Abbas Way - A Universal Spirituality

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In this season of renewal and affirmation, you may have noted my focus on letting go of the old in order to embrace a greater future. Thus, this letter about a change to our school is very well timed. To ensure the education we all want for our children and our grandchildren, the school and the Centre are becoming separate entities. With this change, the school that we started will be aligned to serve the educational needs of children within and beyond our community. The school is currently working toward a rigorous International Baccalaureate [IB] www.

Many of you have chosen to support our school in the past and your continued generosity is more welcome now than ever. If you have school age children or know others who do, I hope you will suggest that they consider this 20 year old new school as an option for the family. Click here to receive more information. In closing, please know that the magic that goes on behind the walls on the Robertson and Olympic campuses continues — with a new name and a public story of international focus and excellence that will serve this and future generations well.

To infuse the Lunar New Year, also the New Moon of Aries, with the energy of peace, unity and respect, marked the first annual HourOfSpiritualUnity where Karen invited people from around the world to join together, regardless of their individual spiritual or religious paths, to participate in an hour of observance in anything that awakens the spirit. This collective effort reached 7. A Groundbreaking Author in Spirituality Titles offering insight and wisdom rooted in spirituality, and applicable to everyday life Shop All Finding The Light Through Darkness Finding the Light through the Darkness invites readers on a transformative journey.

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She delves into the spiritual purpose of relationships — to reach our highest potential — and the way to enrich our connection to our self, our mate, our children, and God. In each lifetime, the soul returns to the physical world to correct a different aspect of itself. In one incarnation a soul may need to learn about being rich; another it may need to learn about being poor.

Or it may need to experience strength and weakness, anger and compassion, beauty and unsightliness. One frequently criticised aspect of his filmmaking is the lack of female characters. In response, his film 10 spends most of its running time focused on the female lead and her face, shot in medium close up. It is a film that takes place almost entirely in a car with people, mostly women, whose stories we hear but whose faces we rarely see. Long takes, lengthy conversations with characters who enter the story but not necessarily into the frame only as passers by, mundane details of everyday life, long scenes that take place in cars, and a masterful use of landscape.

Over decades of filmmaking, Kiasrostami made films that not only explored the nature of film and the boundaries between different styles of filmmaking, they also explored humanity, philosophy, and the relation between images, words and poetry. Hardly surprising, then, that he also expressed himself through painting, poetry, and photography. The human face of his films made us more aware of the ways in which we rob each other of our humanity in order make matters less complicated for ourselves. A tunnel to the beginning of time: a lecture on particle physics and the large hadron collider — Egham, Surrey.

Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Ozlem Koksal , University of Westminster. Beginnings Born in Tehran in , Kiaostami started out making educational films for children at the Institute for Intellectual development of Children and Young Adults, of which he was a founder. If contingents are composites, then one element of the composition is active and ontologically prior. Is it the case that there are essences in some of being, such as humanity, that wait for a divine agent to actualize and individuate them through the bestowal of existence, an essentialist doctrine that posits a rather paradoxical existence of an essence before it comes to exist?

Existence must be ontologically prior not only because of the absurdity of an existence before existence, but also because God is devoid of essence, and his causal link to the world can only be existential if one wishes to avoid the contamination of the divine nature with essences that are composites of different and multiple properties and features. Mulla Sadra uses this doctrine as part of his own ontological proof for the existence of God known as the Proof of the Veracious burhan al-siddiqin.

The second doctrine is the modulation and gradation of existence tashkik al-wujud. Existence is a singular reality, as the phenomenal experience of existence as multiple is illusory. But multiplicity in this world still needs to be explained.

Different existents in this world are thus different, intense degrees of a single whole. Thus there is a horizontal and a vertical hierarchy of existence that is connected and involved in a whole chain of existence. The particular degrees of existence are not stable substances in the Aristotelian sense, and thus neither is Sadrian ontology concerned with a multiplicity of substances or the problem that would be raised by the objection: how can all things be one substance?

