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Sufi Conference 2008 - Pir Shabda Kahn

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(Singing) Allah. Allah. Allah.Try that. (Singing) Allah. Allah. Allah. Allah. Allah. Allah. Allah. (Singing Allah continues) Four times like that and then the word 'Hi." Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Oooh.Try that. (All together) Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Ooooh. Put it together. (Singing) You know music is a universal language. Not only that. But music as a spiritual path is so extraordinary. If we look at the nature, you know just from a physical point of view, the nature of the universe. Everything is moving. Life is based on motion. And motion is based on rhythm. And everything which is moving to its rhythm is emitting sound. Actually the only difference between the words we know rhythm and tone is tempo. When you speed up rhythm to about 20 cycles per second it becomes tone. So then by making music, the musician, the knower gets known to himself. Because you get to know your own being which is vibrating all the time. Then you know music, human beings have a universal love for music. And if you wanted to say poetically why is that, you could say the soul is music. The whole universe is music. Then on the path of music, first you have to learn intonation, how to sing in tune. So then now the geometry of your being becomes balanced. And then you learn how to harmonize different elements of a song. Both with tone and with rhythm. And as you being to learn to practice balance, harmonizing in breath and out breath, then you slowly transfer that to your outer life. And so life becomes a symphony and you're always constantly harmonizing the parts instead of feeling "Oh, this is a dissonant note. This doesn't fit. Now you make it part of your symphony. (Singing: call and response) Allah. Allah. Allah. Allah. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Ooohhh. Ok, so let's make three circles. Come a little closer to us. Outside circle come closer. We find ourselves in the Sufi lineage that traces from the great Pir Hazrat Inayat Khan. The same lineage as Pir Zia, his grandfather. He had a disciple in San Francisco named Samuel Lewis. He was teaching in the early '60's in San Francisco. He said he ended up in the hospital with food poisoning. And while he was on his back, he said Allah came to me and said, I make you spiritual leader of the hippies. The lineage of Sufis that I come from or that I look toward are the Chisti. Pir Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan was I think the first Sufi master to come to the Western world in 1910. And he was in the Chisti lineage though he explained to us that he was trained in the four schools of Chisti, Naqshbandi, Qadri and Suhrawardi. But he was an Indian classical musician, a famous Indian classical musician. And they came here as the Royal Hindustani Musicians. He and his brothers. That's how they made their income. Then his disciple was a San Francisco-born American man named Samuel Lewis. We called him Murshid, teacher, Murshid Sam. Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti was his Sufi name. So in the old tradition of Chistiya there was a practice called Sema. Sema, listening, hearing, eternal sound. All of those meanings are there. And people were educated, it's like they were educated in the love songs of the Sufis. And so there was beautiful poetry written by Amir Khosraw, the great Sufi mystic from the 13th century. Many people don't realize that Amir Khosraw invented the sitar, invented the tablas, invented the Urdu language, great poet. You know big contribution to music. So by listening to beautiful music, different stages of ecstasy would arise. OK, so then Hazrat Inayat Khan came to the Western world. And he had to translate the Sufi message from the language of the place he was in to the language of the people he was speaking to. They didn't know that love poetry. They didn't know the intricacies of Indian classical music. And so sema as it happened in India, it was difficult to happen in the Western world. Not just American, but in Europe. He even explained that sometimes he would try to sing the deepest song he had. And then someone would say 'Oh, Murshid can't you sing something a little more light?" So it was a difficult adjustment for him. But still the music and the fabric stayed in our lineage. For myself when I heard about the depth of Indian classical music, from him, through his writings, I thought I want to study that subject. And so for the last 38 years I've been in a lineage of Indian classical music as a singer. But then my own teacher, Samuel Lewis, received visions of people holding hands in circles chanting the name of God, singing the name of God. And just not in Arabic, but in Sanskrit, in Hebrew. In every religious tradition using the sacred phrases. And so one day he said to us in 1968, "Everybody hold hands. Let's try this. I've been seeing this." And so we did hold hands. And so we danced and chanted Allah, Allah. So from his basement and those 10 or 12 people, now those dances have become known as the Dances of Universal Peace. Done in 50 countries of the world, thousands and thousands of people have taken them on. For my sensibility this is the current state of what is called Sema in this world we find ourself. And what's beautiful about it is in the sema tradition of the past, there was a singer and a listener. It's like, if you think about the models of teaching, you can have the star and the crescent, you know the radiating star and those that are receiving. Well now with this circle, with everybody chanting, it's no longer a star and crescent. It's a circle. So, something lost. Something gained. So we're going to start with Allah as some of you were here when we practiced. When you translate Allah there's many beautiful ways to understand it. Al-lah, meaning the yes, no. You know, from the language. So everything included. It's root is wa-li-ha which means mad, passionate love. So as our teacher used to yell at us "Allah is your lover not your jailer. So let's practice this song together since there are new people here. [Singing] Allah, Allah Allah....Hi, Hi, Hi, Whoooo. Beautiful. So 'Hi' means "Oh, ever living" or "Oh, vitality." "Whoo," the sound of sounds. We view this as a love song. It's a communication from your your feeling to the heart. So I doubt if you if you were singing to your lover you'd sing this way. [Softly] Allah, Allah, Allah. You'd want your lover to hear the message you were singing. So put your vitality into it. Let's hear it. Come on. [Singing] Allah, Allah, Allah. Allah, Allah, Allah. Hi, Hi, Hi, Oohh. Beautiful. Now we just need the movements and we're all set. So again with the movements you also want to put yourself into the feeling of it. Quite simple. We walk to the right in step with the music. Here we go. [Singing] Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah....Hi, Hi, Hi, Turn, Whooo. Good. Very good, very good, very good. You know I remember being on retreat in India. I was having a lovely time singing, quiet. But I realized, I couldn't do this. We can't have this activity alone. We can't do this on retreat. We need each other. So work together. Enjoy each other's company. Sing into each other's hearts. Here we go. To the right. [Singing] Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah. Other way. Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah. Hi, Hi, Hi, Oohhh. Allah, Allah, Allah.... The use of sacred sound is one of the great gifts for human beings. It's been demonstrated throughout history that through the use of the repetition of sacred sound an effect that tunes the human, it's like a sound evocation formula, by repeating this sound it opens the door of the heart to evoke the direct and deep experience. If you study physics you see that nothing is lost in this universe. Nothing. It's like a dome. So every sound which is made reverberates back. Then historically many great beings have come and gone in this material form using what we call the name of God. We shouldn't be confused. You can't confine the all pervading reality which is hidden and present to a name. So God can't have any name or has to have every name. But then, by making certain sounds with your physical body, with your thoughts, and with your feeling, you evoke a state of consciousness that is more transparent and allows you to look more deeply into that which is the source of your being. I mean we look at the manifest world. We have eyes, ears. Who's looking through our eyes? Who's hearing through our ears? Who's speaking these words out of my mouth? Where is that energy? Where is that sense of self coming from? Where is it? Very hard to find. But as you begin to chant these holy names, the grip of the out material world becomes weaker and the radiance of the inner world starts to shine. [Singing] La illaha illa la...La illaha illa la...La illaha illa la. For me personally there's no question that music is one of the greatest gifts that this manifest world has. And there was a sequence in the time of the Great Prophet Muhammad. Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him. In his life when they were making prayers in he mosque, and some street musicians came by, maybe with not the finest form of music, and he said that this isn't appropriate while we're doing this. And so that because interpreted that the Prophet didn't love music. But the Sufis have a proof that they use. When Prophet Muhammad had to...he had sent his followers to Medina. They made a hedra. They traveled from Mecca to Medina. And because it wasn't safe any more in Mecca. He was bringing a message of equality and equality for women and abandoning slavery. And all sorts of freedoms that was upsetting to the tribal system and those that were in power. But he and his trusted companion Abu Bakr stayed behind in Mecca. And then they heard there was a threat no their life. And they fled. And then they were pursued. It was found out that they had fled. And they were being pursued by those that wanted to assassinate him. And first off they went's a beautiful story...they ducked into a cave. And just as they ducked into a cave a spider wove his or her web over the cave entrance. And then when the pursuers found the cave they saw that and they thought well, he couldn't be here. But then to get to the part of the story I want to tell then they went to Medina. And their followers knew they were coming. It's said that all of the women in the town came to the edge of the town and sang for him the song which has become known as "Welcome to the Prophet." [Singing in Arabic] [Singing] La Illaha illa la a hu. Mohammad ra su lala. And if you go to any Islamic country in this world today that's still above their national anthem. That's like the heart's national anthem. You sing that song to anyone they'll start to cry right away. So there it is. How could he speak against music with his followers welcoming him with song. [Singing] It's very unique in each individual how does guidance come. Or how does an inspiration come. Often it has two sides. One is you have to prepare your vehicle. Because your vehicle can't create something that you don't have the capacity to manifest. So as a musician, since we are speaking about music, you have to practice scales and you have to practice your art. And then when you receive guidance of what to sing or what to compose it can be in as wide a language as you have capacity for. [Singing] Turn right. Walk left. Turn left. Change your partner. [Singing] Separate the feeling of separation from the essence of our being. Is the source of all suffering. And so we want to have a path of mysticism which helps guide people to find their own inner being, their own inner joy. So in the West. In the East. In any plane. Wherever existence manifests, there needs to be some guidance to allow us to overcome the false notion of separateness. And to recognize our true nature. So the Sufi path is that for me. I don't care if it's called Sufi or not. I don't care, for me Sufism isn't owned by any religion, by any particular shape. It's the fragrance of the heart. It's a mystery what is the essence of life, what is God. So we have to begin by feeling what qualities does that all pervading essence, that all pervading power. What do I feel those qualities would be? So I would start well that God that I looked toward is all pervading, kindness, unconditional kindness, unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness. And so as I begin those natural qualities of the heart then mysticism becomes a reality in everyday life. [Singing] Silently. Silently. [Music and dancing] There has to be a confusion when we recognize that every single relative reality including everything and not excluding anything is the manifestation of that incorruptible, unchanged ultimate. That everything is God. Then we have to ask how do we practice the path of the lover? If there's only one, how is there two? And so the Sufis beautifully say that the beloved is all, the lover's just a veil. Or another way to think is one line. The same line, the beloved. At one end of the line the lover of the other. And so it's through the practice of the lover. If you practice love well, you overcome the thought of self. The thought of what you love fills up the heart. Gradually lover and the veil of the lover disappears and there's only beloved. [Singing] Sing out. Drop hands and walk in. Walk in. This group repeat. This group from the beginning. [Singing together] The Dances of Universal Peace are a body centered spiritual practice using movement; sacred chant and music. Women and men dancing in the same circle are on common ground. We invoke the experience that there is nothing but God and that a manifestation is but the face of God.

Video Details

Duration: 27 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Seana Quinn
Views: 667
Posted by: oneness on Jan 15, 2010

Dances of Universal Peace and Interview with Pir Shabda Kahn

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