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#2200 - Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz  

Fons Vitae publishes and distributes some awesome books:  

This issue of The Nondual Highlights features details of a few of them. The Director of the company (which is a charity) is Gray Henry, who is approachable and responsive.  

These are a few books that struck me as particularly interesting. I already ordered and read Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom, which has a profoundly nondual section.  

I wasn't aware of a book by Merton on Judaism, so that looked interesting.  

And the third one is about Rumi's raucous sidekick named Shams. (Hey, I need a raucous sidekick. In fact, I always said I needed a raucous sidekick, didn't I Gloria?)  

I hope you enjoy what you find here as much as I enjoyed discovering and bringing it to you.   --Jerry    

Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom by Ibn ‘Arabi

Including What the Seeker Needs and The One Alone

Interpreted by Tosun Bayrak

Fons Vitae (1997) ISBN 1887752056 paperback

Index 302 pp. $19.95

Ibn ‘Arabi, the twelfth-century Spanish mystic, is considered by many the greatest master of Sufism. His large body of writings includes The Meccan Revelations (in 560 chapters) and The Bezels of Wisdom (exploring aspects of understanding through the lives of the Prophets of Islam). Contained in this volume is his powerful but little-known work, Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom, rendered into English for the first time. In a particularly startling way, the text uses metaphors from worldly politics to illuminate details of the spiritual search.

Ibn ‘Arabi wrote: "This little book contains vast knowledge of great benefit to all. It is gathered from the gardens of Eden and from divine providence. It is meant to be a guide to believers. There are neither conjectures nor doubts in it. Even if some may find faults in it, they will concede that they are small, fine, and beautiful. I call this book Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom.

To order and read more:

Here are some nondual passages:

Allah is now as He was before. He is eternal. He is One without oneness and Alone without loneliness.


~ ~ ~


He sent His essence, from His essence, by His essence, to His essence.


~ ~ ~


When you are addressed as you, do not think that you exist, with an essence and qualities and attributes – for you never existed, nor do exist, nor will ever exist.

Merton and Judaism  




450pp., Fons Vitae NOW AVAILABLE Price $28.95

The Fons Vitae Thomas Merton Series

In 'Merton and Judaism', Thomas Merton is presented as making a significant opening to reverent appreciation of Judaism past and present as he aspires to be, or claims to be "a true Jew under my Catholic skin.”

Outstanding writers discuss Thomas Merton’s discovery of and developing relationship with Judaism.  Features Merton’s correspondence with Jewish scholars and participation in Catholic Church’s opening to respect for Jewish faith and spirituality, especially in the Ecumenical Council of 1962-65.  Includes pertinent documents of Vatican II and joint statements to bishops and rabbis;  valuable for libraries’ permanent collections.

The book is intended to be not only a Merton book but a Jews-and- Christians book, a valuable contribution to that very earnest conversation going on now at a level it has never before enjoyed.  In this context the book is intended to reach a Jewish audience as well as a Christian one.  The presence of the documentary resources makes it unique as a volume in which the serious reader will find at hand the amazing details of the negotiations that touched the lives of the Jews so profoundly.

The third volume in Fons Vitae’s important Interfaith Series initiated with Merton and Sufism followed by Merton and Hesychasm.

*  *  *

"Merton & Judaism is an important and admirable addition to the Fons Vitae Thomas Merton Series. As an editor and publisher of Thomas Merton's and Abraham Joshua Heschel's writings on Judaism, I can warmly recommend this timely and informative anthology."

- Robert Giroux, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"Concerned Jews and Christians will welcome these papers presented at the Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Louisville in February of 2002 on Merton & Judaism, a conference organized and chaired by Edward K. Kaplan, as well as related documents from other authors. We are indebted to Beatrice Bruteau for editing this important ecumenical volume which will do much to continue and deepen the Jewish-Christian dialogue." 

- Patrick Hart, OCSO, Merton's last secretary and general editor of the Merton Journals

"A brilliant, varied collection of essays and personal correspondence on an aspect of Merton's thought that is too little known. His views on Judaism were years ahead of his time, yet remain relevant for us today."

