Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is the author of twelve books including Love Is a Fire: The Sufi's Mystical Journey Home. A member of the Naqshbandi Order, he specializes in integrating the ancient Sufi approach to dreams with the insights of modern psychology. The frontispiece quotation for this paperback is from Rumi: "Step out of the circle of time / And into the circle of love."
For Vaughan-Lee, the circle of love is located in the heart where we feel the closeness of the Beloved. The inner work of the Sufi is to "try to remain within the circle of love, to resist the ego as it attempts to drag us away." The practices of remembrance, devotion, and surrender bring us back to the oneness where our notions of duality and separation are set aside.
Our yearning for the divine presence is a very powerful force. As Ibn 'Arabi prayed: "Oh Lord nourish me not with love but with the desire for love." Every day we are challenged to discover fresh ways of listening to the Beloved. We do this not out of strenuousness but as a sign of our love for God. Again, Rumi spells out what this means: "Make everything in you an ear, each atom of your being, and you will hear at every moment what the Source is whispering to you."
Vaughan-Lee follows up his discussion of the spiritual practice of listening with two chapters on the mission of the Sufi spiritual warrior as he or she seeks to transform everything with the energy of love. The inner work of purification, the struggle with the nafs, and polishing the mirror of the heart test our patience and perseverance.
The author uses one of our favorite quotations from Rumi in his analysis of our divine nature: "You are more valuable than both heaven and earth. / What else can I say? You don't know your own worth. / Do not sell yourself at a ridiculous price, / You who are so valuable in God's eyes." That is the problem. We underestimate the preciousness of our being and dishonor God in the process.
Instead, Vaughan-Lee calls us back to the circle of love where nothing is excluded. He illustrates how everything is part of his circle with the story of the great Sufi Jami who, when walking on the streets after curfew time, intoxicated with God, was stopped by the officer of the watch. The officer queried him as to whether or not he was a thief, and Jami replied, "What am I not?"