Sufism is the study of Reality. It is known by the scholars as the "Depth Psychology" of Islam.
However, in it's broader sense it refers to the study of knowledge of the self and the human situation. It therefore applies itself both in principle and in practice to all religions, purporting itself to be the essence of all religions and the necessarily point of all religions.Sufism (Spiritual Purification) claims to want and to deliver nothing less than a face to face knowing of The Truly Divine. For the people of attainment, there is no better medium for this goal that the most recently revealed religin, called Al-Islam, or the religion of Surrender.
The word "Islam", in the context of this study, means Divine Surrender. Many people have tasted this Divine Surrender and in fact, life is a process of Divine Surrender. During the reading of this text, you may, at any time, simply interchange the two words, "Islam" and "Divine Surrender".
The basis for this understanding, which is a crucial breakaway from the more "orthodox" and accepted definitions, is a simple look at the Arabic grammar, in which it can be observed that "Islam" is the command form of the root word for "Peace", Salam. Islam is intended to be received as a command, from the Divine, through irrefutable revelation, to "Be Peaceful", or "Surrender", obedience to which brings nothing less than Everlasting Bliss. A person who surrenders or is surrendered is a "Muslim". Islam (Surrender) is considered, in the psychology of Islam, to be the first step toward the perfection of the innate human/Divine potential. The second and third (final) stages are referred to as "Iman", or the completion of faith into the heart, and Ihsan ("Most Beautiful"), the perfection of the balance and relationship between inward purity and outward behavior. We will go into the latter two stages in more detail later.
The Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be Allah's Peace and Blessings, informed us that all children come into this world as Muslims, meaning that they are born in a state of natural surrender to the will of the Divine, whatever that may be. Islam (Surrender) is emphatically referred to in the holy book (Qur`an) as the Natural Way, or "ad-Deen ul Fitrah". All that is in the heavens and the earth is Surrendered to (is a manifestation of) the Will of the Divine.
Mankind, on the other hand, is given a choice. We are offered the choice of living in a world of our own making (referred to as the world of illusion, the "hayyat ud-dunya"), complete with all its warning signs, or to seek by the means of guidance and the means of repulsion from illusion, the life in Reality, the "hayyat ul-`akhirah".
Annihilation (of the ego) into the Reality and Unity of the Divine Manifestation is (again) only a first stage of the spiritual journey that Islam (Surrender) offers us. As difficult as it may be to imagine and even more difficult to realize, the annihilated self, or Buddha Nature, is still considered the basic, fundamental, or "natural" state of being. And without a revelation from the Divine Author and Sustainer of the Unity in which we exist to guide us, it would be our permanent situation and final resting-place.
For many, this is enough. Yes it's true. Life IS Nirvana. And the Holy book (Qur`an) tells us "Kullu man alaiha Fan" all that exists in the on earth and in the life of this world is perishable, illusion, and in annihilation. And it's true. The soul is immortal, innately dwelling in the bliss of the Divine regardless of what the subjective perception may be feeling.
Fortunately however, for those of us for whom the life of experiencing everlasting bliss is not enough, Allah, in His Beneficence and Wisdom, has offered a way by means of which we may seek even more knowledge and closer proximity. To enter into a society of like-minded souls, and realize from the presence of even more elevated stations of being than our own. And that is the path that the truly devoted among Sufis and Muslims have chosen to follow.
The Sufi way is a unique cultivation and realization process developed by spiritual Masters using the knowledges revealed to them by The Divine through His Revelation, which was sent to humanity through the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be Allah's Peace and Blessings. The purpose of this Divine Revelation is to show people what they do not know, and to manifest a way to complete the perfection of surrender to the will of God-Allah. You might ask, "What could be more perfect than Surrender itself?" And I would reply, "Nothing is sweeter, but there is more. There is a life, to be lived in Surrender. There is more knowledge, more seeking, more self-exploration, and further wisdom to be gained and enjoyed."
