About the Sufi Way

For a more complete introduction to the Sufi Way, its structure, and the subject of initiation, see the booklet “Fresh Rain: An Introduction to the Sufi Way” by clicking here.

Inayat Khan 1The lineage of the Sufi Way was first established in the West in 1910 by the Indian mystic Sufi Inayat Khan, and is now a contemporary expression of the perennial spiritual path he articulated. However, the Way does not promote a particular religion, doctrine, or set of beliefs. Our primary reason for being is to foster direct, original experience of what is named as — in the languages of diverse spiritual traditions: the Real, the basic state, original nature, Buddha nature, the oneness of being, illumination, enlightenment, nondual awareness, unconditioned mind, Rigpa, the ground of being, God-consciousness, and many other names. From this primal experience a natural happiness arises, as well as a desire to be of benefit.

Based on a tradition of oral teachings and an emphasis on direct experience, the transmission of this realization in the Sufi Way typically occurs in small group contexts and through one-on-one guidance. Our programs are known for the inclusivity of teachings and practices from many traditions, and for the use of musical meditations that evoke a sense of peace and communion.

The Sufi Way's approach to spiritual growth encourages rigorous self-inquiry, contemplative practice, and the living of a full, balanced life that is present to both the joys and the suffering of the world. To these ends we facilitate in-depth training programs, practice and study circles, meditation retreats, healing and worship services, cross-cultural pilgrimages, rites-of-passage, and individual spiritual guidance.

sunburst mountainsThe public training programs of the Sufi Way are known as the Open Path. This name signifies it is a path open to all regardless of religious beliefs, and more specifically that it is a spiritual path of openness, immediacy, and freshness, unbounded by concepts. In this sense it is not a path at all, but simply a living inclination of caring presence within the clear light of being.

Students of the Open Path do not have to become initiates of the Sufi Way to take part in Open Path trainings and retreats. As a mystical order, the Sufi Way stays in the background and facilitates the programs of the Open Path and other activities without drawing too much attention to itself. In this regard the Sufi Way is more a spirit of mystical continuity than an institutional entity.

The Sufi Way maintains study and practice circles in England, France, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and America. Through its activities it gives special emphasis to bridging the differences that divide one people or religion from another.

Murshid Elias Amidon is the current spiritual director (Pir) of the Sufi Way.

 


Initiation

candleThe Sufi Way is an initiatic mystical order, as its lineage has been for centuries. This means that for those who feel a heart connection to the work of the Sufi Way/Open Path and would like to make it central in their lives, and perhaps one day contribute to teaching or guiding others, or supporting the work of the order in other ways, initiation into the order is possible.

Initiation itself is a simple ceremony of welcome and blessing. The candidate must request initiation and be considered ready to receive it. Initiation is a sign of a person's commitment to the path of awakening and service in his or her life. By receiving initiation in the Sufi Way a person makes himself or herself available, in the words of the ceremony, "to the guidance the Sufi Way offers, to the inclusive lineage of teachings it represents, and to the timeless stream of blessing that is its essence."

Initiates of the Sufi Way can establish a lifelong connection with a spiritual guide or succession of guides, if they wish. The nature of this connection is best described as a spiritual friendship, and makes possible individual guidance and counseling on the initiate's path of awakening and service. No monetary relationship is required.

Since the Sufi Way is primarily a mystical training ground and community of service, it seeks to avoid becoming an in-group or spiritual club, remaining open to all who share its purposes and ideals. There is no obligation on the side of the initiate except for sincerity. Initiates are free to leave the order, or re-join it, as they wish. In addition, the Sufi Way is committed to inclusivity in view and practice, to direct experience rather than acceptance of required dogma, and avoids whenever possible the use of in-language or jargon. In these ways the order is protected from becoming a cult, and the initiate from becoming a victim of one.

Initiatic Transmission

On a deeper level, however, initiation refers to the awakening experience itself. As such it cannot be ceremonialized. The brief initiation ceremony is a symbol of initiatic transmission, which may first occur through the guidance or pointing out of a teacher in relation to the student, or in other ways in the student's life. The teachings and practices of the order support this happening, but do not guarantee it. Typically initiatic transmission in this sense is first experienced as a moment of illumination – surprising, familiar, and indescribable. Once glimpsed like this, it tends to be revealed with greater ease throughout the range of life experiences and formal training.

This initiatic transmission is the primary purpose of the Sufi Way. All of its other activities – mystical teachings, unlearning habits of mind, personal counseling and guidance, forms of devotion and communal celebration, musical meditations, healing circles, facilitation of rites of passage, service and care for others – find their authenticity and inspiration in the initiatic experience of illumination.