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Posted February 10, 2012
This is the one! Living Presence by Kabir Edmund Helminiski is THE book I would chose to take with me when I am told I'm going to be sent to a deserted island for the rest of my life and can only bring one book! A spiritual seeker since the age of twelve (confirmed by mom and aunt after picking up a book I was reading and asked "Does she understand what she is reading?") I have read and/or own, nearly every spiritual book floating in the publishing ether.
Living Presence gives practical wisdom and real world applications to any spiritual/religious beliefs or ideals you may hold. This book has matured my interpretations and understanding of both my Bible and Buddhist reading, reflecting, prayer and meditation time. Helminski takes Sufism, the mystical side of Islam, and explains it in an easy to understand, every day spirituality, with a strong modern psychological foundation. But easy to understand is not easy to do. We are only human after all!
Sufism focuses on the practical side: living our spirituality in the real world. Helminski shares his take on the current state of the human psyche by saying "we stand in the rubble of our former beliefs." I believe this is where modern man (especially North American) finds himself. His whole world is changing faster than he can grasp and anyway, "Where is that God guy? I want to talk to him." Helminski reminds us, as have all great sages, that the spirit is within.
Helminski points out that in the West there have been few models for intentional human development with real substance. "A culture that ignores this work of awakening our latent humanity will be starved of the food of the soul." And aren't we in North American trying to feed that starvation with everything BUT the right thing? With Living Presence, Helminski shows us what Sufism can offer us for food. The book offers wisdom after wisdom with a smattering of poetry by Rumi thrown in for additional contemplation.
Living Presence offers a lifetime of study. I bought my first copy in May of 2001 and shortly returned to purchase a second copy so I would have a "loaner." My first re-read of this book was March of 2003, with subsequent re-readings in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and currently 2010. It is a book that motivates me to practice.
Helminski has done both a scholarly and important job for us in presenting Sufism in Living Presence. This is one book you will not be disappointed in.