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Desert Wisdom: The Middle Eastern Tradition - from the Goddess to the Sufis Paperback – 9 Oct 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons (9 Oct. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0722532237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722532232
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,343,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz is an internationally known scholar in the fields connecting religious studies and psychology as well as a poet and musician.

Regular news from him can be found at his Facebook page:

He is the author of:

Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus (HarperCollins 1990);

Desert Wisdom: The Middle Eastern Tradition from the Goddess Through the Sufis (HarperCollins 1995, new edition in preparation);

The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spirituality of the Aramaic Jesus (Quest 1999);

The Genesis Meditations: A Shared Practice of Peace for Christians, Jews and Muslims (Quest 2003);

The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the Heart for the Modern Dervish (Penguin USA 2005)

Blessings of the Cosmos: Wisdom of the Heart from the Aramaic Words of Jesus (Sounds True 2006)

The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians and Muslims (Beacon Press 2006, with Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Sr. Joan Chittister)

His audio sets from Sounds True include: The Hidden Gospel, Original Prayer (on the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus) and The Healing Breath (on the Beatitudes and Jesus' healing ministry).

He is the past chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion and active in various international colloquia and conferences dedicated to peace and spirituality. He directs the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning ( in Edinburgh, Scotland. and co-founded the Edinburgh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace, now in its sixth year ( In 2005 he was awarded the Kessler-Keener Foundation Peacemaker of the Year award for his work in Middle Eastern peacemaking. Information about his work may be found at the website of the Abwoon Resource Center (

His personal biography follows:

I grew up in a multicultural family. My grandparents (both sides) were refugees from Europe with German, Jewish, Russian and Polish blood in their veins. They followed their track to the ethnic neighbourhoods of Chicago, where my parents met and married.

I was raised by Christian parents who were both devout and freethinking. They brought into my early life the impulse to worship and praise, as well as to question everything that constricted and opposed the injunction "love your neighbour as yourself." My father was a chiropractor, my mother a student of the health education of Edgar Cayce. They raised me with a respect for the body and the wonders of nature found therein, as well as a disdain for the superficial innovations of humanity that polluted both body and nature.

Hearing from childhood German, Yiddish and Polish in our home, raised on the stories and miracles of Jesus, taught the practical truth of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, I formed an interest in language, spirituality, the body and ecological justice early in life. In many ways, I have been pursuing these interests ever since.

After graduation from college in 1973, I pursued a career as a journalist in the fields of social justice, environmentalism and consumer protection for several years before turning to the following questions: Why do people change? What causes me to change? Is there a more powerful level of motivating change than that of ideas? In pursuing these questions, I returned to interests I developed in college that centered on: the body and changes of attitude and behaviour, mystical and "expanded" states of consciousness, and the early pre-religious roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

I pursued some of this study academically through the University of California, Berkeley. But most of it found me seeking out teachers from the native traditions of the Middle East, Pakistan and India who introduced me to the other modes and methods of learning as well as the body-oriented spiritual practices that accompanied this study. Beginning in 1976, I was very privileged to study with the early students of the American Hebrew/Sufi mystic Samuel L. Lewis, who introduced me to the body prayer meditations called the Dances of Universal Peace. One phase of this intense period of study led me on a three-month pilgrimage in 1979 to sacred sites and teachers in Turkey, Pakistan and India.

In 1982, I founded the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace (now based in Seattle, WA), a multicultural resource center for those who chose this form of peacemaking through the arts as their forum for both peace "demonstration" as well as spiritual practice. Over the past 15 years, I have been actively involved in leading educational exchanges and citizen diplomacy trips with the Dances to Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and to the Middle East.

From 1986 until 1996, I served as a faculty member of the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality and a member of the Core Faculty since 1990. During its "golden age," the ICCS was a gathering place for scientists, artists, educators and learners from many different cultural and racial backgrounds. Many of our students were non-US citizens and I enjoyed the opportunity to teach and learn across the differences and within a rich field of diversity. This diversity, at its best, provided a sort of "quantum field" of uncertainty in which real inquiry and learning occurred for us all.

In September 1993, I co-led a group of students from Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Canada on a citizen diplomacy/educational trip to Jordan, Israel and Syria. Serendipitously, this occurred exactly during the signing of the Israel-PLO accords. We were greeted warmly and were able to share discussions and artistic and cultural exchanges with many different people from all the varied sides of the confrontation. I continue work in this area, both individually, and collaboratively through the International Association of Sufism.

During my sabbatical to finish my doctorate, I moved to Europe. It both allowed me to be nearer to my Middle Eastern connections and seemed more welcoming to the type of multicultural work we were both doing. I enjoyed the change from a bustling Northern California urban environment to the rolling farm fields of Thomas Hardy country in Dorset.

Since March 1999 I've lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, another multicultural arts and music center where I started the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning ( My fluency in German and some other European languages also enables me to continue educational exchanges and lectures throughout Europe. In 2004, I co-founded, with Mr. Neill Walker, the Edinbrugh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace (, which annually in March draws thousands of visitors to events across the city. It is supported by the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh. Since 2006, I've been married to Natalia Lapteva, a Russian therapist and coach.

Product Description

From the Back Cover

If you talk with your friends while in the midst of reading 'Desert Wisdom' they will probably suspect you've fallen in love and they will be right, for Neil Douglas-Klotz has provided, for the modern reader, a way into one of the planet's most powerful experiences of an ecstatic and mystical love – the way of the native Middle Eastern wisdom traditions.

Neil Douglas-Klotz is on the faculty of the Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California. He is the founding director of the Centre for Dances of Universal Peace, and the author of the acclaimed 'Prayers of the Cosmos'.

"'Desert Wisdom' is a passageway for anyone wishing to contact the numinous and creative energy capable of transforming our time into a new millennium of peace and wisdom."
BRIAN SWIMME, Co-author with THOMAS BERRY, of 'The Universe Story'

"This is a prophetic and mystical accomplishment of the first order!"
MATTHEW FOX, author of 'Original Blessing'

About the Author

Neil Douglas-Klotz is on the faculty for the institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Erwin on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, amongst other things, opens up the words of Jesus to their full majesty and blows away all the false barriers between Christianity, Islam and Judaism in particular and all religions in general.
It is not a dry academic review of semantics but a living, breathing practice bringing spirituality into the body, into the heart and opening it out again to the vastness of All That Is.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr P on 6 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A heavy going book to grasp but very interesting, this would really be for an advanced person who understand religion
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Unifying wisdom through poetry, fact and experience 5 May 2000
By Jj Pieterse - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book captures a passion for life in pure poetry that exposes the wisdom and insight pervasive through ancient traditions. The author succeeds in drawing lines from various religions and mystic traditions into a single objective awareness of the human experience of values. A translation of ancient wisdom is substantiated with hard factual explanations of how each verse came into being both in form and vibration. This book is more than just a book to marvel at wisdom or praise the vibration of poetry backed by factual evidence. In the end the reader will experience the wisdom and energy radiating from the ultimate source of the universe. Practical suggestions guide the reader to absorb the wisdom in actual experience through every sense of being. The reader discovers the power of living in a desert by reading the book again and again. The desert strips all forms of pretence and sophistication to expose the naked wisdom of the Middle Eastern traditions to be applied by the reader to enrich his own awareness and significance of being.
This book is not once off reading but a companion with life-long value.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Desert Wisdom 15 Aug. 2013
By Bruce Harrow - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Author really knows his stuff. I also have a CD of his which you can hear how He sounds out Aramatic. I am so glad that I have His book.
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