Below is a recorded archive of the Living Sufism sessions that have been held to date. To simply play (and pause) a recording, click on the white triangle at the center of the small “Living Sufism” graphic listed under each description. To access more playback features, click on the link at the end of each description, which will play the video from the Vimeo.com website.
February 19, 2017 Sharif Peter Hawkins
"Pilgrimage: A Journey of Awakening"
During this session we will undertake a mini-pilgrimage together to become familiar with the stages involved. I will also interview three pilgrims — one a Turkish Sufi teacher who has completed the Hajj to Mecca, another who has completed a six-week pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, and a third who has written a book on eco-spiritual pilgrimage, an account of venturing alone into the wilderness and nature. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
January 29, 2017 Rabia Elizabeth Roberts
"Lessons of the Dark Light"
Many of us grow up believing that it is possible to minimize and even eliminate personal suffering. We are told that if we are really good or spiritual, inner discomfort will not (or should not) even arise — and if it does it can be fixed with medication, a spiritual retreat, or getting a better job. But what if our inner anguish is not only natural but also essential, offering gifts we can’t receive in any other way? How might we wake up to the life-giving lessons hidden in our darkest times. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
January 8, 2017 Puran Lucas Perez
"The Earthly Gates of Paradise"
The code book of Life is freely available in the natural world. Sufi Inayat Khan, among others, encourages us to study the “sacred scripture” found in everything around us. There we will find the wellsprings of true wisdom, and guidance for a happy, successful life. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
December 18, 2016 Carol Barrow
"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
In his Open Path trainings, Pir Elias often speaks of pure listening. The incisive French nondual teacher, Jean Klein, spoke of “listening to listening.” And Jesus, while in the desert, listened profoundly to his Father. In this session we will explore “full presence listening,” a capacity we are born with that can deepen all of our practices and how we live each moment of our days. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
November 27, 2016 Kunderke Noverraz
"Spiritual Practice and Health"
By adopting practices that support peace of mind and a positive outlook on life, practices that promote inner balance, right relationship, and a healthy rhythm of living, we can nourish our vitality and encourage our bodies to open to the healing power of Nature. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
November 6, 2016 Kiran Rana
"Chilla — The Inductive, Not-too-logical Task-Challenge-Ordeal"
A chilla is a voluntarily undertaken experience that may help a student or seeker go beyond their apparent boundaries. When a student requests a chilla, usually with a deep wish or goal in mind, the guide suggests a task intuited from or inspired by a larger vision of the life capacity of the student. We will explore the history of these practices, some ideas of how they work, and different kinds of chillas that are offered within the Sufi Way. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
October 16, 2016 Puran Perez "The Practice of Making Meaning"
Meaning is something we make, as much as discover. But unexamined mental habits can trap us in closed loops of experience. Sufi teachings offer an interpretive framework for freeing and clarifying our understanding of what is happening to us, and why. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
September 25, 2016 Elias Amidon "Continuous Realization"
Spiritual awakening is not a one-time event. Living one’s awakening is a dynamic process — it includes the entirety of our lives as a field of continuous realization — realization that is guided by curiosity, humility, and creativity.
The five meta-practices we will explore in this presentation are themselves reservoirs of countless particular practices that we find in mystical paths, or that we can invent ourselves moment by moment — practices that keep our realization fresh and authentic. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
June 5, 2016 Elias Amidon "Cultivating Our Garden"
Let us imagine that one day, perhaps many hundreds of years from now, our species will have finally learned the secret of "doing the beautiful,” as Sufis call it. What is that secret, what might it look like, and, most importantly, what is our contribution now to its fruition? We will remember Camus' guidance: “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present." (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
May 1, 2016 Rabia Elizabeth Roberts "HerStory"
In this Living Sufism session we will explore the evolutionary back-story experienced by the female half of humanity over the past million years or so. We will look at the interwoven aspects of women’s physical, social, and spiritual evolution, and ask some difficult questions about the prospects for humanity’s survival if the gift of feminine consciousness continues to be obscured and ignored.
