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A Visit With Orland Bishop

Posted by Jennifer Alia Wittman on April 1, 2009

How do I need to be for you to be free? – Orland Bishop

As we further investigate the areas of Cosmology, Revelation, Mysticism and Chivalry, people come to mind, or are recommended, to come visit us and inform our work.

Last year we hosted an impromptu visit with Dorothy Maclean, in the middle of February, while the Abode (our home) was covered in ice. Dorothy is in her 80’s, and fearlessly toured the property, walking right on the ice—no avoidance. She is one with the natural world.

This past month we happily received Orland Bishop, founder of the Shade Tree Multi-cultural Foundation in Los Angeles. As with Dorothy, Orland toured the place, met privately with Seven Pillars’ founder, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, and then offered a public talk and tea in the Abode’s library. He was also kind enough to continue with ten of us after dinner, holding a group dialogue revisiting topics from the afternoon. Dialogue is key to Orland’s work, as it is to the work of Seven Pillars.

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The Nature of Revelation

Posted by Abi-Ru Shirzan Ghosh on April 1, 2009

If we want to understand the deep nature of revelation, we are in fact wishing for revelation about revelation. Fortunately, we begin the journey of revelation no later than our first breath and end it no earlier than our last. By definition, revelation is the act of pulling aside a veil, or what is perceived when the veil is pulled aside. Thus, revelation involves disclosure of what was already present, although hidden, mysterious, unrecognized.

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Sacred Spaces

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on March 4, 2009

Dargah is a Persian word meaning “royal court.” In the Indian subcontinent it commonly refers to the tombs of Sufi saints. For nearly a millennium these shrines have formed an integral part of the rural and urban landscapes of South Asia.

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Vegetarian or Omnivore?

Posted by Jennifer Alia Wittman on March 4, 2009

The week Pir Zia was contemplating his blog on why he adopted a vegetarian diet, I recognized, after ten years as an omnivore, my love of living, breathing animals, and how incongruous it is for an animal lover to eat their animal friends for dinner.

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The Homesteader Lifestyle: Growing a Nature-Minded Consciousness

Posted by Jennifer Alia Wittman on February 16, 2009

Recently I have been studying up on shower curtain liners -- those large pieces of plastic that we buy at grocery and drug stores, usually for under $10. I’ve been learning about how they emit toxins, how they hold mold and allergins, and how they live in landfills f–o–r–e–v–e–r.

For years I have been living with old curtain liners, ones that close friends and brave house guests complain about, all because I cannot bring myself to buy new ones in fear of environmental disaster. Now I’m seriously thinking about redoing my bathroom, and am making a sincere study of non-toxic possibilities.

And my only question is, “How did I get here?”

How did I become someone who cannot make a purchase without questioning its origin, ingredients, and future life in a landfill?

Well, I’m an obvious product of my environment, and over the past few years have been heavily influenced by the thoughtful acts of my friends and neighbors, much more so than by the now environmentally-friendly media.

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Dante’s Pluralism Review

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on January 28, 2009

Dante’s relationship with Islam and Islamic thought is something of a conundrum. On the one hand, Dante notoriously assigned Muhammad (peace be upon him) a miserable fate in the eighth circle of Hell. On the other hand, the entire structure of The Divine Comedy bears an unmistakable resemblance to Muhammad’s fabled mi’raj or ascension, as Miguel Asin Palacios demonstrated nearly a century ago.

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Stop the Violence

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on January 19, 2009

Every time brother kills brother—as is happening right now in the Holy Land—it is an unspeakable violation of the beneficent order of creation, an outrage of cosmic proportions. But we hardly notice. Habituated as we are to a ceaseless flow of electronic entertainment jam-packed with murder and mayhem, violence has lost its edge for us.

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Forty Minutes for Forty Days - Mysticism in Action!

Posted by Eva Cristofalo on January 12, 2009

Looking for ways to connect your personal spiritual practices with the cry of the world?  The Second Annual Winter Feast for the Soul, A 40-day Worldwide Spiritual Practice Period will take place from 15 January to 23 February 2009...

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Beginning a Dialogue: The Economic Crisis

Posted by Jennifer Alia Wittman on January 8, 2009

Recently a group of Seven Pillars’ Guiding Voices met via conference call to dialogue about the current economic climate, with Deepa Patel, a member of Seven Pillars’ board, as facilitator.

The conversation was a lively, two-hour exchange. Rather than post the entire transcript, we share below excerpts compiled to present the core thinking of each of the participants.

We would like to invite you to join the conversation. What is your “core thinking” as it relates to the economic crisis? Is there a larger viewpoint to be taken during trying economic times, one that comes from a perspective of oneness, holism and sacredness?

Now, on to the dialogue…

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Meatless Days

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on January 7, 2009

Though raised an omnivore, as a child I had little appetite for flesh foods. I wanted nothing on my plate that reminded me of the chipmunks and robins I was trying to befriend behind our house.

