Contents Message from the National Representative
Message from Murshid Nawab
Photos of the Australian Sufi Retreat
A post retreat rumination
Universal Worship Homily
In Memoriam Zahira Madeleine Bullock
International Sufi Summer School poster
The Dimensions of the Heart Dargah Retreat poster
The Witch as Teacher in Fairy Tales poster
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Beloved Sisters and Brothers Winter 2017
This retreat with Murshid Nawab has been a very special one, right from the beginning. We had people who wanted to register for it before we even had a topic, and we have had people attend from all the various Inayati groups in Australia. In addition, it felt like there was a thirst or hunger for a deep and powerful retreat. This was confirmed almost immediately, when we found ourselves deep into the retreat on the very first day. Often it takes a few days to get to that point. For me it felt like I had dived straight in, to save my ‘inner’ life. The world out there has become so crazy and chaotic so that there was no escape. So, retreating from this to find Grace, Glory, Wisdom, Joy and Peace was like finding water in the desert. We were given a new and very powerful wazifa, which had such a profound effect that we were still sitting in silence long afterwards, and Nawab had to come in and fetch us to lunch. After the retreat we found it extremely difficult to get back into the outer world again. Many years ago, I remember saying to Nawab, that it was such a pity that we could not keep the feeling and the energy of our retreat for very long afterwards, but this time, the struggle was to manage life again. My mind felt like fudge and I just couldn’t do anything at all that I needed to in the outer realm. I managed to cook and that was about it. It was only when our group met again for zikar, a week after our retreat finished, that I realised that I was not alone in feeling this way. Everyone in the group felt the same and had a different story to tell – a different and special experience. Then while doing zikar, I realised that it felt like we were still in retreat mode – we could have been in Amberley. It was only after zikar that I was able to function again and feel optimistic about our future. We were very blessed by this retreat and I want to thank Murshid Nawab from the bottom of my heart, for holding us and taking us with him, to that wonderful realm, where we could indeed experience what was really meant by that part of the prayer Saum: ‘Until in us be reflected, Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace.’ We discovered what these were and were to some extent able to reflect it. With love,
Nuria National Representative Sufi Movement in Australia Page 3 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 2 June 2017
I wanted this issue of Spirit Matters to be a gesture of gratitude to Murshid Nawab for his untiring patience and service to all the mureeds in Australia, and an expression of deep appreciation for this Sufi path and the precious teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, brought to the West in 1910. We have just spent a week in retreat at Amberley, the Edmund Rice Centre, led by Murshid Nawab and we have emerged refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired by Nawabâ€™s guidance and presence. For me it was a deepening of my understanding of the Message and the spiritual practices, and a challenging, inspiring and uplifting experience. The venue for the retreat is a special place in that it is surrounded by nature, at times warm and sunny and at other times foggy and atmospheric. Iâ€™ve contributed some photos of Amberley to give those who were unable to attend a taste of the atmosphere that we enjoyed. Nawab has very graciously contributed a profound and moving message for us all on page 5. On a sad note, soon after the retreat we received the unhappy news that Zahira, our Sufi sister in Canberra had passed away. Many of us in Australia remember her fondly. Zubinâ€™s moving obituary is on page 14. I hope that you will find this issue of Spirit Matters moving and inspiring.
