Universal Awakening


Years ago, I am not sure how many, maybe fifteen; I was in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris at Fazil Manzil, the historical residence of Hazrat Inayat Khan, attending a conference at which James Morris of Boston College spoke. The title of his lecture was “Cinema as the Quran of the Future”. I really did not truly appreciate his presentation at the time – but his theme stuck in my mind and I would from time to time go back to muse on the possibilities of film as Living Revelation. But I admit to getting nowhere with this and eventually forgot it.

Recently this came back with a resounding thud. A few weeks ago I presented a two day workshop in Asheville on Ibn al Arabi titled “Layering the Sacred”, the first in a series of four. This particular weekend we concentrated on Ibn al Arabi’s perspective that the world of our everyday life is truly a dream, in many ways similar to the dreams we experience in sleep, with the exception that we image it more firmly in diurnal consciousness. Ibn al Arabi did not mean by this the same thing that some interpret the Hindu concept of maya – that the world is nothing but an illusion. He felt “images” of waking life represent a deeper reality, one to be realized if we move our presence toward the wider ground of being behind them. Threading backward toward a deeper state of reality behind life’s images the Sufis call Ta’wil. Pir Vilayat likened our condition to being in an amusement park in front of mirrors that distort our image. We know that the distortion is not real but we also know that if something is not truly present the mirrors would have nothing to reflect. In Reality it is not our specific image that is distorted by the mirror of everyday life rather it is the image of the Divine.

A few days after this workshop I had a conversation with my son who is interested in film and was showing me a short film he made of some plants, stones, and of a creek on our property. As I looked at it I was struck by both its simplicity and depth. It was a quick glance at a few of the thousands of plants that surround us and one of many creeks on our land. Images I walked by and usually ignored daily, despite their inherent beauty. But, because my son captured them on film I looked at them with more reflection and realized that each of these images was an ambassador of a realm of consciousness much deeper and more richly layered with information – a realm awaiting discovery and recognition. I then remembered the title of James Morris’ lecture of years past and related it to my son. I proceeded to Google Ibn al Arabi and cinematography only discover a remarkable article “Inception and Ibn ‘Arabi”, by Oludamini Ogunnaike, a graduate student at Harvard University. While Ogunnaike admits that Christopher Nolan, director of the film “Inception”, was undoubtedly most deeply informed by Carl Jung he personally experienced the film as a truly remarkable commentary on the teaching of Ibn al Arabi on the images that make up our lives. This article can be found at: http://www.marcmanley.com/inception-and-ibn-arabi/

I hope you enjoy it, the film, and will share your comments!

With gratitude,


updated: 2 years ago