Being is a common term that is applied to a number of contexts and expressions: the mental context mental being, conceptual being , the spoken context being in speech , the written context inscribed being , and the real context concrete, extra-mental being. In all these contexts, being is a shared notion and reality expressed in different ways. Thus the old metaphysical debate about the One and the many is settled in favour of both: being or existence is both singular and multiple. The doctrine of the gradation thus provides an explanation for the nature of spiritual hierarchies and the different abilities and dispositions of people but also insists upon the ultimate singularity of human existence.

Thus the ethical implications of the doctrine are a thorough social and ontological equality of existents including humanity, animals, and so forth coupled with an intellectual and spiritual hierarchy, order, and inequality. Mulla Sadra summaries modulation in the following manner:. This leads us to the third doctrine that all individuals in existence undergo motion and flux, namely, substantial motion haraka jawhariyya.

It also demonstrates how he privileges becoming over static, immutable being. Within an Aristotelian framework, there are two types of change: instantaneous such as the move from potentiality to actuality, and gradual such as the ageing process in things that undergo generation and corruption. This raises two objections to substantial motion: first, if existents are constantly motive, how can there be a subject that we recognise as undergoing change? Second, substances are manifest in essences and these cannot be identified in their species form since motion denies the fixity of the species and genus boundaries that define the essence.

For Mulla Sadra, the second point is easier to treat: essences are not fundamental to which existence is accidental so the boundaries of what we may conceive an essence to be should not limit existence. On the former, existence is its own subject. Drawing upon Aristotelian hylomorphism, he argues that it is the matter of existence that acquires forms as it constantly changes. An existing entity is not a stable substance constant in time to which change occurs as an accident, such as a young Zayd becoming old and greying; rather, it is a structure of unfolding, dynamic events of existence.

The young Zayd is thus literally not the same existent as the old Zayd, since the change in him is substantial and existential. One implication of this doctrine is that at every instance each existent is renewed and thus provides a solution to the old problem of time and creation by asserting that the world is created in time, because at each instant all existence is new in time. Another implication is to consider time as a dimension of existence, as an analytic property of substantial motion, having no existence independently. Kalam cosmological proofs began with the intuition of phenomenal existence requiring a cause; there was a creation which needed a cause to be.

There had to be a reason why there was something rather than nothing. The systematic theologians infer from the origination of bodies and properties [pertaining to them] the existence of the Creator and from considering the states of the creation to his attributes one after another. The natural philosophers also infer from the existence of motion a Mover and from the impossibility of linking motive beings in a chain infinitely the existence of the First Mover who is unmoved.

Then from that they infer the existence of the First Principle. However, the metaphysicians infer from their reflection upon being that it is either necessary or contingent to prove the Necessary. Then by reflecting upon what is entailed by necessity and contingency, they infer his attributes and from his attributes they infer the nature of the emanation of his acts from him one after another. The master mentioned the preponderance of this method over the others because it is more reliable and nobler. That is because the more excellent of demonstrations is one that yields certainty and it is the inference from the cause to the effect; however, its opposite which is the inference from the effect to the cause may yield certainty and that is if the thing sought has a cause that can only be discerned through it as has been explained in apodeixis.

Is it not enough that your Lord is witness for everything? Tusi mentions two types of argumentation that the tradition describes as assertoric proof or quia burhan inni and demonstrative proof or propter quid burhan limmi , the former is an inference from effect to cause and the latter is from cause to effect. What he means by siddiq is not the same as Avicenna and the gap in meaning is a good illustration of the difference in their philosophical method. For Mulla Sadra, the siddiq is one who possesses intuition and inner disclosure that is attained through grace and spiritual exercise.