One day our Buddhist neighbors lent me a book by their teacher, the late Roshi Philip Kapleau, entitled To Cherish All Life. Reading Kapleau’s harrowing account of the horrors endured by animals in factory farms, the scales fell from my eyes and I have held to a bloodless diet ever since.

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Advice from Wendell Berry

Posted by Eva Cristofalo on January 5, 2009

I feel that this Wendell Berry poem touches deeply upon the possibility for those of us seeking to lead whatever we might mean by a ‘spiritual’ life, a ‘mystical’ life, to dive into that Divine Presence, to recognize that the body experiences the finitude of Time even while the soul is present with the Cosmic Oneness which unites past and present in that moment which is always Now...

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Advancing the Emerging Planetary Culture

Posted by Jennifer Alia Wittman on January 5, 2009

Welcome to our new Director’s Blog!

Over the next months this space will be used to introduce the thoughts and work of leading thinkers within Seven Pillars’ network, all of whom are dedicated to advancing the "emerging planetary culture" that recognizes and values beauty, oneness, depth, and sacredness, both within individuals and the collective.

Personal reflections on Seven Pillars' efforts to advance this new planetary culture will also be featured here.

Please join me as a contributor through your comments to these and other posts throughout our web site. Share with us your vision, values and hope for the world and the community of species living together on our fragile yet resilient planet, Earth.

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The Wine of Creation

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on December 25, 2008

Wine is the sole salvation,
Its worship and works sublime;
Be firm thy determination,
Hafiz be saved in time.

Life may be likened to a tavern in which we figure as thirsty customers. 

Tavern culture has its stages.  In the first stage, judgment is lacking.  Any mind-numbing inebriant will do.  The headache that follows is simply a prompt to drain another glass.

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A Call to Wisdom

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on December 17, 2008

In respectful tribute to the author of A Letter to Hebrews.

And what is wisdom? Wisdom is seeing the whole in the parts, and in the whole, seeing the holy.

It is for their wisdom that the prophets and prophetesses of the past are remembered.

By wisdom we receive the universe as the revelation of the Eternal and Infinite inscribed on the scroll of time and space.

By wisdom Adam and Eve were led to taste the fruit of knowledge and to step from the narrow garden of innocence into the wide world of experience.

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A World of Loyal Dog Morality

Posted by Satya Khan on December 10, 2008

One of my favorite aspects of chivalry is a curiosity about peoples' ideals. If we all sat down - coming from our different cultures, upbringings, and viewpoints - and wrote down our highest ideals, would there be common themes?

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‘Id al-Adha

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on December 7, 2008

‘Id al-Adha is upon us!  For those who may not know, ‘Id al-Adha (“The Feast of the Sacrifice”) is the major sacred festival of the Islamic calendar.  The significance of ‘Id al-Adha turns on an event that is remembered with equal reverence by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike: the story of Abraham’s (peace be upon him) intended sacrifice of his son.

The Torah (Genesis 22:1-18) relates that God instructed Abraham to offer up his favorite son as a burnt offering, to which the faithful prophet readily assented.  Just as Abraham was lifting the knife to his son’s throat a heavenly messenger intervened, declaring that he had sufficiently proven his devotion.  Hearing this, Abraham sacrificed a ram in place of his son, whereupon the angel announced God’s blessing upon the prophet and his descendents and all nations.

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Seeing the Earth as a Planetary Body

Posted by Ayaz Joseph Newland on November 22, 2008

Photographs of the Earth from space, the first from 1966, and now of planets circling other suns, new in November 2008, enlarge our vision of the planet where we live and enrich our view of the universe.

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Wolfram’s Lesson

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on November 15, 2008

Politics aside, what is remarkable about Barack Obama’s victory is that, for the first time in history, it puts a “black” man in the White House.

Of course Obama is not black. I for one have never met a black person. Nor have I met a white person for that matter. Black and white might have served as useful descriptors in the era of monochrome television, but those days are gone.

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Starting with the Universe

Posted by Ayaz Joseph Newland on November 14, 2008

Welcome to a small corner of the cosmos dedicated to exploring cosmology and a re-enchantment of humanity’s view of the world. Traditionally, cosmology has resided more in the realm of philosophy than science. Here, now, at Seven Pillars, the two are seen as complementary, often inseparable. Increasingly so, in fact. Convergence is one of the wonderful things about a world that is becoming ever more complex, but in that process, many branches of inquiry are growing together, not apart.

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Introducing the Founder’s Blog

Posted by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan on November 12, 2008

Welcome to the Founder's Blog. I look forward to using this forum to share some of my ideas and impressions touching on the theme of world wisdom. The mode of writing will likely differ from entry to entry. One day it might be a poem or prayer, another day a book review or opinion piece. Periods of extended travel excepted, I hope to update the blog at least once a month. I welcome your comments, though I regret that I may not be able to write back. Thank you for your visit, and peace be with you.

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