2011 Abwun Interspiritual Leadership Program

Begininng 19-22 May 2011  in Germany

with Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz

(Program in German and English language)


1. Introduction

• To develop leaders in interfaith and interspiritual work, psychological circles, retreat work, spiritual study groups.
• To learn to more effectively lead meditation, body prayer, walking meditation, chant and group work.
• To learn advanced Dances of Universal Peace skills for all of the Abwoon work (Prayer, Beatitudes, Native Middle Eastern, Creation, Sufi).
• For spiritual directors, retreat guides, interfaith ministers, counselors, therapists, spiritual music directors, Dances of Universal Peace leaders and students of Kaballah, Sufism and Christian Spirituality.

According to one survey, since 9/11 interfaith activity has tripled everywhere. Respecting diversity, in the spirit of religious pluralism, means that more and more people are risking an encounter with the “other.” And yet, most people want more. Our present culture of individuality and individual differences—religion, gender, color, sexual preference, ethnicity, nationality—cannot lessen the very human need to connect and to build genuine relationships across these apparent differences.

I feel we have a unique opportunity right now to assist a sea-change in the consciousness of humanity. After leading three of these groups in the US and UK, I am convinced that we have the opporturnity to expand our work beyond our usual circles to meet the deep yearning of people to eat, pray, meditate and dance together.

I have included the basics of the program below. For a complete description, please go to the following website URL, where you will find it posted in German: www.eial.org/AILPDeutschland.htm An application form is required for all as a form of self-assessment.

Seven 3-day modules (over 3 ½ years) cover the main elements of the Abwoon work: 1) Aramaic Prayer of Yeshua; 2) Native Middle Eastern Roots; 3)Aramaic Beatitudes; 4) Creation Spiritual Traditions in Judaism, Chrisitianity and Islam; 5) Yeshua in John and Thomas Gospels; 6) Sufi Spirituality; 7)Integrative retreat
Each module covers basic and advanced leadership experience of: body prayers, meditation, voicework and chant, psychospiritual practices, walking meditation, Dances of Universal Peace, background of the work, mixing and blending material for specific groups (e.g., church, psychological, retreat, interfaith)
Homework in body prayer, chant and meditation given for six months between each module. Group sharing and communication through a dedicated listserv online.
Cost: 205 euros per module plus room and board.
Program open to a maximum of 25 persons. Please apply early!
Locations initially planned to alternate between Ruckhartshausen (Rafia and Salik Sieglin) and Berlin (Rahmana Dziubany)

First two modules time and location:

May 19-22, 2011: Institute for Dance and Peace Art, Golzow nr Berlin
November 24-27, 2011: Hof Ruhau, Ruckhardtshausen (S. Germany)


I invite your prayers, support and participation in whatever way you feel moved to offer. May all we do and are benefit the unfolding Reality of the cosmos!

Love and blessings,

Neil Douglas-Klotz


2. Further Information and Program Description

A program to develop leaders in interspiritual practices for peacemaking and service, in ministries of spiritual direction, counseling, teaching, and ritual.

Who will benefit from the program:

Students, teachers and ministers of Sufism, Kaballah, and Christian spirituality who, to strengthen their work in interfaith and interspiritual service, would like to experience a personal spiritual practice that draws from a larger range of Middle Eastern spirituality, from the most ancient earth-based traditions, through those rooted in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic languages.
Therapists, counselors and individual spiritual directors who, for their own spiritual development as well as to help others, wish to deepen in breath, body awareness and counseling practices that stem from the native spiritual tradition of Jesus, the Hebrew prophets, Sufism and the Native Middle Eastern traditions.
Interfaith ministers and leaders who wish to add practical experience in the meditations and body prayers of Middle Eastern spirituality to their theoretical work in comparative religion, in order to share a wider ministry in ceremony, counseling and ritual.
Spiritual directors in the any tradition who wish to learn to lead practices, body prayers and meditations inspired by Jesus’ Aramaic spirituality and use them for counseling, mentoring and retreat work.
Retreat guides and teachers of meditation who wish to learn to lead body prayer, spiritual practice and guided meditation that arise from Kaballah, Aramaic Christian spirituality, Sufism and the earlier indigenous traditions of the Middle East.

