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