We live at a perilous moment in human history, and it is not an exaggeration to say that our peril is largely due to social behaviors typical of patriarchal dominance, such as competition, aggression and violence.
What might it look like for planetary cultures if the leadership roles men now occupy (or half of them) were in the hands of women? How would such a transformation affect your life?. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
April 3, 2016 Sharif Hawkins "A New Relationship Between the Human and More-than-Human World”
In "The Way of Illumination" Inayat Khan said: "There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader." Sa'di, the great poet of Persia, wrote: "Every leaf of the tree becomes a page of the Book when once the heart is opened and it has learnt to read." This session will explore how we can find a new relationship with the more than human world by allowing it to become our teacher. Sharif will be joined by the influential author of "The Illusion of Separation" and "The Nature of Business,” Giles Hutchins. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
March 6, 2016 Sharif Hawkins "The Courage to be Present”
It is often not easy to remain present when faced with personal or global suffering or predictions of catastrophic destruction. We instinctively contract and close down in order to protect ourselves from powerful feelings of pain, despair and hopelessness. But it is this contraction that then blocks us and prevents us from constructively engaging with our life and the world around us. How can we find the courage and inner balance to remain present with what is? In this conversation we will explore this question, drawing upon our own experiences. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
February 7, 2016 Kiran Rana "What's Love Sex Got to Do With It?”
In this Living Sufism session we’ll look at whether the emotionally repressed and violent nature of so much human action toward people, species and a defenseless planet is related to a lack of sexual intimacy and lovemaking in our lives. We can see that male-dominated religions attempt to control women and have built a wall of shame and guilt around sexual expression. Is the jihadist missionary/conqueror syndrome a symptom of this repression? Is the relentless marketing of sex in the media tied to the high rates of rape, human trafficking, and child abuse and molestation? Does the ecological violation of the planet come from the same place? If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, what can we do about it? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
January 3, 2016 Lysana Robinson "Hope, Brief Encounters, and Personal Connections”
How can our Inner Life foster hopefulness in ourselves and also help us to emanate hope? How can it encourage us to inspire others as we engage with the positive aspects of these challenging times? It is so easy to be downcast by the onslaught of mainstream media coverage with its focus on the sensational and negative, yet this is definitely not the whole story. How can we be part of the other, less-frequently-told story? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
December 6, 2015 Puran Lucas Perez "Standing in the Whirlwind”
We face a Gordian knot of issues. Environmental destruction cannot be considered apart from global economic policies, or the social pressures they foster and the fundamentalisms they incubate. Where can one stand and what can one stand for in such a maelstrom? How can one take meaningful action in such a complex world? Are there spiritual beacons that can help us see where we are, and where we might go? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
November 1, 2015 Elizabeth Rabia Roberts "Conversation, Community and Caring”
In our complex, technological culture it is easy to feel we do not have the capacity or the power to create needed changes. But a more just and sustainable culture will not come about solely through “top-down” policies or technical fix-its. The first steps are always thoughtful conversations, sincere caring and community efforts. These human capacities are all within our reach. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
October 4, 2015 Elias Amidon "The Inner Life”
A person with a deep inner life is one who is best able to act wisely in times of turmoil and change. He is steady. She is unafraid. He is kind. She is present to what is. In this opening session of the 2015-16 Living Sufism series, we will contemplate the mystery at the heart of the inner life, and what Inayat Khan meant when he said,“The inner life is lived by being in unity with the primal cause." (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
June 21, 2015 Elias Amidon "This Buoyancy”
In this final session of the 2014-15 Living Sufism series, we will open ourselves to the visceral experience of trust. Even the most worried of us trusts: we trust gravity to hold us to the earth, we trust our eyes to see, our hand to reach for the cup of tea, our lips to smile when we meet a friend. But this natural, deep-seated faith of our being mostly goes unnoticed. Instead we look through it in anticipation of trouble ahead, and miss the ever-present buoyancy that releases all fear, even the fear of death. What is this buoyancy? We can only know it when we trust it. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
June 6, 2015 Kunderke Noverraz "Learning from Hafez”
The Persian poet Hafez loved freedom, sincerity, and beauty, and intensely disliked dogmatism and hypocrisy. In order to promote the first and avoid the latter he advocated the Way of the Spiritual Libertine and the Path of Blame. In this session we will read his beautiful poetry and discuss his ideas with reference to the realisation of our own spiritual freedom. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
May 24, 2015 Kiran Rana "Three Mirrors of Emptiness”
Spontaneity and the No-Self: in the mirror of the moment there is only the reflection of experience, and it is infinite.
