Essential Sufismby James Fadiman, Robert Frager
The definitive compendium of Sufi wisdom, Essential Sufism draws together more than three hundred fables, poems, and prayers that reveal the luminous spirit of Islamic mysticism. Selected works from ancient prophets and sages to contemporary Sufi poets and teachers--including Lbn, Arabi, alGhazzali, Hafiz, Attar, and, of course the enduringly popular Rumi--make up a delectable feast of writings that will be as treasured by Sufi devotees as it will stir the souls of newcomers to this mystical, passionate faith.
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The Sufi way is not a path of retreat from the world but a way of seeking the Divine while still actively engaged in the world. Engagement in the world provides opportunities for spiritual growth, opportunities to practice love, awareness, generosity, and nonattachment. The Sufi approach is summarized by Sheikh Muzaffer, a modern Sufi teacher. "Keep your hands busy with your duties in this world, and your heart busy with God."
Our hearts have become frozen, armored against the pain and suffering we have all experienced in this world. With the help of a devoted teacher and sincere brothers and sisters along the path, we can defrost them.
Love, service, and compassion help us reopen our hearts and come closer to God. One of the greatest services we can perform is to help heal the injured hearts of others. Our hands are made to lift up those who have fallen, to wipe the tears of those who are suffering from the trials of this world. Sheikh Muzaffer also said, 'A kind word or glance softens your heart, and every hurtful word or act closes or hardens your heart."
There is a wisdom of the heart far different from the wisdom of the head. The head can be misled by appearances; the wise heart sees beyond outer forms to inner reality. As one Sufi master explained Sufism, "Anyone can learn the outer forms of prayer and worship. Sufism seeks to develop a heart that can pray." The stories, poetry, and prose that follow are from those who developed heart's wisdom. May their words touch our hearts as well.
The Sufi is absent from himself and present withGod.
The Sufis are those who have preferred God to everything, so that God has preferred them to everything.
If you are possessed of discernment joined with knowledge, seek the company of the dervishes and become one with them.
Associate with none but them.
Love of the dervishes is the key that opens the door of Paradise.
Those who walk on the Path have no longing after fine palaces and fair gardens.
In their hearts is nothing but the pain of yearning love for God.
The Sufis do not abandon this world, nor do they hold that human appetites must be done away with. They only discipline those desires that are in discordance with the religious life and the dictates of sound reason.
They don't throw away all things of this world, nor do they go after them with a vengeance. Rather, they know the true value and function of everything upon the earth. They save as much as is necessary. They eat as much as they need to stay healthy.
They nourish their bodies and simultaneously set their hearts free. God becomes the focal point toward which their whole being leans. God becomes the object of their continual adoration and contemplation.
The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.
Whatever you have in your mind forget it; whatever you have in your hand give it; whatever is to be your fate face it!
The Sufi acts according to whatever is most fitting to the moment.
The Sufi is he whose thought keeps pace with his foot.
He is entirely present; his soul is where his body is, and his body where his soul is, and his soul where his foot is, and his foot where his soul is.
Today I am in such a shape
That I can't differentiate
The load from the donkey.
I am in such shape today,
That I don't know which is the thorn
And which is the rose.
My Love put me in this shape today.
I don't know who is the Lover
Or who is the Beloved.
Yesterday, drunkenness led me
To the door of the Love.
But today I can't find
The door or the house.
Last year I had two wings.
Fear and hope.
Today, I don't know of wings,
Don't know how to fly,
Don't know of my lost fears.
The journey from this world to the next (to give up worldly things for spiritual things) is easy for the believer. The journey from the creatures to the Creator is hard. The journey from the self to God is very hard. And to be able to abide in God is harder still.
Although there are some differences in the way things are done in the lodges of other Sufi orders, in essence they are not very different. There is no lack of love or respect between these various orders. They do not reject each other, or criticize each other. Nor do they claim to be closer to the Truth. Sometimes it is said, "The fountain from which I drank was here, and there are many other fountains if you are thirsty."
A seeker went to ask a sage for guidance on the Sufi way. The sage counseled, "If you have never trodden the path of love, go away and fall in love; then come back and see us."
"I" and "you" are but the lattices,
In the niches of a lamp
Through which the One Light shines.
"I" and "you" are the veil
Between heaven and earth;
Lift this veil and you will see
No longer the bonds of sects and creeds.
Meet the Author
Robert Fager, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Sufi teacher, and author of two other books on Sufism, Love Is the Wine, and Heart, Self, and Soul: The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance, and Harmony.
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