Chapter 11: The Sufi path of self-transformation – Foundations and applications of Indian psychology, 2e, 2nd Edition

11

The Sufi path of self-transformation

Bahman A. K. Shirazi

Islam: A brief introduction

Islam is one of the largest and fastest growing world religions. It began with the prophetic vision of Mohammad approximately 1,400 years ago in the Arabian Peninsula and spread at an astonishing rate throughout the Old World. It spread north to Syria, Anatolia, and to the Caucus Mountains and beyond into southeastern Europe. It moved south and west through Egypt and North Africa into Andalusia in Spain. In the northeasterly direction, it spread into Persia and Central Asia and western China, and east into northern India. By sea it spread to the west coast of India and as far as Indonesia and other Southeast Asian island nations.

Islam has thus become an important force not only in terms of religious principles and practices, but also as a vehicle for cultural exchange worldwide. Although some aspects of the original Arab culture such as language, art and architecture greatly influenced other cultures, wherever Islam spread, in turn, local cultures contributed to the fabric of Islam with their own cultural heritage to create a unique expression as well as distinct forms of religious practice and rituals. Today there is a tremendous range of cultural forms unified by the same set of Islamic religious principles and beliefs.

Islam teaches that there’s only one God/ Ultimate Reality (Allah) and nothing is ultimately real but God. God is neither born nor gives birth, that is, it is not a sentient being. It is self-existent and self-sufficient, and all creation depends on God. It permeates all creation, but no single sentient being can be equal to God in entirety. God is both without and within all beings, and thus can be found at the innermost centre of all human beings. In this way, all humans are equal with respect to God. Human beings are uniquely positioned with special potential to consciously experience their unity with the creator. However, many human beings live in a state of sleep-like ignorance (gheflat) and are unconscious of their essential oneness with God. Most are born in this state of ignorance, live and die in such a state. However, human beings can exercise their free will and perfect themselves through a process of psychospiritual transformation with distinct stages through which they first use their free will to purify themselves, and surrender themselves to God’s will and ultimately experience God’s power, knowledge and beauty directly.

Islam literally means ‘peaceful surrender’ in Arabic. This refers to the process of yielding of human will to the Divine Will, and ultimately the reconciliation and the unification of the two. The agency of human will is called the nafs (self) which is the principle of embodiment of spirit and the immediate experience of the ordinary human being in the world; the nafs is of this material world. Nafs-al-ammarah (the commanding self) is the human agency of organization, control, volition and action in the world. The human nafs is the product of the evolutionary process on Earth and is composed of several evolutionary sub-layers—the inorganic/mineral, the organic/vegetable and the animal layers. However, the journey of the soul does not stop here. When an individual is ready and with God’s grace, the journey of spiritual transformation begins and the nafs continues to transform first into the ‘regretful self’, before turning into the ‘inspired self’, and finally the ‘serene/secure self’. The process of spiritual transformation involves seven classical stages—awakening, abstinence, non-attachment, spiritual poverty, patience, God-reliance and joyous certitude.

Islam: Exoteric and esoteric

Sufism has often been referred to as the heart or soul of Islam, or in other words, it is the esoteric dimension or inner territory of Islam. According to Ibn Al-Arabi, the great Andalusian Sufi master, Islam consists of four dimensions or layers. The exoteric dimension, or the outer layer, is known as sharia (literally meaning a road). Sharia is a set of relatively fixed rules and guidelines for the average Muslim. The sharia is a collection of principles and practices that govern the day-to-day life of Muslims. The ordinary Muslim is expected to follow the rules of sharia as a driver follows a road without deviating. The basic requirements for all Muslims are—belief in unity of Allah and prophecy of Mohammad as God’s messenger, daily prayer, fasting during the month of Ramadhan, charitable acts, and if possible pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

The sharia is analogous to the crust of the earth or the surface terrain which is solid. Below this terrain is the esoteric realm, or the inner terrain. The next layer is tarigha, which literally means a path, like a trail in the forest or in the desert, which is not pre-established and requires the expert knowledge of a guide to traverse. When one enters the tarigha, he or she is initiated into a Sufi order with a help of a teacher (sheikh) who has experience and knowledge of the path. At this part of the journey the heart of the seeker is full of fiery passions and the journey full of trials and tribulations and involves the purification of the base nature of the nafs (embodied self) through the opening of the spiritual heart and the alchemy of transformation. It results in purification and removal of idiosyncratic illusions and development of truth consciousness. The tarigha may be likened to the hot magma layer beneath the earth’s crust, which is hot and fluid as is the fire in the heart of the seeker.

