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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 Unifying Role Of Mysticism

October 2004

Dr Buehler first looked at the modality of religion that legitimises power and said that the results were that “more people have been killed in the name of religion than anything else” and that with today’s technology this was a suicidal path to take. He then said that on the other hand “probably even more people have been healed in the name of religion than by anything else… this healing is very often through the ‘mystical aspect’ of religion, the one that is often associated with love. In Islam this is called Sufism.”

He said that “across mystical traditions the goal is a unitary state of consciousness, but that this is only one dimension of spiritual development – it is crucial that one also improves one’s character and becomes a better person in the human community. Ihsan (to make beautiful) is concerned with human character traits. The Prophet (pbuh) used to say: “O God, You have made Your creation beautiful so make my character beautiful too.” Since all the divine names and attributes are already built into our primordial being, all that needs to be done is to eliminate the negative traits, polish the heart and purify our egos. Much easier said than done.”

Adab is also very much about human character traits. We usually think of adab as outward behaviour, but it is not always realised that adab also includes the inner domain of doing what is beautiful. In a real sense adab combines the doing with a manifestation of the beautiful. To embody the beautiful is to embody the qualities of God. It should be clear that ihsan leads to love – indeed this is the lifeblood of any religion. It was and still is the expression of love in the hearts of believers that very often attracts people to Islam or other religions. Without love there is simply empty practice.” A goal of ihsan is “to worship God while seeing him in one’s heart.” Sincerity is also needed, to do things for God’s sake alone, not for outer approval or reward.

Dr Arthur Buehler

He went on to explain that “God is limitless grace and incomparable love; this love pervades everything and it is the love that is God’s love” and that “only a love that surrenders is a true love.” In contrast “the love that we manifest usually is selfish in that we expect something in return.” It is about neediness and if we do not get what we are looking for our love disappears. “Indeed how often is our love for God like this?”

A lasting love knows no boundaries and it is our boundaries that “blocks or prevents this natural flow of God’s love.” The first boundary we draw is ‘my self’ the boundary between what is me and not me and he looked at how we create boundaries. For example people say someone ‘hit me’ when their car is hit – as if the car was an extension of them. He argued that “the problem with boundaries is that they are potential battle lines. Whatever is not me is the other, and potentially threatening. Not a scenario ideally suited for love.” Psychotherapy and many humanistic psychologies seek to heal boundary splits, “but going deeper still, Sufism seeks to heal the split between the total organism and the environment to reveal a supreme identity with the universe or God.”

“If we have a love which looks at everything through the remembrance of God, then we can discover that love inside each and everything we see. This is grace, wisdom and light. This love makes our soul beautiful, our faces shine and it is the beauty of our heart and the true wealth of life.”

Dr Oldmeadow discussed the religious forms, spirituality and mysticism. He said that the mystical experience is the most exalted and profound experience that humans can have, one which radically and irrevocably transforms the person and provides irrefutable certitude. He said that the traditional religions can all provide a spiritual path and he warned against the trend towards spiritual materialism, where spirituality is divorced from religion and so becomes a subjective, self indulgent matter, which leaves us lost in the dark.

Dr Harry Oldmeadow

He discussed the limitations of the traditional religious forms that are necessarily partial and limited, but emphasized that they have a timeless dimension and can still speak to us. They can be seen as the keys that can unlock or at times lock away, that mystical experience ‘that direct apprehension of Reality’ or the ‘annihilation’, where there is ‘only that which is and no other to name it’.

Quotes from Moulana Rumi, Rabia, Ibn Arabi and also more recent sages, added a beautiful depth to the talk. In his final section he used the analogy of a circle to express the interaction between religious forms and mysticism. In the center of the circle lies Reality/Truth, the one God, and around the circumference we see all the various different religious forms with radii reaching back into the middle. As we move closer from the outer forms to the center, the differences between these traditional religions are lessen and when we get to the center, we will not be squabbling about which way is better, but will just be grateful for the paths that do exist, and are available to us.

Dr Arthur Buehler, Fleur Nassery Bonnin, Dr Harry Oldmeadow

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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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