Overview of the Program:

Seven leadership modules correspond to the major ministries and spiritual practices offered by Abwoon Interspiritual Communities;
Two 3-day leadership retreats will be offered each year, approximately six months apart.
Retreats will be limited to 25 people each.
At each retreat, participants will learn body prayer, meditation and spiritual practice that can be integrated into their daily prayer or meditation practice for six months.
Group sharing and communication through a dedicated listserv online.

Each module of study and the associated retreat will include the following basic and advanced tools specific to each body of work. Students will naturally gravitate toward and select the tools most appropriate to their own community and work. Not everyone will wish to master all the tools, but we hope that all will become familiar with them and enter each with a willing heart. Participants will be expected to read and listen to the published materials associated with each leadership retreat prior to the retreat itself.

Basic Skills and Leadership Experiences:
• Leading body prayers and body awareness practices for use in group work
• Leading walking meditations
• Leading Dances of Universal Peace
• Leading Basic guided meditations and contemplations

Advanced Skills and Leadership Experiences:
• The background of the published work and its relation to current social, scientific and cultural research
• Work with the voice and leading chants
• Leading advanced meditations and contemplations
• Psychospiritual exercises and practices (for instance “Depths of the Self” from Desert Wisdom, and “Hokhmah’s Table” from Blessings of the Cosmos)
• Mixing and blending material and practices for use with specific groups

Modules of Learning and Leadership Experience

Module 1: The Aramaic Prayer of Yeshua / Aramaic Spirituality I (books: Prayers of the Cosmos, The Hidden Gospel; audio: Original Prayer ). Introduction to the program; leading the body prayers and dances associated with the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus.
Module 2: The Native Middle Eastern Roots of Western Spirituality (books: Desert Wisdom; Genesis Meditations; audio: Native Middle Eastern chants and dances). Included: meditations on Depths of the Self, Sound and Embodiment, Simple Presence, Heart Awareness, Gratitude and Celebration; the Native Middle Eastern chants and dances.
Module 3: The Aramaic Beatitudes of Yeshua/ Aramaic Spirituality II (books: Prayers of the Cosmos, Blessings of the Cosmos; audio: The Healing Breath, Blessings of the Cosmos); Included: the body prayers and dances associated with the Aramaic Beatitudes.
Module 4: The Creation Spiritual Traditions and Practices of Early Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sufism (books: Genesis Meditations, The Hidden Gospel, The Tent of Abraham; audio: Genesis Meditations and Beginnings). Included: the Genesis cycle of dances/chants; the Genesis daylong retreat.
Module 5: Yeshua in the Gospels of John and Thomas / Aramaic Spirituality III. (books: Desert Wisdom, The Hidden Gospel, Genesis Meditations, Blessings of the Cosmos). Included: the Aramaic ‘I Am’ dances; other body prayers and dances associated with Yeshua in the Gospels of John and Thomas.
Module 6: Sufi Spirituality; (books: The Sufi Book of Life; Tent of Abraham). Included: the Service of Elemental Peace, the Elemental Heart Healing Meditations, leadership of Sufi chant and meditation.
Module 7: Integrative Retreat: Leading Interspiritual Rituals and Creating Retreat Models. For the leadership group, a final, integrative retreat in the fourth year of the program.

Retreat Tuition: Tuition fees for each three-day retreat will be 205 euros, plus room and board costs depending on the venue. Participants will be asked to pay for the full tuition for each year of the program before the spring module each year. Payment for room and board for each retreat will be made directly to the venues used, and according to the conditions and requirements set by the venue.

To Apply: This is an advanced course of study, aimed toward those who are ready to begin to lead this work, or who are already doing so. Successful applicants will already have been working with and studying the material of the leadership course, through published books and recordings as well as public workshops or courses. All who wish to enter the leadership program, either for the entire series or for an individual retreat, must use the the leadership program application form available for download here.