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Beloved sisters and brothers of Australia, Thank you all for the privilege of your company, your dedication and your spirit, unfolding like many different blossoms in the gentle rains of May. The echoes of our retreat reverberate still in our hearts and minds. As movement is the sign of life, the living vibrations of our spiritual work together will by their nature spread unstoppably, stirring, transforming and vitalizing all the structures of our lives. We feel a great longing for something–for Something– often without recognizing that the longing is not ours, but a reflection of the Divine call for us to return from the darkness to the light: to come home to where we have always belonged. How to receive the blessings being poured into our hands? Perhaps, in the scope of our own life, by taking more responsibility for the direction of our thoughts, words and actions. In the scope of our spiritual family, by taking hands together and celebrating the all-pervading goodness and beauty that we know from experience is not illusion. In the scope of the whole world, by giving sympathy and understanding wherever we can, and by reminding those around us–often tacitly, by example rather than by word–of the Truth which unites all of humanity. The Sufi Message cannot be confined in any words or dogmas; if it could be framed in that way, it would no longer be the Message. Therefore, to the musician it may be inspiration, to the scientist it may be insight, to the lover it may be beauty, to the broken-hearted it may be comfort, and to the mystic it may be the Divine Voice erasing by its power and splendor all distinctions that divide the world. For those who feel the call, every thought and feeling, every word and deed becomes a form of service. God willing we will meet again, but the link of the heart transcends all distances. For now, perhaps we can think of these words given by Hazrat Inayat Khan as an inspiring valediction: Keep burning the fire I have lighted. It may seem very small to you, but one tiny flame, if kept burning, can be the means of illuminating a whole city, and someday many lamps that shall be lighted at this small fire will give light to thousands. This fire of truth is now lighted, and its light will never go out. Your work is to tend it and keep it burning. The fuel needed is your every thought, your faith, your prayers, and your sacrifices. You cannot see the result of this. Light can never be lost. I have kindled this small fire from which millions of lamps can be lit. Their number cannot be reckoned, and millions upon millions of other fires can now be lighted. When all have been kindled the original fire will die out, and the place thereof be known no more. Verily the form dieth, and the spirit liveth for ever. God bless you. With all gratitude and loving greetings, Nawab
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Photos of the Australian Sufi Retreat By Yaqin
Retreatants at the Australian Sufi Retreat.
Front row: Margie, Karima, Arif, Josephine, Kafia, Azad, Yaqin. Middle row: Asuda, Amina, Mary, Nauroz, Nawab, Hamida, Rabia, Nuria, Nimat, Devaki, Sufia. Back row: Shakti, Zubin, Nur Alam, Sue, Sakina,Hatim, Lorraine, Azim, Zora, Chris.
A reflection in haiku By Sakina When I forget God, I cannot see any Grace. But prayer spotlights it. We all seek Glory, our achievements acknowledged, so why not God, too? My soul seeks Wisdom, but its coming brings chaos to hard-held beliefs. Thoughts from the retreat
Standing on the hillside Allah hu Afternoon sun warms the earth Allah hu Ancient river charts its course Allah hu A kookaburra laughs.
Glory means light, radiance, power, presence, perfection and grandeur. It is a very positive quality, worthy of respect. We become brighter if we reflect the quality of glory.
By Murshid Nawab
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A walk with nature. The smile of a dear, dear friend. Joy leaps all through me. Oh, my Beloved, your divine light in my heart, bathing me in Peace.
Walking meditation was practiced every morning when weather permitted it.
Silence was observed at breakfast at Amberley during the retreat.
We were blessed with the appearance of a full moon at the end of the retreat.
