Sacred Architecture, Silent Dhikr, and Wild Stones

Welcome to our November newsletter!

Our first new selection this month is “Twelve Criteria for Sacred Architecture”, a key and influential article by master geometer Keith Critchlow, laying out the principles distilled from a lifetime of study and practice of traditional architecture.

A sacred edifice in the highest or fullest sense is a crystallization of the principles of the civilization that it expresses.This means that the frozen melodies are available, so to speak, to the conscious awareness of any receptive experiencer, regardless of time. The experiencer becomes the musician who is able to release or appreciate the meaning within the sacred building. In this way it is true to say that a magnificent cathedral is built as much for the single individual’s enlightenment as it is for the experience of a collectivity.

• In “Spiritual Discipline and Psychic Power”, renowned author James Cowan introduces us to the initiatic world of the karadji (kurdaitcha), the masters called “wild stones” among the Australian Aborigines, and thus to little-known aspects of the Dreaming, the “fragile place” which is their “spiritual abode” and “place of metaphysical repose”.

In the context of Aboriginal society the making of a karadji, or clever man, is a vocation like any other spiritual discipline; few men are called to it and even fewer survive the psychic terrors that are so often inherent in its attainment… The prefix “clever” appertaining to a karadji means much more than adroitness, neat in movement, skillful or dexterous… it fails to convey fully the intellectual qualification required in order to become a karadji, “seizing what is imperceptible”, to bridge the gap between what is manifested and the spirit-world of the Dreaming.

Garimala Yakar. Still from “The Men of the Fifth World”.

• In his article “Movement and Stillness in Sufi Dhikr”, Shahzad Bashir explores the medieval practice of the remembrance of God in Central Asian orders, particularly in the Naqshbandi tradition, and in the light of contemporary mindfulness and meditation techniques.

The comparison between dhikr and meditation is instructive for highlighting the fact that our modern understanding of meditation is also premised on a particular conception of the human person that is far from universal. The idea that individual practice is localizable to a single person rests on the notion of individual sovereignty and it has acquired an aura of universality and inevitability only since the worldwide spread of modern western ideas.