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Mirabai Starr


Mirabai Starr is an award-winning author of creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. Her latest book, WILD MERCY: Living the Fierce & Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, was named one of the “Best Books of 2019” by Spirituality & Practice. Mirabai is on the 2020 Watkins List of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People of the World.”Daughter of the counter-culture, Mirabai was born in New York in 1961 to secular Jewish parents who rejected the patriarchy of institutionalized religion. Intellectual artists and advocates of social justice and environmental responsibility, Mirabai’s family was active in the anti-war protest movement of the Vietnam era.In 1972, Mirabai’s mother, father, and her younger brother and sister uprooted from their suburban life and embarked on an extended road trip that led them through the jungles of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where they lived for many months on an isolated Caribbean beach, and ended in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico. There, the family embraced an alternative, “back-to-the-land” lifestyle, in a communal effort to live simply and sustainably, values that remain important to Mirabai to this day.As a teenager, Mirabai lived at the Lama Foundation, an intentional spiritual community that has honored all the world’s faith traditions since its inception in 1967. This ecumenical experience became formative in the universal quality that has infused Mirabai’s work ever since. Mirabai was an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years. Her emphasis has always been on making connections between the perennial teachings found at the heart of all the world’s spiritual paths, in an effort to promote peace and justice.Mirabai speaks and teaches nationally and internationally on the teachings of the mystics and contemplative practice, and the transformational power of grief and loss. She is available for interviews, speaking engagements, workshops and contemplative retreats. She lives in the mountains of Northern New Mexico with her husband, Jeff Little (Ganga Das). Between them, Mirabai and Jeff have four grown daughters and six grandchildren. Mirabai’s youngest daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident in 2001 at the age of fourteen. On that same day, Mirabai’s first book, a translation of Dark Night of the Soul, was released. She considers this experience, and the connection between profound loss and longing for God, the ground of her own spiritual life.

Pir Shabda Kahn


Pir Shabda Kahn has been a disciple of Sufism since 1969. He is a direct disciple of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), and he worked closely with the great American mystic Joe Miller. Shabda is currently the Pir (spiritual director) of the Sufi Ruhaniat International and the director of the Chisti Sabri School of Music.Pir Shabda Kahn has been a disciple of Sufism since 1969. He is a direct disciple of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), and he worked closely with the great American mystic Joe Miller. Shabda is currently the Pir (spiritual director) of the Sufi Ruhaniat International and the director of the Chisti Sabri School of Music.After living in community with Baba Ram Dass in the East Coast, Shabda met Murshid Sam and moved to San Francisco in 1969. In the fall of 1970, Shabda had the good fortune to travel with Murshid Sam for five weeks as his personal assistant on the East Coast, which helped deepen his relationship with his teacher and the Path. He received his spiritual name from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1971, after Murshid Sam’s passing.In 1972, Shabda was initiated by Pandit Pran Nath, the Master North Indian Classical Vocalist and began the daily practice of Raga singing in the Kirana style. Pandit Pran Nath, a Sufi mystic, requested that Shabda carry on the 800-year-old oral transmission under the name, the Chisti Sabri School of Music, now an umbrella for teaching vocal music and performing Raga.In 1984, Shabda became a disciple of the illustrious 12th Tai Situpa Rinpoche, a venerated Tibetan Buddhist incarnate lama of the Kagyu Lineage.After Murshid Sam’s passing, Shabda was one of Pir Moineddin’s secretaries and helped lead the Wednesday night dance meeting, eventually taking over the meeting when Pir Moineddin's health deteriorated.As Pir Moineddin’s condition worsened, he requested that Pir Vilayat Khan initiate Shabda as a Sheikh. This occurred on February 5 1977, at the tomb of Hazrat Inayat Khan in India. In October 1995, at a Sufi camp in Maui, Hawai‘i, Pir-o-Murshid Hidayat Inayat Khan of the International Sufi Movement initiated Shabda as a Murshid.Shabda has appeared as a musician in concerts ranging from Visions for a Perfect World at New York's St John the Divine Cathedral, for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for New Music America in Chicago, at Delhi University Music School, and at Shivaratri Festival in New Delhi. He is one of a handful of Americans who have dedicated themselves to carrying on the legacy of the treasure of North Indian classical vocal music.

OUR MODERATOR

Amertat Cohn


Amertat Cohn is an award-winning American filmmaker, a businessman, a spiritual leader, and producer-director of Sunseed The Journey (2019). Amertat began his career in visual media at 15 as photo instructor at a summer camp and then photo editor and photographer in high school. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wesleyan University, Middletown Conn., in 1965. While there, his photo art was exhibited at the Davidson Art Gallery, and he made his first film as part of its film studies program. He entered the Masters Film program at UCLA in 1965 but dropped out the next year during the "summer of love" and moved to San Francisco. There he began a lifelong study of meditation, yoga, mystic arts, Sufism, and the esoteric traditions of the world’s religions, all while working in the top documentary film unit in the USA at KQED Public Television.His films at that time included From Protest to Resistance, Fidel, The Krishnamurti Lectures series, and A.C.T. Now (1968) which received a Cine Golden Eagle award for direction. He began filming Sunseed, the acclaimed documentary of the world-wide New Age awakening in 1970. He took on the name Amertat, which is the name of a Zoroastrian archangel (his birth name was Fredrick), as given to him by his spiritual guide, Pir Vilayat Khan, while making the film. He received a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA Film School in 1973 for his direction of Sunseed. Its first showing was at the Palace of Fine arts, San Francisco in 1974 and later had its New York premiere at the Whitney Museum in New York City in the New American Filmmakers series, where it became the most viewed film in the history of the series.He has directed several other documentary films, Wynn Bullock Photographer, Sister, Zen in America, and Elliott Porter’s World for which he received his second Cine Golden Eagle award. His photographs were exhibited as part of a group show at the Montserrat Gallery in New York in 2017. In other endeavors, he has created a successful international distributorship and marketing company for Herbalife Nutrition (1998-present) and ascended to the Chairman’s Club by becoming one of its top 50 independent distributors in the world. Amertat is a student of many of the world's great traditions including Sufism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and others. He has lived in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, since 2006. He also maintains a residence in New York City.