95 The Nature of the Sacred


by Alireza Nurbakhsh


To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
—William Blake


The term sacred comes from the Latin sacer which means “set off, restricted.” In ancient Rome the word sacer came to mean that which was restricted to the divine domain. Eventually, the sacred came to be identified with the divine and the pure, while the profane became identified with the mundane and impure.

The first point to observe about the sacred-profane distinction is that it is subjective. Things, places and people are not in themselves sacred or profane. They become sacred or profane because we conceive them as such. This is illustrated by differences among religious traditions and their conceptions of what is sacred. In Hinduism, for example, cattle are thought to be sacred and are deeply respected. No doubt this is because cattle are a source of milk, fuel and fertilizer in India. However, no such reverence exists in most of the rest of the world where cattle are merely a source of meat. Another example of the subjectivity of the experience of the sacred is evident when we see sacred artifacts in a museum. In such an encounter, we do not experience the sacred in the way people from the culture that created the objects would have experienced them when those people encountered the same objects.

Although the experience of the sacred is subjective and differs from one culture to another, it is possible, to borrow the terminology of Carl Jung, that the notion of the sacred is part of our “collective unconscious,” and is common to all human beings, existing in us innately. In this context, the subjectivity of our experience of the sacred has to do with the particular and varying manifestations of this archetype (to use another of Jung’s terms) in each of us, for the sacred can take a wide range of forms in different cultures and religious traditions.

Although the worldview, religion, or tradition that we adopt determines what sorts of things are sacred, the experience of the sacred also differs from one individual to another and can be intensely personal. It stands to reason that if the worldview we adopt does not include anything which is sacred in the original sense of being restricted to the divine, we cannot have a sacred experience. Here I use the term sacred experience as synonymous with mystical or religious experience.

In sacred or mystical experiences, we escape our mundane existence by coming face-to-face with something much greater than ourselves. The religious traditions, by and large, dictate where and when one should have such experiences, namely, in sacred spaces such as churches, mosques, synagogues, Buddhist temples or Hindu ashrams and while engaged in contemplation of the divine or in prayer. Each religious tradition prescribes what is sacred and in doing so creates an acceptable pattern of what constitutes a sacred experience. An Anglican Christian, for example, may experience the sacred at Westminster Abbey upon seeing the icon of Christ and relive the experience of Jesus’ sacrifice for one’s sin. But to a Japanese tourist the space will have no more than a historical or artistic significance.
[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
There are, I believe, three main features common to all mystical experience. The first is that we feel we are in the presence of something greater than ourselves, be it God, nature or even an encounter with another human being. The second is that such an experience is usually outside the realm of the ordinary. The experience becomes increasingly ineffable; we find it hard to describe it in language without the risk of sounding absurd. The third and the most significant aspect of the mystical experience is its transformative nature. The experience is not an end in itself; one who undergoes such an experience is not engaged in a voluntary or self-serving exercise. The encounter with the sacred has always been a transformative force in all traditions. The result of such a transformation is a desire to reach out to others in order to help and love. Those who experience the sacred become more inclusive and loving especially to those who have been marginalized in society.

The Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) is a good example of someone whose personal mystical experience shaped her worldly life of contemplation and service to others. Her intense desire is illustrated by the following sacred experience, which she recounts in a passionate and erotic language.

It pleased our Lord that I should see the following vision a number of times. I saw an angel near me, on the left side, in bodily form. This I am not wont to see, save very rarely… In this vision it pleased the Lord that I should see it thus. He was not tall, but short, marvelously beautiful, with a face which shone as though he were one of the highest of the angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call Seraphim… I saw in his hands a long golden spear, and at the point of the iron there seemed to be a little fire. This I thought that he thrust several times into my heart, and that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew out the spear he seemed to be drawing them with it, leaving me all on fire with a wondrous love for God. The pain was so great that it caused me to utter several moans; and yet so exceeding sweet is this greatest of pains that it is impossible to desire to be rid of it, or for the soul to be content with less than God.1

In the Sufi tradition, Ruzbehan Baqli Shirazi (1128-1209) is an example of someone whose very intense experience of divine love made love the central theme in Persian Sufism and thus affected many generations of Sufis in Iran.  He describes an erotic experience similar to St. Teresa’s in his book Abhar al-Asheqin (“Jasmine of the Lovers”). Ruzbehan first describes his journey in the sacred angelic realm; upon returning to the world he experiences an intense love of God and the pain of separation from Him. God then manifests Himself to Ruzbehan as a beautiful Chinese woman and tells him to look at Her as if he were looking at another human being.

My heart’s eye suddenly opened and I saw with my own physical eyes. I witnessed a Chinese beauty bewitching the whole world with her loveliness and coquetry. Her infidelity, loveliness, trickery, coyness and shamelessness were apparent in her bewitching eyes, and it was as though Satan himself resided in the curl of her tresses. She has put to shame Venus in beauty and has surpassed Jupiter in loveliness. With her gentle and attractive deer-like walk, she hunted down the lions and has already made the ascetics detest their abode in the heavenly monastery. I gazed upon her in astonishment but mindful of my piety, I became ashamed of myself. I spoke to her without using words. Suddenly, she looked at me with utmost loveliness and said: “Alas, you have broken your vows and left your monastery.” Out of bewilderment I replied, “I have just found my lost lovely bride in the hidden realm of pre-eternity. You are my only wealth in this world and the hereafter and the jewels of all worlds. I came across you in this ruin of a place, not by way of incarnation but by direct manifestation.” She replied with coyness, “What are you saying? Is it not true that in Sufism to look at anything other than God is unbelief and perilous? Is it not the case that from the point of view of reason and divine knowledge, by doing so, you waste your life and lose your vision?” I replied with my heart’s joy, “O Beloved, you are so worthy of my admiration and worship, even if you decide not to drink the wine of love with me in the assembly of selflessness.”2

Different religions prescribe different methods for entering the realm of the sacred, but what is common among them is that their methods always involve purification rituals such as fasting, prayer, meditation, service to others and self-denial. These rituals can be viewed as sacrifices that we have to make in order to have access to the realm of the sacred. In Sufism, the sacrifice we have to make is that of our ego which has separated us from the world of the sacred. It is through love and service to others that the Sufis contribute to lifting the veil of the ego, thereby experiencing the sacred. The experience of the sacred involves the experience of Oneness though love, and that of the profane relates to the experience of multiplicity and lack of love. For the Sufis the experience of the sacred can happen anywhere and at any time. There is no specific place or time to have such an experience. Any place can be sacred and at any given time the Sufi can have such an experience. It happens in places and at times when we surrender ourselves to God and meditate on Oneness. Ultimately, it is the experience of Oneness in this encounter with the sacred that leads the Sufi to love and serve all, this experience being the underlying cause of the Sufi’s transformation. The experience of Oneness pushes us back to the realm of humanity and drives us to serve others.

Increasingly, modern man has taken the stance that nothing is sacred and everything can and should be manipulated. Nothing is restricted to the divine domain. We continue to exploit nature despite being confronted with the dire consequences of our actions. We continue to manipulate animals and plants despite not knowing where this path will eventually lead us. Some even pursue the manipulation of human genes with the object of producing humans who are less prone to disease, smarter and live longer through cultivating and growing organs which can be replaced or enhanced. Homo sapiens in this process of manipulation eliminated the sacred and is attempting to take over the divine domain.

The cost of banishing the sacred from our world is to live in a world devoid of mystical experience. If today we come across someone whose experience is similar to Teresa of Avila or Ruzbehan Baqli most of us do not have a framework to relate to this person; we would doubt his or her sanity. But a world devoid of mystical experience is a world devoid of the true personal transformations by which human beings become less egocentric and more caring towards others.

Many have suggested that the arts can and should replace the sacred, a process that more or less began in the western world during the Enlightenment. If the point of having sacred or mystical experience is to transform us into better human beings, the arts are an insufficient substitute. The arts can contribute to sacred experiences, but are not of themselves adequate practices. Art can provide a language with which to communicate our experience of the sacred, but in our participation and experience of it we do not make the sacrifice which is essential to our transformation into a better human being. Going to museums or attending a concert, though often beneficial to us, are not always activities that make us reach out and help others. These are things we usually do for self-fulfillment and growth while the only sacrifice made is the time and money we spend pursuing these experiences. True growth and transformation occurs when we can be of benefit to others. Traditionally, it has been our encounter with the sacred through various rituals and practices that has brought about such transformations. Without the experience of the sacred we are at risk of living only for ourselves and to the detriment of others.

I have taken for granted that the experience of the sacred always leads to our transformation for the better. However, throughout the history of religion many wars and conflicts have been incited by those who claimed they had had an encounter with the sacred. To this day we continue to witness a confrontational and belligerent attitude by those who claim they are in receipt of direct instructions from God or are acting in the name of those who had such instructions. Any action which is divisive and based on hate and hostility stems from self-delusion and ego, while the experience that is truly sacred must always drive us to help and serve every human being regardless of their religious, racial or ethnic background.

1  Peers, E. Allison. Studies of the Spanish Mystics, London, 1927.
2  Nurbakhsh, Dr. Javad, ed.,  Abhar al-Asheqin, by Ruzbehan Baqli Shirazi, Tehran, 1970.


