Spirituality, Psychology & Science meet at the Sufism Psychology Forum
A Report on the 2003 SPF Panel Presentation in San Rafael, California

Let us pray that the arrogance of egotism may be broken,
that truth may embrace the world,
that souls shine like mirrors,
and the hearts await until the holy messenger of heart whispers the psalms of God upon the face of creation and gives strength to the life of the human being.

With this quote from the great Sufi Master Moulana Shah Maghsoud, Moderator Arife Ellen Hammerle, Ph.D., a Sufi psychologist and author, opened the Tenth Annual Sufism Symposium with a panel discussion presented by the Sufism Psychology Forum (SPF), a department of the International Association of Sufism. This year's topic, ""Spirituality, Psychology and Science," expanded on past panels by including scientific research in the discussions of psychology and spirituality. Prominent psychotherapists and scientists rewarded the many people who crowded into the room with amazing new research and much thought provoking material.

The first panelist was Bill Gough, co-founder of the Foundation for Mind-Being Research, who has over 30 years of management experience in scientific research. Mr. Gough used beautifully illustrated slides that helped convey complex scientific concepts. He explained that there is scientific research showing how everything in the universe is emitting energy waves and that everything is connected. Union with God is seen as union with "the field of all fields." He ended with explaining that science is able to measure the coherence of our thoughts and show scientifically that our thoughts affect each other "so as individuals and collectively we have the power to heal not only ourselves but also the world."

The next speaker was Sheikh Jamal Granick, a licensed psychotherapist and Director of the Sufism and Psychology Forum. Sheikh Jamal drew a connection between science, psychology and spirituality and reminded us that ancient traditions did not see these as separate but rather as different ways of perceiving the one unifying Reality. He showed how scientists are discovering what the Sufis have always known; the heart is a strong source of electromagnetic energy. Drawing on research that our hearts can synchronize with the hearts of others, he concluded that if we want peace in the world we would do well to attend to our hearts.

Next the well known author and pioneer in the field of transpersonal psychology, Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., spoke about love and power. She summed up her talk eloquently with the question: "How do we begin to shift from the love of power to the power of love?" She added that, "Love is the healing power in psychotherapy and the awakening to the awareness of love is one of the most significant areas in which Sufism and psychology can meet."

Daniel Deslauriers, Ph.D., director of the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, continued the conversation by exploring research on the link between dreams and spiritual intelligence. Through his extensive research on dreams he found there are both psychological and spiritual dreams but psychology has almost exclusively focused on the psychological dreams and ignored the spiritual.

Concluding this impressive panel was another important voice in the field of transpersonal psychology, Roger Walsh M.D.., Ph.D. Dr. Walsh is professor of psychiatry, philosophy and anthropology at the University of California at Irvine and has conducted considerable research in the field of psychology and spirituality. Dr. Walsh discussed the results of some of the many studies on the beneficial effects of meditation. After citing the many psychological and physical benefits of meditation he pointed out that "the paradox is that this is not what meditation was designed for. Meditation was designed for something much more profound.

The inspiring talks were followed by a lively question and answer period and it seemed that both panelists and audience would have loved to continue the discussion as the time ran out. The success of this panel can best be summed up by the question I heard repeatedly at the registration table, "When is the next event?"

For more information, or if you have comments or suggestions, please contact us at Copyright © 2004 Sufism and Psychology Forum. All Rights Reserved.

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