THE SUFI APPROACH TO ISLAM -
Finding Spiritual Healing and World Peace in these Troubled Times
 
ISLAM AND MODERN PSYCHOLOGY
Soul Psychology and the Emergence of the Authentic Self

Soul Psychology, as I call it, is "The Work". It is the actual practice of assisting in the emergence of personal soul and soul qualities into conscious manifestation. It is the work of "spiritual midwifery", if you will, for the emergence of the "Authentic Self", and is being practiced by all who have discovered it. They have concluded, in the course of their own involvement with it, that it is the most important work there is, and it then becomes their contribution to the healing of humanity and to the bringing of relief to the suffering.

I define the word "psychology" as "knowledge of self", or "knowledge of the soul". Psyche to me means Soul. All of the supposedly "unknown" and investigated regions of the Self, no mater how classified or labeled, are still parts of the self and not something other. They may be clarified and understood, even dissolved and integrated, but they are not entities that can be "gotten rid of", so to speak. They are still parts of the Self. And if one investigates sufficiently into the nature and unity of creation, one can easily reach the conclusion that there is only Self, that everything is 'attached', so to speak, to everything else. And this is where the absolute monist concludes that "all is God, therefore I too am God, All is me." And this is true, as far as it goes. But this is also simply science and scientific investigation. In reality, there is nothing mystical about it at all. It is simply the "Human Situation". When all is known, the question still remains, "What to do?"

This Work manifests in a variety of different ways, each according to the discovery path of the individual practitioner. I would like to bring to the fore the voluminous work done in this field by the great soul psychologists of the "pre-modern" Islamic civilizations, an era which we now call medieval history (although referring thereby mostly to European civilization). Nevertheless, it was at this time that the sciences of discovery and human potential were at the heights of glory in the neighboring "Islamic" world. However, rather than create a master work of referenced materials, which I'm sure is already done and easily found, I will prefer to allude only to the names and teachings of a few of the more noted masters of the age, and draw upon my own experience in study and discovery, to present to you my understandings and conclusions. 

These conclusions offer hope, and lead to a new era of dominance of Soul and Soul qualities over the fearful and reactive efforts of the frightened and traumatized "reactive" self, often referred to as the ego, or the artificial, or "replacement" self. These conclusions also lead to an understanding of the true meaning and purpose of Islam. This understanding will allow for its study, acceptance and implementation in the struggle for social equilibrium, peace and harmony. 

There is no doubt that Muslims have a great deal to offer to a groping and exploratory infant nation such as the United States. The time has come to put an end to the fear and ignorance that has kept us from benefiting from other cultures and religions. The Spiritual revolution has come and gone, and we are now quite aware of our spiritual nature. There remains but one persisting enigma. And that is - the meaning of Islam and the intention of the Muslim people. 

I believe that by writing this work, I can clarify that intention for both the Muslims and the "Western" people. And in the course of that, shed some light on the problems of both. And show how, by working together, we can bring a lasting unity and peace to the world. 

Coming from the standpoint of a devoted American Muslim and over 30-year believer and student-practitioner of the Islamic "Science of Self" known as Sufism, I have learned to rely upon and trust the principles of spiritual development and human and social sanity as taught in the classical Islamic way. I have found them successful in every way. So it is easy for me to realize the significance, importance and necessity for the advocacy of this "Work". I will not enter into a long list of human ailments all of which are more than well-known to any educated reader. Suffice it to say that never before in the history of the world has the hope of humanity sunk so low while in their desperation, self-deceiving world-marketers seek ever new ways to point out that we are at its heyday. I will assume that the need and necessity for the work of perpetuating spiritual evolution is obvious to the reader, and leave it at that. 

Not only is the work of true self-realization necessary for the assured happiness and "salvation" of each individual, training in the work itself will most certainly become a huge industry in the world of self-help, recovery, personal healing, medicine, psychology and psychotherapy. This work of which I speak is the heart of Islam and the meat of the Sufi way. And although the "work" of self-realization is by no means the exclusive property of Sufism, Islam or any other "way", it is interesting that Sufism pays its focused attention to the problem of resolving the "Human Situation". Sufism is at its very core the study and practice of the Psychology of the Soul, and well within the understanding of the average "Westerner", Muslim or Sufi Master. 

In predicting the growth of this industry, I am of course assuming the survival of both the species and the souls of great teachers, as well as the desire for true education on the part of sincere students. I am not in the least disparaging of the enormous work done in the field of psychology and healing by the great souls of our time, most of whom are alive  (thank God) and teaching as we speak. Their work is the foundation of the truly indigenous spiritual culture of Western civilization in the English language. I only wish to contribute my part. It will stand on its own merits, I am sure. 