[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
[/wcm_restrict] [wcm_nonmember]To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.[/wcm_nonmember]

95 Tapping into the Sacred



Kim Lisson in conversation with Nyoongar elders
Richard Walley and Carol Pettersen


What makes a place sacred? And how is the sacred defined? For Aboriginal Australians, sacred spaces are both tangible and intangible—some visible, some intuited; sometimes physical, often metaphysical. Sacredness is intimately bound up with the natural world and people’s relationship to it—in this life and beyond. Sacred sites are places of respect, stewardship, kinship, communion, ritual, healing, and they are far from homogenous. The Aboriginal population of Australia is made up of many tribes and nations, each with their own sacred places, animal totems and other landmarks in geographic areas known as their “country.” Sacred places are as much a matter of identity and belonging as they are about transcendence.

Nyoongar country stretches across the south-west corner of the state of Western Australia from Geraldton to Esperance, including the state capital, Perth. To understand more about Nyoongar spirituality, and their notion of “sacred space,” writer, consultant and coach Kim Lisson spoke to two Nyoongar elders: artist Richard Walley and social advocate Carol Pettersen.

Richard, I assume there isn’t necessarily a single Aboriginal viewpoint on the subject of “sacred space,” although there may be similarities. Could you just give a little background on the diversity of Australian Aboriginal society and culture? As a culture and as a people we’re very diverse, like most communities in other countries. We have a united Aboriginal Australia but there’s also regions within the country, and within those regions there’s designated zones and areas. We’re in the south-west of West Australia which is a large proportion of Nyoongar country, but the Nyoongar country and its one language group is divided into fourteen sections and those fourteen sections are made up of different groups as well. Within those fourteen sections you’d have quite a number of different families. So, whilst you’ve got one set of rules and regulations and laws that may apply to a Nyoongar community, then you’ll have your different rules and regulations that apply for each of the sections and that breaks down to the family structures, and some of the families have sections as well. Once you know how that system works, it’s quite simple, but looking from the outside it’s very complex.
[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
And within those fourteen groups, where do you belong? My connections are Whadjuk, which is the Perth area, Ballardong which goes across east towards Quairading area, north into Yued, that’s Moora, south into Pinjarra area, further south between Margaret River and Busselton in the Wardandi. So, my grandparents and great-grandparents are in that area… and also Yamatji from Yalgoo to Meekatharra. My grandmother was Yamatji, so I’ve got Nyoongar as well as well as Yamatji connections.

And that explains your universal appeal across Aboriginal West Australia from what I gather. [laughs] Yeah. I’ve got a lot of connections. I’ve been very blessed, really. I traveled quite a bit and [was] really blessed being brought up by my Elders, the old people. It gave me that natural draw towards the Elders of other communities. As a young man I traveled around, and the first thing I did was go and speak to the Elders and spend some time with the old people. That was something that was instilled in me from my Elders, my people.
What that actually did, then, was show the young people —the children and the grandchildren of those people who were held in high regard—that they were respected, so when I returned to these places many years later, the Elders who had passed on, their children now were in these positions of decision making, so they remember that. And so yeah, that intergenerational connection, that’s a very strong, cultural characteristic we have as well.

So, when it comes to sacred space, would you be reasonably confident there are some significant similarities between different Aboriginal communities, or would you say it’s more characterized by its differences? Well, on this subject there’s a lot of similarities. Similarities because nature itself is a part of the system, it’s not based purely on the unknown and supernatural. It’s a combination of spirituality and the physical form, both in the forms of people, but more importantly place and plant.

And that forms a common connection point for the Nyoongar people, the environment of the south-west of Western Australia as common “country”? Exactly. We didn’t have borderlines that divided us, we had borderlines that actually joined us, and we shared common responsibilities. I think that was a fantastic system that operated by sharing responsibilities, caring for country, caring for animals and plants that are in your zone, but also out of your zone, becomes it’s something that links us together as a people.

I really like that metaphor­—instead of fences and boundaries that divide, you’ve got what these days would be the equivalent of “easements,” where there’s a mutual responsibility for where things join and connect. That’s exactly right. Take the hills, for example. The hills divide us as a people, but the hills also join us, so one side of the hill is one community, the other side is another community and the hill is everyone’s community where we both can walk over the side… and back again. The same with a river. In the Western world the river divides countries, towns, communities, but in our world it actually joins. The river itself joins two different communities; you can go from one side of the river to the other and there’s no boundary line because the river connects, not divides.

In my experience, English as a language seeks finer and finer distinctions between one thing and another—I’m constantly reminded that the Aboriginal experience is much more about things being connected than distinct. Exactly. Nothing is isolated, nothing is alone, even as a cell—even cells connect to other cells to make something.
So, it’s very much an ecological viewpoint, or world view. Very much ecological, yeah.

Do the terms “sacred” and “spiritual” have a particular meaning for your culture? They sure do, and they all interconnect, because we have spirituality that’s connected to place—some of it is because of use of place, some because of events of place, some birth place. There are places for ceremony, places for initiations. We have what are called “energy” places. These energy places—for the western mind—are the areas where there’s magnetic fields, there’s thermal heat that comes from the ground, there’s all these natural phenomena that come from the earth itself. Our people tapped into that many, many years ago, and still tap into it today, and respect that as the reason our planet lives, breathes and exists.

Is sacredness and spirituality separate from place or is it always “in place”? It’s always in place. It’s always connected. But you have spirituality where you can travel away from place but your connection still goes back… It’s like a modern-day sporting team—you go into a town, or a location, and you’re from a particular sporting team, but you go to a different swimming pool or to an arena. Those who are like-minded know where you’re coming from and they’ll embrace you into that fraternity.

How do you personally define spirituality? It’s a matter of your feelings, interests and intuition. It’s all combined into a belief system and that belief system gives you your sense of being, sense of belonging. You know who you belong to, you know where you’ve been. That is something that’s been a mystery for mankind for many years, to find out why we’re here. And many different religions around the world have spawned from one source at different times. Most of it is back to place, energies, events. So, it’s no different today looking at sacred country, that spirituality is connected when people go close to it. It’s an energy you actually feel.

So, you mentioned earlier places have different uses. Are all those different uses ultimately spiritual, or are there some more spiritual than others? Some are spiritual, others are recreational. So, you’ve got spiritual, recreational and some are just regeneration places where there’s sitting by a river where you feel very, very calm and you recollect yourself. Water is always fantastic for calming. People go—whether it’s a river, or ocean or a lake, you automatically slow down. That’s sort of nature’s way, you tap into that. That’s the essence of the spirit of place.

So, what defines spiritual places as distinct from the others? It’s mostly rituals, it’s energies, it’s places where there’s a collection of rocks, trees, anything that creates an energy, and there’s a dynamic about it when you get there you can actually feel this energy and say “Ah! That’s a special place.” That collection of nature guides you into your own inner essence.

What I’m also hearing, that reflects my own relationship with nature, is that nature chooses the people, not the people choosing the place. That’s exactly right. And you’ll feel it when you go. I must say, it’s amazing how people can travel around the world and all of a sudden, they find somewhere that’s significant for them. And that feeling of longing—they might go away, but when they actually return, they can start to feel the energy as they come closer to it. You’d feel the same thing, the same way when you’ve traveled away and you’re driving back home, the closer you get the more you’re feeling the energy of belonging.  You get this nice anticipation the closer you get to the location you live in. You feel that energy.

Is it worth mentioning “songlines,” do they have a special place in this conversation at all?  Songlines are very significant. In our culture our stories are handed down by song. That song connects people, place and purpose. One song also connects on to another one. Songlines are stories, guidelines, a road map linking place to place.

And people to people? People to people, events to events, people, place, and animal.

I know that the cultural elements of singing and dancing and painting and storytelling—and with you, comedy—are all part of the Aboriginal cultural experience. Are they similar or different as spiritual experience, and does one enable the other? Well, you’ve got craft people, and they tap into this energy and have the ability to articulate it in such a way that it’s an art piece. Whereas others know it, they can feel it, they can talk about it, they can envisage it in their minds, but they don’t have the ability to tap into the creative side and put that creative energy in the mind in the form of a practical outcome.

So, do storytelling, painting, dance, open up spiritual experience or do they describe spiritual experience?  It’s both. It’s tapping into it as well as displaying beauty.  A lot of creative people that tap into that essence first—that gives them that creative output and creative energies. But you find that people who tap into those creative energies are never short of subject matter when they go to paint or create, there’s always something coming in, whereas some are actually just taught as a craft—they’re looking for subject matter, they can have what they call creative blocks.

So, when you’re talking about the creative energies I’m hearing that the artistic and spiritual capacities are not really distinct. Yes.

