Educators of Hearts

"The Sufis have been educators of hearts for at least fourteen centuries. Their teaching and methods are based upon neither dogma nor conjecture, but upon a divine and objective foundation that is the primordial 'religion' of humanity. Sufism does not offer 'salvation' in the sense of a guarantee of heaven in the afterlife. It offers a path to complete humanness, a state in which the spiritual and the human are unified, in which the world of spiritual qualities and material existence are seen as one. This education is a unified whole, but it touches on many areas of experience: individual psychology, relationships, marriage, family, community, livelihood, creativity, and worship. It is empirical, practical, and integrated with daily life. At the same time it is attuned to the most transcendent Truth. This is an education that restores the unity between substance and form, between the spiritual and human dimensions. The goal of this education is the living realization of an intimate connection between ourselves and the Divine."
The Knowing Heart

A Spiritual Recovery Program

"Classical Sufism involves a pattern of living that includes regular disciplines such as ablution, prayer, and fasting, as well as the cultivation of qualities including affection, gentleness, patience, generosity, hospitality, sobriety, modesty, intelligence, and self-discipline. Practices removed from this pattern are at best incomplete; at worst, spiritual practices done outsider the context of a whole way of life may contribute to the illness rather than to the cure, and may further the original addiction to self.

"We need a spiritual recovery program for those addicted to the separate self. It is theoretically possible that one can overcome the addiction without any program, but the power of the addiction is easily underestimated, and often denied. Overcoming the addiction can be like trying to scale a high wall. One's best efforts can be frustrated unless one has a ladder of the right height with all its rungs in place."
The Knowing Heart

Respect for All Things

"Interdependence is a living practice. Courtesy, manners, and right action are the expression of a practice that allows brotherhood to find expression. It is most characteristic of the Way of Love.

"This practice begins with respect. We can respect the carpet that is walked on, the cup that is drunk from, the candle that bears light. In times past a dervish wouldn't 'put out' a candle; he would 'put it to rest.' A dervish, knowing that the word dervish also means 'threshold,' always paused in remembrance before stepping over the threshold. In this respect for inanimate things is the recognition of an identity between the observer and what is observed. Although the material world is not taken as the final reality, it is considered a manifestation of the Spirit and therefore worthy of respect.

"If the material world deserves our gratitude and respect, if the Sufis kiss the tea glass from which they drink, how much more respect do they owe to other creatures and beings?. . . It has been said by Muhammad, 'Humility is the foremost act of worship.' Inner selflessness manifests itself in one's actions. In traditional circles students don't turn their backs to a teacher, leader, or other respected person, and they do not stick their feet out directly toward another person. A thoughtful person offers a seat to any guest or older person and considers their comfort first. On this esoteric path there are certain manners to be observed, never as mere formality, but in remembrance of this fundamental respect."
Living Presence

Learn From the Opposites

"Night cancels the business of day;
inertia recharges the mind.
Then the day cancels the night,
and inertia disappears in the light.
Though we sleep and rest in the dark,
doesn't the dark contain the water of life?
Be refreshed in the darkness.
Doesn't a moment of silence
restore beauty to the voice?
Opposites manifest through opposites:
in the black core of the heart
God created the eternal light of love.
from Rumi's Mathnawi I, translated by Camille and Kabir Helminski, in Rumi Daylight

The Complete Human Being

"No other human being who has worked in the medium of human language has so lucidly and beautifully expressed not only the human experience, but life itself in its completeness. He (Mevlana) expresses the truth not only of human, but of all the kingdoms of nature, as well as less tangible realms of existence. Most importantly, he reveals what it means to be a complete human being.

"Now here is an expression that deserves our attention: a Complete Human Being. This is the essential contribution of Islamic Sufism to the human community. The Complete Human Being, al-Insan al-Kamil, is complete by virtue of having attained to all the levels of reality that are possible for a human. The Complete Human Being has realized within his or her own being all the attributes of the divine and has harmonized the individual will and intelligence with the divine will and intelligence."
Jewels of Remembrance

A Word to the Heart

"That which God said to the rose,
and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty,
He said to my heart,
and made it a hundred times more beautiful."
— Translation of a Rumi poem by Kabir and Camille Helminski in The Rumi Collection

May It Be Love

"The Sufis created a system of human development grounded in love and using the power of love to awaken and transform human beings. Rumi taught that it is everyone's potential to master the art of loving. Love is the answer to the problem of human existence.

"The Way to God passes through servanthood. The point is to love and be connected with others in that love. The form of Sufi work is typically a group, or spiritual guild. The Sufis created a milieu in which human love was so strong that it naturally elevated itself to the level of cosmic love. All forms of love eventually lead to spiritual love. 'Asq olsun,' they say in Turkish: 'May it become love.' The Sufis cultivated a kindness and refinement in which love fermented into a fine wine. They encouraged service to humanity as an expression of the love they felt. They accepted a rigorous discipline in order to keep the fire of love burning strongly."
The Knowing Heart