The principles of this life in Surrender and of knowing the existence of Unity and the Qualities of God from within ourselves are revealed and supported completely in the Arabic Qur`an and the behavior and teachings of the Prophet. The Holy Book (Qur`an) is a huge body of Divine Knowledge the key to which is a real and truthful surrender. It is stated in one verse (ayat) that "None shall touch it (i.e. approach it's inner wisdom) except those who are (or would be) purified (of themselves and illusion).
Even though it is the fastest growing religion in the USA (and I dare say the world), Islam has not been popular in the west for a variety of reasons, some of which are true and valid and most of which are false and simply a result of the choice to remain dominated by illusion. Because the materialistic dream requires the focus of attention, psychology, therapies, self help courses and prosperity consciousness classes as well as a huge variety of so-called spiritual development classes, are motivated by the underlying and fundamental desire to change something in relation to something else. In most cases, to change one's perceived position relative to one's perceived dream. Real spiritual paths challenge seekers to question the validity of their dreams and their underlying motivations, and are therefore not popular. But there is a movement afoot- a "shift" happening.
Sufis believe in and study what is revealed to them, knowing that it is from their Lord, the Divine and Eternal, Creator of all worlds. And it is revealed to them that their God is One. Sufis believe that the Islamic revelation is truly from Allah (Divine Name for the One True God), and that it therefore leads to Allah. So it is from Allah to Allah, as are we. And because of that, this revelation is all that we need and have prayed for.
Part of that revelation is how to pray and what to pray for. And included in the instructions of how to pray, it is mentioned to ask for, with sincere intention to follow, a revelation that will be truly and irrefutably from Allah, and lead with certainty to Allah. Not only are we instructed by Divine Revelation to ask for Divine Revelation, we are told exactly how to ask for it. Divine revelation instructs us to say "Ihdinas-Siratul Mustaqim". "Guide us on the straight path" "Show us the guidance that leads infallibly to You" (and make it work for us). In that respect it can be said that there is only one path to God. It is the Straight Path, the one that works! In Sufi parlance, this refers to the only way we can reach to know God. Straight in! This realization, the very first and absolutely requisite step of which is Surrender, IS the true religion. And all of the tools, revelations and guidance of outward religion are there only to help us on our way to God, and support us and assist us, in this life, in and through the resulting awarenesses. In my opinion, it is a shame that the Islamic revelation, as a study and a teaching tool, is not taken more seriously by the new generation of spiritual teachers.
And to that end, I write the following.
SEEING THROUGH THE VEIL OF UNITY
What to do with the Surrendered, Realized Self.
Unity (Oneness) is one of the Qualities of Allah, and therefore necessarily of His Creation. It is not an easy thing to actually realize and the learning process has three stages, the hearing of it, the witnessing of it, and the realization of being it. Western spiritual psychology has, in my opinion, definitely evolved into a certain pathway of ascertainment, a fourth "way", as it were, to reach clear discernment and Realization, Gnosis, Samadhi, Nirvana, etc. (i.e. basic human potential). There is no doubt in my mind that the Buddha is now thoroughly translated into English, and well worth studying. Yes folk, That IS our reality. Now let's show our gratitude to the Author of this reality. Allah asks us in Qur`an, "Who will loan to Allah the beautiful Loan?", and, "Who will choose themselves to be My true servants and helpers?".
But, for the realized among us, I propose that realization has a past tense, too. It is "Realized" So OK, now we are Realized. Yes, we are in and experiencing the Divine Unity of God. No doubt. But now what? In a sense, "So what?" In some circles, this is no big thing. It is totally accepted, and even a given. The question still remains of what to do with the Surrendered, Realized self.
There are still a variety of options. We can pursue our hobbies, our arts and crafts, our teaching, our professional lives, or spiritual lives. We can sit and dwell forever in Divine Glory, or we can come to the aid of Truth. We can get a grip and begin to decipher through the filters of our realized heart exactly what Allah is getting at with His Divine Revelation.