Do you have any story that you can relate in terms of spiritual experience from your culture that is either personal or cultural that you’re authorized and able to share? Well, we could have lots of examples. Our culture… and most of the world’s religions are actually belief systems. A belief system is a belief and not concrete evidence; the scenarios of that go from the miracle of life itself to the evolution of the planet. Those things are all around us continually, so what I say is do not take the earth for granted, do not take trees for granted! They’re the wonderful stories.
I’ve been around the world and there’s been times I’ve been in places where they’re on the brink of revolution, like in Venezuela. I was in New York when it was a very, very tough time back in the eighties. It wasn’t a very safe place. And I stayed in places like in Inglewood in Los Angeles during the time when gang warfare was very high. But at each of these times I’ve always felt very safe because I believe in the energies. So, I’ve actually walked to the places and I’ve got feelings that I shouldn’t be around there, so I turn around, for no logical reason, and go somewhere else or just not go at all. On three or four occasions I’ve walked down to get on an airplane, and turned around and went home, and said I’m not going. I tap into that energy continually and that’s in our culture, that follows you around the world.
In our culture we say Ngarngk. Ngarngk in our language is “mother.” Ngarngk is also the name of the sun, the giver of life. If it wasn’t for that, our mother, the one sun that gives us life, we would not be on this planet as a people, nor would plants or animals. That, in our culture, gives us a security of being a part of an energy that’s looking after you, and if you follow that energy line you’re usually pretty safe. So up to where I am now, I have never ever been threatened in any of those areas, and I’ve heard about people being shot, robbed around me in the vicinity where I was around that approximate time. I tend to believe that examples are small reminders.

So, it sounds like culturally and personally, Aboriginal spirituality does have a mystical element. Very much so. There’s no logic behind it. Again, it’s a belief and a feeling and maybe nothing would have happened to me whether I went there or not, but I feel that following that energy, or people call it intuition, I’m in a safer place.

What about the “dreaming” or the “dreamtime”—what is it and what is its connection to your notion of the Divine? It is related to the “mother” and the sun? Very much so. We believe in the creator, we believe in the greater spirit. We believe in our culture that you can tap into the “dreaming” in your dreams and in your meditations. So, you don’t have to die to go to it, you can actually tap into that, into that energy, into that energy field. We believe our ancestors are communicating with us all the time, so that gives us that belief of a greater power than us. We firmly believe that.

And I gather you don’t necessarily call it God though? Well, God’s a word that’s got many different meanings. We’d say that there’s a creator. We’d use the word “mother.” I think that’s something that is universal with a lot of cultures in believing of an energy line, in another dimension. That’s something that links a lot of religions. They may have a cosmetic difference but fundamentally they [believe] the same, about a greater power. And I think the basics of that greater power is humanity. How do you respect and treat your fellow man? Each religion has those aspects about it that links you as a person to other people, but [also] a greater responsibility to a greater power.

In the course of Australia’s history, many Aboriginal people have been displaced from their traditional country. Is there an impact on spirituality if Aboriginal people are not connected to country, or have limited or no access to country?  One of our significant places in Perth is called Mooro Katta, also known as Kaarta Gar-up, and commonly known as King’s Park. People feel the energy of it. Even to this day you got a person who comes from another country and they go up there and they feel this energy. We know it’s a special place, it’s a spiritual place, and so that goes beyond our beliefs and our customs, it goes into the international connections and universally connected people who feel a sense of place when they’re here as well. There’s a number of those [places] and people like us who travel to other parts of the world, we go to significant places and you feel the energy of them, even before sometimes you know what they are or even know that they are significant.
So, I find that place gives you your link for your purpose, your ceremony and passing your link and your stories on. I was able to stand up in a place and tell people that down on that island, that’s where my grandmother’s great, great grandmother was born. That’s the birthing place and it becomes significant for us because that’s the story that links us there. Then, you know her grandfather lived two or three miles away. You connect all those story lines, that brings you to your ancestors in your past, you feel a sense of connection while you’re there and that’s universal for you as a family. Yet, when people from other countries come along and they feel a connection too, and they say this is significant. That goes into the creation and the spirituality and the universal connection.

And so, despite the dispossession, at the end of the day there’s also a sense in which Aboriginal people are not proprietorial about country in one sense, because spiritual places are spiritual places. That’s exactly right. We’re custodians of them, but we don’t own them.

I think that sounds like a wonderful place to end. Thank you very much, Richard. I really appreciate your time. Okay, mate. It was lovely talking to you.


Carol Pettersen is a Justice of the Peace, cultural advisor and Elder belonging to the Minung-Gnudju people of the Nyoongar Nation in the southwest of Western Australia. She has lived and worked in Albany for most of her life and is well-known throughout the Nyoongar nation as a tireless worker for her people. As a Justice of the Peace, Carol is still actively working in the courts as an advocate for social justice for Nyoongar people, which she has done for over 40 years. She is also very active in helping to bring about social and economic changes for Nyoongar people through land claims and access to mining income. She was a principal adviser to the Premier of Western Australia on women´s issues, a counselor with the Council of Albany, and has served on state and Commonwealth committees on issues such as Indigenous health, welfare, education and training. She retired from the public service in 1998 but continues to work as a volunteer for the Nyoongar community.

Carol, what’s your cultural background? I identify myself as a Minang-Gnudju woman of the Nyoongar nation. We have this dual dialect culture as well as a dual culture background, meaning that although my mother was a tribal woman my father was a white man, and so we’ve grown up with those two cultures. And there was a big family… Mum and Dad had eighteen children.
We know our totem, which is a little bird from our neck of the woods, which is the coastal strip—we were coastal people. An anthropologist described our family as the ‘shell people of the South Coast’. We come from a matriarchal line, we identify with that, and our little totem is a little bird, and it’s the spirit of our grandmother. Women were given little birds (and trees and flowers) as a spiritual totem and the men, the patriarchal line, were given big birds.

Do you know what little bird it was? Yeah, it’s like a honeyeater. When we were growing up we were never allowed to look at it. We were to listen to it, and this bird was just so incredible in communicating with us. For instance, when it was time to go and hunt for kangaroos, this little bird would suddenly appear in front of us and it would chirp cheerfully, jumping from bush to bush to bush, and mum would follow—mum was the main hunter because she had the skills of her Aboriginal people. And this little bird would just hop from bush to bush and then when it got close to a kangaroo, it would literally fly up and have a different shrilling sound… it would fly up about three times and then mother would say to us, now sit quietly kids, while she was able to sneak up on them [the kangaroos].
So that’s one spiritual space, that little bird. It would tell us when somebody was coming. When somebody had died it was the most mournful thing. It would go way up in the sky, literally drop, and you wouldn’t see it hit the ground, but it would literally drop. I can remember when my little brother died, I was about ten. We only had a horse and carts in those days, and dad had to walk to a farm about thirty kilometers away to get a truck to take the baby to hospital. But in the meantime, the boy died. He was about three… and mum woke me and my brother up to sit with the body and I can remember… I can still see it now. I could draw it for you­—on his chest was this vase almost like a flame, just flaming, and this little bird was singing in there, on his chest.

You saw a vision. Yeah, it was incredible.

And that was your totem bird. Yeah. Probably blessing him or taking him on his journey. I’ve had many spiritual experiences like that.

Well, it’s a very different way of looking at place or space.  The space is almost a relationship between you and the bird. Yeah. And that spiritual space, or thing, it’s many things and many different layers… we see every plant, every living thing has a spirit of its own. We also know that there are spiritual beings out there… some of them can be naughty and some of them are good. But we really, really feel the spirits connected to trees, flora. And we also feel places, like rivers, waterholes, hills… we can feel those spiritual places. Rock formations – we can feel them. I remember, I was working with a minister, and they took me to this place in the Burrup Peninsula with a rock carving and we got to a certain distance and I said, “I can’t go any further,” and he said “Yeah, you can, it’s an easy pathway.” He thought I was talking about my capability, but there was actually an invisible line, and it stopped me, and when that hit me it’s almost like an electric fence and I said I couldn’t go any more. I had to respect. I could have broken through it, but… our belief is that… if you ignore those protocols, and those systems that are based on our spiritual space and beliefs, you will be punished. And I wasn’t going to take that risk…

It was like a special sacred place for the people of that country? Oh, yeah. Maybe I was a foreigner, I was an alien. I hadn’t gotten permission. I was with a white man and I hadn’t gotten permission from anyone.

I’m interested in what you’re talking about… because when non-Aboriginal people speak about spirituality it’s usually only connected to humans. But you’ve talked about what I know to be true for Aboriginal people —it’s a whole ecology. We’re the last being, I suppose, in the realm of spiritual beings. We are never superior to any spirit, plant, animal, places or anything—we’re the last, and our actual behavior whether it’s camping, or walkabouts, or fire, or cooking or hunting, is based on, first, the weather. So, the weather, the plants, animals, birds and then we humans respond to all of that. We watch their behavior. For instance, plants will tell us.  I can remember where there’s a little ground plant that’s got a pink flower and when it grows to about so high, that’s when we can collect malleefowl eggs. And the paperbark tree, when the blossom comes out on that, the bream are fat. So, we know then it’s the ideal time to go fishing. And you always only take what you need and leave the rest. And then we bless the river for providing that, we bless the river for guiding us all the time.  We’re actually inferior to every other living being.

What’s the relationship, then, between what you’re saying about humans being inferior and having what I understand is a custodian or stewardship role in protecting other beings? We have the totem system. So, that little bird is my totem. When we have a totem, you must care for it and respect it, and pay reverence to it. Ours is only a little bird, some people have got the emu. So not everybody eats the emu. Not everybody eats the kangaroo, not everybody collects malleefowl eggs because everybody’s got a totem and they have to look after that. It’s a religion.