Love Beyond Loving: Beyond the love we give and take is a counter-gravity that offers nothing to hold on to and sweeps upward through us, leaving us amazed.
The Practice of No Practice: “I asked: How can I reach toward? You said: I never let go of your hand…” (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
May 11, 2015 Puran Lucas Perez "Once Upon Forever — The Stories of Our Lives”
Why are stories such a vital part of wisdom transmission in Sufi traditions? Is there a method to the madness of Nasrudin? How do stories functions as a form of medicine? And most important, what is ‘the story of your life’ telling you? In Sufism there are two wings of contemplative practice—meditation and imagination. Zikr, fikr, wazifa and other methods make up the meditative wing. Stories, poetry, jokes, music and dance are the ways through which ‘the imaginal’ is explored and developed. Underlying this wing of contemplative practice is a detached but engaged attunement to the narratives we experience and live. The primary capacity for this is creativity. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
April 12, 2015 Kiran Rana “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor...?”
Dealing with the unruly, addictive, and disappointed self
There is a running metaphor in sufi poetry of “mein sharabi” – I’m drunk, drunk on life and not aware of it. Caught in the intoxication of the moment, sure of my judgments and preferences, drunk on the illusion that I control how I act, appear, and feel, trying to escape from voices of self-loathing and rejection. Alternately defiant and lonely, I reach out through prison bars, longing to connect, longing for some magic, some medicine to set me free. And, sometimes, just when I feel I am finding my balance, I realize I have drunk the wine again. Where am I? Who are these others? What can I do? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
March 22, 2015 Elias Amidon "Taking Heart in Troubled Times"
A deeper exploration into a central theme from the March 8 Living Sufism talk, The Beautiful Revolution: where do we find the courage – the heart – to live vibrantly, and to respond generously and creatively, in times of crisis? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
March 8, 2015 Elias Amidon "The Beautiful Revolution"
With all the news of disasters, viciousness, and greed flooding our consciousness, it is easy to miss the deeper and ultimately stronger current of positive transformation that our species is experiencing. Sometimes called the Great Turning, the Great Transformation, the Paradigm Shift, the New Story, this transformation is extending what we know to be true at the level of spirit and bringing it forth at the level of social organization. In this Sunday’s gathering, we will consider some of the signs of this ‘beautiful revolution,’ and how we can dedicate our lives to its fruition. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Feb. 8, 2015 Sharif Peter Hawkins "Eco-Spirituality as a Living Form of Sufism"
One of the most urgent challenges confronting our species is to find new ways of learning from, and living in harmony with, the more-than-human world. The more-than-human world feeds us, sustains, and supports us, and constantly teaches us if we can learn to listen and re-find our intimate connection with the wider web of existence. In this session we will face this challenge directly, recognizing that the ‘environment’ is not other but is inseparable from our very being. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
January 25, 2015 Kunderke and Karim Noverraz "Mysticism and Music"
Why do we respond so deeply to music? And why do all spiritual traditions use some form of music, rhythm, or melodic mantra as an important meditative practice? Inayat Khan was a brilliant musician and reflected deeply on this subject. He also initiated a unique form of musical sama which has become a central aspect of the communal gatherings of the Sufi Way. During this hour we will explore how listening to and making music can be a spiritual path; in the process we will offer musical samples from different Sufi traditions. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
January 11, 2015 Kiran Rana "Everything that Touches Me is You"
On the in breath: All that touches me is —
On the out breath: Your own touch