The third layer is that of a higher spiritual consciousness called haghighat (Truth-consciousness). Like the huge solid mantle of the earth, haghighat is stable and unshakable faith and perfection of Truth-consciousness. The innermost core of Islam is known as ma’rifa (Gnosis), which refers to direct knowledge and love of the Divine. Just as little is known about the core of the Earth, to the seeker this part of the journey is a mere mystery, the secret of all secrets. Only persistence, patience and absolute purity of the heart and soul and total sincerity could bring the seeker into direct union with God consciousness.

Sufism in India

Sufism is the esoteric or inner dimension of Islam, and not a branch of exoteric Islam. Scholars trace the root of the term Sufi to suf, a woollen garment worn by some early Sufis. Some argue that the term is related to the Arabic word ‘saafi’, meaning purity. Various Sufi orders do not differ with the exoteric traditions, and with one another, in terms of the basic tenets and practices of Islam. Origins of Sufism go back to the 8th century CE, when the first known Sufis lived. Sufi orders began to be established by 12th and 13th centuries, and historically developed more or less as a matter of geographic location as Islam spread throughout the world. Many of the orders were further sub-divided into branches, but most trace their background to the following orders (discussed below)—all of whom trace their heritage ultimately to Prophet Mohammad.

The Ahmadi (Badawi) and Burhani orders were both founded in Egypt. The Shadhili, Sanusi, and Tijjani orders have followers in North Africa, Arabia and Syria. The Yasawi, Mawlawi, Jerrahi and Bektashi orders are centred in Turkey. The Rifai, Kubrawi and Qadiri (known as the first Sufi order) orders originate in Mesopotamia. The Ni’matullahi and Owaysi orders were founded in Iran. The Suhrawardi order originated in Iran and spread to India, where it gained more prominence and split into a number of branches. The Naqshabandi is a major Sufi order, which became popular in Central Asia, Kurdistan and the Indian subcontinent. The Chisti order was founded in India by Khawja Mu’in al-Din Hassan Chisti (1142–1236 CE), whose shrine is visited by millions of people every year. Sufism was brought to Europe and America by the great Indian Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan, in the 1910s and 1920s from the Chisti tradition, bringing the message of ‘love, harmony, and beauty’ to the West.

Islam spread to India as Arabs began settling on the Indian west coast of Kerala as early as the eighth century, which is much earlier than the time of the invasion of India from the north by Mahmud Ghazni in 1001 CE. The development of Sufism in India has a highly distinctive feature, in that Islamic mysticism has been influenced by Indian mysticism throughout the centuries. This amalgamation was so deep that, according to Peter Hardy (1983, p. 41), ‘After the death of a great Sufi shaikh, his tomb could become a place of pilgrimage for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.’ The greatest confluence of Sufism and Hinduism can be found in the teachings of Meher Baba, who was initiated by five spiritual masters—two of whom, Hazrat Babajan and Tajuddin Baba, were Sufi masters. In the book, God Speaks, Meher Baba (2001), who attempted to unite all the major religions, brings together a comprehensive comparative presentation of Sufism and Hinduism, demonstrating the essential oneness of these two and other major world spiritual traditions.

Essentials of Sufi psychology: Nafs, heart and soul

Sufism offers a comprehensive approach to sacred psychology with the ultimate aim of self-knowledge and self-acceptance. The collective experience and knowledge from Sufi practice makes available to us today a thorough understanding of who we are as human beings and what the purpose of our embodied existence here on Earth is. It reveals to us the principal aspects of our nature and a way to transform our selves to become true instruments of manifestation of Divine love, Divine consciousness and Divine action.

Based on the experiences of numerous seekers and masters, Sufism offers one of the most complete road maps for the stages of transformation of consciousness. Each seeker (salek) travels a unique path suited to his/ her unique personality characteristics and spiritual potential. It is possible, however, to speak of general stages of the transformation of consciousness in terms of the stations of the nafs and key challenges and attainments of each stage. The journey from our mundane surface awareness to the depths and heights of self-consciousness involves a process of transformation of personality and consciousness that may be described in terms of seven stages of psychospiritual transformation.

