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Three Seven Pillars Experiences

Los Angeles, California

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  1. Living Wisdom Tour: Los Angeles (1)

    Sophia, “Lady Wisdom” (performed here by Mayaya Gabay), arrives out of darkness into light. She carries candles on a tray above her head. Every audience member was given a candle upon entrance, and all of the candles were lit row by row, during this warm opening procession.

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    The beautiful St. John's Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. St. John's was built in 1925.

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    Concert Producer Yuval Ron with the Yuval Ron Ensemble and at least five interfaith choirs from the Los Angeles area, together singing John Lennon's Imagine in Pillar 6, What May Be. 

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you will join us
    And the world will be as one

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    Yuval's wife and Ensemble member Carolyne and their daughter Silan, accompanied by Ensemble percussionist Jamie Papish.  Silan played a violin solo in What May Be.

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    Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, founder of Seven Pillars and Sufi teacher with other interfaith leaders during Pillar 7, The Pledge.  To his left is Noor-Malika Chishti, whose vision initiated the process that lead to the creation of this concert.

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    During The Pledge, a number of spiritual leaders were invited to the stage to share a blessing. Here, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan offers a blessing from his spiritual tradition, universal Sufism.

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    Culminating the musical experience of The Seven Pillars, Sophia re-enters and transforms magnificently into a butterfly.

    This beautiful shift was witnessed by many spiritual leaders including Reverend Gwynne Guibord (stage right, in red and black robe), founder of the Guibord Center, who was Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

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    Wind instruments accompany Sophia as she dances across the stage.

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    The full company raise their voices, with Sophia center stage.

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    The audience is mesmerized by the dancing, shimmering wings of Sophia.

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    As the concert comes to a close, Sophia makes her way back up the isle, delighting the audience as she goes.

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    The Vortex Immersion dome at L.A. Center Studios in Los Angeles, California.

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    Miranda Rondeau, accompanied by her frame drum, opens the Seven Pillars Journey of Wisdom transformance by introducing a recognizable musical theme she repeats at the start of each pillar.

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    Yukiko Amaya helps the group move from the welcome room into the Journey of Life through the simple acts of walking and attending to one's surroundings.

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    View from the outside, of the participants gathered in the Beaudry building before the procession through the courtyard and into the planetarium dome.

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    Raymond Powers and Masood Ali Khan set the mood with a magical blend of harmonium and hang drum. Miranda's troupe of frame drummers are poised to lead the procession.

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    The group processed together from the main building to the dome. During this brief walk, simple and universal purifications with the elements are offered.

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    The procession passes Desiree Castro, Butoh-dancer-become-statue, foreshadowing her appearance in The Cry.

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    Completing the procession, participants are welcomed through the veiled entrance of the dome.

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    Entering the dome for Pillar 2, The Living Universe, participants are immersed in the mysteries beyond us and within us.  Each individual is encouraged by professional dancers and movement artists to experience the cells in the body with sound and immersive imagery.

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    Yukiko Amaya offers poetry as the scenery in the dome transitions from Pillar 2, The Living Universe to Pillar 3, Our Sacred Heritage.

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    Whirling dervish Aziz of the Mevlevi Order enters the dome and moves to the center of the room where he is surrounded by images of transcendent beings and illuminated teachers.

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    Dervish Aziz whirling in Pillar 3, Our Sacred Heritage, as the group witnesses the faces of inspired teachers from every culture around them.

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    The atmosphere in the dome deepens as participants witness Aziz' devotional turning.

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    The bright colors and faces from Pillar 3 climax and then fade into Pillar 4, The Great Mystery, where the group enters a sound-bath meditation.

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    In Pillar 5, The Cry, Butoh dancer Desiree Castro offers an expression of the suffering and grief that surrounds us.

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    As the group moves from Pillar 5, The Cry to Pillar 6, What May Be, a seed of hope begins to grow as the tone changes within the dome.

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    Invoking forgiveness and gratitude, the sweet singing of Dylan Byrne awakens the hopeful, creative spirit of Pillar 6, What May Be.  From here, the group moves out of the dome and back into the Beaudry, where they started.