In the exegesis of Q. The Avicennan argument was insufficient because it provided an assertoric not a demonstrative proof and because it engaged with the concept but not the concrete reality of being. The Sadrian proof of the veracious is a natural corollary to his position on the fundamental reality and modulation of existence; in fact the latter is significant for its proof. These degrees of existence are acts of the divine essence such that even cosmological proofs are ultimately ontological.

This is precisely the point made earlier about the possibility of theology depending upon the concept of modulation. The reality of existence haqiqat al-wujud , by virtue of its being a simple thing amran basitan , not possessing an essence or a constituent property or a means of being defined, is identical to the Necessary, requiring the most complete perfection that is infinitely intense, because every other degree [of existence], which is weaker in intensity is not the pure reality of existence.

Rather, it is existence with deficiency since the deficiency of everything is other than that thing necessarily. The deficiency of existence is not existence itself but rather its privation and this privation is merely attached to existence concomitantly and not the foundation of existence, due to its actuality in a subsequent degree [of existence] and what comes after that. Deficiencies and privations comprise secondary [entities] insofar as they are secondary, but the First is its complete perfection, which has no definition and nothing may be conceived that is more perfect than it.

Deficiency and ontological indigence issue from emanation and existentiation and are perfected by it [the Necessary]. The haeccity of these secondaries is attached to the First. So he treats their deficiencies with his perfection and their ontological indigence with his ontological richness. Thus through this demonstration is the existence of the Necessary proven Mulla Sadra —5, VI: 17—8.

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Thus the proof begins with the concept and reality of existence and of God and ends with it. It displays an apparent similarity with the argument for the existence of God by intensity or the limit case argument found in Aquinas and discussed in Miller , and even more recently in some forms of the modal ontological argument Nagasawa , Speaks Nevertheless, the Sadrian proof remains susceptible to the common criticisms of ontological proofs. It actually seems to be tautological. Because he argues that the reality of being eludes human ability to confine it to discourse, it is not perhaps surprising that the manhaj al-siddiqin is not in strictu sensu an apodeictic proof.

This is because existence is an a priori intuition that all sound intellects possess and within that intuition, the existence of a Necessary Being is logically necessary.

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Proofs for the existence of God, therefore, are not attempts at producing demonstrations that convince or even fulfil the scientific parameters within proof theory, but are mere reminders to what we already know in our souls and hence corroborate and support faith in the One. This is central to Sadrian philosophy, drawing upon the simplicity of the prior One in Enneads V. In his Treatise on the union of the intellecting subject and object, Mulla Sadra draws on the Plotiniana and states that the Active Intellect is all things.

This follows from his doctrine of the primacy and logical priority of existence. In the Four Journeys , he quotes the following text from the tenth chapter of the Theologia Aristotelis , an extract that exemplifies how the doctrine of the simple reality reconciles monism and pluralism by advocating neither. First, he accepts the standard account of the Theologia. Nous as the first existent flows immediately from the One and from it, existents proceed through the mediation of the intelligible realm. Second, the One is itself above perfection and plenitude.

The first existent and the first perfect being is nous. This Neoplatonic background is significant because it seems to cause a problem for modulation. Can this simple reality be modulated and if that is the case does it not entail multiplicity in the godhead? The second part of the objection is answered in the quoted objection in the passage above. But for the first, following Enneads VI. This refers to the One, nous and all beings.

The doctrine of the simple reality is difficult but central to Sadrian philosophy. The argument presented in the Wisdom of the Throne concerns the nature of God as that simple being and illustrates His knowledge of things through it Morris 98— The concept is central to resolving many theological problems relating to the nature of God. Indeed, it is an important ontological proof for the existence of God through an analysis of simplicity.

God is simple being because He is described by being, and being is a unique, simple reality. It is simplicity devoid of essence Mulla Sadra —5, VI: 45— That simplicity is uncontaminated by multiplicity, privation, imperfection or any such negative property. This is God without multiplicity, at the level of singularity that encompasses the attributes considered intrinsically and not manifested towards and manifesting the cosmos.

