After I read and fell in love with the writings of Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, I became more curious about the Sufi religion and its practices.
Unlike oAfter I read and fell in love with the writings of Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, I became more curious about the Sufi religion and its practices.
Unlike our Western robotic march from first page to last, this book is designed to be read randomly, either by browsing or by trusting that you'll be guided to the selection you need at that point in your life.
Douglas-Klotz defines "dervish" as "one who sits in the doorway, or on the threshold of something, ready to move on and transform him- or herself." He defines "Sufism" as "a nomadic tradition, one that has constantly deconstructed and transplanted itself, rather than settle and build gigantic shrines, institutions,...rituals, or organizations.... Sufism is, first of all, a series of 'nots' -- not a religion, not a philosophy, not even a mysticism... It's best to call Sufism a way of experiencing Reality as love itself."
Despite its origins within the Muslim faith, the point of Sufism is not to tie oneself to any particular creed or religion. The author points out that "In Sufi work, the divine Beloved is the Reality in which all events take place. Nothing is outside or excluded.... Perhaps...you have been bruised by organized religion in the past. Just because a love affair has gone bad does not mean that love is unimportant. ...Sufism as a path is so wild and nomadic that if you find yourself feeling too enclosed or settled, you can strike your dervish campsite and move on." "...Sufism strips the dogma from religion and goes to its heart, insofar as it insists on the reality beyond the ritual, the thing behind the symbol..."
Each of the 99 meditations is designed to apply to one of the aspects of your being or of your life. Each meditation is presented in the same format. The concept is first named, such as "The Sun of Love," "Burning Away Tension and Hurt," "Transition," or "The Return of What Passes Away." Then the Arabic word or name for that condition is given, and a suggestion of "When you are guided to this pathway,..."
For example, the meditation on "Repair and Restoration" suggests, "When you are guided to this pathway, it is an opportunity to feel the restorative power of the One and to take action to heal what has been broken." This is followed by a brief discussion of how it fits into the previous concept (meditation) and into the concept that follows. An appropriate story or poem is next, with some brief examples of how this teaching may apply to your own life. A literal translation of the Arabic word is given, including the root words from which its meaning is derived. Finally, a brief direction is given for meditating upon the word, chanting the word, holding and pondering the concept within your heart.
The book's overarching concept is that each of these 99 pathways is a different already-existing aspect of your own being. By meditating upon and bringing forth all of these multiple aspects of yourself, you can progress toward self-integration, toward your best self, "reunited in the circle of the heart's unity with the divine Beloved," gathering and linking this "circle of selves" into understanding your own unique purpose and philosophy in life.
The point is not to adopt a particular religious idiology, nor to wrestle each concept into your being, as much as it is to let that particular drop of wisdom fall into your consciousness and then let it do its work subconsciously if it is appropriate for your life. You may come back to read it again and again, seeing a different aspect each time.
I loved this view of not being tied to any particular tenets of an established religion, but to pursue sacred concepts and to establish your own understanding and direct relationship with "the Beloved."
The chanting is not my thing, but hey, they said you can freely choose, right? I liked the gentle humor and teasing, good-natured, encouraging tone throughout. I'd definitely recommend this book. ...more