By David Steinberg
“Medieval Mystics and Masters” is the theme of the University of New Mexico’s Medieval Spring Lecture Series that runs from Monday, April 28 through Thursday, May 1.
However, the territory of the subjects of the lectures range include – but go well beyond – medieval Europe.
For example, Anne C. Klein of Rice University will discuss traditions of Tibet. The topic of her 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 lecture is “Yeshe Tsogyal, the Great Bliss Queen: Meditation and Transmissiion in ‘Heart Essence’ Traditions of Tibet.” Yeshe Tsogyal is a central figure in the most ancient school of Tibetan Buddhism, according to a news release on the lecture series. “She is at once mythical and historical, an iconic student and an enlightened being in her own right.. And she is central to the furthering of wisdom,” the news release stated.
Klein is professor of religious studies at Rice and founding director and resident teacher of Dawn Mountain, a center for contemplative study and practice in Houston.
Another lecture subject is “Rumi and Medieval Sufism.” Jawid Mojaddedi, associate professor and director of graduate studies in Rutgers’ Department of Religious Studies, will discuss that subject at 7:15 p.m. May 1. Since the publication of his verse translation of the award-winning Book One of Rumi’s classic, the “Masnavi,” Mojaddedi has been working to complete the remaining books of the magnus opus.
The full name of the Sufi mystic and poet is often written as Jalal al-Din Rumi. His poetry, which resonates with people of many cultures, has had a revival in the West since the 1960s.
These are the speakers and subjects of the other lectures in the series:
–Bernard McGinn, formerly at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will talk on “Two 12th Century Visionary Mystics: Hildegard of Bingen and Joachim of Fiore” at 7:15 p.m. Monday. Hildegard and Joachim were monastic figures whose images of the mysteries of salvation were similar. McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus at the school. McGinn’s major project is a seven-volume history of Christian mysticism, “The Presence of God,” of which five volumes have been published.
–Lenn E. Goodman of Vanderbilt University will talk on “Two Muslim Masters: al-Farabi and Avicenna” at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. Goodman is professor of philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in humanities. He is a specialist in Jewish and Islamic philosophy.
–McGinn returns to the lectern at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday talking about “Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing.” Eckhart was a teacher at the University of Paris and a powerful mystical preacher in his native Germany.
–And Goodman gives a second lecture at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday on “Moses Maimonides – How Does His Guide Un-perplex?” Maimonides, a rabbi and physician, was born in Cordova, Spain but was exiled to Egypt during the Almohad persecutions. He wrote the “Guide to the Perplexed” in Arabic in an attempt to reconcile Neoplatonic Aristotelian philosophy with biblical questions and rabbinical insights.
The lectures take place in UNM’s Woodward Hall Room 101. At 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Rahim AlHaj will give a concert on the oud, the Middle Eastern parent of the European lute. AlHaj is an Iraqi native who lives in Albuquerque.
The lectures and the concert are free and open to the public.