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Sufism & the Art of Living ~ the Full Series

  • Rudramandir: A Center for Spirtuality and Healing 830 Bancroft Way Berkeley, CA 94710 USA (map)

Event Schedule

This Eventbrite listing is for the whole series. For tickets and descriptions of INDIVIDUAL SESSIONS (including experientials) please USE THE LINKS BELOW: 

July 13 - "Worshipper, Warrior, Lover, Thief..."
Mystical Play: Theatre of Archetypes

August 10 - Tuning to an Inner Music
Songtime: Chants for Healing the Heart

September 14 - Sex & the Alchemy of Love
Exploration: The Continuum of Body & Soul

October 19 - Bringing Your Imagination to Life
Word+Movement: Poetry-Dance Improv

November 9 - Pursuing Change with Heart
Dreaming: Visions of a Beloved Earth

December 7 - Celebration, Community & Belonging 
Joyful Sharing: Sufi Qawwali Music

Short Descriptions for Each Session

Six participatory talks/conversations about bringing spirit into your daily life. Each session includes creative play led by a guest teacher.

Key words: Knowing – Hearing – Touching – Seeing – Doing – Sharing

Session 1: “Worshipper, Warrior, Lover, Thief…”

The keyword of this session is KNOWING, in the sense of having an awareness and understanding of oneself and others. Using eight archetypes often found on the spiritual/mystical path, we will explore how to recognize these primal life-paths. The art of living is enriched when you understand your archetype, know what your potentials and tendencies are and what your purpose in life may be.

We’ll also look at the differences between archetypes and roles, and whether archetypes are morality-agnostic. For example, what is the positive in the Thief archetype, or the negative in the Worshipper archetype? This understanding can help us to recognize the capacity and limitations of other archetypes and be more accepting, be a more peaceful, open human being.

In the creative play experience, Mystical Theater of Archetypes, Bay area theatre artiest, director and choreographer Bruce Bierman will lead us in “trying on” different archetypes, how to talk the talk andwalk the walk. We’ll see how different archetypes might feel in our bodies, how they would interact, play, quarrel and love. We’ll each choose an archetype and play scenarios with each other to bring the discussions to life.

Session 2: Tuning to an Inner Music

The keyword of this session is HEARING. At some point in our life-journey we turn from the outer to the inner, and we add art to life as we touch subtler dimensions of silence and sound. As we drop deeper within to connect to spirit and awakening, many of us discover the language of silence, spoken in meditation, and connect or reconnect with the power of music. Listening with the inner ear to songs of love and pain, sung alone or in community, or floating on waves of repetitive chant, we can experience deep healing, profound release, fine attunement, expansive peace.

In the experiential session, Chants for Healing the Heart, healer, activist and musical magician Madhu Anziani will introduce us to many dimensions of healing with music. He will share ancient and new ways of chanting, intoning and breathing that activate vibrational and cellular healing, a healing that can restore us from past trauma or bring us back from present distress to a sacred feeling of wholeness and being loved.

Session 3: Sex and the Alchemy of Love

The keyword of this session is TOUCHING. The art of living is enlivened by knowing and accepting our body, honoring its potential for enjoyment and intimacy. In this session we will talk about the body, about sexuality and sexual energy, and about the intense field of attraction that sexual energy generates. We'll ask why so many spiritual traditions treat sex, attraction and love as shameful; why we hide the beauty of the human form, or avoid the delight and comfort of holding and being held. The real question is, How can we create a culture where the body and sexuality are not separated from spirituality but celebrated. Ajaya Sommers calls this a “love sexuality” and will introduce us to it in the experiential.

Ajaya is a healer, teacher, and writer in the field of Psycho-Spiritual Somatic Integration. She is also a certified Craniosacral Integration Teacher and an Authorized Continuum Teacher. In the experiential The Continuum of Body and Soul she will lead us in biodynamic continuum exercises and sacred sounds that she hs learned and refined over her twenty-five years of study, practice and teaching.

