger warnings’ are given. Fourth: sometimes the good are not rewarded and the evil not punished (but that’s more like life anyway). I could go on, but why spoil the fun?

Without doubt, there is nothing like hearing a Sufi story live. To tell one of these stories, I need to first live in it for a while, much as one might walk into an unknown forest and gradually get to know the plants and animals there. Yet when telling the story live, I can still meet something unexpected at any moment.

As I mentioned in The Sufi Book of Life, I encourage readers to go beyond the book (or screen) to meet real Sufis. With a sincere heart, this is not so hard (which is not to say it’s simple, given that Sufis all over the world are under threat from Islamic fundamentalists).

I hope these stories convey an aliveness that awakens a spark in your soul. If they do, you may become—as I am—a story collector.

Hear and read more of them, retell them in your own way, and you may find yourself becoming a different, wilder, more completely human you.

–Neil Douglas-Klotz

Pre-order here:

Barnes and Noble

IndieBound

 

Amazon(s):

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New Beatitudes Chant CD released from world music group ‘Sofia’

2 February 2017

A few years ago, Gospel singer Timothy Frantzich, whom I met at a Robert Bly conference, asked if he could arrange my Beatitude chant melodies for a small choral ensemble. That new creation is now here–a world music collaboration by the group ‘Sofia’ in Minnesota, USA: Timothy Frantzich, Carin Vagle and Dean Magraw.  Beautiful voices, splendid guitar, flutes, percussion and a rhythmic, meditative experience to carry you through the “Beatitude Way.”

Here is a short extract from the third Beatitude, “Tubwayhun l’makikhe d’hennon nertun ar’ah”–ripe are those finding their natural inheritance of strength and healing from nature–and their original nature. This is the one usually translated “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

You can find out more about the recording as well as links to purchase it in either CD or iTunes format here:

www.sofiasings.net

Later today, I am doing a live interview with Janet Conner on Unity Radio on the Beatitude Way, applying it to life today as we find it. The Beatitudes are an eyes-open prayer, calling us to awaken to what is important in life right now–“what is really ours to do?”

You an listen live here:

http://www.unity.fm/program/TheSoulDirectedLife

The archive of the recording will be online here, probably by tomorrow (Friday 3 February):

http://www.unity.fm/episode/TheSoulDirectedLife_020217

Happy Candlemas and Imbolc to all!

Neil

 

 

 

 

New Offerings from the Abwoon Network and ARC Books

Dear Friends,

I am happy to announce the following new offerings at the Abwoon Network store site. My thanks to a number of friends who helped make these possible, including Richard Abdul Haqq, Jelaluddin Sturm, Katie Shroth, Jim Gentles, Jannat Granger and Farid Granger.

Love and blessings for the New Year!

Neil

Audio Downloads:

25% discount on all audio downloads at the site until 6 January 2017.

Use this code (once per person):  NEWYEAR17

Vectors of Love

Vectors of Love Live Workshop

A weekend workshop from April 2015 with one of the early trials of the ‘Nomad’s Way’ theme I have been working with. Also includes: the relation of our earliest human memories to some of the “Beautiful Names of Allah’–qualities we already possess, but may have forgotten. Also: the four Daroods that were given to Murshid Samuel Lewis by Sufi Barkat Ali, taught as both chants and Walks. 12.5 hours total: 

http://abwoon.org/downloads/vectors-of-love-workshop/


Sufi Stories LiveSufi Stories Live, Volume One

I have gone rummaging through my archives and begun to unearth some of the best live recordings of Sufi stories and world wisdom tales that I have shared over the past decade. The first volume contains: Mullah Nasruddin’s Jobs, Mullah and the Parrot, The Goldsmith’s Daughter, Mullah’s Missing Donkey, Sufi Stories of Mariam and Jesus, The Shaykh and Halva and Jonah’s Zikr and Story.

http://abwoon.org/downloads/3075/

New Books:

original_meditation_sm

Original Meditation:

The Aramaic Jesus and the Spirituality of Creation

By Neil Douglas-Klotz

A new paperback edition of  “Genesis Meditations” with original cover art by Murshida Fatima Lassar and cover design by Jelaluddin Sturm in Berlin. “One of the best spiritual books of the year”–Spirituality and Health

Today apocalyptic predictions and images dominate popular culture and social media. Yet for most of our history, human consciousness focused on the mystery of beginnings, not endings. Our ancestors felt that the most powerful energy and clearest vision for the future  could be found at our inception.  They meditated on stories of the Great Beginning as the way to go forward.

http://abwoon.org/originalmeditation/

 

A Book of Self Re-education

By Raden Ayou Jodjana

Foreword by Neil Douglas-Klotz

A Book of Self Re-education is a treasure house for all who wish to explore the creative essence of life in the substances of their bodily form. Raden Ayou Jodjana (1888-1981), beloved student of the Sufi Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and devoted wife of Prince Raden Mas Jodjana, the great Jananese dancer, here expresses the inexpressible teaching of these two great masters as a step-by-step guide to waking up fully inside our human bodies.

http://abwoon.org/a-book-of-self-re-education/

We Need Your Help for an Important Project

7 September 2016

 

Dear Friends,

I’m writing a personal letter to the Abwoon Network to ask your help in completing the project to restore the dargah (gravesite) of Murshid Samuel Lewis in New Mexico. Whatever you may or may not have read about this in past, I would request a few moments of your time to consider the following, some of which you may not have heard before.