Let my heart reflect Thy light as the moon reflects the sun. Let my soul advance towards Thee as the rising moon progresses towards fullness. Let Thy light be my torch through the darkness of mind. Let Thy light guide my path through the darkness of mind. Fill my heart with Thy light so fully as the full moon. Hazrat Inayat Khan Page 7 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 2 June 2017
A post retreat rumination By Zora Although isolated up here on the ridge, a thread of current international discussion flows to me from the internet and Buddhist magazines. I note that social justice and ethical engagement are high on the contemporary agenda. The shock and shame of revelations of institutional abuse have fostered painstaking examinations of ethics and morality in spiritual communities world wide. So I'd have to confess, when the theme set for our retreat arrived, "Grace, Glory, Wisdom, Joy and Peace", it seemed to be more than a touch highfalutin. Holy moly, I thought, this is going to be away with the pixies. But as we retreaters now know, day by day, we were all able to identify times in our own lives when we experienced these attributes. We systematically gathered a taste and recognition of our ability to further develop these very delicious states of being. It was amazing and clarifying and useful, no? Nawab led us through practices that cumulatively floated me to a felt experience of open hearted friendship. Friendship with myself, my sufi gang and inexplicably much more. So, as you gather, the retreat worked for me a treat! However I'm home now, feet on the ground and just as Arif and Nawab wittily forecast: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't stop him thinking". So here I am, thinking about friendship. Are there ground rules? Is it sensible to expect to be able to befriend everyone? Kindness and respect OK, but lean out too far and you're set for a fall, isn't that so? There's also the lovely Buddhist caution about idiot compassion. I'm feeling that friendship is based on a transparency that allows for a very resilient relationship. We don't have to be marching to the same drum. In fact, not being automatically in step can be invigorating. As we were instructed at retreat, we can usefully take the opportunity to try out another's rhythm. I hope a friend will trust that I'm interested and will open my heart and mind to their story. I hope we are vigorous enough to disagree. But how robust is this bond and how far will it stretch? We all get it wrong at times and sometimes we behave badly yet even that, faced together, can be scary and hilarious. Arif said to me that he likes it when people get along. His comment challenged me in reference to my relationship with my ex-husband. And yup, it's been quite an job to clear my decks enough to have good will and simply "get along" but surely this isn't really friendship. Friendship is so much more than that; it's more than kindness. Friendship is a dynamic and reciprocal roll and flow of gladness and sadness in a heart connection that is founded on trust. It's big. It's huge. No wonder we are broken-hearted if it crashes. Argh, I know, I know. The heart has to be broken and re-broken until it is soft and remains open. So as you clearly see, although this retreat brought me to a really profound experience of friendship, although I was led to water and I got my toe in, I thunk, darn it. How deeply I hope however, that it's a start. My gratitude goes yet again to Nawab for his ever honourable guidance, to Nuria and Azad for sustaining us and to my dear Sufi friends for your warmth and integrity.
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Universal Worship Homily Given by Azad at the Australian Sufi Retreat May 2017
I would like to welcome everyone here today and especially those who have travelled interstate. Your presence and efforts to be here are deeply appreciated. And for those of you who have not attended a Universal Worship before – just a brief explanation of what has just taken place! As you have seen Universal Worship is a fairly simple acknowledgement of the various major religions of the world – and as you have also heard, we acknowledge those religions which are unknown to us. The simple premise behind all this is that there is only One God and One God only, regardless of all the various names that man has attached to him/her/it -over millennia. Normally we would say that we read from the World Scriptures on a certain topic or theme but today we didn’t say this and I will explain this shortly. We – the three of us are Cherag or Cheragas, which means that we are light bearers. We use candles to symbolise the light of truth behind all these religions.
We use readings from some of the world’s major or older religions to reflect some of their beliefs. Today we have had a fairly eclectic selection and I hope that as this homily progresses that these will come together to reflect a commonality or a sharing of common attributes.
There was the beautiful sura Nur part of which says: From a blessed tree the lamp is kindled Whose oil is neither from the East or West? Whose blessed light would well nigh shine out, even though flame touched it not! It is Light upon Light. Note Whose oil is neither from the East or West? So with this in mind, and by this - I mean the universality of the Message and the point of this homily, - the topic for this year’s retreat is Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace. We still have quite a ways to go in this Retreat and I am sure that under Murshid Nawab’s guidance we will leave here with more comprehension and awareness of what these words – what these gifts mean! Universal Worship should be seen, or felt, as an experience and not an intellectual exercise - as indeed so should Sufism! We use music to highlight certain aspects of this service. The words peace, reflection and hopefully, inspiration also come to mind and again, hopefully, some of you will find that this is so today.