Drawing on this beautiful Nature meditation of Sufi Inayat Khan, plus a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, plus a song made famous by The Stylistics (and Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross), and more, with a chorus of angels and humans, this will be a mixed musical and poetic meditation on our immediate, electric, sensual, inward, sublime and feral connection with things, each other – and nothing. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
December 7, 2014 Puran Lucas Perez "The Alchemy of Happiness"
There is a futility in the pursuit of happiness. The harder we try to be happy, the more elusive it seems to be. Perhaps this is because no amount of effort and action can get us what we already have. In his Alchemy of Happiness, Inayat Khan (and al-Ghazali in his 11th century work) suggests that not only do we already possess happiness, but that it is our essential nature. What are the practical dimensions of the alchemy to which these great Sufis point us? Perhaps they are to be found in the cultivation of happiness as a means rather than an end. (Puran is joined by Odessa Avianna Perez and Dr. Tanis Day.) (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
November 16, 2014 Kunderke Noverraz "Meaning and Identity"
Does my life have meaning? Do I need to create meaning? Do I need to have an identity in order to live a meaningful life? What is this feeling of identity? Fazal Inayat-Khan and Elias Amidon have addressed questions such as these from different perspectives. In this talk we will reflect on how their approaches can complement each other and help us to deepen our understanding. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
November 2, 2014 Puran Lucas Perez and Jeanne Rana "The Portal of Poetry"
Developing our poetic sensibility enables us to more consciously experience the connection between our inner and outer realities. Appreciating the great illuminators — Rumi, Hafez, Rilke, Yeats, Eliot, Tagore — we glimpse the boundless aliveness within human experience. And by developing our capacity to write poetically we can find personal revelation in the stuff of everyday living. Writing poems as spiritual practice is an art beyond judgment or qualification. In this sense, we can all be poets. It is a skill that can be developed in the same way that we practice meditation — faithfully alert for the truth glowing through all that appears. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
October 19, 2014 Elias Amidon "Intimacy with Our World"
In my way of understanding, a sufi is not a particular kind of spiritual person who believes certain things or who performs certain practices. I like to think instead that a sufi is simply a human being capable of intimacy. When you are intimate with your world you are sufi, whether you call yourself that or not. In this opening session of the 2014-15 Living Sufism series, we will explore what it means to be intimate, what prevents us from intimacy, and how we can nurture intimacy in the difficult as well as the tender moments of our lives. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
July 20, 2014 Elias Amidon "Seeing the One World with Two Eyes"
Once we have been touched by the realization of the nondual nature of Being, how shall we live this apparently dualistic, human life? If we have released all attachments, can we still desire and love? During this final presentation of this year’s Living Sufism series, we will open to the paradoxes of love and emptiness, action and non-effort, time and timelessness, mortality and deathlessness, learning, in Rumi’s words, “to see the one world with two eyes.” (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
July 6, 2014 Kiran Rana "Subtlety, Adab, and the Beloved of the Veil"
In the context of Living Sufism, this is a conversation about the importance of how we treat each other, about relationship. Inayat Khan called subtlety “the art of intelligence.” Adab is the practiced, nonchalant expression of this art in behavior, conversation, bearing, discretion and loving – eventually, perhaps, even in breath and dreams. And then at a certain moment we begin to see how the form, adab, is also essence, the veiled Beloved. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
June 15, 2014 Sharif Peter Hawkins "Sufism and Leadership"