So, what comes up for you when you hear the term “sacred space?” Is it about specific places or is it a broader concept? Look, it’s all around us all the time. When we go walking anywhere, you’re absolutely mindful of nature, if I can use the wadjala (white fella) term. For example, if we see a willy-willy (a whirlwind), it could be a cheeky little spirit, that’s not a wind, that’s a spirit. Wherever we walk, that is a sacred space. And if we haven’t been given permission to go there, like for instance, if we go out of our region into another area, we always ask somebody to tell the old people we’re coming. Now the old people could be physical or spiritual. As long as you’ve said that to somebody that lives in that town, you’ve done the right thing.
I was asked to go in a classroom in North Albany and there were two girls from up North, Aboriginal girls and about six Albany girls. The teacher shut the door, and you wouldn’t believe it, in that room a willy-willy started… and she said, “Oh, I’ve closed the windows. Where is that coming from?” and I just looked at these girls and I said, “You’ve got somebody looking after you.” And I said [the spirits] “Is it okay for me to talk?” They had their spiritual guardian with them!
[quiet bird song] And so we’re mindful of it all the time. No matter where we are, we’re listening, especially the birds. If the birds get quiet [speaking quietly] we need to listen. If the birds are really, really making a noise, [Carol speaking normally now] again we listen. And all the time if there’s a bird calling out you listen to see if one answered. If he hasn’t answered, you listen to this one. What is it, who is it? [loud bird call] See? [she laughs]. So, all that time we’re listening and observing.

Everything is sacred space. Everything! Everything is sacred. The whole nature, the clouds. We’re reading the clouds. Birds will tell you where the water is—at sunset you see where the birds are flying, there’s water over there. That knowledge was passed down. I take school kids around and I tell them it’s about perception and looking for the spiritual space… looking for the signs to ensure that we respect it by acknowledging it.

So that’s the motivation, isn’t it? Respect. Yeah. But I’m also looking for tracks. Snake tracks, or food, all the time. Just looking for that, where somebody, a photographer will look for colors and shapes, kids will look for something they can play with, or what they can climb. They’re sort of single-focused where ours is broad, all the time, we’re alert.

I see. So, one thing that I’m curious about is places that are not so much more significant, but that are differently significant? Yeah. Okay, so we’ve got all of this space here but then on the creek bed down there, there could be a sacred space that could have been a corroboree [an event where Aborigines interact with the Dreamtime] site or could have been an ochre [clay used for ceremonial ritual and art] site. Yeah, so there are those different…

And are they connected? Socially… are they places that are sacred or special because they are connected to culture and society, or to nature? Well, nature provided it, naturally, the ochre, the bend in the river, the waterhole, nature provided, through the spiritual creation of the Wagyl rainbow serpent [part of the Dreaming and Nyoongar creation myth]. Nature provides for us to carry out our cultural practices.

And so, it almost becomes a natural sequence, there’s a certain specialness or beauty or attraction or calling, perhaps, then it gets used and then it becomes spiritual. Yeah, yeah. It’s purposeful. Even, for example, granite rocks are usually in the shape of something and the land formation became creation stories and—from my perspective and my story line —they became the directional or reference point in that you’d sing the song. Songlines are road maps, so you’d sing the song and once you get to that spot you’d sing the next stage, and you could actually see it.

In my language, in English, we talk about “social”and “cultural” and “spiritual” as if they’re all different, but I’m constantly reminded when I talk to Aboriginal people that they’re actually not different at all. It’s a very holistic view, that you can’t separate them, nor should you separate them. Right. And that’s what’s been damaging us in trying to serve as Aboriginal people from a welfare service perspective. It’s like you’ve got the body, you cut the head off and give that to mental health, you cut the leg off and you give that to… I don’t know what area, and you take the heart, cut the heart out and you give it to the cardiologist, take the kidney… you know? The eyes out and you give it to the optometrist. And that’s how they deal with…

It’s all separated. Yeah. Yeah. You give it to an Aboriginal doctor and he takes the whole body, and then he works with the spirit.

Hmm… and often the spirit is disconnected from the natural spiritual space. I was in a position to support a young man whose parents died in an accident. As he grew, he suffered from depression. One day I woke him up early, said “Get in this car, we’re going.” “Where are we going?” he asked. I said, “I’ll tell you when we get there.” Now, what I really wanted was a spiritual space for him to allow whatever spirits out there to enter him, because they can feel wounded people and they will enter that body and heal it. Anyway, that was my belief, and so I headed for Wave Rock because I’ve done a lot of traveling and I think that’s the most magical environment… those open paddocks and you can just feel…

Even though that’s not your country? It’s not my country and I had to ask permission to get up there. When we got there I said to him “I want you to walk and walk and walk, but you be back here at sundown.” Anyway, when he got back he said, “Oh! My goodness, that was wonderful.” They did, one found him. He was sitting on a rock and an old man came to him and from then he never looked back. And it’s funny enough, I was telling this one woman my story, a non-Aboriginal, and she said, “Carol, that happened to me and my son. I took him to Wave Rock and he got cured.”

Words fail to express what I’m feeling about what you’ve had to say. My initial response is just full of awe. You know, there’s that sense in which even when you do your best to explain the experience, there’s always a level of mystery involved, which you can’t fully know. Oh, absolutely. I just have to trust the teachings and the belief that I had… because I grew up in the bush you know, and just sit on a log and just let the voices, whatever it is, that comes to me. I mean, in a healthy perspective. All the drugs and everything now tend to have interfered with that, but I think mental health for Aboriginal people is all wrong. It doesn’t belong in a clinic. It belongs in Wave Rock.

How do you nurture your own spirit? The bush. The bush all the time. Talking to the birds. Acknowledging the presence of a tree, and blessing it for the strength that it’s got, you know? I just love an old dry tree. A living tree has got many uses, but a dry tree has still got many, many uses still, and I’ll always think this is the ancestral guidance of the new trees because they’re providing holes for birds to nest in. In the end it’s even firewood that keeps somebody warm, you know? So, I can see that old dry tree like my grandmother’s spirit, almost, because it’s still guiding, it’s still providing guidance and nurturing. I’ve just got to go to the bush all the time, just got to go bush and just smell. They talk about aromatherapy—that’s out there in the bush. That’s one of the reasons we feel good going out there, we go back to our bushes that we grew up [with] as our totem. Smell it, talk to it… and the sky’s not alien. The sky’s part of our spiritual space. All those stories and stars, and I just remember times when we were kids and how happy things were and how clear life was, you know? This was your role, now life has just become so complicated and I think too self-centered.

And disconnected? …and disconnected, yeah. I listen to my grandchildren talking now, about when Nan used to take them camping… my inheritance is memories. It’s not money or brick and mortar or shares—even though I haven’t got that—it’s memories. And I keep saying to my children, give your kids memories.

And those stories are the connecting up? Yeah. What’s the purpose of that. Why is that? Look for the tracks.

It’s not in formal ceremony and ritual but it’s a nice small family sharing so that it gets passed on. Yeah, we’ll see all these different tracks, like there’s a fox, and there’s a little bird, maybe there’s a horse and then I’ll get the kids to try and connect those tracks and those stories and the impact on the environment, and all that sort of thing, so we can tell a story out of the tracks. So, there’s a fox chasing the bird and maybe the horse has come along and doesn’t belong here, and look, it’s left some dung behind and then weeds are growing up and that could be okay because it’s will make seeds for the birds, that sort of thing. Stories. And then, of course, the old stories.

Beats TV, huh? [laughing] Yeah. So, tell us a story, Nan!


[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
[/wcm_restrict] [wcm_nonmember]To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.[/wcm_nonmember]

95 Sufism, Sacred Space and Spiritual Ancestry


By John L. Caughey

In the 1970s, the Sufi teacher, Syed Mumtaz Hussain Shah, atheir mountain shrine in the Margalla Hills of Pakistan high above the Indus Plain.1 In this sacred space, the meditation place of the Sufi Saint Buri Imam (1617-1705), they pursued their mystical practices and received the pilgrims who came up to worship and to seek help or guidance.

From time to time the Sufis went down to the local villages, the nearby city of Rawalpindi, and occasionally to more distant places, to make pilgrimage to the tombs of other Sufi saints, to visit disciples and followers, and to obtain supplies. Sometimes I went with them. On one of those trips we stopped to rest at the small Lodi Hotel in Rawalpindi. This time there were five of us, my teacher Mumtaz, or “Shah Jii,” as we all called him, me, two other adult disciples, and a small boy about seven years old whose Sufi-oriented family had asked Shah Jii to take care of him for a couple of weeks. He too wore an iron anklet signifying his allegiance to the Sufi community. The small, dimly lit room felt strangely silent despite the busy bazaar down below. There were several religious hangings in Urdu script on the wall, a simple chair, and two charpoy rope beds. The boy came back with the K-2 cigarettes he’d been sent out to buy. He sat on the bed next to Shah Jii seeming to listen to our conversation with interest; occasionally he smiled. Then getting sleepy, he lay down affectionately, with his head on Shah Jii’s leg. I remember the quiet, the feel of mystery—and the curiosity and anxiety I felt about the practice of leaving one’s family and worldly life behind, to enter the spiritual world of the Sufis. We talked about Shah Jii’s childhood, “Yes,” he said, “like this boy, I was sent to the Sufi shrines at an early age. You leave your family behind—and then your teacher and the other muriids (followers of the Way) become your family, your true brothers and sisters…”

[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]

Drawing comparisons between our biological and our spiritual family is a common theme in many spiritual traditions because the power of our first family connections helps illuminate the strength of the connections we may develop with our spiritual teachers and companions and because spiritual ancestry, like biological ancestry, is so influential to our sense of who we are. As the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, “You are not an isolated being. You are made of ancestors….there is no separate self. We are a current. We are a stream. We are a continuation. When you sit (in meditation), you are sitting with your blood ancestors, but you are sitting with your spiritual ancestors as well. Your spiritual ancestors are also part of you….They are also in every one of our cells.” 2

People often take considerable interest in biological ancestry and many of us are familiar with devices that help us trace and connect with this part of our heritage such as family genealogies and online sites like ancestry.com. While examining and contemplating these kinship connections can be inspirational as well as interesting, our spiritual ancestry is usually at least as important and often more important than our family ancestry in how we seek to live our lives. So carefully considering, contemplating, and working with this part of our heritage can be an important practice.