Thus the simple reality that is God does not include or entail imperfections or privations. The point being made concerns the existence-essence distinction. Everything that is not simple but complex is a composite pair of existence and essence. But it also illustrates how the simple reality is an existence and encompasses things qua their existence and not their essence. Even more so, the simple existence has nothing to be negated because simplicity cannot be analysed into parts or components.

A simple reality cannot be predicated of anything since it is simple and unconditioned. This affirms diversity-in-unity since if nothing can be predicated of God, then it follows that the cosmos cannot be predicated of Him. Thus, it denies existential monism. The doctrine of the simple reality has two further roles. First, it provides a proof for the existence of God by perfection, as the most intense limit case, given that simplicity is an attribute of perfection. Simplicity denies any contingent facet to God, who is necessary in every sense.

God is simple existence as He is uniquely necessary in and by Himself.

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Mulla Sadra applies his metaphysics to problems in psychology and eschatology as well. Just as the totality of existence is singular with degrees of intensity, similarly intellect and the soul are singular realities with grades of intensity, since there is an intimate connection among existence, the intellect, and the soul as the concrete, intellectual, and psychic aspects of being. Everything that exists thus possesses consciousness. Further, he uses his doctrine of modulation to explain physical resurrection, a theological doctrine that traditionally could not be philosophically demonstrated.

The imaginal body is at first resurrected and can be demonstrated. This is predicated upon the existence of an ontological state of being known as the imaginal mithali that mediates between an intelligible world of concepts and the sensible world of things. It is used to explain those traditions that discuss abstract concepts such as fear and desire as having physical or corporeal features in resurrection.

Concepts from the intelligible world can mimic the physicality of this world through the mediation of the imaginary realm of being. The soul is an eternal and independent immaterial substance for Mulla Sadra. It is separate from but attached to the body and is the true bearer of identity Mulla Sadra As we saw above in the doctrine of substantial motion, the soul is on the path of perfection towards simplicity and unity and its reversion to its origins in the One.

In itself the soul is eternal and incorruptible and does not die with the body but reverts to its origins with the One Mulla Sadra Where does the soul come from? Given the Neoplatonic influence on Mulla Sadra, one would expect him to insist upon the pre-existence of the soul and various texts are adduced in favour of such a position. The basic problem with allowing for the pre-existence of the individual soul is that it potentially opens the way for a belief in metempsychosis which he rejects, as we shall see.

In the Wisdom of the Throne , he argues for the pre-existence of the human soul as a category:. The individual soul is the bearer of its body, its vehicle Mulla Sadra —5, IX: 63—4. It comes into existence with the body and still retains the sense of being the entelechy of the body which is why the two cannot be detached Mulla Sadra Just as existence is not an accident of essence but is the principle to which an essence is attached, similarly the soul is not an accident of the body Mulla Sadra He cannot admit the pre-existence of particular human souls because that might open the way towards metempsychosis which is a doctrine that he vehemently rejects in his eschatology.

In the Wisdom of the Throne , he describes the birth of the soul and its relationship to the body through its progression to the afterlife:. It is corporeal in its origination but incorporeal in its survival. The first thing to be generated in its state of attachment is a corporeal faculty, then a natural form, then a sensing soul in its levels, then the reflective and recollective, and finally the rational soul.

It acquires the practical and then the theoretical intellect to the limit of being an actualised intellect and finally the Active Intellect Mulla Sadra —2. The progress of the soul in this world is through the perfection of intellect that is the life and prime faculty of the soul. Its embodiment facilitates its acquisition of knowledge and the perfection of its intellect but also acts as a cage of restraint.

What we see in this passage above is the progression of the soul-intellect through the five stages of the perfection of the intellect described in Avicenna. The soul begins as receptive potentially, then acquires the habit of learning and intellecting until this is perfected; then it is an acquired intellect properly trained.