As Rumi tells us, “Leadership is a poison unless you have the antidote in your heart.” Leadership is not a role but an attitude, an attitude of discovering what you can uniquely offer that the world of tomorrow needs. What is the leadership each of us is called to take? How do we find the appropriate adab – courtesy – to make our leadership both gentle and forthright? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
June 1, 2014 Kunderke Noverraz "The Journey of Inayat Khan"
Sufi Inayat Khan made two remarkable journeys: an outer and an inner one. Traveling from India to the West in the early twentieth century he was faced with the daunting challenge of having to reconcile two very different word views and value systems while remaining true to his own spiritual integrity as a Sufi teacher. It is due to the daring and creativity with which he accomplished this task that his contribution has proven to be a lasting one. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
May 18, 2014 Puran Lucas Perez "Flashes: The Poetry of Fazal Inayat-Khan"
Rumi, Hafiz, Atar, ‘Iraqi and others gave voice to a golden era of illuminating, inspiring verse. As a principle channel of Sufi teachings, these works have echoed for centuries. Then along came Fazal Inayat-Khan’s poetic revolution in both style and substance: the florid passion of the drunkard in the tavern giving way to crystalline contradiction and inscrutability, whose effect is not unlike a dose of LSD. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
May 4, 2014 Elizabeth Rabia Roberts "Expanding the Boundaries of Your Heart" – II (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
April 20, 2014 Elizabeth Rabia Roberts "Expanding the Boundaries of Your Heart" – I
Most of us spend a lifetime trying to reach out and open our heart to others, looking for intimacy and love. Today the need for a wider sense of kinship is greater than ever. This requires engaging with people who hold points of view radically different from our own. In this two-part series I will draw from twenty-five years of working in other cultures to suggest ways of stepping across boundaries, facing our fears of the unknown, and learning the art of listening. Over time, as we loosen the attachments to our personal and group agendas, we begin to sense what is trying to emerge in the larger whole. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
April 6, 2014 Judy Ryde "Pure Listening"
Pure listening is a way of listening from a position of non-attachment. When we practice pure listening we have no desire as to the outcome of the listening. This presentation will be largely experiential and give opportunities for participants to practice pure listening in pairs with feedback from a third. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
March 16, 2014 Isha Francis "Nagarjuna and the Open Path"
Nagarjuna (ca 150-250 CE), one of the most important teachers in the history of Buddhism, developed the philosophy of “the middle way” based on the recognition of emptiness, or openness. In this two-part series we will consider parallels between the Open Path of the Sufi Way and Nagarjuna’s analysis of reality – for example: “Neither from itself nor from another, nor from both, nor without a cause, does anything whatever, anywhere arise.” (Nagarjuna) and “Open Awareness is not a thing, or a state...it is empty of any conditions or attributes. The spontaneous presence of unconditioned, open awareness has no limits or boundaries. It is not personal to us, though it is the essence of our being.” (The Open Path) (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Feb. 16, 2014 Judy Ryde "Care Giving as Spiritual Practice"
As with everything else in life, care giving provides us with opportunities for nondual spiritual practice. It is perhaps more likely than other daily activities to pull us towards ego satisfactions or complaints such as ‘look how good I am’ or ‘why is it me who has to do this?’ At the same time, it is a practice in which we can find a genuine sense of service and compassion for each other. This presentation will explore these themes and provide opportunities for self-exploration in small groups. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Feb. 2, 2014 Elias Amidon "Zikr — What is Remembered?"