- Dr. Eva Fleischner, Professor Emeritas at Montclair State University

"Thomas Merton like Abraham Heschel had that rare ability to pass over to another religious tradition and appreciate it from within, which is why this volume on Merton and Judaism is so terribly important to Christians and Jews, and indeed to anyone who wants to understand the vitality of authentic modern spirituality."

- Kenneth L. Woodward, has been Religion Editor of Newsweek for 39 years and author of The Book of Miracles: The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.

To order and read more:    

Me and Rumi

The Autobiography of Shems-i Tabrizi

Introduced, Translated, and Annotated by William Chittick

Preface by Annemarie Schimmel

Fons Vitae NOW AVAILABLE >Order book

"Imagine that you could go somewhere each morning, say to a corner of the sugar merchants' caravanserai, and hear Shams Tabriz talk about the veiling of the heart, the nature of exertion, or how to move beyond the agitated state of question and answer.  This book gives entry into that astonishing presence. Go there for an hour a day, however long it takes. Then read Rumi's poetry and feel their opening Friendship in you. Bless William Chittick."    
- Coleman Barks

 The astounding autobiography of the man who transformed Rumi from a learned religious teacher into the world’s greatest poet of mystical love.

 "William Chittick’s masterful translation of the Maqalat of Shamsi Tabrizi moves Rumi’s beloved mentor from the shadows into the light, and restores Shams to the central position of prominence that he so richly deserves.  This work immediately joins the indispensable short list of scholarly works on Rumi and his community.  Highly recommended for all scholars and students of Sufism, Islamic Philosophy, Persian literature, and of course for all the legions of Rumi fans."  
–Annemarie Schimmel



1 February 2005 news - Me& Rumi has recently received the World Prize for the Book of the Year in Iran and has been selected as the best work in the field of Iranian studies.

Now that Rumi has become one of the best-selling poets in North America, interest in his life and times has increased dramatically.  Practically every collection of his poetry provides a thumbnail biography, highlighting his encounter with Shams-i Tabrizi, the wandering mystic who became Rumi’s beloved companion.  Rumi had been a sober scholar, teaching law and theology to a small circle of students, but the coming of Shams turned him into a devotee of music, dance, and poetry.  Three years after Shams’s appearance out of nowhere, he abruptly vanished, never to be seen again.  It was Rumi’s longing for the lost Shams that transformed him into one of the world’s greatest poets. Rumi immortalized Shams’s name by constantly celebrating him in his poetry as the embodiment of the divine beloved.

Very little is known about the historical Shams—indeed, some have even doubted that he was a real person.  Everyone interested in Rumi’s poetry has been curious about him, and beginning with Rumi’s own son and other hagiographers, a great deal of legend was built up.  Over the centuries Shams became a trope of Persian, Turkish, and Urdu literatures.  Modern scholarship has made little headway in explaining who Shams was or how he was able to play such a decisive role in Rumi’s life, though a good number of theories have been advanced.

            Me and Rumi represents a true milestone in the study of this enigmatic figure.  It makes available for the first time in any European language first-hand accounts of Shams that have never been studied by Western scholars.  When Rumi and Shams sat and talked, one or more members of the circle took notes.  These were never put into final form, but they were preserved and sometimes copied by later generations, ending up in various libraries scattered around Turkey.  Fifteen years ago an Iranian scholar completed the long process of collating and editing the manuscripts.  The book that he published, called Maqalat-i Shams-i Tabrizi, “The Discourses of Shams-i Tabrizi”, provides us with an extraordinary picture of an awe-inspiring personality. 

            In Me and Rumi William C. Chittick has translated about two-thirds of the Discourses into English and arranged them in a manner that clarifies their meaning and context.  He provides notes and a glossary, which will go a long way toward helping readers decipher the more obscure passages.  The net result is an exciting and readable book that brings Shams to life.  For the first time in Western sources we are given access to him without the intermediary of Rumi and the myth-makers.  Shams appears as raucous and sober, outspoken and subtle, harsh and gentle, learned and irreverent, and above all as an embodiment of the living presence of God.  The book destroys the stereotypes that have been set up by the secondary literature, and it gives access to a far more fascinating and vivid personality than we have any right to expect from what hagiographers and scholars have written. 

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