February 2, 2020
A Sufi Reflection
The classical Sufi tradition contains a very strong emphasis on the divine unity of all life (called tawhid). In this view, shared by Rumi, Ibn Arabi and many others (and revealed in reading the Qur’an itself), the whole creation came into existence to express the unlimited, sacred qualities through all beings. In particular, God created the human being as a mirror capable of holding and expressing the totality of the divine reflection, including the whole consciousness of nature and the universe. This is what, in the Sufi view, being fully human means.
Despite the emphasis on the unity of being, devotional practice, phrased in an I-Thou manner, is essential on the Sufi path. It teaches us to let go of our own limiting concepts and helps us open our hearts to a wider dimension of feeling.
This development of devotion in what Sufis call the path of effacement (fana) presents, however, only one side of the story. We also find a parallel development in the evolution of the self, or nafs. The latter word is often mistranslated in versions of Sufi poetry as the “animal self.” We can best see the nafs (a term consistent with the old Hebrew nephesh and Jesus’ Aramaic naphsha) as a fluid soul self. Really, the nafs is more a way of looking at the whole self from a subconscious viewpoint rather than as a separate self inside a self. From this view, we have within us an inner community of evolving voices, some of which contradict each other. Similarly, some modern psychologists work with a male a female inner self, or an inner judge or child. Sufi psychology expands this inner community to include a whole ecosystem, including non-human voices such as plants and animals. These “basic selves” are here to be transformed, to realize their unity of “one to One”
Sufi practice can be expressed as an exploration of pathways of the heart. One way being the meditation on the 99 names of Allah. When approached with devotion, this can radically transform one’s reality. These approaches, pathways of the heart, are already within us, waiting to be recognized through (gnosis) wisdom in the circle of the heart’s unity with the divine Beloved.
The Sufi Book of Life
Copyright Neil-Douglas Klotz.
Published by Penguin Compass Books 2005
All rights reserved.
For information on the author’s work:
Abwoon Network, www.abwoon.org
Used With Permission
Forget your voice, sing!
Forget your feet, dance!
Forget your life, live!
Forget yourself and be!