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Posts Tagged ‘oneness’

Mysticism as Doctrine and Experience: Prof. Karel Werner

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 10, 2010

Mysticism as Doctrine & Experience: Prof. Karel Werner

Thursday 8th April



Prof. Karel Werner of SOAS University, Religious studies Dept. reviewed the history of Mysticism contrasting the themes of doctrinal belief and ecstatic mystical union. His statement that ‘belief in doctrine was childish’ caused some discussion. He compared also the experience of interfaith dialogue and relationships today with the communities of mystics who have appeared throughout history. He added that the backlash of those who could not understand those who transcended their belief to enter an ecstatic, mystical oneness has also been a common historical theme.

The lecture first attempted a definition of mysticism and then search for its roots or beginnings.  

‘In Europe it had its roots in the ecstatic experiences of initiates into the mystery cults of ancient Greece, drew substantially from Judaic tradition and was developed into a doctrine within Christianity. But some influence on Greek mysticism is already detectable as coming from Indian approach to the Divine. It can be traced also in Gnosticism. The same can be said about Muslim mysticism practised within the Sufi movements.

There is nothing specifically European and  Christian about mysticism as such. Its beginnings in the twilight of Greek history and also in mystical trends in the Indian Vedas point to its even older origins in Indo-European antiquity. But the fact that mystical trends can also be found in other cultures in Asia, particularly in Chinese Daoism, points clearly to the universality of the phenomenon of mysticism. Descriptions by mystics of their experiences further suggest that there is a common core to them which goes beyond doctrinal differences between religions. This is where religions should and could meet.’

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‘The Search for Spirituality’ Book Launch by Prof. Ursula King

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 12, 2009

June 11th 2009

‘Spirituality is becoming popular. Even sociologists have become spiritual!’ said Professor Ursula King while discussing her latest book, ‘The Search for Spirituality: Our Global Quest for Meaning and Fulfillment’. She referred to a  cultural vision of spiritual oneness beyond diversity of race, nationality and religion that is evolving within the human species. It is an evolution that was not discussed by Darwin but it is happening nevertheless. Gustav Jung referred to a coming together of the interconnectedness of humanity.

Prof. Ursula King

Mr Jay Lakhani

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Prof. King defined spirituality in terms of the web of life, through the relationship to oneself, to others, to the environment and the Divine Spirit, Creator or God. The growing edge of spirituality, she explained, was not under our control and therefore is full of mystery as we pass through the stages of our life. We need to educate children about spirituality because we need to know how to allow our spirit to flourish throughout the ‘dance of life’.

Interfaith dialogue can enable a person to discover the spirituality within another faith. This can help us to develop both spiritual literacy and the awareness that we have great resources within us.

Mr. Jay Lakhani, the Education Director of the Hindu Council UK, suggested that there is close link between science and spirituality becoming visible at the growing-edge of science. Quantum Physics for example is clearly suggesting that the underpinning to this creation is not matter but something that is guaranteed not to be matter. What is it?  Hinduism has been claiming that the underpinning to this universe and ourselves is essentially the Spirit. First it manifests as matter then it becomes more visible as living things and clearest vision of spirit is Men and Women. This is called Spiritual Humanism.

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum who is a lecturer at the Muslim College, Ealing and a Prison Chaplain, referred to Chapter 1 and 4 as areas of the book that he really appreciated. He emphasised an inspiring figure in history for him was Mansur Al-Hallaj who was executed for proclaiming that he had seen the Lord. He thought that such a figure would have been inspired by this book. He explained the spirituality of submission with reference to the Quran and Mansur Al-Hallaj. Concluding that ‘to know God is to know ourself and the only way to know yourself is to know others.’

The evening progressed well with a number of other contributions including that of Mohammed Ali, CEO of the Islam Channel and Dr Satwant Multani, Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith, who was visiting from Scotland. Prof. King summarised the evening saying, ‘I really wished Prof. Ninian Smart could still have been with us – he would have much enjoyed the evening and the company. I hope it will inspire some people to be more spiritual….’

For more photos click here. Follow the link for more about the UPF Interfaith Committee.

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