Participating in Sufism Reoriented
Foundations of Life in Sufism
Spiritual schools of the past often maintained patterns of life that were isolated from the world, designed to protect their students from all that might distract them from one-pointed focus on God.
Meher Baba’s principles begin with the knowledge that all aspects of life are divine. God is to be found everywhere and within everything. He affirmed that the everyday world is the heartland of human growth.
One can only earn the privilege of increased spiritual understanding by offering one’s full potential and all of one’s energy in service to others in God’s world.
“To penetrate into the essence of all being and significance and to release the fragrance of that inner attainment for the guidance and benefit of others, by expressing in the world of forms, truth, love, purity, and beauty – this is the sole game which has any intrinsic and absolute worth.
All other happenings, incidents, and attainments in themselves can have no lasting importance.”
— Meher Baba
Joining the Teacher
Paramount in Sufism is each student’s individual relationship with Meher Baba and the murshid.
Students ask to be accepted into Sufism because they recognize the murshid as their spiritual Teacher and Sufism as their spiritual home.
The Teacher accepts someone as a student because of their mutual connection and sees how he can be of service to the student’s inner growth toward God.
It is the love and admiration for the Teacher that energizes a student’s active participation in life shared with the murshid and with the murshid’s other students.
There are no “rules” in Sufism, simply general guidelines offered by the murshid as circumstances require, with exceptions based on individual needs.
Qualifications Defined by Meher Baba
In his Charter for Sufism Reoriented, Meher Baba defined seven qualifications of membership.
One must be ready to aspire for and willing to work towards the following achievements:
To be able to long for one and only one thing: Truth;
To be able to cherish no material ambitions;
To be prepared for any kind of sacrifice small or great;
To be prepared for complete abstinence from lustful actions in any form or manner except legitimate marriage relations based on mutual love and duty;
To be able to avoid greedy longings of any kind;
To be able to avoid every type of falsehood;
To be able to cope with one’s feelings of anger, fear and hate, in a spirit of generosity, resignation and forbearance.
As the murshids have always told their students, the key phrases in the Charter are “aspire for and willing to work towards” these high goals.
What is a Sufi to do?
Prerequisites to Participation
Before actively participating in Sufism Reoriented, an aspirant has typically completed their apprenticeship in the world. That apprenticeship usually includes completing one’s formal education, establishing oneself in an occupation, and learning to navigate the personal, social, and economic responsibilities of daily life. At some point during this initial phase of worldly life, if not in childhood, one will have found oneself drawn to God or at least drawn to finding answers to the big questions about the purpose and meaning of life.
Work in the World
Dozens of occupations are represented in Sufism Reoriented. None are deemed preferable or higher or lower than another, for what one learns in every occupation is the same: to see God in everyone and everything, to manage negative and separative feelings in ways that extend love, respect, and generosity to each person one meets, and gradually to honor each event and interaction in life as a God-sent opportunity to learn more about Creation’s central truth and meaning: “Love alone is Real.”
In this light, activities in the world are not viewed as separate from lives of spiritual aspiration; on the contrary, the world becomes the training ground for transforming a Sufi’s highest aspirations into living experience.
The Role of the Teacher in Daily Life
Those who grow up and are educated in the West tend to have little personal exposure to advanced spiritual figures who function in the role of a guru, spiritual master, lama, or murshid.
An illumined Teacher is sometimes described as a multi-faceted diamond bringing spiritual light into every situation and interaction. They serve as a model of thoughtfulness, kindness, understanding, and generosity.
They offer an unending range of creative experiences to help the growth of their students. Some of those experiences, like formal classes and retreats, are offered to the Teacher’s community of students as a whole; others are individually tailored to aid an individual student persevere through a phase of difficult new learning.