19 Nov 2011

Register: 'Creating The Tent' Gathering (Brighton & Hove)

Register asap for this inclusive event. Some WIN Reps will be participating..---

CREATING THE TENT In celebration of Human Rights Day

An inclusive, spiritual gathering with contributions from
Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Quaker perspectives
Saturday, 10th December 2011
At Brighton Friends’ Meeting House

This event is open to all people who welcome the opportunity of listening, sharing, and creating the tent together. The programme will include talks, chants, creative exercises, discussion and silence. You may wish to participate in the afternoon event, or in the evening, or in both.

Please bring a vegetarian dish to share at 6.15pm (optional).

Location: Main Meeting Room, Brighton Friends’ Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AF. For venue information, see:

A selection of books and CDs will be available to browse or purchase in Room 4.

Time: Afternoon event – registration from 1.30pm
Start: 2pm-6.15pm
Refreshments: 6.15pm-7.15pm
Evening: Sufi Zikr
Time: 7.30pm-9.00pm

Please register attendance by Monday, 21st November 2011

To register: by phone call and donation
Tel: Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue, 01273 737223 (Mon-Fri, 1pm-5pm)
Please make cheque payable to: BHPS
And send to: Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue,
6 Lansdowne Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 1FF
Suggested donation for the afternoon event: £10
An additional donation will be welcome for the evening

Places will be limited so do register early

The Sufi Zikr will be kindly offered by Omar Inayat-Khan – great grandson of
Hazrat Inayat Khan who brought Sufism to the West – with Farida Inayat-Khan

The event is organised by
Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue,
And Zohra Evlynn Sharp, Sufi Movement,

In collaboration with the

Brighton Festival of World Sacred Music
and the Quakers in Brighton
Rabbi Elli will be delighted to welcome you to Shabbat Morning Service in Hove.
Please advise when you ring if you wish to attend. Photo ID will be necessary.

7 Nov 2011

Concept Underpinning Four Strands: 'Engaged Surrender'

WIN's four core strands are underpinned by the concept of Engaged Surrender: a nonviolent, process-oriented activism, expressed through a contemplative dimension within the framework of Islam (Surrender to the Divine).

Surrender to the Divine

Islam is essentially surrender of the individual self to the Divine. Related to this is that pure, natural state in which all human beings have been created - the state of fitrah. Conditioning can pull us away from this natural state. Re-establishing ourselves in the fitrah requires conscious work. Engaging outwardly from this state is what this concept, Engaged Surrender refers to, which we have defined in a way that we have considered to be appropriate to our context.

Mirroring the World We Want

Wisdom In Nature is a 'process-oriented' group. The idea is simple. We believe that how we do things is as important as what we want. Indeed our intention is to mirror the world we want in the way, in 'how' we do things. if we want a peaceful world, we must resolve inner conflicts and discover the peace in ourselves. If we want a just world, we must learn to live justly. 

"If you want democracy, you must demonstrate its principles."
Aung San Suu Kyi

Some related aspects worth mentioning here are as follows:

At WIN we draw on a deep democratic approach within our own work...

WIN's Fourth Core Strand: 'Climate Justice'

The Climate Justice strand comprises an intention to move:
Away from dependence on fossil fuels;
towards non-polluting energy, needs above profit, and low impact living. 


Third Core Strand: 'Whole Economics'

Here's the third of WIN's four core strands. This strand is Whole Economics:

The Whole Economics strand comprises an intention to move: away from monetary systems disconnected from real value and embedded in usury;
towards just economic systems nurturing to life, soul and community.

Introduction: The System that Dysfunctions  

The recent and ongoing financial crisis is a manifestation of an economic system that is unsustainable, unjust and disconnected from the real world. We have witnessed a debt crisis leading to billions of pounds raised within a few weeks to bail out banks. Yet, simultaneously, we have witnessed a financial neglect of services such as the NHS and education along with a mindless neglect of ecological justice. Something is very clearly wrong.

Indeed, not only is there an upside down world of priorities, but the capitalist system is a key component responsible for ecological injustice. Rescuing such a system with billions of pounds means more of such injustice - more destablisation of human societies and the wider natural world. What is needed instead is a radical shift to economic sytems working in harmony with the natural order. This would mean less to spend on problems otherwise created and exacerbated by the dysfunctional capitalist system. WIN believes that we need to work together to implement a joined-up approach.

A Fictitious Cycle: The Creation of Money

"The process by which banks create money is so simple the mind is repelled." John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist,

"Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws." Mayer Amschel Rothschild, International Banker

As the New Economics Foundation (NEF) point out: "Many people would be surprised to learn that even among bankers, economists, and policymakers, there is no common understanding of how new money is created."

WIN's Second Core Strand: 'Deep Democracy'

The Deep Democracy strand comprises an intention to move:
Away from concentration of power amongst the rich and privileged;
more equalisation of power that honours diversity, draws out consensus and empowers all.

Democracy: Beyond the Superficial

Deep democracy aims to draw out the diverse voices and tap into the wisdom each brings. The protests of various social movements around the world are indicative of the failure of  superficial forms of democracy; the phrase “we are the 99 percent” is a voice representing the masses of people whose lives are exploited at the hands of the 1 percent.   

