Many of the greatest Sufi masters have not been recluses or hermits but tailors, potters, or store clerks who serve the Beloved in the midst of their regular activities. According to Andrew Harvey (Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ), this path of love offers "a practical guide on how to integrate ecstasy and passion with the demands of everyday life." Harvey's commentary is supplemented by photographer Eryk Hanut's visual poems on the desert.
In this top-drawer anthology of Sufi poems, stories, jokes, and philosophical fragments, the author leads us through "a five part mystical symphony of words." Here are the different stages of the journey of the soul — the summons, the inner secret, grace, ordeal and annihilation, and the life of union. The esoteric side of Sufism has always emphasized the delirious experience of being ravished and devoured by Divine Love.
One of the most distinctive aspects of Sufism is its emphasis upon ordeal: "The secret goal of all of Love's gifts, ecstasies, and visions is to give the seeker the strength and fathomless trust necessary to accept the final death that is annihilation." Poems by Kabir, Rumi, Abu Said, Sultan Valad, and others beautifully depict this process. Perhaps Dard says it best of all in "The Rose" — "Misery and joy have the same shape in this world: / You may call the rose an open heart or a broken heart."