The Sufis I knew in Pakistan connected to and cultivated their spiritual ancestry in ways that open up useful perspectives on how to understand and work with our own spiritual families. Like everyone else, the Sufis maintained internal representations or mental maps of their social world —the network of people they related to. However, the Sufis took these internal representations much more seriously than we do, maintaining a very active and acute sense of their spiritual family. This interior representation was analogous to but more subjectively powerful than a genealogy; their teacher, teacher’s teachers and other spiritual elders (whether alive or passed) were their “ancestors,” their students and younger followers were like their children, younger siblings, and grandchildren, and their companions were their “true brothers and sisters.” However, the subjective images they had of the particular members of this spiritual family were not considered to be just imaginary replicas. The images were powerful presences who could be, should be, and were  actively related to and interacted with.

Shah Jii felt connected to memory images of his own murshid, or Spiritual Teacher, the Sufi saint he served, Buri Imam, and a variety of other elder realized spiritual beings, Sufis who had passed away, sometimes recently or more commonly many generations ago. He felt connected to all these “ancestors” and regarded them as his, murshids, current guides and spiritual allies. Most of these spiritually powerful beings were associated with sacred spaces, usually the tombs where they were buried. Pilgrims often visited these sites, which were scattered throughout this area of Pakistan, for help from living teachers like Shah Jii and also from the spirits of deceased teachers. Teachers like Shah Jii and other followers of Sufism also visited such places not only to honor the saint but to communicate with them. Sometimes they would pray to the saint for help and sometimes they would sleep on the shrine in hopes of getting a dream communication from them. In other cases, they would sense the Saint’s teachings in their own inner experience in the form of intuitions, subtle spiritual directives they referred to as ashara, or “indications and inclinations.” They also interacted with them through the medium of waking dreams. We in the west tend to dismiss “daydreams” as frivolous and unimportant. The Sufis considered some waking dreams— whether spontaneous or deliberately invoked—a valid and significant form of experience.

Shah Jii typically made half a dozen pilgrimages each year to visit shrines on the urs, or death day, of the saints to whom he felt connected. While several of these saints were associated with Shah Jii’s Qadiri Sufi order, others belonged to orders outside his own tradition. This extended sense of spiritual ancestry was important to understanding Shah Jii’s particular version of the Sufi path. For example, his spiritual philosophy was influenced by Hujiwiri, or Data Ganj Bakhsh, the famous 11th century Persian Sufi saint whose tomb is in Lahore. The one book Shah Jii owned, regularly consulted, and carried with him was an Urdu translation of Data’s famous mystical text, Kashf al-mahjub, The Unveiling of the Veiled.3 Every year Shah Jii made a pilgrimage to Lahore on Data’s death day to gather with other Sufis to honor and connect with this long deceased teacher. Shah Jii’s orientation to different spiritual kin and their particular powers and specific teachings allowed him to balance diverse conceptualizations of the Sufi spiritual path and to directly and indirectly communicate with, draw help from, and pass on a variety of teachings and practices from these quite different sources. He also connected with images of these various teachers and the Sufi Saints through waking dreams —as when he would invoke their mystical power to help with pilgrims’ problems including cases of possession by jinn or evil spirits.4

Similarly, in addition to his face-to-face “actual” relationships with companions, disciples, and other followers, Shah Jii also maintained internal images of these people and conducted interior relationships with them. One sunny day when many pilgrims, men, women, and children were visiting the mountain shrine, Shah Jii was sitting at his place in the shallow cave and receiving visitors. Some presented problems such as financial, health, and spiritual concerns. But some of the pilgrims came with invitations. One sunny day, a young pilgrim, a teenage girl in a colorful shalvar kameez, approached Shah Jii. She placed a dish of sweets down before him and smilingly said, “Shah Jii! My mother conveys her respects (salam) and says that now that the urs rituals are over you must come to visit our home.” Shah Jii reached out and gently and lovingly embraced her. Addressing her as if she were kin he said, “Daughter! I feel your sincerity. I will come whenever my murshid wishes that it be so.” This request stayed in Shah Jii’s mind both as a memory and as an anticipation, a future plan to make a visit to this family at their nearby home. This internal anticipation became another part of the array of current responsibilities he felt to his extended spiritual family including worldly followers (dunnia kii murriid) like this daughter and her mother who were living in the world, i.e., away from the shrine in the local villages and the city of Rawalpindi. As he indicated in this conversation however, he expected to be called to make this particular visit by his murshid, one of his no longer living teachers or the spirit of a saint. That is, he would only make this trip in reality when he received guidance from his murshid through a spiritual intuition, an inclination or indication, or a waking dream. This mix of creative imagination and face-to-face relations with teachers, companions, and students was a pervasive and important aspect of this Sufi social world.

When I got further along in my own training, Shah Jii began to talk with me about paying attention to my own consciousness for intuitive indications and inclinations. The understanding was that he would be sending me some of these suggestions. He also suggested that, “Perhaps you may find me in your dreams.” Not surprisingly his image did begin to figure in my dreams and we sometimes discussed these together. As he did with other disciples, he also told me to work on developing an internal image of him, “You must construct an image of your teacher in your heart and then he will be available for help whenever and wherever needed.”

Being affected by both American anthropology and secular American mainstream culture, I was interested and curious about this practice but also personally skeptical. However, given the influence the Sufis had on me, I have tried invoking Shah Jii’s image from time to time over the years, often with unexpected results. When I returned to Pakistan in 2007 decades after my initial time with the Sufis, I was not sure how to find Shah Jii. Frustrated by some real attempts to locate him I decided to try this imaging aspect of his teaching once again. So, sitting in my hotel room in Islamabad, I tossed a cushion on the floor and sat for a few minutes in meditation. And then I called up his image in my mind. He looked as he did in 1977 (and in my photographs from that time), wearing that multicolored rag jacket. His graying hair was pulled back, and his fingers were covered with rings. With an aura of power, serenity, and calmness, his gaze was piercing yet attractively warm. It was good to see him again in my mind, I felt gratitude, kindness, and love—I felt our connection, the support and recognition he still gives me. I asked, “How can I find you here?” Almost immediately, to my surprise, I felt a clear answer, “I am within you.” I interpreted this as meaning his image is inside me as a continuing presence, as an Inner Teacher. After gratefully acknowledging the truth of this Sufi idea, I persisted in asking. “But where can I find you here in Pakistan?” To this question I received no answer, nothing came to me. Later on that trip, when I finally met some of his Sufi followers, I learned that Shah Jii had indeed passed away.

For those of us seeking to pursue a spiritual life amidst secular Western cultures that emphasize what is taken to be the “rational” and the “real,” some of these contrary Sufi perspectives can help lift us back into a more creative version of our spiritual path. Like the Sufis, most of us here in the West are influenced not just by one teacher and his or her spiritual lineage but by an extensive set of spiritual ancestors, a wide variety of teachers with different formulations of various spiritual traditions. On my return from Pakistan to the U.S., I worked with a Sufi teacher, Ruth, whose own teachers, Pir Vilayat Khan and Inayat Khan, of the Sufi Order of the West, not only participated in a variety of Sufi traditions but also drew on Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, makes the case for this eclectic approach, “I think it is possible to profit from many traditions at the same time. If you love oranges, you are welcome to eat them, but nothing prevents you from enjoying kiwis or mangoes as well. Why commit yourself to only one kind of fruit when the whole spiritual heritage of humankind is available to you?”  5

Looking back on my own life, like many of my friends and companions, I’m happily surprised by how many different teachers from a variety of different traditions I have been fortunate enough to meet and learn from. But how should we work with this? Inspired by the Sufis, I have found it useful to try and map out and balance these different influences in my mind. One way to begin this is to construct a chart, a kind of genealogy, of our spiritual ancestors. My companions and students have come up with a variety of ways of representing spiritual ancestry—but we have all found this to be an extremely useful spiritual practice. A circular chart that shows how a variety of teachers and traditions converge on our own individual spiritual life is often effective. Drawing a pie chart with each slice representing a spiritual tradition, in the outermost circle we can put the name of the spiritual tradition, in the next layer the sacred space of the tradition, in the next, literature from the tradition we have found meaningful, next the names or initials of our teachers from this tradition, in the next the initials of influential companions of the tradition, and so forth. (Figure 1)

