Sacred Web Conference

September 23rd and 24th, 2006
Myer Horowitz Theatre, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta 


Introductory Remarks by
Conference Convener, M. Ali Lakhani

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim: In the Name of the Divine Reality whose Presence is Compassion and Mercy:

Distinguished Guests, Honored Speakers, Ladies & Gentlemen:

The performance of music that we have just heard took instruments from two different traditions (Hindu and Muslim), and then found ways to harmonize their formal differences through a more universal and essential way of connecting. The performance speaks in a sense to one of the underlying themes of the Conference, which, with its title, “The Sacred Web: Tradition in the Modern World”, is about seeking harmony through deeper connection.

I want to say a few words about the term “Tradition” and the special way in which that word is used in this Conference: the difference between “tradition” as we normally understand it and “Tradition” with a capital “T” in the sense that Traditionalists understand the term.

“Tradition” in its special usage refers to a worldview: a way of seeing the world that differs from the ordinary perception. We ordinarily see the world as composed of mind and matter: of physical objects located in time and space, which we interpret with our minds and our senses (of which our technological instruments are but extensions). By contrast, Traditionalists speak of a way of seeing the world in which mind and matter exist as part of a continuum of reality that involves a deeper dimension: a transcendent spiritual dimension of which the worlds of mind and matter are merely a projection—like waves upon the surface of an ocean. The worldview of Tradition is of this deep Ocean, of a Presence in which we all participate: of a Reality in which we live and move and have our being—or we can think of it as a Sacred Web, as it were, through which each strand of life is intimately connected to every other. It is the realization that within each of us is a transcendent Center, a unique vantage point within the Heart of ourselves, from which the complete web of life can be seen, a Center from which all the different strands emerge and by which they are held together. It is the realization that what we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves, and that our outer disharmonies reflect our inner malaise. True peace or harmony can only be found by an inner alignment with that deeper Reality that connects us all.

One can therefore point to three fundamental differences between the ordinary understanding of the term “tradition” and the special sense in which the term “Tradition” (with a capital “T”) is used by Traditionalists:

  1. First: in its ordinary meaning, tradition refers to etiquette, custom, habit, or a conventional way of doing or seeing things; but in its special usage, Tradition is both a worldview and a way of being, that involves the sense of the sacred—the sense that the created world is a radiance of the Transcendent—one might call it the fragrance of the Divine.
  1. Second: in its ordinary meaning, tradition looks to the past; but in its special meaning, Tradition is timeless (it speaks of Truth which is true for all time). Therefore, Traditionalists sometimes speak of the Primordial Tradition or of the Perennial Tradition.
  1. And third: in its ordinary meaning, tradition refers to that which is conventional (the commonly accepted way); but in its special usage, Tradition refers to the Truth, which, though universally accessible, is not common. Traditional methods involve initiation into a Path that makes us alive to the sacred through a combination of receptive effort and grace, and the full engagement of our deepest being to the Truth that is universal.


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