The next stage is the ability of the soul to produce knowledge actively, by being an active intellect; finally it acquires certainty through union with the Active Intellect, a transcendent principle of perfect knowledge which we discuss below. For Mulla Sadra, the mind possesses an ontological realm that one calls mental existence, a concept that is equivalent to existence-knowledge Rahman He is a realist in the sense that every thought must correspond to a real object even if it is a Meinong object, that is, an unreal object of cognition.

By positing a realm of mental reality, he is a dualist. But the existence of the mind and mental existence are not the same since the existence of the mind is itself an extra-mental reality, while mental existence is what refers to extra-mental existence. This is a subtle but significant distinction.


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He clarifies this in response to an objection that the existence of a thing cannot be analytically dissolved into the mental and extra-mental i. There are two primary modes of existence each distinct and radically non-interchangeable: being in re and mental existence.

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Mental existence shares the same qualities, features and description as extra-mental existence because it is merely another mode of existence, a certain sense of the term. Just as extra-mental existence is not ambiguous, neither is mental existence. It is homonymous and modulated. Similarly mental existence is not a universal; we have seen above the argument denying that the concept of existence is a universal. The distinction between mental and extra-mental is rooted in the Platonic distinction between sensible and intelligible being, and in the Avicennan distinction between existence and essence in contingents.

It is precisely because of mental existence that humans can conceive of entities that do not have any reference in extra-mental reality. Mulla Sadra inherited a variety of theories ranging from Platonic recollection anamnesis and division to Peripatetic syllogistics, definitions and axiomatic science. Broadly speaking, our author recognises three different epistemological methods. In this model, knowledge is a relation between a subject and an object that is devoid of cognitive content in itself and is not intrinsically intelligible.

It is a property of the knower and devoid of actual process. Knowledge is dispositional. As such, this theory is marked by radical internalism. This is a view associated with later mediaeval theologians especially Fakhr al-Din Razi and rejected. It is unacceptable to Mulla Sadra precisely because it is predicated upon a denial of mental being.


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  8. According to this model, knowledge is negative insofar as it is solipsistic Mulla Sadra —5, III: The inadequacies of this model are clear. It fails to account for conceivables that do not exist. Knowledge is the correspondence between the object and the subject, and mediated. The mind abstracts the form from the matter of the thing and represents it.

    As such it is a negative fact. One can only grasp the form in the mind since the essences of things are not available to us. They are available to us insofar as they exist and are present to us. Knowledge is not an abstraction. This Peripatetic doctrine is rejected. It is quite wrong to assume in this model that perception is so mediated that it requires an interface between the mind and external objects often called qualia.

    This model does not actually yield the reality of the thing, though it does seek the essence of things. It remains the case that Mulla Sadra accepts a correspondence theory of knowledge though it is not his preferred option for arriving at indubitable knowledge. However, these models are insufficient and do not yield certainty, which is only available through the third model of knowledge by presence.

    Suhrawardi 79—81 but with the distinction that Mulla Sadra explicitly refers to reality in terms of existence whereas for Suhrawardi existence is an empty concept. Knowledge by presence extends the identity thesis posited in the ancient tradition to entities beyond the divine and the pure intellects and in effect reverses the process of making sense of human knowledge that one finds in knowledge by representation. That latter projects this model of human knowledge onto the divine and hence cannot fathom how God might know particulars in their particularity. Critical to presential knowledge is the Porphyrian doctrine of the unity of the intellect, the intellecting subject and its intelligible object.

    Pure self-knowledge for Plotinus depends on union with the divine intellect that self-intellects. Such a noetic experience is non-discursive. One thing cannot become another substantially, nor can a rational soul unite with the Active Intellect which is indivisible. The human intellect cannot be united with intelligibilia. Rather one knows things by conjunction ittisal not union ittihad with the Active Intellect from whence one grasps the universals of things immanent in it.

    The soul receives the forms from the Active intellect but remains unchanged itself.



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