All souls are, by their very nature, great. And deep within the heart of each one of us we can recognize and acknowledge that secret. However, It is only the ability to openly accept that greatness and make it effective that keeps us truly humble. It’s for lack of knowing how to manifest the reality of our truth that outward pride and pretense appear to be necessary. And the only thing that holds us back from manifesting our greatness, and living rich and fulfilling lives, is fear.

Fear is instilled. It is not innate. Fear is created by fearful people who use their energies to further an environment that encourages fear and punishes courage and bravery. That's why fearful people believe it to be exceptionally courageous and brave to live a rich and authentic life. Reaching to connect with our innate freedom from fear is the BlessingWay and the path to manifesting our inner greatness.

The Sufi way of life provides an arena for full spiritual emergence. It literally insists upon it, considering it not only a goal but also a requirement for progress. That is why Sufism is famous for its spiritual guidance. Firstly, it works, and that is visible in the presence of the masters and their students. Secondly, it provides an historically proven pattern for success which is evident in the traditions of Islamic science, literature, poetry, agriculture, architecture and psychology, and thirdly, it provides encouraging, affirming and developing authentic spiritual teachings and daily practices, the source of which can be relied upon and trusted.

So, rather than discouraging the emergence of soulful truth in your daily life, as does the basically accepted common denominator of the egoic 'provision and fear-oriented' mentality, in the Sufi way, spiritual maturity and conscious, aware soul-inhabitation are considered to be the requisites for true success. The challenge is then, rather than fabricating a more fanciful and alluring illusion, to free ourselves from the residing influence of our history of fabricating alluring illusions, and thereby learn to recognize, trust, honor and speak from a truth that is inarguably our own, and from the very essence of our souls. It is the magnetic attraction of this quality of authenticity that stimulates faith and trust, engenders confidence and increases prosperity. One who is true to himself will cause no harm to others.

Nowadays, in a society in desperate need of help, just about everyone who has, through hard work and diligence, discovered the secret of self and authenticity, is making a great deal of money by teaching it to others. It's not the acquisition of money that is being noted here. That indicates only that there is an urgent and increasing demand for the teaching of authenticity. What is of note is this: that an integral part of the richness and fullness of the authentic life is doing the "work" of passing it along in the increasingly best way possible. In this way, seekers and teachers are rapidly contributing to the evolution of humanity. 

In my opinion the single most popular and easily comprehended 'definition' for this work is the one coined early on by Mahatma Paramhansa Yogananda. He is the master who introduced the work as "self-realization". Think of that. He established the Self-Realization Fellowship in the forties or fifties. It is still going and very strong. Gurdjieff was the first, I believe, to simply refer to it as "The Work". It was named "The Fourth Way", by his students, but I'm not sure he actually referred to it as such. He emphasized it as self-remembering, and called it the essence of health and awareness. He devised a variety of methods to impress upon the students the importance of the practice. 

There are many schools and definitions of this work, started by masters both east and west, and I will likely name a few and their teachers, in the course of offering a view of the scope, history and importance of this work. Not all spiritual practices actually define themselves as oriented toward the goal of "Salvation" or "the Emergence of the Authentic Self", but most of them originated as a result of the teachings of a truly realized person. 

In any case, all real masters teach from their experience. It is in actuality, the only way that authenticity can be taught, or it would no longer be authentic. How we learned, and what we learn from it, is what we teach. And now I want to pass on to you, to add to your personal arsenal of wealth and knowledge, and to confirm that you are on the right path, the keys and essentials of self-understanding from the ancient, yet modern, science of Sufism. 

In keeping with its well-known reputation for being the "Path of Love", and the "Way of the Heart", Sufism is also entitled to be called "The Islamic Science of Spiritual Psychology". In Islamic psychology, a true understanding of the science of self is considered to be essential for both worldly and spiritual success. Sufism is the honored and accepted way of reaching self-realization in the light of Qur`anic teachings and the revealed practices of Muhammad, the most recent and final prophet of the true way to the world.

And there is only one religion. It is the religion of healing the heart from the heart, with the Peace, Love, Mercy and Justice from the Divine. Believing in that and acting according to your belief is religion. And that religion has nothing to do with language, or dogmas void of true understanding or meaning. It is well known that the One True God looks not unto the outward works of men but to the inner worth. And if we honor our inner worth, we are honoring God, and ourselves. And if we dishonor it, we are dishonoring only ourselves. This true understanding of self, and passing it on, is the essence, the point, and the reality of religion itself. It is the 'work', and the way of the Sufi. 


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