Now the scholars might look aghast that I've invited a bunch of "Non-Muslim" western "spiritualists" to think for themselves and come up with their own takes on the Revelation from the Divine which has already been studied and written about so much that there is surely no room at all for further opinion. But I disagree. One thing is sure. You're gonna think for yourselves anyway, and that's only as it should be.
One of the fascinating and truthful proofs of Divine Revelation is that it is always a Revelation, and never ceases to uplift the heart. Once it has been relegated to the mind, which unrealized minds are prone to do, it loses its revelatory quality. But to a Realized heart it is always new and always news. It must and should be studied and taught from the viewpoint of a Realized heart. Such is the spread of the true Sufi way. It is to this point that Allah's wisdom speaks by allowing the western spiritual mind to reach its own maturation in rejection of and without the resource and aid of the formal Islamic scholarship that the Sufis of old were so blessed to have. Which only goes to prove that Surrender is the Natural way. And that's in part due to the fact that the actual modern teaching of the subject of Islam has to a very great degree, and intentionally, excluded and overlooked the processes for the cultivation of a pure and knowing heart, choosing instead to focus on the prideful and competitive nature of the mind.
I agree, it's time that the teachings of the Divine Revelation were put into the light of the real, so to speak. The modern teaching of this revelation is and has been dominated by people who would seek to obscure its point of spiritual transformation simply because they don't want it like that and for the sake of worldly gain. And it has been distorted beyond all sensible recognition by those who seek through the machinations of their minds to enhance their egos and thereby improve upon the quality of their lives. And at the same time they exhort the believers to share their opinions and take their side in imaginary battles against the unknown enemies of Allah (God) and Islam (Surrender to God) and the "Islamic people". It's not that injustice does not exist nor should not be combated. But they would have our Surrender to God be surrender to them. And they would choose to dictate the cause for which we would devote our energies. That's why, as you will discover, the people of this mindset are always waging war on the Sufis, who are their very conscience, and manifestly present only to help them discover their own truth, which they are convinced (isn't that the way of the ego) they (and sometimes exclusively they) already have .
While all the while the true knowers know that the real enemy is within. The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) told us often that the lesser war was only to defend the peace so that the greater war, that of spiritual realization, could be waged. And what's more, it is the people who are winning this greater war who stand the greater chance of being successful in the lesser war. (Take for example the Surrender of the truly superior martial arts masters.) It is becoming more and more obvious in the west that it is the ignorance of our inner qualities that is manifestly the cause of worldly suffering, and the healing movement of western spiritual psychology and ecology is gaining a powerful hold on the minds and imaginations of the people. In effect, the spiritual shift that we have all been predicting and that we have all been working for is actually happening. And even if not on the outside world. which, it is said, will always be there as a distraction and a test for those who would choose to follow it, it is most definitely real for the people who know that the world will be for them what their inner perception will make of it, and therefore a cleansing of the inner view is the key to success in all worlds.
The Islamic revelation takes knowledge into a whole new realm. It has not been very popular with the growing body of western "realization experts" (said respectfully). It is amazing the number of truly valid spiritual teachers that have no real knowledge of even the fundamentals of the world's third largest religion and the fastest growing faith in the United states, if not the world, by far.
"spiritual teachers" of the world deliberately
of Islam, it can mean a variety of things.
themselves are reluctant to mention it, knowing
that it is the Divine Himself who turns His Hearts to the Islamic
And many of these teachers would not know what to do with it. Let's
some of the more common fears.
For these and many more reason, Islam the religion, Islam the body of truthful knowledge from the God in whom they all believe, Islam the Divinely revealed pathway to spiritual and social harmony on earth and in heaven, is ignored, overlooked, cast aside, discharged, disparaged, mocked, jeered and laughed at (respectfully, of course).