As one of the first practicing inter-spiritual mystics of the 20th century, Murshid Samuel Lewis nurtured his own spiritual life with three simple things: retreat, pilgrimage and a deep, inner connection to his teachers. The three went together. Throughout his life, he travelled on retreat or pilgrimage to visit living teachers or absorb their living presence at a sacred site. While there, he received the inspirations that formed the basis of his life and work. Whether it was his study with Buddhist Zen teachers, with Swami Papa Ramdas or with Christian mystics and Sufis, he always felt that genuine spiritual work for peace resulted from living experience and vision rather than ideas and concepts. The Dances of Universal Peace and spiritual Walks—the culmination of his work—were sparked by a vision that he received at the dargah of the Sufi saint Selim Chishti in India. Shortly afterwards, when Murshid S.A.M. visited Ruth St Denis, his spiritual dance teacher, she confirmed the vision.

Likewise, the International Dances of Universal Peace Network, in the form we have it, resulted from a vision received by this person at the dargah of Murshid S.A.M. at Lama Foundation in New Mexico in October 1982. Along with this, at the same time, came the vision that led to the first Aramaic Dances for the Prayer of Jesus. Following this, I began to do the scholarly work that led to my first book, Prayers of the Cosmos.

This vision happened during a month-long pilgrimage led by Murshid Wali Ali Meyer, during which about twenty of us rebuilt Murshid S.A.M.’s dargah, which was falling into decay due to its harsh surroundings. The vision was confirmed by my own teacher, Murshid Moineddin, as well as by meeting my spiritual sister Murshida Tasnim Fernandez, with whom I began the Dance Network.

All of you reading this who are engaged in some way with the Dances or the Aramaic Jesus work will find that it is because of one or both of these visions, which resulted from pilgrimages to a dargah.

All things fall into decay eventually. Some things worth keeping need to be maintained and sometimes rebuilt, with effort and sacrifice. Sacred sites around the world have been made sacred by combining earth energies with the group devotion of a community of people who sacrificed to keep a particular portal between the worlds open for those coming along later.

Of course, anyone can receive a vision anywhere, under any circumstances. But it is no coincidence that more of these occur at sacred sites, which are kept alive by a field of group devotion, effort and sacrifice.

Some years ago, we again reached the point where Murshid’s dargah needed to be completely rebuilt. When I visited the dargah in August 2014, it was clear—from comparing its present state with what we had designed and rebuilt in 1982—that the site had already substantially eroded into the hillside. This was no one’s fault. It resulted from a combination of factors. First, the 1996 fire at Lama changed the drainage and ecology of the hillside. Second, the changing demographics of our Dance and Sufi commuities: we got older and less capable of the heavy lifting we did 34 years ago during the rebuild or by which we maintained the dargah in the ten years following during our annual summer Dance camps. Third, the changing demographics of the Lama community in the last decade: during this time the average time a permanent resident remained in the community shortened dramatically from ten years to five to its current two. With such a quick turnover, more immediate survival needs in a wilderness community take priority.

While some people like the image of our dargah gradually fading away, to me this attitude reflects laziness rather than an enlightened attitude to impermanence. Valuable things are worth reusing and reviving, rather than simply throwing away—an attitude our superficially impermanent consumer society promotes.

An additional factor: if you burrow into the internet news, you will see that Sufi sacred sites around the world are being threatened and destroyed by extremists of all sorts–in Africa, East Asia and the Middle East. These include the very dargahs that Murshid SAM himself visited. We may well be in a situation where sacred lineage portals like ours can only survive in the West for the moment, much as Tibetan Buddhism is surviving in exile from its historical homeland.

dargah423x300

 

We are now in the final phase of the dargah restoration, which will be complete by summer 2017.

For the final push we need 300 people who are willing to donate a total of $1000 over the next three years (2016-2018). That’s about $333 a year, less than what most of us spend a year on workshops, retreats and camps.

This one is ours to do. It cannot wait for another generation. One can come up with all sorts of excuses why it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done, or could be done differently. Having studied the budget and plans in depth, as well as the whole history of the dargah’s maintenance and the Sufi Ruhaniat’s communications around this with Lama Foundation (which began more than 20 years ago in Pir Moineddin’s time), I’m convinced that this project is being done in the most cost-efficient, maintainable, ecological and beautiful way possible, in consideration of the long-term benefit to both the human and natural communities involved.

After our own Dance circles are forgotten, the dargah will be there, hopefully to provide visionary inspiration for a whole new generation of Dancers, who may need to revolutionize what we’re doing in the same way that the Dance Network did ten years after Murshid S.A.M.’s passing. At that point, Murshida Tasnim and I began the Dance Network with $500, and look where we are today.

Please join me in making the pledge mentioned above and manifesting this. Here is the link:

http://www.ruhaniat.org/index.php/work/dargah-project

If you can give more, give more. If you can give less, do that. Every person who puts in some energy, and makes some sacrifice in the name of devotion, helps clear the channel for others. We can talk about “paying it forward” as much as we want, but this is one practical thing we can actually do to help sustain the future of the Dances—and the living interspiritual work that Murshid SAM began—for coming generations. Don’t miss the opportunity to say you helped make this happen.

Love and blessings,

Neil Douglas-Klotz

Fife, Scotland