In the context of spiritual growth and development the term transformation may refer to a shift in locus of consciousness, emotional patterns, sense of identity, or an aspect or total configuration of personality, and even physical nature or characteristics. As form expresses essence or function, transformation allows for expression of a truer essence and a new level of functionality. The term ‘psychospiritual transformation’ highlights the importance of the psychological dimension in the overall process of spiritual transformation. It refers to transformation of consciousness by means of psychological insight. Insight into our emotional nature may help purify our emotions and emotional attachments. This may result in our increased ability to identify with higher spheres of consciousness. Insight into the nature of our phenomenal self or nafs is essential in the process of psycho-spiritual transformation.

Three principal aspects of the human being and their relationship comprise the triadic foundation of Sufi psychology: the nafs (self), ghalb (heart) and ruh (soul). Sufis believe that the spiritual heart is the agent of reconciliation between the physical and metaphysical dimensions of the human being. The spiritual destiny of each human being depends on whether the soul, or nafs, becomes the eventual winner of the inner battle (jihad) between the tendencies exercised by the nafs and the higher qualities of the soul. If the nafs dominates, the heart becomes darkened and weakened and ineffective. If the forces of the soul take over the heart, it becomes transparent and illumined. To know the real depth of the human being means to know intimately and masterfully these three parts and to be able to harmonize and unify them.

Nafs

Nafs is simply the equivalent of the English word ‘self’. It has often been translated as ‘ego’ or ‘lower self’ both of which are somewhat inaccurate. The term ego, as used in Western psychological discourse, is hardly an equivalent of this term. The ego is generally a hypothetical construct which has a different definition and function in each school of psychology. Nafs, however, is not an abstract or theoretical concept—it is a lived, organic reality which could be experienced in day to day life situations. The nafs is essentially the embodiment principle and has a unique formation and developmental process in each individual. It is the agency of will in the human being and is the product of bio-psycho-social development. Nafs is also not just the lower self, but when qualified, it refers to all stages of self as it undergoes transformation. According to Frager (1999, p. 3), ‘in Sufi psychology the self, or nafs, is an aspect of the psyche that begins as our worst adversary but can develop into an invaluable tool.’

It is possible to speak of the nafs in terms of seven levels. Nafs al-ammarah, nafs-al-lawwamah, nafs-al-molhamah and nafs-al-motmaenah refer to the four basic levels of the self. Nafs-ammarah (the commanding self), encompasses three levels of the nafs prior to the human self in evolutionary terms. These are:

  • The mineral/inorganic self (nafs al-jamaadi),
  • The vegetable/organic self (nafs-al-nabaati), and
  • The animal self (nafs-al-haywaani)

As the principle of embodiment, the human self is the crown of the evolutionary process, presiding over the animal self, vegetable self and the mineral self.

Table 11.1 summarizes in one glance, the triune nature of human consciousness—the nafs, the heart, and the soul in correspondence to seven universal planes of consciousness. These are, in order of higher to lower density—inorganic, vital, mental, rational, intuitive, Truth Consciousness (Haggh) and Unitary Consciousness (Tawheed). The self (nafs) finds multiple expressions corresponding to all of these planes.

Table 11.1. Seven planes of consciousness and the corresponding stations of the self, heart and soul

The commanding self (nafs-al-ammarah), though intelligent in worldly ways, generally lacks spiritual wisdom. According to Shafii (1985, p. 49), ‘indulgence in animal desires... and enslavement in habits are the core of ignorance and veiling’. Desires operate at the various sub-levels of self. The mineral-self generates inertia; the vegetative-self creates desires for food and inactivity; and the animal-self is the source of both sexual and destructive tendencies. Nafs-al-ammarah seeks material objects, power, and is plagued with various other ego-desires and narcissistic tendencies.

The nafs often craves worldly objects and ignores the wisdom of the heart which is the medium of transmission of the knowledge of the soul. The nafs needs spiritual guidance to awaken to its spiritual potential from the state of sleep-like ignorance (gheflat). In Sufi practice, it has long been known that spiritual transformation necessitates opening of the heart as the first order of the work. Through the wisdom of an open heart, an individual is capable of self-love and self-compassion, qualities that are crucial to a non-judgmental approach to self-knowledge.

Heart

Sufism has frequently been referred to as the path of the heart. This is true, and a distinctive way of referring to this great tradition, but it is not the whole truth. Sufism has also developed one of the most complete teachings and practices for understanding and knowing the self, its growth and evolution in the context of the human psychospiritual developmental process. While focusing on the nafs and its relationship to the heart, Sufism never loses sight of the presence of the soul and its ultimate role in the human destiny. To make real progress in self-knowledge, one must encounter and discover the nafs, but the nafs, being extremely intelligent, is never capable of the kind of sincerity needed to see through its own makeup. The heart is the wisest place to start. Javad Nurbakhsh (1992, p. 71) writes:

The heart is a city between the domain of Unity (spirit, ruh) and the land of multiplicity (nafs). If the heart snaps the cord linking it with the nafs, it falls under the sway of the spirit; that is to say, it becomes heart in the true sense of the word, polished clean of the corrosion of multiplicity. On the other hand, if the heart becomes dominated by the nafs, it becomes darkened by the tarnish of the nafs’ multiplicity, taking on its hue.