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Two years ago I also gave the homily at our last retreat here and I talked about, and read from, Gathekas 49. I talked about consciousness and I read the opening paragraph, which I will now read again: The Expansion of Consciousness The Consciousness is the intelligence; the intelligence is the soul; the soul is the spirit; and the spirit is God. Therefore consciousness is the divine element, the consciousness is the God part in us. And it is through consciousness that we become small or great, and through consciousness either we rise or fall, and through consciousness we become narrow or we expand. (Gathekas 49) Right there – in my opinion – is the core or heart of Sufism in our Murshid’s teachings. Because later on in this Gathekas Murshid says that with the emergence of consciousness; there comes the unfoldment of the soul. Firstly what do we mean when we say consciousness? Consciousness can be defined as: What is consciousness? A person’s awareness or perception of ‘something’. The state or quality of being aware of ‘something’ especially of ‘something’ within ourselves. The truth is we really don’t know much as yet – in the scientific sense – but there is a lot of research being done to try and understand it. So could we say, or could it be, that if indeed we come from a Divine Source that this means that already inherent in us are the qualities or gifts of Grace, Glory, Wisdom, Joy and Peace? Remember the poem that I quoted by Wordsworth also at the last retreat?
Intimations of Mortality (one verse only)
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere it’s setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: W. Wordsworth Secondly again let me emphasise that Sufism is not something you need to read about in books or take notes on– It is something that you must experience! This is why we say, and we believe, that it is the heart and not the head, which is the Temple of Knowledge!
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That is also why, when doing our daily practices, and whilst reciting the Saum we place our right hand on our heart to signify and recognise that it is the Heart that is the Temple of God (Open our hearts towards thy beauty) - and by then placing our left hand on the other side of our breast that we recognise, and acknowledge, that our Soul comes from The Divine Source.
(Illuminate our souls with Divine Light.)
Here is a short quote from Essential Sufism: “There is wisdom of the heart far different from the wisdom of the head. The head can be misled by appearances; the wise heart sees beyond outer forms to inner reality. As one Sufi master explained Sufism: ‘Anyone can learn the outer forms of prayer and worship. Sufism seeks to develop a heart that can pray.’ ” (P36 Essential Sufism James Fadiman & Robert Frager) So perhaps it would be wise to hold these thoughts and teachings of our Murshid in our heart and, to some extent, in our head as we journey through this retreat. Maybe this will help us as we follow the daily teachings, readings and daily practices and enable us to have a better comprehension and a deeper understanding of what these attributes are, and how we can reflect these qualities or attributes to others. Perhaps this may also give us some understanding of what it means to be a Sufi: We don’t evangelize. We don’t preach to others. We don’t use dogma to justify or decry other people’s beliefs, No! It is by our demeanour, by our attitude, by what we do, rather than by what we say, that we demonstrate what Sufism is, or should, be! Can we truthfully look in the mirror and say to ourselves “Yes! This is what I believe and this is what I do!” I, for one, cannot. The reality is that I fail pretty often by letting my ego get the better of me in my speech, demeanour and behaviour. Why is this? In the short quote from Essential Sufism I read: “The head can be misled by appearances; the wise heart see beyond outer forms to inner reality.” Here also is a short extract from Gathekas 65/56 on making God intelligible. He concludes this Gathekas with these words: “Now we have two stages of making God intelligible. One stage was idol worship, and the other stage was ideal worship. One was the primitive stage, a stage in which God was made manifest in an unusual form, but at the same time intelligible. A further stage was that they made God an ideal. Instead of making him a God of forms, they made him a God of attributes. And they said all the beauty, goodness, wisdom, justice belongs to Him. All things that we can conceive in our minds(s), we give those things to God and consider all those things in God in their perfection. That is the highest form of making God intelligible.
