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Looking back on the celebration of Two Universal Men:

A Dedication & Joint Celebration of Mevlana Celaleddin RUMI's 800th Birthday in conjuntion with his "Seb'i Arus
Sir Arthur C. CLARKE's 90th Birthday

Photos and written by
Emily ALP

Also, could be read at MYCOMMITMENT.ORG

A crowd of about 75 people turned their attention from conversation to the pastel, heavily-frosted sheet cake.* It was big enough to feed several dozen people. A blue, “Happy Birthday” word candle sat in its corner, and someone lit it before the crowd started singing two Happy Birthdays – one for Mevlana Rumi
and one for Arthur C. Clarke. <For Sir Arthur C Clarke: 90th Birthday Reflections:>

On this crisp, cold early December evening, people gathered from around the city, and even from as far away as Connecticut, to celebrate as the program’s name suggests: “Two Universal Men.” The program – organized by Light Millennium in collaboration with the City University of New York’s Graduate Center – marked a continuation in celebrating the 800th anniversary year of Rumi as well as a cosmic intersection between Rumi’s departure from the world, or Seb’I Arus, and Clarke’s 90th birthday.

Bircan Unver with Sir Arthur C. Clarke on His 89th Birthday at Barnes Place in Colombo, Sri Lanka.(Photo: Rohan DeSilva) Some guests came from Connecticut for the program.

Everyone approached their seats, wine and cake in hand, for an hour and a half of readings and presentations commemorating Rumi and Clarke’s work – most importantly, how their ideals overlap to emphasize unity in practical as well as spiritual ways.

For Clarke, this unity can be discovered through the advancement of science, the understanding of the universe and the connection of all, as one mastermind. For Rumi, unity is more personal at its root, yet no less expansive in its effect. It is a unity of God and human, a unity whereby humans find God within themselves, everywhere and beyond.

James Clement Van Pelt Jamal Jalilian-Marian

This was explained by the first speaker, James Clement Van Pelt
. A research fellow at the Yale Divinity School, which blends religious, science and technology fields, Van Pelt explained Rumi’s entastic – not to be confused with ecstatic – state in a clear, concise way. Yet his analytical approach did not downplay the experience. He explained that a state of communion can occur if you take a detour away from sleep right as you’re falling into it. And as he spoke, he wove Rumi’s poetry into his presentation. From the words of Rumi, it was clear that such a state is indeed what he Van Pelt was referring to.

“Unconscious is the beginning of a higher state of consciousness beyond division to infinity,” he said. “There’s a depth within us where we think we’re going got sleep when we’re actually waking up!”

This experience, he described, is free from the “threshold of the human-transcendent encounter.” But it’s still pretty exciting to transcend space and time, and Light Millennium founder and program co-producer Bircan Unver gave a PowerPoint presentation on a man who lives to describe this: Clarke – a man who has been teaching transcendence through science for decades.

Arthur C. Clarke is best known in the US for his work with Stanley Kubrick on the blockbuster film 2001: A Space Odyssey and his writing genius behind 2010. However, these works are a drop in the ocean of his prolific collection of writings. And these films can’t possibly frame his desire to emphasize the universal mind and the palpable connection between all earthly humans, and all of life, throughout the entire universe. Unver’s presentation offered the audience a brief, yet comprehensive glimpse into the work and life of Clarke. It also reinforced the overlap between Clarke’s work and Rumi’s.

“As a way to accomplish [this unification of humanity for peace on earth and beyond], Rumi has envisioned an elevation of the human soul, where Clarke has envisioned an elevation of the human mind,” Unver explained.

Following Unver’s power point, volunteers of mixed stature approached the podium to read works dedicated to, or written by, the universal men. Professor Sultan Catto, graduate professor at CUNY, read spellbinding poetry, which he wrote on a trip to Japan and dedicated to Rumi and Clarke. Stanley Barkan, poet and publisher, introduced humor into the mix as he read a few of his Midrashic poems dedicated to Rumi and Clarke.

Sultan Catto TAMIR Stanley Barkan

The crowd silenced as actress and Suffist, TAMIR
, energetically and colorfully presented work from Mesnevi, a profound collection of Rumi’s words also known as The Way of the Heart.

Direct readings of Rumi and Clarke’s work included Reunion from The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, read by Guzin Biro; and A View from 2500, written by Clarke and read by Emily Alp. Evgin Heath focused on "divine love" of Rumi in her presentation. Jamal Jalilian-Marian also presented Rumi's poetry, from Mesnevi, in Persian and Stanley Barkan translated them into English from this, their original language.

Felicity Harley Medine Gul

Medine Gul, Kozmikrehber wrote a dialog attributed and dedicated to Rumi and Clarke; and Felicity Harley, Executive Director of World Affairs Council of Connecticut, presented her poetry and a PowerPoint presentation as a complement to it.

Evgin Heath Guzin Biro Merve Arabaci

President of the Freedom, Peace and Democracy organization
, Richard J. Rapaport, dedicated a reading to Rumi, Clarke and the Light Millennium organization. To the attendants’ surprise, he also donated silk scarves to the women and silk ties to the men in the audience. All of the donations displayed his artwork, which promotes peace and a universal mind-shift toward unity.

Before the presentation and between readings, musical experts created complementary mood. Ali Kahya played tef, an authentic Turkish drum; his student, Yusuf Karipek, played the Ney in his first, flawless, public appearance; and Nilufer Cigrikci contributed Turkish musical style and Rumi philosophy with the rhythmic songs of Anatolian breeze.

Yusuf Karipek, Ali Kahya and Nilufer Cigrikci Richard J. Rapaport

Time flew as the celebration of great minds soared to its end. The final passage, written by 12-year-old Irem Unal (presented by Merve Arabaci), described how the Raleigh International Festival is a miniature version of the world that Rumi encouraged in his poetry. The festival, which takes place every year in Raleigh, South Carolina, is a place where “no one is the same but everyone is content,” Unal wrote.

Cake provided by Humeyra Kocak Bican Ünver (left) and Hümeyra Koçak (right)

Light Millennium
would like to offer special thanks to the following volunteers for the "Two Universal Men" event (December 5, 2007, NYC):
Emily Alp (Photo), Gokce Alp (Video), Merve Arabaci, Fatos Erol, Melek Ceviz & Medine Gul, Yasemin Gurcan, and Levent Kurt.

Sultan Catto and Martha Soffer During the reception

Photos and written by Emily ALP, Light Millennium, December 12, 2007, New York

For transcription of Si r Arthur C. Clarke: 90th Birthday Reflections>

For Live broadcast from Konya Mevlana Cultural Centre of Mevlana RUMI Commemoration Ceremonies In celebration of the 734th anniversary of RUMI for Seb-i Arus (Dec. 17th),

- For December 5, 2007
- OPEN CALL FOR THE PROGRAM - Dated: November 1, 2007

- Invitation also, could be read at MYCOMMITMENT.ORG

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Dedicated to:

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Issue# 21
LETTER of the Fall 2007 Issue
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April 2004
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Fall 2007, Issue#21

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