Four stations of the heart have been identified by the Sufi master Tirmidhi—the breast or physical heart, the spiritual heart, the inner heart and the innermost heart (see Table 11.1). The breast or the physical heart corresponds to the commanding self (nafs al-ammarah), and its function is to purify the physical body by constantly circulating and purifying the blood. It is also known as the seat of duality of good and evil; and the moral conflict between the two. The spiritual heart, which is on a subtle plane, corresponds to the regretful self (nafs al-lawwamah). Its function is to purify unwholesome states of mind and emotions by providing their antidote (such as loving-kindness for anger). Opening of the spiritual heart is paramount to spiritual progress as ignorance of the nafs perpetually generates negative energies that can darken our consciousness.

It is a priority for Sufis to awaken their spiritual heart which needs to be integrated with the nafs. An open heart provides a loving and forgiving platform from which one can contemplate and discover the nature of our nafs. It will facilitate the transition from nafs al-ammarah to nafs al-lawwamah (the regretful nafs). As the nafs transitions to the stage of nafs al-molhamah (the inspired nafs), the heart arrives at another more subtle station, the inner heart. Finally, the heart is experienced at the deepest level of consciousness, the innermost heart, as the nafs transitions to its final station, the certain, serene and secure nafs (nafs-al-motma’ennah). Meher Baba (2000, p. 14) asserts:

Open your heart by weeding out all desires and by harbouring only one longing—the longing for union with the ultimate Reality. The ultimate Reality is not to be sought in the changing things of the external environment but in one’s own being. Every time your soul intends to enter your human heart, it finds the door locked and the inside too full of desires. Do not keep the doors of your heart closed. Everywhere there is the source of abiding bliss, and yet all are miserable because of desires born of ignorance. The goal of lasting happiness shines forth fully only when the limited ego, with all its desires, finds its complete and final extinction.

The role of the heart in the overall process of psychospiritual transformation is cardinal, as the heart is the reconciler of material and spiritual realities, and the gateway to the soul and to the final stations of consciousness. In Sufi practice the initial goal is to open the seeker’s heart. The open heart first helps to transcend, and then, transform the nafs. As the nafs transforms, it no longer acts as a separative agent, but rather cooperates with further transformation of consciousness. Desires of the nafs give way to the desires of the heart, and finally there remains only one desire—desire to know God.

Soul

Hazrat Inayat Khan (1972b, p. 153) wrote, ‘It is the coming of the soul from its original place to manifestation and its returning again from manifestation to its original condition that makes life’s journey.’ According to Prophet Mohammad, human beings are the highest of creation. Each human being is a microcosmic expression of the macrocosm.

It does not require a large eye to see a large mountain. The reason is that though the eye is small, the soul which sees through it is greater and vaster than all the things which it perceives. In fact it is so great that it includes all objects, however large or numerous, within itself. Or it is not so much that you are within the cosmos as that the cosmos is within you. (Meher Baba, 1974, p. 43)

The human soul (ruh) is the innermost dimension (baatin) of the human being and is hidden to the immediate consciousness of the ordinary individual as our surface consciousness (zaaher) is dominated by the activities of the nafs. All souls are formless and seek experience and expression as they enter the various planes of consciousness (Table 11.1). Hazrat Inayat Khan (1972a, p. 127) reveals that ‘the soul is a current, yet one unlike the electric current we know on this physical plane, different from its power and phenomena; a current which is beyond time and space; a current which runs through all the planes of life.’ Different souls, though identical in origin, are different in their experience and their state of consciousness. The ascent of the soul through various planes of consciousness is called transmigration or metempsychosis (tanaasukh).

