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Previous Events:

Religions' Sacred Teachings
and Their Inner Meanings
International Symposium
15th December 2013

Seeing God Everywhere:
Traversing the
Spiritual Journey
5th November 2011

An Ancient Psychology
for a Modern Era
The Journey of the ego self
to the Spiritual Self
International Symposium
4th December 2010

One Humanity, Many Faiths
Interfaith Summit
February 2009

Sufi Music and Zikr
by Al Madeheen
September 2008

Moulana Rumi and the
Perfume of Divine Love
International Symposium
December 2007

ABC Radio Interview
December 2007

UNESCO Moulana Congress
Tehran and Tabriz
October 2007

UNESCO Moulana Rumi
Istanbul and Konya
May 2007

Conference on the
Iranian Identity
December 2006

Dalai Lama meets
with Muslim and
Sufi leaders
April 2006

Sufi Meditation
on ABC Radio
April/May 2006

Life of Maryam (a.s.)
August 2005

The Unifying Role
Of Mysticism
International Symposium
October 2004

Peace and God Consciousness
- The Journey of the Soul
International Symposium
October 2003

Uniting & Dividing
Humanity - The role
politics & religion play
August 2003

Sufism & Self-Transformation
The Path of Knowledge
and Love
International Symposium
October 2002

An Evening with
Claudio Naranjo
September 2002

Unity Within Diversity
November 2001

The Message of Moulana Rumi
"Listen to the Reed
How it Tells its Tale...."
International Symposium
November 2000

The Need for Sufism in a
New Century - An Old
Tradition for a New World
International Symposium
May 2000

 Previous Event:

International Sufi Symposium

Religions' Sacred Teachings and
Their Inner Meanings

15th December 2013

This Symposium brought together international and local speakers in a day full of learning and insight, highlighting and exploring the significance of the inner meanings of religions’ teachings which are often overlooked and so remain inaccessible to us.

Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr Audio

Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr (audio extracts)

The keynote address, given by Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr through his video presentation, was a remarkable exploration of the Sacred as it manifests throughout the world's religions. He explored the symposium theme systematically across the ages, and emphasised the importance of the inner, esoteric dimension of sacred teachings of religions.

He explained how every religion has occasionally expressed itself in new manifestations in different times and places throughout history, but as long as the connection with the inner dimension of the religion is kept and "as long as the new manifestations of the religion have their roots in the divine religion, all the branches have the same sap".

Professor Nasr pointed out the consequences of secularism in the modern West, and the dangers of living in a world based on appearance. He reminded us that despite being covered and often forgotten, the everlasting divine presence remains in everything "We live in a world today in which everything is based on appearance, but we do not even realise that the word appearance implies the appearance of something". Whilst this cannot be perceived by our outer senses, it is revealed to our inner senses highlighting the need to develop our capacities to perceive the inner.

Fleur Nassery Bonnin Audio

Fleur Nassery Bonnin (audio extracts)

Fleur Nassery Bonnin, the Founder and Director of the Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies, followed with a talk on the nature of the true self and its connection with, and the necessity for, the esoteric or inner interpretations of religions' teachings. "Inner meanings are not accessible until knowledge of the inner self has been gained."

Fleur explained that the knowledge of the inner self develops gradually as one progresses along the path of religion, struggling against ones lower and external self, as long as one follows both the outer teachings and the inner sacred teachings of the religion: "Religion provides the structure in the struggle against the ego/nafs." Fleur also elucidated a common misperception on what, or more accurately who, does the inner travelling along the spiritual path by pointing out: "The inner self is the vehicle of the inner journey to the Beloved" and it is this inner self that is the place of the perception of inner meaning.

Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi Audio

Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi (audio extracts)

Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi continued with the theme of the inner reality showing us how "Meister Ekhart in Christianity and Ibn Arabi in Islam help us go from the religious form to the spiritual essence. From the outer teachings of religion to the inner mysteries from which these teachings derive all their transformative power." Again and again these two great mystics were shown to be more than just similar in their conceptualisations and realisations; they were in fact, constantly converging at the highest level of spiritual discourse. One had the feeling that we were witness to a meeting point at the very summit of spiritual attainment, whilst each saint remained utterly true to their own religious tradition. Dr Shah-Kazemi also emphasised that both saints wrote at length about the long religious and spiritual training that was a prerequisite for these lofty realisations on the spiritual path.

Music and Poetry

A passage from Ibn Arabi's 'Book of Theophanies' (Kitab al Tajjaliyat) was then read, accompanied by the Persian ney (reed flute), played by Mustafa Karami. This majestic and sublime poem describes the incredible intimacy between God The Beloved, and His servant, the lover, the ney constantly providing an inspiring background for moments of reflection between the soaring verses of poetry.

Dr Harry Oldmeadow Audio

Dr Harry Oldmeadow (audio extracts)

Dr Harry Oldmeadow, in his engaging and good humoured way, reiterated and clarified many of the essential points of the traditionalist school of thought. Telling us that if we are to gain a deeper understanding of the inner and outer aspects of our own religious tradition, as well as a deeper understanding of any other tradition, then there are three essential principles to bear in mind. First, that there are multiple revelations, "God has not spoken only once, God has spoken many times". Secondly, "it follows that there must necessarily be many different religious forms". Also these forms are not man made, they are a whole system of symbols that have come through revelation, and as such we owe respect to them. Finally, that all religions are made up of an outer and an inner, the shell and the kernel. He continued "it is not a matter of rejecting the outer aspect. The forms of any particular traditions cannot survive without the animating impulse, the life, the vitality, the energy, which is provided by the esoteric dimension, which is the mystical stream of the religion."

Dr Rodney Blackhirst Audio

Dr Rodney Blackhirst (audio extracts)

Dr Rodney Blackhirst started with a discussion of one practical aspect of the spiritual path, which in Islam is called Zikr Allah, the Remembrance of God and which has its counterpart in other religions. From this very practical starting point, he took us on an extraordinary journey looking at the Prophetic cycle of the three monotheistic religions through an uncommon and esoteric perspective.

He showed us the ways that Judaism has become an outer religious form, while Christianity has focused on inner teaching, both without a harmonious balance between the inner and outer so that one aspect has become emphasised to the extent that the other is obscured. He said the Islamic revelation was a corrective with clear distinctions between inner and outer aspects of religion and a restoration to the lost balance.

Panel Discussion

Then the speakers took to the stage for a panel discussion. Fleur Nassery Bonnin facilitated this panel, giving speakers the opportunity to delve more deeply into their topics. In this casual and intimate forum, the audience experienced these experts exploring the deeper esoteric aspects in the spirit of open dialogue.

Anna McDonald, Warwick Payne and Mustafa Karami

The day was brought to a close with some beautiful Sufi music, which both moved us and gave us time to integrate some of the teachings of the symposium, of which they were many deep and inspiring gems for those who had ears to hear.

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For further information contact the
Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies (ACS)
Phone: (02) 9955 SUFI (7834)
or email: acs@australiansuficentre.org

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