Practical Sufism: A Guide to the Spiritual Path Based on the Teachings of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Practical Sufism: A Guide to the Spiritual Path Based on the Teachings of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

by Phillip Gowins
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Practical Sufism: A Guide to the Spiritual Path Based on the Teachings of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
yeldabmoers More than 1 year ago
I'm ashamed to say that I was born in the country where the famous Sufi poet Rumi lived, raised in the Muslim faith, but know little about Sufism, other than that it's the mystical aspect of Islam and the spiritual home of the whirling dervishes (who I've seen perform in my native Turkey). For that reason I was drawn to Phillip Gowins's book Practical Sufism. I wanted to learn the basics and thought this slim book by a hypnotherapist and Sufi teacher would be a great way to start. Gowins takes us down his path of Sufism. Part memoir, part traditional non fiction text, part metaphysical musings with meditative exercises, Practical Sufism is a hodgepodge of a book. At times this lack of structure felt liberating, but at other times I found it hard to grasp the teachings and principles of Sufism, besides some basic principles such as: merging with the oneness of God, humans as beings of light, Sufism as the path of the heart, the need to open the channel to the soul through meditation. I felt that the author should have given at least a brief introduction on the history, philosophy and practice of Sufism before sharing his own experience. Without such an introduction, the narrative meanders. Sufism is in fact the inner dimension of Islam. But there is little if no mention of Islam, and how Sufism ties into Islam. In the history of the religion, Sufism has played a key role, a fact that the reader should be informed of. Also, Islamic practice appears to be a key component of many Sufi orders. Gowins's order appears to be independent of religion, so the reader longs to know: how is that possible? Gowins's spiritual awakening is engaging. He left the Protestant faith and joined a Sufi order. The book is based on the teachings of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, the author's own guide and leader of his Sufi order. Khan has since passed away. And though many of the passages from Khan that Gowins includes are beautiful and poignant, it's difficult to grasp exactly what Khan's essential teachings are. Gowins doesn't take the time to delve into them. So I'm left to wonder, what is the essential philosophy of Sufism and its major figures, and how does Khan fit in this history? Also, I wanted more details of Gowins own path in the Sufi order. What was the process? How did he become a Sufi? Apparently, it's not easy to become one and can take years of tireless devotion and practice. Gowins is a clear, succinct, and effective writer. His voice is likeable, his style is easy to read and follow. However, the book reads more like a spiritual self-help book than an informative text on the subject, as it lacks a narrative thread. The chapters don't connect to one another, and the information appears to be dispersed. The random division of chapters makes it hard to grasp his spirituality's key concepts. In the end, I felt the book was incomplete. Sufism has such a rich and fascinating history and I wish the author had shared more of that with the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book!! This gem immediately shares the fragrance of Pir Vilayat and the Sufi Order he guided in the West. Sufism by its nature is very personal. While many try to categorize Sufis intellectually and even dogmatically (the latter being the antithesis of Sufism!), Gowins has transmitted a sense of the heart opening which is the real Sufi way. It is intellectual enough to tease my mind, sensitive enough to make me laugh and even cry. In true Sufi fashion, he leaves me yearning for more. What a great introduction to the Path of the Heart.
Musawwir More than 1 year ago
I was most interested to one review of my book on this site. It was interesting in that the writer made all the points I intended to make yet felt disappointed in the end because I did not create a vast over view of Sufism. That was never my intent. There are numerous scholarly works from all sorts of people, Sufi teachers and academics, describing what Sufism is or should be. I saw no reason to add to that number with my opinion. My idea was to create a work that gives people who are on a spiritual path some very practical advice at a very mundane level. What happens, some of the pitfalls, what to look out for. The truth is that to me the path of Sufism is secondary to the path of self-discovery. This can come in any number of ways and is by no means restricted to any particular path. My path is Sufism, it works for me but the clues I give apply to anyone.