The iconic practice of Sufis is zikr: remembrance. Spoken, sung, or resonated silently within, the zikr is a mantric repetition that has the capacity to obliterate self and other, subject and object, leaving presence simply present to itself. In this session we will consider together the “how” of zikr, and its own vanishing in what is remembered. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Jan. 19, 2014 Kunderke Noverraz "The Story of Drunken and Sober Sufis"
There has always been a strong tradition in Sufism of cultivating states of mystical abandon and ecstasy, or divine intoxication. Contrasted with this is the emphasis on attaining psychological stability, clarity of mind and observance of proper conduct. Tensions between these two trends have been and continue to be frequent, but there have also been many attempts to reconcile and balance them. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Jan. 5, 2014 Kunderke Noverraz "The Origins of Sufism"
While we orient ourselves to the universal dimension of Sufism, we also need to acknowledge the distinctive roots from which it has grown. In this talk we will look at the mystery traditions of the ancient Middle East and the mysticism of early Islam, and see how these have shaped Sufi thought and practice. (Please note: a poor phone connection caused static during the first six minutes of this talk.) (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Dec. 15, 2013 Sharif Peter Hawkins "The Nondual Jesus"
For many of us brought up in the West our understanding of the life and teaching of Jesus is coloured by many years of church and political dogma. This talk will explore a number of ways to uncover the radical non-dual teachings and practices of Jesus. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Dec. 1, 2013 Elizabeth Rabia Roberts "The Last Great Passage"
Rather than turning away in our cultural denial of death, we have the opportunity to consciously face into this last great passage. What are the stories we hold about our death? How have they changed? How do they serve our final surrender? Are we ready now? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Nov. 17, 2013 Kiran Rana "The Qalandari Trance – History, Mystery, and Meaning"
Qalandars are figures of magic and fascination, representing something very fundamental in Sufism: a radical commitment to integrity, spontaneity and spiritual liberation. Like the elementary particle, the quark, qalandars have charm and strangeness, embracing chivalry but rejecting respectability, sometimes at great personal risk. We will wander through the history and ideals of this paradoxical non-linear lineage, touching also on why it was important to Murshid Fazal Inayat-Khan and why it is part of the ethos of the Sufi Way. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Nov. 3, 2013 Mehera Bakker "Inayat Khan’s Teachings on Balance"
What is needed to live a life of outer action and inner repose? The great mystic and musician Sufi Inayat Khan shows us how to balance the call for action in the world with the nourishment of our inner lives. In Sufism, living both our outer and inner lives to the full is called the Art of Living. In today’s hectic and materialistic world, practice in the Art of Living is more necessary than ever. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Oct. 20, 2013 Puran Lucas Perez, Elias Amidon "Nondual Insights and the Challenges of Daily Life"
The style of nondual teachings expressed in the Sufi Way today bring with them beautiful and mysterious insights into life. However, like a veil in front of these insights are our stories, stories about ourselves, about others, about what is right and what is wrong, about spirit and the material world. As we begin to see through these stories, everything changes. Together we will discuss how these changes are showing up in our lives. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Oct. 6, 2013 Kiran Rana "How Do You Answer the Question: What is a Sufi?"
Over generations the word “Sufi” has become a magic cloak, sometimes serving as a symbol of purity and devotion, other times offering a comfortable indefinability. But what does this mantle mean today? Do you wear it? Why, and what is your responsibility toward it? As Sufism emerges from within Islam, this question becomes even more interesting. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Sept. 15, 2013 Puran Lucas Perez "Sufi Practices: Essence and Evolution"
Are traditional spiritual practices sufficient for who we are today? Are there practices, yet to be created, which would better serve in a world where the boundaries between ‘isms’ are disintegrating? And if we are to evolve Sufi practices, how might we deepen our understanding of their essence? (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)
Sept. 1, 2013 Elias Amidon "Living Sufism"
I have described Sufism as the self-cleaning capacity of the human heart, a current of renewal that frees us from make-believe, that rejuvenates us like rain falling on a humid summer afternoon, fresh and fragrant. While this description does not acknowledge the vast literature and oral teachings that have been offered over the centuries in the name of Sufism, it does point to the heart of its gift, which is — in Rumi’s words — free medicine. As we begin this seminar in Living Sufism, we will prepare ourselves to receive this gift. (Click here to watch on Vimeo.)