[caption id="attachment_17317" align="alignleft" width="440"] Figure 1[/caption]

Such a chart, a mandala-like way of representing our particular spiritual heritage, can resonate as a powerful personal symbol. It allows us to attend to, and manage what is for most of us a complex and diverse set of teachers, teachings, and influential companions. It helps us better understand, take in, and remember our spiritual ancestry in a coherent and usable way, which we can then more easily maintain in heart, mind, and imagination. It reminds us of who we are as followers of a spiritual life in contrast to the pull of secular ways of thinking about our identity. It helps lift us back into attunement with what we have been given by our various teachers and how we want to draw on this in living our lives. Such a chart encourages us to consider what basic teachings we most value and wish to be guided by. It also encourages us in the necessary work of integrating diverse formulations.6


This kind of chart can open us up to a related spiritual practice suggested by the Sufis, that is, to more consciously work with imagination in relating to our teachers. This is a powerful way of relating which is often underdeveloped in Western cultures. As we all know but often fail to seriously consider, our teachers and their teachings are indeed within us. Their images and teachings are alive in our memories and can be contacted through recall as well as other forms of imagination. As the Sufis suggest, one powerful possibility of amplifying this influence is to consciously image each of our teachers and to continue our relationship with them through waking dreams or “creative imagination.”  7 We may return, for example, to the most powerful and vivid inspirational memories we have of them and then try to carry the implications of this deeper. We can ask what were some of the most powerful moments with a given teacher, or what were the most personally important teachings they gave us? As my teacher, Rudy Bauer, suggested, it is good to maintain a set of vivid, inspiring, positive memories of our teachers and companions since these are powerful antidotes to the archive of discouraging bad memories we all carry. Such positive memories can be developed into waking dreams that help lift us out of ensnarement in materialistic, secular orientations to experience.

We can also make use of the Sufi notions about pilgrimage to sacred spaces. We can make imaginary pilgrimages by using memory and waking dream to return to sites where transmission occurred. Often in my mind, I like to walk once again up the rocky trail to that mountain Sufi shrine in Pakistan. It is also useful, when the opportunity presents itself, to actually visit the places where teachers reside or used to reside. I always like visiting the meditation space of my teacher, Rudy Bauer, at the Washington Center for Consciousness Studies. The beauty and power of that room and the memories it evokes are uplifting experiences. One day I hope to visit Gethsemane, the spiritual abode of Thomas Merton. Likewise, when I am in Boston I like to make a pilgrimage to Walden Pond, to walk there, and perhaps re-read one of Thoreau’s essays.

Attunement to our spiritual ancestors is perhaps the most significant aspect of relating to our particular spiritual community. However, as we get older and hopefully progress in our understanding , we are called, like the Sufis, to take more responsibility for our companions and students. Whether or not we have formally taken up the role of Spiritual teacher, we are all “sustainers” of our spiritual families. As the Sufis say, our own spiritual life is directly affected by how we meet these responsibilities. The murshid Inayat Khan puts it like this, “Each one has a circle of influence, large or small; within this sphere so many souls and minds are involved… Each individual composes the music of his or her own life. If we injure another, we bring disharmony. When our sphere is disturbed, we are disturbed ourselves and there is discord in the melody of our life. If we can quicken the feeling of another to joy or gratitude, by that much we add to our own life; we become by that much more alive. Whether conscious of it or not, our thought is affected for the better by the joy or gratitude of another, and our power and vitality increase thereby, and the music of our life grows more in harmony.”   8

Like the Sufis, we have a special responsibility to take care of the younger or less experienced people we connect with. In talking with our younger kin, our children and grandchildren about family history, we can bring up spiritual and philosophical ancestry as well and offer them the chance to listen, discuss, think, and reflect on this aspect of their heritage. And of course, family and spiritual ancestry can overlap. Involved in social justice and social change work, my daughter Ananda has learned to feel inspiration from an ancestor who served in the American Revolution, her activist Quaker grandmother who was jailed for her political protests, and her Indian grandfather, J.T., who participated in the resistance movement against the Portuguese colonial occupation of the Indian state of Goa. Some Goan freedom fighters were inspired by American Revolutionaries and also, of course, by the work of Mahatma Gandhi. This instance of cross-cultural kin ancestry also points towards the ways in which spiritual ancestry like family ancestry can cross over cultural boundaries. With the whole spiritual heritage of humankind available, some of the most dramatic and powerful forms of spiritual ancestry involve tuning into teachers with very different cultural backgrounds from our own.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to spend the day with my then nine-year-old granddaughter, Lauren, who lives outside Boston. Thinking about her beforehand, I called up her image in my mind. I’m always pleased to meet her, in the real or in my imagination. She’s my granddaughter, I feel love for her. I also appreciate who she is. When I see her I feel her sensitivity and her natural spiritual inclinations. Imagining what we might do, I considered taking her to a museum or a movie. But then I received a kind of indication and I thought “Yes, she might be ready.” So when we met that day, I said, “Let’s go on a pilgrimage.” She was interested so we discussed spirituality and philosophy as ways of thinking about how to live our lives. We talked about the Buddha, how he left his home in the palace and went on a retreat into the country side of northern India to try and find out how to live. I asked if she knew how her father has been influenced by the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. She did and pulled, Your True Home, out from under the coffee table next to where we were sitting. With her help we drew a family genealogy and also put in spiritual ancestors, teachers that inspired her father and mother, her grandmother and me. I wrote the names of Shah Jii, Rudy Bauer, and my Tai Chi teacher, Joanne on the chart. I also added teachers who I have encountered in literature, whose writings I have read and been influenced by, like Inayat Khan, Gandhi, and Thoreau. Lauren knew about Martin Luther King and Gandhi but not about their connection. So I told her how King had been inspired by Gandhi and about the 1959 pilgrimage he made to Gandhi’s ashram and other sites in India. I also told her how both Gandhi and King had been inspired by an American writer, philosopher, and teacher who lived decades earlier, Henry David Thoreau. I told her about how Thoreau had also influenced her father, her uncle, and me. We talked about how Thoreau’s spiritual ancestry derived in part from his avid reading of Asian spiritual texts including some from Buddhism and how they helped inspire his two-year retreat at what has become an American sacred space, Walden Pond. And, I said, “Guess what? Walden Pond is not far from here and that‘s where we are going today, on our pilgrimage!” Now she was pleased and excited so we put some food and water in my backpack and off we went.

At Walden Pond we explored the replica of Thoreau’s cabin, hiked the pretty trail around the Pond and found the site of his original cabin. There we talked about Thoreau’s teachings on walking in nature and truly seeing its spiritual beauty. And we discussed as well his contribution to nonviolent political resistance. We paid tribute, by imagining Thoreau’s life here and by sitting in meditation at the edge of the water. After walking back and getting some ice cream from the truck in the parking lot, we went into the little Walden Pond store. I told Lauren I’d like to get her something to remember the day. At first she considered a walking stick with the epigram, “calm down and keep on sauntering.” “What does sauntering mean?” she asked. Eventually she decided on a paperback edition of Thoreau’s Walden Pond and started reading it outside the store. I already knew that our “pilgrimage” had been successful but I was additionally pleased when she said as we got back in the car, “This was sooooo much fun!” and then, “Will you teach me some Tai Chi when we get back home?”

I happily enjoy remembering, that is, imaginatively re-experiencing, this “pilgrimage” with Lauren to that sacred space. The living memory is imbued with a mix of images of Walden Pond, my granddaughter, and also Thoreau, Shah Jii, and the other teachers that inspired that good day together. So, as I am suggesting here, the Sufis have a variety of important ideas about maintaining and cultivating an internal representation of spiritual ancestry. They also practice creatively relating to internal images of spiritual teachers, companions, students and the sacred sites where they reside. All of this offers some potentially powerful indications for those of us seeking to practice a spiritual life here in the west.

*  This is an edited and expanded version of a talk given under the auspices of the Washington Center for Consciousness Studies on October 2015.


1 The portion of this essay dealing with the Pakistani Sufis is based on my journal, field notes and photographs from 1976-77 when I spent almost a year with these Sufis—I related to them both as an anthropologist, doing an ethnography of this group—learning about them—and also as a murid student/disciple interested in learning from them.
2  Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Sit, Berkeley, Parallax Press, 2014, pp. 91-93.
3 For an English translation, see Ali Bin Uthman Al-Hujwiri, Kashf al-mahjub, translated by Reynold A. Nicholson, Lahore, Islamic Book Foundation 1976 (reprint of 1911 edition).
4 For an example, see John L. Caughey, “The Mirror of Consciousness: An American Ethnographer in a Sufi Community.” SUFI, 86: p. 40.
5 Thich Nhat Hanh, Be Free Where You Are, Berkeley, Parallax Press, 2002, pp. 64-65.
6 As Carl Jung suggested, the work of integrating diverse influences and experiences is a primary task of the older stages of life.
7 This useful term is employed by Henry Corbin in his Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, translated by Ralph Manheim, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1969.
8 Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Inner Life.  Geneva, International Headquarters of Sufi Movement, 1979. Originally published 1960, p. 26.