Preference will be given to those applying for the entire program. Individual spaces in each retreat, if available, will open 8 weeks before each module begins.

Scholarships: Some limited scholarship funds are available for the program; however, we would ask people to carefully consider before committing to the entire program, as it will be difficult for anyone else to join once the course has begun.

Questions and Answers about the Program

What is “Interspiritual” work?

Interspirituality refers to a movement, begun about 20 years ago, which emphasizes sharing spiritual practice and prayer across the boundaries of religion and faith. The usual “inter-faith” model seeks to keep more rigid borders between faiths, so in most “inter-faith” gatherings “representatives” of various traditions share practice alongside but not with each other. Based on my experience working with various types of groups over the past 20 years, I teach how to work with the strengths and limitations of various types of groups in order communicate the genuine experience of spirituality and peacemaking.

Will there be homework in the AILP?

Yes. After each module, participants will receive some spiritual practice and voice work related to the material covered. I also ask them to take an individual retreat based on the material, using the suggestions I provide. I ask that if a person needs to seek permission from their spiritual guide or spiritual director for this, that they do so, in advance, and that they agree before beginning the course to commit to the homework given. I feel this is essential, because in the AILP I am building advanced leadership skills and attunement, rather than teaching “techniques.”

Must one be a certified Dances of Universal Peace leader to take the course?

No. However, if one is not a certified Dance leader one should have some other leadership experience in a similar area, for instance, teaching yoga or tai chi classes, guiding meditation or retreat practice, church ministry, leading therapy or counseling groups. From past experience with my previous three groups, different people come into the course with different skills. We then work toward building skills and attunement together that will allow a person to works successfully with many different types of groups, using meditation, body awareness practice, chant, or movement. I also give suggestions for structuring and giving short talks based on the material with each model, as well as how to assess the “doorways” each group present for sharing the genuine experience of spirituality and peace.

Why are you doing these groups?

I wish to help grow interspiritual communities and those who can nurture them. This means working across the usual boundaries between religions, as well as beyond the usual boundaries of the Sufi and Dance communities. Participants in my other groups include Christian ministers, therapist, Jewish practitioners, artists, teachers and social workers.
I am actively supporting the formation of interspiritual communities, groups and encounters using the translations, liturgies, rituals, body prayers and spiritual practices sparked by the work that has come through this person over the past 28 years. Such communities have already formed world wide and have organized organically, without any central control. They are already helping:

• To realize and spread the global consciousness of unity;
• To bridge understanding between the traditions of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar through shared story, meditation and interspiritual ritual;
• To build communities of peace through the celebration of sacred diversity;
• To share the vision of purpose, creativity and empowerment that prophet Yeshua calls malkuta and which is known in Hebrew as malkuth and in Arabic as al-Malik.

Is there any certification offered at the end of this program?

The new Abwoon Leadership program asks for a higher level of self-responsibity than previous leadership programs. Although there will be official recognition of people who have completed the entire program, this is not a program for those who would simply like to obtain another certificate.

At the end of the three and a half years, I envision a very empowered, attuned, well-trained group—a compassionate, supporting leadership community, all of whom could go into any setting, not just Sufi and Dance ones, and work with this material.  The leadership issues related to the variety of contexts where people may lead require an increased depth of concentration.

The course is designed for those who can commit to the entire program.  This is so that the core of the group enters at a high level of commitment and experience and so that the group can proceed immediately to leadership/attunement material. I ask all those accepted into the program to commit, in writing, to complete the entire program and to follow the homework offered. There is no administrative support for the program, so participants will be asked to commit in writing to meet all financial and registration deadlines for the program.

Even though a person has attended other retreats with me previously, I have not conducted ac course like this, specifically aimed toward how to lead the body prayers, meditations, walks, and dances involved. None of this material has ever been taught at this level.


3. Application Form: Download here


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