Session 4: Bringing Your Imagination to Life

The keyword of this session is SEEING. We add art to life by getting in touch with our natural spontaneity, creativity and play. If you are unhappy in life, if you feel dissatisfied for much of the day, ask yourself if there is enough creativity in your life. Are you in touch with and using your imagination? The imagination is a place of invention and inspiration. It is where “making” starts — of ideas and things, of passion and fantasy. Play and movement lift us out of the ordinary and let us experience freedom, which is our heart’s deepest desire. When the heart and mind roam free in this other country, we begin to play, and out comes painting, literature, poetry, movement — and often a connection to spirit and the Beyond. We can truly say, if we bring our imagination to life it will bring life to us a thousand times more.

For their unique Poetry-&-Dance Improv experience, wise-woman and poet Jeanne Rana and dancer and healer Odessa Perez have crafted an interplay of word and movement that will awaken your body and senses, bring you into the Garden of Eden of the imagination, and prime you to express yourself in fresh and thrilling ways.

Session 5: Pursuing Change with Heart

The keyword of this session is DOING. More specifically, it is about SERVING. An important part of the art of living is accepting and fulfilling our role as part of the human race. Mysticism and activism are not opposites — they cannot be, because the mystic’s very reason for being is service to the One Life. If compassion, action and courage are missing, the spiritual effort is hollow. And activists are committed to the Many: to defending the needs of people, creatures, the planet and all life. During this evening we will explore both outer and inner aspects of service and liberation. Finding pathways for change that benefit all, ways of interacting that bridge differences, how to seek agreement in a way that equally values speaking and listening, that challenges injustice and imbalance without moralizing. For mystical action is a response to what is needed right now, not about what may be right or wrong.

The experiential, Visions of a Beloved Earth, will be led by a mystery guest (maybe a couple) with wide experience of ecology, peacemaking, feminism, ecumenism, and a long and active life as mystics.

Session 6: Celebration, Community & Belonging

The keyword of this session is SHARING. We add art to life by being present with and for others. Our heart is stirred as we express love and longing in prayer and devotion, work and art. It also needs rest, which it finds in places of belonging. Sangha, the company of friends, a space of support and acceptance, is one of our deepest needs. It is a larger home, a wider family, a human garden, a launching pad. It is also a place of sensitivity and caring, of being willing to get our edges rubbed smooth, of showing up for everyday tasks without a sense of entitlement or rank, of “playing well with others.” As we build trust and fellowship, the value of what we do is multiplied many times and in many ways.Then, when a community that has worshipped and worked and held themselves accountable together joins in celebration, it is usually one rich, happy human gathering.

We will close out the six months of Bay Dervish@Rudramandir sessions with a joyful Recital of Sufi Qawwali, an almost 800-year-old musical tradition that can shift in a heartbeat from streaming, passionate praise to a quiet, repetitive melodic wave that rocks us gently on peaceful waters in a boat that is truly home. The qawwali will be presented by the Bayview Dervish Band, and from time to time everyone present will be invited to join in.

Series Description

From July to December 2018, Bay Dervish will host monthly evening gatherings at Rudramandir in Berkeley, a 6-session series called “Sufism & the Art of Living.” Each evening will be in two parts: a talk/conversation with space for questions, followed by a creative play experience or “experiential.” The talks will be given by Murshid Kiran Rana; different teachers and artists will lead the experientials.

Sufism is, essentially, a search for and an opening to love, asking us to find our wholeness in our humanness. Associated for a long time with Islam, Sufism is increasingly universal in its expression, embracing many traditions, teachings, lineages and schools.

The phrase “The Art of Living” is a seed idea; its purpose is to help us understand that we can bring grace, style, creativity, authenticity and spirit to how we live. All are welcome. The sessions may be provocative. The experientials may be dreamlike. We will also explore insights and actions that can liberate us, lift us up when we feel incomplete or helpless. There will be time for questions and suggestions for deeper inquiry; those who want to follow-up personally with Murshid Kiran can arrange times to do so.

The creative play experiences, the experientials, are a way for the ideas from the talks and discussion to find a home in your body, in your physical knowing and doing. Each experiential is led by an expert guide and developed jointly with Murshid Kiran and other friends. They will be complete in themselves but could also become the beginning of a whole new journey.