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Australian Centre For Sufism


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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

The Message of Moulana Rumi
"Listen to the Reed How it Tells its Tale…."

November 2000

Across two days we journeyed through the luminous richness of Moulana Rumi's legacy. In this unique gathering we explored, experienced and celebrated one of history's most important mystical teachers and poets. We experienced how Moulana Rumi's illuminating teachings and poetry continue to have a profound impact and relevance in our lives today, even after seven hundred years.

From the beginning the gathering radiated the spirit of unity and love, so often reflected in Moulana Rumi's poetry. For the first time in Australia, from the far corners of the world leading experts on this beloved Sufi saint, were brought together.

Fleur Nassery Bonnin

Fleur Nassery Bonnin, the Founder and Director of the Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies opened the conference with a beautiful and enlightening talk entitled "Listen to the Reed". Using the major events of Moulana Rumi's life, she illustrated how "the events of life are the most direct form of communication between man and God". Using Moulana Rumi's famous poem that begins -'Listen to the Reed' which is the opening of his most celebrated book, "Masnavi", Fleur emphasised that within this poem Moulana Rumi is revealing to us how the Beloved manifests in every aspect of life, and as such the events are pointing to the power behind the scene which is managing and directing life. In conclusion she said, "It is very important, when we read Moulana Rumi or anybody else, to always remember the hand inside the glove, not just see the glove, which seems to be the message of Moulana Rumi throughout his poetry."

Kabir Helminski

Next Kabir Helminski from the USA, a leading expert on Moulana Rumi and a Sheikh of the Mevlevi order spoke on "Rumi and our Humanness". In this illuminating presentation Kabir explained, "Something in us has to disappear. Something in us has to give up its usual strategies. Something in us has to be vigilantly guarded against, melted, washed away, and purified. Something in us has to be able to die moment, by moment, breath by breath. Our self-importance, our need for attention, our need to be right, our need to believe that we have the right religion, the right-path. To come to that openness, simplicity, to have a direct relationship with the Divine. Rumi says his whole work is about opening up a window within the heart in order that the beauty of the Beloved might shine through that window."

An enthusiastic Q & A session followed this. One of the audience asked, "I think that the Rumi path is non-denominational. It does not belong to one religion. By emphasising the role of Mohammed don't we make it a little bit sectarian?" Kabir replied "Where did you get the idea that the Rumi path is non sectarian. Do you know that Rumi's practice was Islamic? He never left that practice, and that Rumi and Shams, his teacher, were utterly devoted to Mohammed. At times they would miss the proper time of prayer because they got so carried away with their conversations, and then they would feel inwardly contracted and would try to make up for it. So Rumi was utterly Muslim. And the core of his teaching is inconceivable without the spiritual vocabulary of the Qur’an and the moral example of Mohammed.
But where it is universal is that Rumi never demanded conversion to Islam among the people that sought wisdom from him. In one case there was an old Christian man who used to come to Rumi's talks and weep. And one of Rumi's lieutenants said "Uncle, you get what not one out of a hundred Muslims get. The only thing remaining is to take the final step and convert to Islam". And this old Christian man said "Please don't ask me, I have been faithful to my religion for 70 years. Don't ask that of me now". When Rumi heard that his representative had asked this of the Christian man he was extremely angry, he said, "why are you trying to convert the already converted".

I would maintain that there is Islam with a capital 'I' and there is islam with a small 'i'. And Islam with a capital 'I' is beautiful, at its best, when it's true it is beautiful. It is the religion of Mohammed in the example of Mohammed. But what is also meant by islam in the Qur’an is the primordial religion of humanity, the self-surrender of the human being to the order of things. This is islam with a small 'i' and Rumi taught that islam very beautifully too. He practised the Islam with a capital 'I' but you can find the islam with a small 'i' in his writings, and that could make the Christian a better Christian and a Jew a better Jew etc."

Dr Elahi Ghomshei

Next the erudite and learned Dr Elahi Ghomshei, from Persia, spoke on "Moulana Rumi the Messenger of Love". During his talk Dr Elahi told this story about Joseph.
"An old friend of Joseph's came to visit him after a long journey. Imagine Joseph is sitting on a throne, he is a king, and is so beautiful. They begin to reminisce about old times. Joseph says to him "What have you brought me"- As there is an old tradition that when you go to or return from a journey you bring gifts. The friend says, "Well I am so ashamed I don't know what to say, what could I bring for you. You are King of Kings, you have so many treasures and all the beauty in the world, what could I add to your treasury. So I have just brought you a small mirror so that you can look at yourself, because I realised there was nothing more precious than your own face - so I have brought you your own face."

Dr Elahi explained "We cannot bring anything to God. What can we bring for God? What can we do for God? Sometimes we say we are serving God, but who can serve God. He does not need anything. He is independent of all our service. So the best thing we can bring to God, is to be nobody."

Traditional Sufi Music

The first day was brought to a moving end with Traditional Sufi Music performed by Group Moshtagh. For the first time in Australia this type of sema music was performed. Using a number of Daf players and vocalists we heard a combination of music, chanting, zikr and Moulana Rumi's poetry.

On day two everyone returned full of anticipation and enthusiasm. The program began with the popular and well-loved Dr Elahi Ghomshei sharing his wisdom and insight on "Sufism, Poetry and Music". This was followed by a lively Q&A.

We were then treated to recitations of some of Moulana Rumi's poetry, first in his native Persian by Fleur Nassery Bonnin and then translated by Kabir Helminski into English.

In the afternoon Sheikh Abdul Aziz of the Mevlevi order in Melbourne spoke on "Love's work: Hazreti Mevlana and the Dervish Path" in which he said "Rumi's poetry is a way of touching our hearts, inspiring us and guiding us, but it is only part of his legacy".

This was followed by the warm and wise Murshid Ali ElSenossi sharing his insight on "The Power of the Narrative in Sufi Teachings": He said: “Travelling to Allah (swt) is not a collective journey. It is a very unique and special solitary travel. Because always you are near to Allah (swt) and you see Allah in all the human faces because He said that anywhere you turn you will see the face of Allah. And that’s the wonderful thing about such gatherings because we always see people in whom the love of Allah (swt) is burning in their heart and that gives us comfort to see that there are others who are burning with that desire to reach their ultimate aim, which they have crystallised within their deva and higher consciousness. Sheikh Rumi in one of his stories speaks about travelling to Allah (swt) until your feel you cannot walk anymore and then you start to crawl until you can’t crawl anymore and then you start to become like a lizard with no feet or hands or arms and then you can’t go any further and then you say I can’t - and that moment you can. When you give up saying ‘I can’, because that is the problem for everyone. We have to get rid of that illusion that ‘we can’ - we can do this, we can do that – so that reality has to be transformed, so that you cannot will anything without the will of Allah (swt)."

Ayini Jam

The program concluded in the intimate environment of a circle. To begin Kabir Helminski took us through an experiential presentation on "Presence and the Way of the Heart". He then led us into a Mevlevi Ayini Jam, (Ceremony of Unity). In this moving experience of sema and zikr, everyone was swept up in a sea of unity. Like the tapestry of Moulana Rumi's tomb in Konya, which dominated the stage, we were all brought together from many varied countries, cultures and religions. Each different thread woven together for two days created a tapestry of beauty, wisdom, unity and love.

From Left to Right: Murshid Ali ElSenossi, Dr Elahi Ghomshei,
Fleur Nassery Bonnin, Kabir Helminski, James Harvey, Sheikh Abdul Aziz

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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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