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And so bearing all this in mind I will close by these words: We are here on this planet, or plane, by the Grace and Glory of God. By doing our practices faithfully and sincerely we will attain the Wisdom to complete ourselves here, as is the Divine plan. The consequences of this are that we will then experience the Joy and Peace, which will be the natural consequence of this completion, the unfoldment of our souls! Murshid Nawab has, in recent years, spent quite some time on teaching us about the God Ideal. So perhaps, rather than trying to comprehend the incomprehensible we should indeed, spend our precious time, whilst here on earth, trying to fulfil the task of developing our consciousness, recognising our attributes, and thus completing the unfoldment of our souls. Then, perhaps, we can truly return, trailing clouds of glory, to God who is our home. Amen
Addendum: If we accept that as stated in the Expansion of Consciousness that â€œ...the Soul is the Spirit and the Spirit is God and that the consciousness is the Divine element, the consciousness is the God part in usâ€? then surely, we can believe that, if we are truly blessed with the emergence of consciousness, and thus the enfoldment of our soul then we will have attained Divine Grace. With this blessing of Divine Grace then all the attributes of Glory, Wisdom, Joy and Peace would also be ours! It is axiomatic! Amen May 2017 Page 12 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 2 June 2017
Consciousness Contributed by Zubin Jessie Duncan Westbrook, the translator of Diwan of Inayat Khan, says “in these songs we hear the voice of the singer who seeks through ecstasy to obtain Divine Wisdom.” The poem “Consciousness” captures some of the retreat for me. Thou one Eternal Infinite Consciousness, Free from all name and form and change art Thou, Free from all passing attributes; in Thee The rich and poor and good and evil meet: Thy radiance is the Universal Soul, Each human soul is but a ray of Thee; Thou in the Universe art manifest, And Thou Thyself art manifest, And Thou Thyself art the Immortal Goal. We are rays of Thee, Eternal Sun, And live and move in Thee. All evil is But the illusion of our separateness. Thou art Thyself our veritable life, And manifestation does but clothe Thy Self In Souls and bodies and in hearts of men. All great religions that the world hath known Proclaim alike the knowledge of the Lord, And Saints and Sages and the mystic souls Who find the secret path, all seek for Thee. Faiths and beliefs reveal our ignorance, This Universe is but the play of God. In all existence art Thou, One, Alone; But in Thy different aspects we proclaim Thy being as the Holy Trinity – The Mother-spirit, Father, and the Son. Again as Allah do we call on Thee, The Merciful and the Compassionate. Knower and Actor Thou of all our deeds, Inspirer Thou of all we feel and do, Watching our virtues and our failings both. Master and Lord art Thou of Judgment Day, Tenderly guiding Thy beloved ones Lest from the path of virtue they should stray. O God of man, and even God of Gods, Eternal Holy Consciousness art Thou, O shine within me that my very soul, May gleam with radiance it hath caught from Thee!
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In Memoriam Zahira Madeleine Bullock By Zubin
Zahira was born Madeleine Mary Newport Tinley in United Kingdom on 20th April 1927, and passed away in the presence of her family at Canberra Hospital on 20 th May 2017. To my knowledge Madeleine devoted her life to her family and to peace. Although she kept meticulous records, and tolerated my interest and questions, she had no interest in being written about, so I am seeking her indulgence for this tribute to her life of courage and devotion. Madeleine married David in 1954, becoming Madeleine Bullock. They had three children, Coralie, Christopher and Katrina. After being widowed in 1986, Madeleine travelled for a year to relatives in South Africa, United Kingdom and United States. She returned to Canberra with her inner guide telling her she “must sing and dance”. Madeleine discovered the Dances of Universal Peace, hosted dance leaders in Australia, and travelled to United Kingdom and the Glastonbury Festival in 1992. There, on Midsummer Day at the local Sufi meeting she was initiated and named Zahira by Amida Harvey. Zahira Madeleine Bullock embodied the dances, led dance circles, and mentored dance leaders. Those touched by her passion for the dances and her hospitality, recall with affection the years when the dance meetings were held at her home at Weetangera early on a Saturday evening, and she would be shooing twenty or more people home at midnight. Zahira was made a Life Member of the International Dances of Universal Peace. Her training with international leaders of the Dances of Universal Peace, the retreats she organised, the newsletters she wrote for a decade, and the support she offered generously have sown the seeds for the foundations of the Dances of Universal Peace community in Australia. She truly lived up to her Sufi name - Zahira - often translated as brilliant, shining, luminous, radiant and also helpful, supporting, blossoming and flourishing. When Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz established the Abwoon Study Circle Zahira was drawn to this Native Middle Eastern tradition which offered “a path that transcended political and religious conflicts”. Zahira studied this wisdom and with Saadi’s agreement led in Aramaic, the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes, and the Nuri Mohammed Cycle particularly at Christmas, Easter or Eid. Page 14 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 2 June 2017
