The Lineage of Meher Baba’s Sufism Reoriented
“A murshid or murshida, one whom others can follow, should necessarily have divine vision,
the highest state of illumination.
In divine vision, one is face to face with God,
and with the inner eye one sees God
everywhere and in everything.”
— Meher Baba
(in the Charter for Sufism Reoriented)
For more than a century, America has been blessed by visits from authentic and formidable spiritual figures from the East, bringing inspiration and living traditions of spiritual understanding to the material-minded West. Among these remarkable figures were Swami Vivekananda, Hazrat Inayat Khan, Paramahansa Yogananda, Kirpal Singh, Swami Satchitananda, Sri Chinmoy, Thích Nhất Hạnh, and others.
Sufism Reoriented, founded and chartered by Avatar Meher Baba, is unique in the Western World in providing a lineage of illumined American spiritual teachers.
In the East, where the unfolding of consciousness and the experiences and protocols of spiritual development have been a focus of living experience for millennia, there is a shared understanding of what characterizes an authentic spiritual lineage. That understanding is lacking in the West, as the divine charge assigned to Western societies has been focused outward, inclined toward the mastery of physical matter, rather than toward the inner unfolding of consciousness.
A basic understanding includes the following:
A lineage of illumined teachers is a stream of developing consciousness, modeling in daily life refined truths, expansive love, and universal standards of inner and outer beauty.
Such a lineage exists for two intertwined purposes: for the internal growth of the students drawn to that lineage, and to establish and ground in the present moment the patterns of life that will be lived by future generations of humanity as a whole.
The line of succession in a lineage is activated by the current teacher recognizing his or her successor as the one who embodies – as fully as themselves – a distinctive stream of spiritual energies and divine consciousness.
As all life is progressive, each figure embodying the lineage takes a step forward in the unfolding of the work of the lineage.
A spiritual school or spiritual order is charged with modeling refined aspects of thought, feeling, and behavior for the future. As spiritual teachers do not reinforce the outworn values of their culture, they are often misunderstood and their work tends to be challenged as being contrary to current mores.
In establishing a new lineage of illumined teachers in America, Meher Baba charged this lineage with the task of harmonizing the material mastery of the Western world with the spiritual mastery of the East in a new blend of energy that will be lived universally in the future by the transformed humanity he called
“The New Humanity.”
Murshida Ivy Oneita Duce
Murshid James S. B. MacKie
Murshida Carol Weyland Conner
What Is a Lineage of Illumined Teachers?
“Universal love is the essence of Sufism; it is the path of the heart.”
— Murshida Conner
Milestones in the Unfolding
of Sufism Reoriented’s Lineage
In 1942 Rabia Ada Martin, the first American student of Hazrat Inayat Khan – who had brought Sufism to the West from India in 1910 and trained her to be his successor – attends a talk in San Francisco by Princess Norina Matchabelli. At this talk she learns about Meher Baba. Wishing to know more, Rabia starts corresponding with Norina and Elizabeth Patterson, two of Meher Baba’s close devotees. For six months from early 1945, Rabia lives and travels with Norina and Elizabeth. In May, 1945 at Youpon Dunes, Elizabeth’s Myrtle Beach, South Carolina home, Rabia has an overwhelming internal experience of Meher Baba’s presence. Convinced of his spiritual authority, she surrenders her Sufi Order to him, which Meher Baba accepts.
In 1947, just before she passed, Rabia Martin appoints her student Ivy Oneita Duce as her successor as murshida of the American Sufi Order and tells her about Meher Baba.
Circumstances soon provide an opportunity for Murshida Duce and her daughter, Charmian, to visit Meher Baba at his home in Meherazad, India. They arrive on January 7, 1948. Meher Baba says Murshida and Charmian have been with him for ages and he has drawn them to him again now because it is her destiny to serve him as the leader of his new Sufism for the West.
In May 1952 Meher Baba meets with Ivy Duce in Myrtle Beach, bringing with him a draft of a charter for his new reoriented sufism. For the next five months, Meher Baba closely oversees the contents and design of the charter, editing each draft. On November 14, 1952, Meher Baba puts his signature on the completed Charter of Guidance for Sufism Reoriented.