In Defence of Mysticism: William James and Ibn ‘Arabi

June 17, 2017   (2–5pm)
A talk/seminar by Peter Coates at the October Gallery, London, investigating the parallels between the writings of William James and the vision of Ibn ‘Arabi.
Course Description

This talk/seminar will investigate parallels between the writings of William James and the vision of Ibn ‘Arabi, in order to emphasise the universal character of Ibn ‘Arabi’s vision.

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240) is “one of the world’s great spiritual teachers. Ibn ‘Arabi was born in Murcia, Al-Andalus, in 1165 and his writings had an immense impact throughout the Islamic world and beyond. The universal ideas underlying his thought are of immediate relevance today.

William James (1842-1910) was an American psychologist and philosopher who is often regarded as one of the founders of modern psychology. Although psychology in the twentieth century frequently ignored or discounted mystical experience, James himself was convinced of its importance. Concerning his classic book “The Varieties of Religious Experience” he wrote: “..the mother sea and fountain-head of all religions lie in the mystical experiences of the individual… [which]…..belong to a region deeper, and more vital and practical, than that which the intellect inhabits”.

Peter Coates is the author of Ibn ‘Arabi and Modern Thought (2002), the first book to systematically examine modern thought in the light of the universal vision of Ibn ‘Arabi. He was Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, where he taught courses in the philosophy of psychology. He has been studying the works of Ibn ‘Arabi for 40 years.


The October Gallery
24 Old Gloucester Street

Booking & Fees

Cost: £8 + Eventbrite registration fee
Refreshments provided.


Course / Event Location

The October Gallery
24 Old Gloucester Street

Woodland Yurt Summer Retreats

June 30 – July 7, 2018
July 28 – August 4, 2018
August 11 – 17, 2018
Chisholme Institute, Scottish Borders, UK

Seven days of self-discovery in a retreat environment, free from phones, internet and electricity – living in yurts on the edge of woodland.

Seven Days of the Heart

‘Seven Days of the Heart’ Study Retreat

September 30 – 7 October, 2017
Armagh, Melbourne, Australia

An intensive, non-residential study retreat, led by Stephen Hirtenstein.

Application deadline: June 30th, 2017

Self-knowledge? Unity of Existence? Truth? Love? Beauty?

October 8 – January 28, 2017
The Salisbury Centre, Edinburgh

What is the single most important point that must be understood by a person who wants to know?
A series of seven themed explorations.


Beshara Trust London Seminars

October 14 & November 11, 2017
The October Gallery, London, UK

Two study afternoons looking at the writings of Ibn ‘Arabi and other related authors.

Bede Griffiths: An Interspiritual Journey

November 18, 2017
The Sanctuary, Augustine United Church, Edinburgh

A day conference organised by the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace (EICSP).

40 Day Retreat Course

October 16 – November 26, 2017
Chisholme Institute, Scottish Borders, UK

What does it mean to be human? How do we relate to ourselves, to others, to the world?