[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
[/wcm_restrict] [wcm_nonmember]To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.[/wcm_nonmember]

95 The Jerrahi Path



By Matt Hanson

One ordinary, overcast evening in New York City, from an unassuming apartment building in the southernmost Brooklyn neighborhood, Aylin hopped into the waiting maroon sedan. Malik, a soft-spoken middle-aged man had kindly offered to drive her to the maiden Jerrahi lodge in America. The lodge was located in the suburb of Chestnut Ridge where the borders of New Jersey and New York meet. Originally from Afghanistan, Malik had a calm, friendly demeanor, open to conversation and optimistic in his tone. Aylin introduced herself, adding that she grew up in Turkey with her extended family following the late Sufi master Ahmet Kayhan Dede (In Turkish, the honorific dede simply means grandfather). In his mild manner, Malik confessed that he never heard of him, but that his faith affirms the universality of the tariqat concept and the interconnectedness of all Muslim communities on the Sufi path.

Upon arrivel, Aylin exits from the low frame of the car, and into the lush environs that appear well beyond city limits, pulsing with ecological integrity. A roost of chickens prepare for the night ahead, strutting about the rustic wooden entrance. And cresting with a proud minaret over the roof of the lodge, a gentle rain starts to fall from above. Silent smiles communicate welcoming gratitude and providence to the new guests, as busy cooks take momentary breaks to say hearty greetings.

Multigenerational solidarity is at the heart of this oldest Jerrahi lodge in America, nestled deeply into the Mid-Atlantic countryside. A man in a white dervish cap is a common sight, next to a covered woman. Illumined under the front door lamp astride neatly hewn shrubs, children skip about the festive outdoor lighting. Leafy vines decorate the lodge sheltered in lush green trees all radiating the primary color of Islam. Inside, the decorative tiled walls are styled in the Iznik craft from the Aegean region of Turkey unmistakable in its floral viridescent patterns, commingling arboreal motifs with kernels of symbolic resonance. Calligraphic signatures, particularly of the letter waw to symbolize the sacred oath to Allah, are designed within intricate weavings of ultramarine hues reminiscent of the Turquoise Coast.
[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
As attested by adherents, every last tile is sourced directly from Turkey.  The people involved literally traveled halfway around the planet to bear the weight of the fired ceramic soil of the country that raised the founder of the order, Hazreti Pîr Muhammad Nureddin al-Jerrahi. In the years between 1678–1720, al-Jerrahi lived in the last imperial Ottoman capital of Istanbul, where he is buried in the original tekke lodge in his name that remains active in the Old City.

In the main hall at Chestnut Ridge, the lodge foyer lowers one velvety, carpeted step before spreading out towards the east-facing mihrab centerpiece, standing alight amid many dazzling fixtures from floor to ceiling within the womb-like warmth of wooden architecture. Sheepskin and seccade prayer rugs form a semicircle beneath a crystal chandelier. The house plants merge with the cool green outdoor lawns through the stained glass-windowed facade. A piece of the central Islamic pilgrimage site, a cloth from the kaaba stone at Mecca, is framed beside the mihrab according to the ritual observance of the umma, the nearly two billion Muslims throughout the world.

Entering the core space, neatly kept bookshelves display the intellectual and interfaith diversity of a great extent of the world over exquisitely hand-knotted Turkish rugs. Fitted in snug, homey slippers called terlik as is traditional to Central Asian cultures, people quietly file in and out as evening approaches for ceremony. Low tables set close to the ground recall old Turkic and Arabic customs related to the holistic approach to health, food, life and society as part of a communal ritual of subtle, spatial and temporal awarenesses. A simple array of books are stacked to purvey new literature for sale, many of which are works authored by members and relations of the Jerrahi order, including Shems Friedlander and Tosun Baba himself, who is generally known by his family surname, Bayrak. The context of his literary efforts encompass nine critical and translation works, and his memoir, Memoirs of a Moth, which was published in Istanbul in 2014.

By night, the Jerrahi lodge at Chestnut Ridge is outlined with strings of light emanating with graceful power in greens, yellows and whites, marking the place as a holy site where charged souls take flight inside to become full and even intoxicated by the qualities of pure spiritual embodiment. It is a practice achieved through a ceremony known as the zikr, loosely translated as a kind of psychic remembrance, to recollect the nature of total, divine unity. For the Jerrahi dervishes, such a state is completely possible, and for many elders in the community like Malik, it is commonplace.

In the choreography of the zikr, the women pray and chant immediately outside the border of the nucleus. Raised up on the kilim-blanketed flooring aside bookshelves and dining tables, they are segregated physically, as is the case in most traditional religious orthodoxies among Jews and Christians.

Aylin experiences it intimately for the first time in her young life. She watches everyone enter a state of utter absorption in devotion to the unifying spirit. They turn inside, transformed in that moment, moved, and healed by the extraordinary momentum of energy flowing through the high air. The effect is like a strong medicine, she thinks. It is said that the zekr is often bitter and difficult at first, and then with time, its properties work chemical magic through the blood and nerves, animating the human state of being to a finer, more universal sensitivity in touch with the restorative principles of creation.

As the ceremony commences, and before any of the mystical concepts are revealed, the five pillars of Islam are clarified, and a basic tutorial on how to perform Muslim prayer is provided. Then, in a succession of circular hierarchies, obeisant congregants sway and sing, ululate and genuflect. As one of the leaders say after the ceremony concludes, “Everyone has a role.”

Immediately after the full-body swing of intensive praise reaches its fulfillment, everyone takes a seat at the table to eat. The food is deliciously catered by friends and family relations, rich with various Turkish salads in healthful abundance, and hot caffeinated drinks are doled out generously. A man from the West Indies passes his plate to a medical doctor who gives professional advice to anyone who asks, and many do, almost ceaselessly, and from all directions. And then, the Turkish ceremonial leader at the core of the zikr assists Tosun Baba himself to join everyone. It is a rare special visit, as he is in his nineties and in ailing health. Still, he chain-smokes Samsun brand cigarettes from the Black Sea region of Turkey and sips his tea with a carefree—though meditative—ardor. With her tactful personality, Aylin immediately warms up to his presence, and begins asking questions which will soon develop into the collective sohbetler, a Turkish word for the discussions that are integral to the historic oral transmission of wisdom passed down since time immemorial from elders and saints to all aspirants, dervishes and believers in Islamic tradition.

It is said that the zekr is often bitter and difficult at first, and then with time, its properties work chemical magic through the blood and nerves, animating the human state of being to a finer, more universal sensitivity in touch with the restorative principles of creation.

In the early 20th century, the newly modernized Bayrak family raised Tosun Baba in the secularism of the incipient Turkish Republic, without a domestic faith practice connected to a religious community. In his early years, especially during his initial phases towards intellectual and emotional independence as a bohemian anarchist, performance artist and outsider poet, Tosun Baba appreciated the spiritual teachings of faith traditions from Eastern Asia, something akin to Westerners since the dawn of the Romantic Age.

It was by a chance encounter with a woman named Munevver Hanim that Tosun Baba confronted his unforeseen attraction to the Jerrahi path, while traveling from Istanbul by train to Konya in the winter of 1968 to experience the whirling dervish ceremony celebrating Rumi. In those days, the spell of Kemalist reform had convinced Tosun Baba that sheikhs and dervishes were lost to the Turkish culture. Little did he know that the second half of his long life would be defined by that happenstance curiosity, leading ultimately to a deep search that formalized when he became a disciple under Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak Efendi, the man who extended the Jerrahi path to America. In her own way, Aylin saw some of where that path goes and how it returns.

◉ ◉ ◉

Once back in Turkey, at the soonest opportunity, Aylin went to the Friday zikr at the first Jerrahi lodge in the oldest Istanbul district of Fatih in the neighborhood of Karagümruk, only a short walk from the environs of the most conservative Muslim community in the city. Uphill from the Golden Horn inlet, beyond the architectural landmarks and gentrified streets of the bygone Greek civilization of Constantinople, and past historic schools once devoted purely to studying the Masnavi of Rumi, finally around a few corners from the earliest synagogue foundation in the ancient metropolis hailing from Byzantine times, Hazreti Pîr Muhammad Nureddin al-Jerrahi is entombed in view from the windows of a mosque currently undergoing extensive structural renovations. Over muddy walkways and splintering planks, disciples on the Jerrahi path from all over the world wind through the street, offering elderly beggars and local women change, and sometimes an egg at the gate as a gesture of respect to the fundamental Islamic charity rite known as zakat.

Aylin waits at the entrance for the arrival of the Turkish woman she met at the lodge in Chestnut Ridge before entering. Within its relatively plain multi-roomed complex, calligraphic works cover the walls in a mosaic of frames. Elderly men and eager youths form conversational collectives in every corner. Throughout the space, there are displays of the authentic material treasury of Jerrahi history, towering Ottoman headdresses for every station of the soul, a cache of painted drums, cymbals, ney flutes, volumes of sacred literature, photographs and drawings of late sheikhs and masters including Ahmet Kayhan Dede, and on into the visceral imagination of the grandiose scope of fine art and ceremonial objects. A second-floor pew for women grants a bird’s eye view overlooking the ceremonial core around which the men revolve, enchanted and reverent.