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    In Pillar 7, The Pledge, Ruth Broyde-Sharone shares the exciting realization that each individual has the power to change the world, and a unique gift to bring forward.

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    Feelings of cameraderie suffuse the travelers as the close of the Journey approaches.

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    Producer Darakshan Farber and co-host Ruth Broyde-Sharone close the Journey...but the Seven Pillars Journey is a spiral, and we end by again entering into the Journey anew.

    "And so the Journey ends ... and so the Journey begins!"

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    Pir Zia Inayat-Khan and Varun Soni, Dean of the Department of Religious Life on campus at USC before the Seven Pillars of Wisdom dialogue.

Living Wisdom Tour, Los Angeles

On Saturday, October 18th, the staff of Seven Pillars boarded a plane from New York to Los Angeles to participate in a weekend experience that had been in development for nearly a year. The fruits of that labor included over 100 people, and took three very different forms: a large scale benefit concert, an intimate, immersive transformance and a university talk. Each event was unique—with different teams, audiences and venues—but the mission was the same: cultivate living wisdom through The Seven Pillars process! (Haven’t heard of the process? Click here.)

The first event of the weekend took place at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles and was a collaboration between Wisdom Council member and Producer Yuval Ron, The Guibord Center and Seven Pillars. This unique concert titled Out of Darkness Into Light, brought hundreds of people together to benefit the hungry and homeless in Los Angeles. In lieu of registration fees, attendees were asked to bring a gift card of their choosing to donate. That evening, Yuval orchestrated seven pieces of music, some with lyrics and some without, performed by the Yuval Ron Ensemble, a number of traditional and contemporary solo musicians and many local choir groups. The financial backing, logistical management and on-the-ground support of the Guibord Center, coupled with Yuval’s musical ear, 50+ volunteer musicians, and the process of The Seven Pillars resulted in 300+ people on their feet singing and clapping and over $5000 raised to support the homeless and hungry of Los Angeles!

Click here to view a video production of
Out of Darkness Into Light

Out Of Darkness Into Light from The Guibord Center in Los Angeles, California.

The following day we set off to meet up with Seven Pillars’ Board member Darakshan Farber, who was the Executive Producer of our second event, The Seven Pillars Journey of Wisdom, otherwise known as the transformance. (What is a transformance? It’s a “transformational performance” where the audience is brought into the experience in an immersive way, encouraging both an individual and collective transformation for those who are present). At both an afternoon and evening show, the transformance team led participants on a journey through The Seven Pillars process, using physical movement, multimedia, imagery, spoken word, live music ritual and performance. The event was held at L.A. Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles, the home of the Vortex Immersion Dome, a 360-degree multimedia planetarium where most of the transformance took place. The afternoon show was followed by an Indian Banquet and much lively discussion.

Monday found us at the Los Angeles campus of the University of Southern California, with Dean Varun Soni of the Religious Life Department, where Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, founder of Seven Pillars and Sufi teacher was scheduled to give a talk on The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. He spoke of the dream that brought forth The Seven Pillars, and how his experience as a Sufi mystic relates to the work that we do. The talk was followed by a dialogue with Dean Soni, and a warm reception. Many students and members of the local community attended this free event, which was sponsored by the Dean and the Department of Religious Life.

Click here to watch a video of
Pir Zia on The Seven Pillars of Wisdom at USC

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom from the University of Southern California, Dept. of Religious Life

It was a whirlwind trip for us, jam-packed with events and meetings, but it was also the realization of many months of hard work. We witnessed first-hand the incredible time and energy that the three teams in Los Angeles dedicated to the production and execution of these events. Some were paid modestly, while many donated their time and their talents. As the plane soared over the Rockies and then the plains, back to the east coast, the two emotions that were most vivid were overwhelming gratitude and hopeful optimism.

Thank you!

Corin Lee Girard
Seven Pillars Senior Program Manager

Image Credit: Julianne Reynolds

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