From 2006, Zahira opened her home to a weekly Sufi study group, where her belief in unity, and “simple presence” shaped her leadership and hospitality to all-comers. She was instrumental in the weekly vigil of Women in Black in Canberra, and an early member of a Chorus of Women who sing for the purpose of achieving peace through justice. Zahira extended her friendship practically and internationally. In her 80's Zahira joined the GOLD (Growing Old Disgacefully) community dance class for movers and non-movers over 55. Her commitment to fitness, inclusion, participation and creativity were demonstrated and shared in the context of increased confidence and well being for seniors. From 2013–15, Zahira continued meeting on a weekly basis with members of the Canberra Abwoon circle. Although by this time she had suffered a mild stroke which affected her ability to speak fluently. Through the practice of singing the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer, Zahira’s voice grew strong so as to powerfully embody the heart of the prayer for all present. Over three decades the inner guidance that she “must sing and dance” uncovered her natural voice and developed the inner feeling of unity, patience, gratitude, interest and indifference which she directed to all that was brought to her and all that she met in the course of being cared for. The greater the challenge the more Zahira she became. This year Zahira wanted ‘everybody’ to attend her 90th birthday and ideally to wear purple. The party went according to her wishes on a beautiful autumn afternoon at the hall in Corroboree Park, Canberra on 22nd April. A proliferation of well wishers in purple regaled her with flowers and celebrated her life with memories of shared friendship. The GOLD dance group and Chorus of Women gave performances that honoured her place as a foundation member of those communities. Zahira’s birthday cake make by her daughter Katrina, and iced using healthy mauve blueberry jelly crystals by granddaughter Rebecca focussed the ceremony. When Zahira’s son Chris proposed a toast to her 90th birthday, he acknowledged Zahira had “had a long journey”, beginning with her post war birth (1927) and including travel to Australia. Coralie added that her own emigration to America had shown her the not in significant challenges her mother experienced with emigration to Australia. Katrina was appreciated for being resident in Canberra and providing that ongoing support. Everyone of the near ninety people present raised their glass in a rousing toast to Zahira. When Zahira was ready to leave her 90th birthday gathering, her wheel chair was brought, and Chorus of Women drew everyone into a circle while singing a beautiful song. Chris guided the wheelchair to do three rounds of the circle, during which Zahira made strong eye contact with most people in the circle. As Chris backed the chair out of the circle Zahira gave that queenly wave of Unity with the One. “Send upon her Spirit Thy Mercy Thy Compassion and Thy Peace. Amen”. The link below will take you to photos & detailed text on Dances of Universal Peace Australia website celebrating Zahira’s 90th birthday, and achievements for DOUP and in the Canberra community. http://dancesofuniversalpeaceaustralia.org/reflecting-with-zahira-madeleine-bullock/
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One of the best-known tales of that incomparably wise character of Afghan folklore, Mulla Nasruddin, concerns his life as a smuggler. For years, the mulla was known for his habit of crossing the Afghan border with nothing but a straw-laden donkey. Asked by customs officers whether he had anything to declare, the answer was always the same: "nothing but straw." A search always followed; but no matter how hard the officials prodded and probed the donkey's load, no contraband was ever found. Years later, the now-retired chief of customs happens to meet the mulla in a teahouse. "All those years ago," he tells Nasruddin, "we knew you were up to something, but we never found anything. Since we are both old men now, can you tell me what it was you were smuggling?" "Donkeys!" comes the answer. Jason Elliot www.jasonelliot.com Image courtesy of oshojokes.blogspot.com.au
Contributed by Sakina
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Newsletter of the Sufi Movement in Australia