The packed crowd of all ages bow down in repetitious observance  under the stunning Iznik mihrab as the circle of dervishes are energized with a sweeping magnetism toward the center. Conducting the woven mass with noble compassion, the Grand Sheikh since 1999, Omer Tugrul Inancer Efendi stirs the prayerful in an ecstatic exercise in social and physical boundary dissolution. The zekr is a rhythmic musical dance in the spirit of universal peace, for transcendent harmony and unity. That is where the Sufi vision unfolds, for the dervishes and devout are merely honest working men and women, beyond the trappings of materialism.

A lone whirler fulfills the blissful reunion of humanity with God in an act of faith. On Monday evenings, more whirlers take the floor in the core space before the mihrab for the listening ceremony known as the meşk (pronounced meshk) as they surround musicians called divine lovers (aşık in Turkish, pronounced ashik). This ceremony is one of the sole remaining authentic whirling ceremonies that stayed the course of tradition well outside commercialized performances for touristic audiences in downtown Istanbul. The oud and tanbur, ney and clarinet, bendir frame drum and cymbals come together to support choral chants and breathtaking soloists, all in unity toward the sacred, using Arabic vowels of the Qur’an and its most dedicatedly memorized passages. The night after Turkey and the world commemorated the 744th death anniversary of Rumi, the meşk held in earshot of the tomb of Hazreti Pîr Muhammad Nureddin al-Jerrahi heard the voice of Aylin.


[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
[/wcm_restrict] [wcm_nonmember]To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.[/wcm_nonmember]

95 TADAO ANDO – Materializing Spirituality



By Rana habibi

Born in 1941 in Osaka, Japan, Tadao Ando is one of the world’s most celebrated architects. Ando is a self-taught architect who became fascinated by architecture during his first over-land journey from Japan to the West, traveling through different places such as Ivory Coast, Cape Town, Madagascar and India. While he learned much from his contemporaries, including Le Corbusier and Frank LIoyd Wright, travel was his main Master in architecture. Visiting diverse and somehow antithetical territories brought the young Ando closest to the meaning of life and the sense of “place” in architecture.
Japanese traditional architecture is also a profound source of inspiration for Ando. Through traditional architecture, he found the importance of natural materials, sensitively used, to create the sense of beauty in built space.
Ando’s search for the meaning of life brought him to create a meaningful architecture —a qualified place for being. Among his worldwide and diverse projects, his spiritual buildings are more representative of Ando’s philosophy of life.
In these projects, for example, The Water Temple (1990—Hyogo, Japan), The Church of the Light (1999—Osaka, Japan), and the Hill of the Buddha (2015—Sapporo, Japan)—Ando created modern sacred spaces for 21st-century citizens by constantly searching for the hidden balance between human, nature and the sense of place.
[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
We were honored to speak to Ando about materializing spirituality into form, the special elements of spirituality, and how sites of spiritual practice impact our experience of spirituality itself. 


According to your practice, to what extent and in what ways do the concreteness and the form of the site of spiritual practice impact spiritual experience? How did you materialize spirituality into form and elements in the “Church of Light,” “Temple of Water” and “Hill of the Buddha”? What are the spatial elements of spirituality? When designing religious architecture, I always aim to create a space which can continue to inspire people for many years. As a method of doing this, I often employ water, light, and wind to create an architecture which evolves and changes with its environment. When natural elements are abstracted from the raw power of the earth, it can approach a sacred plane. In traditional Japanese architecture, shakkei (borrowed landscape) is often used as a way of framing nature and creating a permeable boundary between interior and exterior. Spiritual spaces, in a sense, perform in the same way as a Japanese tea room. In the Japanese tea room, importance does not lie in the floor, walls, or ceiling, but the space of shintai (nothingness). Nothingness is a means of finding the self and life’s richness.

However, the world is not articulated as a series of isotropic, homogeneous spaces. It is concrete and related to a totality of history, culture, climate, topography, and urbanity. A place is not the absolute space of Newtonian physics, that is, a universal space, but a space with meaningful directionality and a heterogeneous density.

During the design of the Hill of the Buddha, the Church of the Light, and the Water Temple, I was first interested in sequence and space. For the Hill of the Buddha, I created a meditative approach to the statue and covered it with a hill of lavender. Reaching the end of the pathway, one is greeted by ethereal light. I wanted to give visitors a unique experience, by enhancing the visitor’s spirituality when they finally reached the statue. The Hill of the Buddha was built on a 180-hectare site in Sapporo, Hokkaido known as Makomanai Takino Cemetery. 15 years ago, a giant Buddha statue was constructed here from 4000 tons of high-quality stone. When the client approached me for advice to improve the space around an underappreciated stone Buddha on a vast piece of land, I immediately thought back to my travels in India. I felt that an architectural concept similar to the Ajanta Caves in India would be provocative for a project like this. These caves were made from carving out the earth, a process of subtraction which resulted in architecture. Many years ago, when I first visited the Ajanta Caves, I could not make out my surroundings due to sheer darkness. In the depths of the structure, I could see Buddha statues shimmering underneath the faint light of the carved skylights. I wanted to recreate the spectacle that I experienced at the Ajanta Caves, in the landscape of Hokkaido, Japan. I always attempt to pursue an architecture which can only be created in that location. The structure constitutes a tangible threshold between the realms of the sacred and worldly.

When I stand on an empty site,
I can sometimes hear the land
voice the need for a building.

At the Church of the Light, I created a pure 6m by 18m rectangular volume which is intersected by an angled wall. The combination of these two elements establishes an entry and light into the structure. Visitors can experience the profound spirituality of natural light. On the inside, I placed both the altar and pulpit in the lowest part of the church. The effect is to equalize the believer with the pastor. With this approach, I intend to embody the sense of equality and communion in the search for God. In this regard of sharing, emptying one’s self is essential. An architecture of shintai (nothingness) seeks to operate as a spatial condition to remind one of this moment of sharing and communion. The cross in the Church of the Light is not merely a form, but emptiness and light. In Western culture, I find that focus is given to the solid and tangible, while in the East, the emphasis is placed on the void and blankness. In Japanese calligraphy yohaku (emptiness) is more important than the painted portions. When we perceive the cross in the Church of the Light, we should remind ourselves of this. The cross is visible, yet invisible. It alters itself with the passage of time, demanding from the perceiver at each moment a different emotional, intellectual, and spiritual response. It creates various imprints upon an otherwise dark emptiness, as well upon the surfaces of the interior walls. The cross also brings light and a portion of the outside world into the structure. It connects the outside and inside. The light which has come through an office window is different than that of a cross because it is charged with spirituality, religious meaning, and emotional significance.

Having discussed church architecture, I would like to move on to the architecture of Buddhist temples. During the design process of the Water Temple, I sought to create a space with the spirit of Buddhism without relying on its conventional architectural style. From the 1960s to the 1970s many temples all over the country were constructed with reinforced concrete instead of traditional wooden materials. However, most of those temples were far from delicate or magnificent. Temples are mainly constructed with inclined wooden rooves, so it has long been a challenge for architects to succeed this tradition and beauty by using modern building materials. The Water Temple is in the shape of an oval measuring 40 meters by 30 meters. On the ascent, a curved concrete wall blocks the sight of the building, until one reaches the entrance to the rooftop water feature. There is nothing in sight that associates to Buddhism. Strictly abstract expressions are used for the walls and the pond, and only lotuses float atop the water’s surface, asserting their architectural existence. Below the lotus pond, there is a secret entrance to Gokuraku-Jodo (the Heaven). The underground Mido Hall is nested within a square 17.4 meters on a side. Inside the concrete boundary wall is a wooden cylinder measuring 14 meters. The cylinder is a brilliantly vermilion-lacquered structure, and visitors cross a threshold out of the everyday to a world full of bright color.

When one perceives concrete to be something cold and hard, then one must recognize the body as something warm and soft. The dichotomy of body and world forms shintai. When I stand on an empty site, I can sometimes hear the land voice the need for a building. I believe anthropomorphic ideas of the genius loci were a recognition of that phenomenon. The distance between the self and the object must be altered to perceive space in all of its diversity. Not only the movement of shintai but natural movements such as that of light, wind, or rain can change the phenomenal, as opposed to the physical distance between the self and the object. Architecture is the art of articulating the world through geometry. By introducing nature and human movement into simple volumes, I attempt to create complex spaces. Order is reconstructed within the shintai through the recognition of differences between the total image inscribed on the shintai by the superimposition and what is immediately and visually apprehended. Since the beginning of my career, I have sought to create spiritual spaces which connect to the mind and body of the visitor.


[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
[/wcm_restrict] [wcm_nonmember]To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.[/wcm_nonmember]

95 Here



[wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]This vast, great emptiness
is warm, sun-drenched, soil
coursing through my cold veins.

I can’t,
for the life of me,
find me here.
Everything is almond cake.

This heavy-scented silence
is days of quiet, running-rain
oil-soaking this dry, old skin.

I can’t,
for the life of me,
find You here.
Nothing wears its own face.

In this sweet, bewildered state
You drip your best wine, deep
into my hungry, milk-weaned heart.

I can’t,
for the life of me,
find us here.

How is it, then,
that You hold me fast?



[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]



[/twocol_one_last] [wcm_restrict plans="Sufi Journal Digital Edition, Sufi Journal Digital Edition old"]
[/wcm_restrict] [wcm_nonmember]To read this article in full, you must Buy Digital Subscription, or log in if you are a subscriber.[/wcm_nonmember]