When the soul is experiencing the inorganic state of consciousness (stone or metal), it is referred to as the mineral-soul or state of mineral selfhood and so on, as detailed in Table1. In the fourth stage after mineral, vegetable and animal stages, the human form is accomplished, which is the end result of the evolutionary process. The commanding self (nafs-al-ammarah) associated with this level is not yet spiritually awakened and is full of blemishes, impurities and unwholesome traits such as hypocrisy, selfishness, delusions, spite, envy and cruelty. The behaviours committed by the nafs stem from its own many layers of identity and identification—physical, emotional, mental, familial, social, professional, racial, national and historical dimensions of identity. All of the pre-human and human layers of nafs are considered veils or covers of the true self. Self-realization requires a gradual disidentification with, or unveiling of, all these conditioned identities to reveal the innermost layer, the true Divine Self.

It is at the next level when the spiritual heart is opened that the soul experiences wholeness and true individuality. The next two stations of the soul are referred to as the ‘secret’, and the ‘secret of secrets’, which are unknowable to the ordinary mind and are marked by oneness with Ultimate Truth and Unity with God or the over-soul, respectively. In its origin the individual soul is part of the over-soul or God, yet it is not conscious of its identity with God. Through its journey the soul moves through the various states of consciousness and experiences its identity with the various states.

The homeward journey of the soul consists in freeing itself from the illusion of being identical with its bodies—gross, subtle, and mental. When the attention of the soul turns toward Self-knowledge and Self-realization, there is a gradual loosening and disappearance of the sanskaras that keep consciousness turned towards the phenomenal world. Disappearance of the sanskaras proceeds side by side with piercing through the veil of cosmic Illusion, and the soul not only begins to transcend the different states of the phenomenal world but also to know itself as different from its bodies. The spiritual path begins when the soul tries to find itself and turns its full consciousness toward Truth (God). (Meher Baba, 2000, pp. 225–226)

The term saṁskāra refers to mental impressions that are acquired through the mind and the senses associated with nafs and embodied existence. These impressions create numerous veils of illusion that keep human beings in the state of gheflat or sleep-like ignorance and unconsciousness. According to a traditional saying, ‘there are seventy veils between the human being and God, yet none between God and the human being’. In Sufi practice the goal is to open the seeker’s heart, which is the gateway to the soul. The open heart first helps to transcend and then transform the nafs. As the nafs transforms, it no longer acts as a divisive agent, but rather cooperates with further transformation of consciousness.

The journey

Understanding the nature of the nafs and the modifications it undergoes in the process of psychospiritual transformation into the cosmic self, is at the core of the teachings in the Sufi tradition. Sufi practice begins with the first stage of psychospiritual transformation, spiritual awakening. Once the first stage is perfected (as demonstrated by a lack of recourse to the previous tendencies of the nafs), nafs-al-ammarah undergoes a gradual process of transformation known as fana, which means ego-annihilation or loss of self-centred personality characteristics.

As nafs-al-ammarah becomes modified and transformed, a new self is experienced. This is called nafs-al-lawwama. The term ‘lawwama’ literally means ‘blaming’ or ‘accusing’. Nafs-al-lawwama is perhaps best described (in functional terms) as self-in-transition, or regretful self. Regret is the result of the new consciousness, which reveals the imperfections of the nafs and the futility of its unconscious ways of being in the world. Many refined and mature human beings, whether Sufis or not, manifest the characteristics of nafs-al-lawwama, both in their inner life and outward behaviour. Such persons are decreasingly influenced by the tendencies of nafs-al-ammarah, and increasingly show the signs of higher emotions and subtler behaviours. A Sufi practitioner in the second stage, characterized by ‘abstinence’, actively avoids all forms of inferior impulses and tendencies by observing the ethical codes of the discipline (adab) until eventually the third stage, or ‘non-attachment’, is mastered.

It is crucial to distinguish abstinence (detachment) from non-attachment. While abstinence is required as an initial step, it does not automatically lead to non-attachment as the roots of craving still persist. Over-emphasis on abstinence may result in lopsided development, extreme asceticism and the development of a pious self which becomes judgmental and critical of others, which further separates one from the others. Sufism prescribes modesty in abstinence only with the goal of de-conditioning the nafs from its original habits and addictions.

By means of successive passages into the next two stages, ‘spiritual poverty’, during which the heart is perfectly purified and ‘patience’, longing for Divine grace, the practitioner attains the sixth stage, referred to as ‘self-surrender’, or ‘reliance on God’, through completion of which all tendencies of nafs-al-ammarah are eradicated at the root. Completion of the sixth stage also marks the cessation of all effort on the part of the individual. Beyond this point experiences of cosmic self and universal consciousness occur spontaneously, or by Divine grace. At the seventh and last stage, called ‘contentment’, the self takes on its final mode, nafs-al-motma’enna, which is characterized by joyful satisfaction and removal of all doubts.