The concentration of power in the hands of a few leads to marginalization of voices that undermines the wholeness of individuals, communities, and ultimately, our world. Greater wisdom emerges when people actively listen to each other.   Putting the time into processes conducive to deeper dialogue often also saves time in the long run that may otherwise have to be spent on resolving conflicts and undoing damage to people and ecosystems.    

Can Process be Sacred?  

The Qur' an states:
"Far better and more lasting is what God will give to those who believe and trust in their Lord; who shun great sins and gross indecencies…..; conduct their affairs by mutual consultation…" (Qur' an: 42:19)

Read full piece>>

Strength in Diversity

At Wisdom In Nature, we have found that it is only when the walls that separate us can be softened, is it possible to begin real dialogue. This process of softening has the potential to be taken even further, reaching a place from where it can become easier to look at the world from another's viewpoint. When this process deepens within our group's meetings, a 'group mind', begins to form. Our personal awareness moves into something much bigger, something more open. The experience is not imaginary, but is palpable. One newcomer attending one of our review meetings described his experience, that the process "seems to have a mind of its own" - elaborating to mean that the answers naturally arrive. 

Contributions emerging from this place bring with them a quality of inclusivity and carry a deeper truth; and through meetings we can feel energised rather than depleted! We begin to value one another as our collective wisdom is enriched by the presence of each person.  Diversity becomes a strength that we naturally welcome.

In terms of specifics, at WIN, we use basic ground rules, or a group agreement, that welcomes deep listening and a diversity of viewpoints as a start. In addition we include a variety of ways to support this further. For example, after we have settled a little, we join together for a couple of minutes silence - as a means of letting go of some of the mental baggage we have each brought in! At key meetings we can also bring in active exercises. These can be as simple as asking a question or two, "What are the qualities that bring us to the group?", or "How do we see the state of the world?”, to give a couple of examples. By opening this up to allow for all ideas including seemingly conflicting ones, and ensuring each is acknowledged and noted e.g. visibly on a flip chart, it makes it easier for each person to step into other shoes. The process of developing a group mind is under way.

Whilst we aim to be conscious of issues around rank, power and privilege, we have found that the cultivation of a group mind brings with it somewhat of a natural antidote to such inequalities. In our experience, it is not uncommon, for example, for an individual with considerable 'religious' knowledge to hold more power in the group. Yet, when a group mind begins to form, trust and humility begin to manifest, allowing power to become more equalised and those that feel marginalised to feel more included.

Nonetheless, we still place value on and consider ways of actively reflecting on the rank and privileges that we hold. For example, we will take turns at facilitating meetings. Also, as part of our 'Islamic Community Food Project' in Tower Hamlets, in which we attempted to integrate social organising with connecting to the land, we used an exercise that involved throwing the following statement to the group: "It is selfish for the middle class to think about the food they eat when millions of people are starving".

Participants were then asked to position themselves in the room according to how much or how little they believed the statement to be true. The different voices were then drawn out and participants were also free to move should their perspective shift. I must confess that although we are keen to draw more people from less privileged background into WIN, we have not had as much success as we would have liked. However, in small ways we experience some fruits of our work in the area of rank and privilege. One example follows from the exercise just described. As one participant wrote on a blog post:

"We had workshops – wonderful, free, organic workshops – in the afternoon which challenged our perceptions and called for us to really look at how responsible we were when it came to food. I realised that my middle classed upbringing and lifestyle gave me the freedom to make choices – to be fair-trade; organic etc. Yet, I still was unable to really take action. Since then I have ventured baby steps into home gardening. My balcony now supports coriander; chives; and basil. I look at them tenderly and consistently, like an overzealous new mother, hoping that they might survive the spring chill and that my sabr (patience) and taqwa (God Consciousness) will generate nourishment: physical and, spiritual."

An edited version of this article appeared in a booklet produced by The Transition Network titled:

4 Nov 2011

First Core Strand: Earth & Community

Here's the beginning of a web page we've put up outlining one of WIN's four core strands. We've called this strand "Earth & Community". (The others are Deep Democracy, Whole Economics, and Climate Justice, all underpinned by a contemplative dimension. The aim is to articulate a clearer framework for what WIN represents.) The development of this strand is ongoing as our ideas evolve and develop. Feedback is very welcome.

The Earth & Community strand comprises an intention to move: away from corporate domination and consumerism;
towards simplicity, sharing and a deeper connection to the earth & its diverse communities.

Introduction: What Do We Love?

The Qur'an succinctly draws attention to one of the trappings of the world:

"And you love wealth with boundless love!" (Qur' an: 89: 20)

One of the patterns of the human ego, or the self that needs transforming - is a compulsion for unbounded wealth and power. This can trap us into seeking the infinite from a finite outer world, resulting in a disturbance of the mizan or balance in both eco- and social systems.

And yet, this compulsion does not end at us humans. Indeed, the expression of this pattern, of this drive or love for power and wealth, can be magnified through corporations.

Corporations: Power, Profit, and Privileges

As corporations gain more wealth and power, their increasing influence on socio-political structures gives them privileges otherwise unavailable.

From the relationship of commercial banks with government, to yet another supermarket invading a local community, fossil fuel companies influencing climate politics, and pharmaceutical companies leveraging the medical profession, examples of corporate privilege are visible almost everywhere.

Read full piece>>