Community Conversation – Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Join an informal conversation on the subjects covered in the four part video presentation series in February. For more information on that series, click the Videos button on the menu bar.

2 thoughts on “Community Conversation – Tuesday, March 5, 2019”

  1. I watched the four recorded videos, and I find them to be very helpful. I am an initiate in the Inayati Order, and I am also a Unitarian Universalist. I facilitate a small group at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Chattanooga TN. We call ourselves the Seekers. Some of the other members are also engaged in watching the recorded Videos for “Spiritual Awakening as Service to the World”. We have not yet had a discussion about the videos. I am thinking that what is needed now would be more guidance about the similarities and differences between Sufism and Unitarian Universalism. One of my favorite ways of explaining this to people is that the basic principles and beliefs are very much the same, with Sufism having an esoteric perspective and Unitarian Universalism having an exoteric perspective. I wonder how you might explain the similarities and differences between Sufism and Unitarian Universalism.

  2. I very much agree that the basic principles and beliefs of Sufism and Unitarian Universalism are very much the same. However, the esoteric side of UU is often overlooked, even though the third principle of Unitarian Universalism is “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations”. The first source of our living tradition that UU congregations affirm and promote is “direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life”. While many UU congregations are actively involved in fulfilling other UU principles, including “justice, equity and compassion in human relations” and “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all”, much less emphasis has been placed on ways to help members deepen their spirituality. I believe this discrepancy between the fundamental principles of UU and what is the reality for many UU congregations is due to the fact that many UU’s are atheists (no judgment implied), and if not atheists are put off by religions they may have been raised in with dogmatic and dualistic belief systems. They may associate spirituality in a similar negative light. The other factor is that UU’s are generally very socially minded, and may not feel that spirituality has much to contribute to working for just causes in the world. Some may wonder what spiritual awakening has to do with changing conditions in the world. Hazrat Inayat Khan (who brought Sufism to the West in the early 1900’s) stated: “Every attempt made today to better the condition of humanity through politics, education, social reconstruction, and many other ways, all these, however excellently planned, can only be fulfilled if this something which was missing is added to them. But in the absence of this, all the efforts of many, many years will prove to be futile. For this something which is missing is the most essential of all. The world cannot remain a world without rainfall. The world cannot progress without a spiritual stimulus, a spiritual awakening.” In my own local UU church, I have taught several classes over the years which have been very well attended, included by many atheists. I have found that when spirituality is presented in a way consistent with science, combined with helping people have experiences of an expanded sense of themselves and reality, that many people are looking for a way to feel a deeper sense of connection with others and the world that is not based on a dualistic modality of experience. I have tried to convey in the four videos on Spiritual Awakening as Service to the World that when we deepen our capacity for relationship with all that we experience, whether internally or externally, then we are performing a service to the world and we are also helping making possible new ways of approaching problems that have remained unsolved for a very long time. As Hazrat Inayat Khan said, every sincere seeker of wisdom is a Sufi, whether they call themselves that or not.

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