Seven Pillars’ founder and board member, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, recently sent a letter to Adam Bucko and Zachary Markwith, two individuals with “a deep sense of the sacred, but…quite different approaches to religion and tradition,” inviting them to participate in a dialogue about the relationship between religion and spirituality. Pir Zia was inspired to send the invitation after reading the recently published manifesto, “New Monasticism,” written by Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko. Both Adam and Zachary embraced the opportunity to discuss this question and the first installment of their correspondence is published herein.
From the Introduction to Saracen Chivalry: Creed matters, but deeds matter more. In the annals of valor, courtesy and courtly love, Christians and Moslems figure as friends as often as foes. Harun ar-Rashid and Charlemagne might have been pillars of competing faiths, but it pleased the Caliph to send the Emperor the gift of a white elephant.
Appropriately, if only by name, the legendary Bohemian Spa of Marienbad is a place of alchemical associations, harking back as it does to the legendary alchemist Maria the Jewess, “divine Maria” or Maria Prophetissa, the supposed sister of Moses, who was the inventor, among other alchemical apparatuses, of the celebrated balneum Mariae or the bain Marie: the double boiler.
The execution of the Mughal crown prince Dara Shikuh by order of his brother Aurangzib was a crime that sent ripples down through the ages. A religious pluralist with a deep commitment to mystical hermeneutics, Dara Shikuh had the makings of a brilliant ‘philosopher king.’ His religious, cultural, and political outlook was profoundly imbued with the legacy of his great-grandfather Akbar, who elevated the Mughal Empire to the status of a premodern superpower by uniting Hindus and Muslims under the principle of sulh-i kull, ‘universal peace.’ As heir apparent, Dara Shikuh awaited the day when he would mount the Peacock Throne and revive Akbar’s syncretic vision.
If you had written a large opus about Sufism, its teachings, practices and history, and asked me to write an introduction, I would have shrunk back from such a task. But you intended to write a little book that should primarily be a testimony of your personal experience of Sufism, and a guide for those who feel drawn to follow the instructions of your meditations. For these pages you asked for my presence. How could I have denied my presence as a friend?
We live in a culture of religious diversity that is at present experiencing a reawakening of interest in spirituality.