Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ellen Burstyn

I've added her to my list of heroes. the others are Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Katherine Hepburn and Eleanor Roosevelt. Like them, she is strong, wise, independent and has worked in her own way to make the world a better place for women.

Excerpt from a BeliefNet interview (link at bottom):

"Can you talk about your exploration into Sufism, which you practice today?

Oh, it started with reading. I was reading the work of Gurdjieff. And Gurdjieff led me to the Sufis, and then I met a Sufi teacher. And then I traveled to Europe and I climbed the Alps and went up to a Sufi camp conducted by Pir Vilayat Kahn; I was initiated up there.

When I was on top of the Alps and Pir Vilayat did the universal worship ceremony, I was so moved by it because here we were on an Alpine peak facing Mont Blanc, and there was an altar, and Pir lit a candle to each of the major religions of the world, and then read from the sacred books of those religions.

And the idea that we didn’t have to say, “I am a Christian” or, “I am a Buddhist” or, “I am a Muslim,” but, "I am a spirit opening to the truth that lives in all of these religions,” brings you into a place where you see that the differences are in the dogma, and the essence is very, very similar.

The truth is there spread out and speaking. For instance, Jesus says that if someone strikes you to turn the other cheek and the Buddha says that "Hatred cannot be fought with hatred--hatred can only be fought with love. This is a law eternal." Well, they’re saying the same thing there. And you find that consistently. So, I knew when I came upon that that I had found what was, for me, a doorway into spirit."

Ellen Burstyn's True Face: The Oscar-winning actress talks about embracing her essence, a love of Sufi poetry, and her scorchingly honest new memoir.

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