Fana, or ego-annihilation, is also described in terms of a parallel process for an initiated seeker—annihilation of the ego first in the sheikh or teacher, and then in the Prophet Mohammad, and eventually in God or cosmic consciousness. At first a disciple undergoes a process of loss of self-identity through identification with the qualities of his or her teacher. Sufi practice, like those of other traditions, is best mastered under the guidance of a teacher. Just as ordinarily a lover at first loses his or her identity in that of the beloved, a sincere disciple is so impressed by the love and characteristics of a teacher that through observation and identification with the sheikh he or she becomes immersed in the virtues of the teacher. The sheikh, in the beginning, acts as a mirror through which the disciple gains insight into his or her characteristics of personality. Slowly the disciple observes the many virtuous qualities of the teacher and cultivates them.

If the teacher happens to be a Perfect Master, then he or she reflects the ninety-nine attributes of the Prophet Mohammad, who is known to the Sufis as a perfected human being (ensan-al-kaamel). The attributes of the Prophet are themselves nothing but the reflection of the ninety-nine attributes of Allah, or God. These ninety-nine perfections are the object of contemplation by Sufis at various stages of the practice. The practices of contemplation are generally called zikar (dhikr), and they take the form of chanting, movement or mediation exercises. Nurbakhsh (1990, p. 5) summarized the relationship between dhikr and self-development in the following way:

... dhikr is considered to be like a torrent which in addition to eliminating the undesirable qualities of the disciple and substituting Divine Attributes for them, in the final analysis effaces the individual ego in such a way that not a trace of the ‘I’ remains. This is the end of the Tarigha and the beginning of the sea of annihilation or fana.

According to Nurbakhsh (1990, p. 5), ‘...the goal of Sufism is knowledge of absolute reality, not as learned men explain it to us through logic and demonstrations but as it is in itself. This knowledge can be attained only by the “eye of the heart”, that is, by means of illumination and contemplation’. Contemplation on Divine attributes is the final means of self-purification. From the Sufi point of view a perfected individual is one who has escaped the domination of nafs-al-ammarah.

As one approaches perfection, the nafs makes its final attempts to take control of the psyche. These re-appearances, despite their decreasing frequency, may be immensely difficult to withstand. That is why, until the final illumination, a certain degree of doubt as to the full annihilation of nafs-al-ammarah remains in the mind of the (by now) saint undergoing final transformation.

With the eventual disappearance of doubt the sixth stage of Sufi practice (self-surrender) is completed, and the last stage (contentment/ joy) is attained. At this point the individual free-will is replaced by Divine Will. As mentioned earlier, the process of annihilation of the ego is known as fana. It takes place through successive stages of annihilation of the ego in the teacher (fana-fe’sheikh), in the Prophet (fana-fe’rasul), and in God (fana-fe’llah). However, fana has another process complementary to it, baqa. As Nurbakhsh (1990, p. 10) explained:

Baqa consists of subsistence in God and is realized when God gives a new will to the disciple directly from himself, in order to replace that which had become annihilated in the course of the path... At this very advanced stage God does not veil the world from the Sufi, nor does the world veil God; no sort of separation exists any longer and duality is transformed into Unity.

Conclusion

This chapter was an attempt to provide a brief overview of Islam and its mystical dimension, Sufism. Emphasis was given to the psychological aspects of the process of spiritual transformation and the associated processes and stages of self-transformation merely in an outline fashion. There is much more that can be said about all the issues that were raised in this limited space. It is important to remember, however, that all that can be said in this manner makes only a map; the territory is the actual experience of the seeker and is always a unique process that cannot be moulded into any model or description however sophisticated. It is hoped that the map will simply provide an inspiration for the seeker of God.

References

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Hardy, P. (1983). Islam and Muslims in South India. In R. Israeli (Ed.), The crescent in the East. Great Brittan: Curzon Press.

Khan, Hazrat Inayat. (1972a). The Sufi message of Hazrat Inayat Khan (Vol. I). London: Barrie and Jenkins.

Khan, Hazrat Inayat. (1972b). The Sufi message of Hazrat Inayat Khan (Vol. XI). London: Barrie and Jenkins.

Meher Baba. (1974). Life at its best. (Ivy O. Duce, Ed.). Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented.

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Nurbakhsh, J. (1990). Sufism and psychoanalysis. Sufi, 5, 5–10.

Shafii, M. (1985). Freedom from the Self. New York: Human Sciences Press.