And why? Is it all because of the media exploitation of the worst characteristics of some of the most juvenile people (always the ones who attract attention) from within the cultures of the countries of this faith? Not completely.
By trying to turn the emphasis of the word Islam toward representing a body of knowledge and its interpretation, worldly powers seek to gain control by claiming to be the "guardians" and "keepers" of that knowledge, called the true faith. When in truth, the real translation of the Ayat "Inna Deena `inda 'llahi l Islam" means "verily, the true religion in the sight of Allah is Surrender. It is this surrender that is the subject of all the great spiritual teachers of all times and for all people, and in all languages.
It is this very surrender that is the beginning of true spiritual awareness, and is being taught by the discoverers and founders of western "spiritual Psychology." In the sight of Allah, this is indeed the true religion, and the beginning of the oft-foretold "Sunrise in the West".
As a westerner steeped for ages in the society and culture of deep spiritual search through belief in and devout following of the Islamic teachings in their absolutely highest and purest form and intention, I can claim my realization to be as real as anyone's, and in that realization I can find only a very few, not even a handful of people who share this understand with me from within the world of the "Islam" that is dominating (literally) the cultures of the world, and cannot blame the western seekers at all for their rejection of Islam as a pathway to deeper realization, except for the sufis. I can also state categorically that I identify wholeheartedly with the deep and intensive efforts of the students and followers of western spiritual psychology, and agree that they have discovered the secret and are on the right path. What this means to me, in "Islamic" parlance, is that Allah, as He promised in Qur`an that He would, has taken the "Gift" of surrender away from a people for whom it was intended, except for a few, and given it to another folk entirely, who will cherish it as it was meant to be cherished. (hadith). "for they have not been true to their souls".
They have made light of the religion (the way of the truly surrendered) and taken it for mere sport and play, yet woe unto them who take Allah's gift (of life) and barter with it for the life in this world. They seek to use the way of Allah to gain the paltry things of the life in the world, even though they claim the opposite with their mouths, their deeds speak out against them.
Surrender is the key to the heart and the heart is the keeper of the soul and the soul is from the command of God. And deep within the heart of every soul there is a Secret. The Secret is the portal to the Love of God which keeps the heart created and sustained. And within this secret Love there is something hidden, (the realm of angelic and spiritual form, the realm of creational knowledges), and within that something most hidden and it is nothing less than the throne of the Divine Almighty One itself. (hadith). This is a very subtle thing in perception although powerful in its reality. Even though it sustains us, access to it's perception is denied to all but the extremely purified (through excessive effort and devotion to the prescribed practices.)
but the first step on this pathway (should
to accept it). And there are still living spiritual masters who can
the seeking student through the pitfalls of the self and the maze of
to be found upon the way. This is why the Sufi seekers cling to the
of their living master and are loathe to claim mastery for themselves.
For in the knowledge of the Sufis, there is always one who is the
master of the masters, to whom all other "masters" defer (and thereby
and enhance their own mastery). It is also know that the "masters" who
do not continue their search for the one leader of the Sufis, are in
claiming that they have all that they need and need not search any
Their branch is refereed to as dead, for although they have the
of God in His Unity of the world and life, they have not (deemed it
in their own opinion) continued their search, and are therefore devoid
of the Longing which keeps one on the pathway to Allah and keeps the
pathway of Allah coming to them. For "Allah hears those who praise
(and don't stop their search and supplication, which is, in subtle
another ayat of Qur`an that is completely
(Islam in this case meaning the acceptance of the Existence of a God capable of manifesting His Will and of giving Man the choice to accept it)
word "Islam" (Surrender) in a further degree
goes on to
imply the acceptance of the Existence of a God capable of manifesting
Will and of giving Man the choice to accept it.
In this respect, use of the word "Islam" (Surrender) goes on to imply the acceptance of the Existence of a God capable of manifesting His Will and of giving Man the choice to accept it.