Excerpt from “Sufism: Self, Path and Guide”

Excerpt from “Sufism: Self, Path and Guide”

Pryor, A. A. (2017). IAS Press

Capacity and Potential for Traveling

Sufi teachings continually call us back to the self. Not in a reclusive or secluded way but in a way of self-responsibility. As human beings we have the capacity and tools for awareness and balance. We seek guidance to find our way. Most of us have enough experience to know that without guidance, when we are left to our own devices, we often do not make the best choices for ourselves, until we learn to do better. In Sufism there is no judgment about the distractions our physical system experiences, how busy our minds can become, and how challenging it is to make decisions on a day-to-day basis for improving our state and our well-being. Most of us can think about times that we have set forth with a new plan for improving ourselves in one way or another. Even with learning to ride a horse or drive a car it is helpful and more beneficial to have a knowledgeable and experienced teacher. In spirituality, where we are traveling in the unseen levels of being without knowledge, a Teacher is essential and necessary. Basically, our bodies and minds are not very trustworthy in committing to long-term improvements. They are striving to return to nature (their origin) with no higher goal beyond that end. As we strengthen our spiritual intention and increase our ability to return to balance and equilibrium, based on practices we are given, we experience the power of our essential being which guide our body and mind. We then live in alignment with unity and balance rather than with body and mind as free agents in our system.

We have relationships within each of our systems and amongst the various systems. How can we experience ourselves, even physically as whole? How successful are we, or do various parts call our attention more than others?

What we find is that when physiology, psychology and spirituality are balanced, then we can bring this increased knowledge, awareness, and experience to our relationships with people and with our environment. The light of the heart, the star that we access and stabilize in our journey, is established as our anchor and guide. We release our attachment to our physical being and establish a connection that is permanent and stable.

We each have our accomplishments and biographies in the physical world; yet what we each represent is the whole, including physical and metaphysical. What is our spiritual biography and lineage? Have we thought about our spiritual family tree or lineage? Do we consider or search for what has been passed to us from the Divine? How do we connect and access our spiritual self and lineage? Each of us in our unique beauty, manifestation, and combination of qualities is a facet of the whole. In Sufism we strive to remove any obstacles to our connection with the whole. We polish the mirror of the heart from any impurities.

As Moulana Shah Maghsoud explains,

Guidance is reached through the union of your thoughts, your heart, your senses, and nature. And going astray is the disagreement and confusion of these four.[1]


A truthful salek deeply watches and fully knows the path he follows. His concentration and silence within, and his gentleness and virtue in the world, are all based on the principles of knowledge and wisdom.[2]

Sufi practices, principles and the understanding of the levels of the human being are based on timeless wisdom, yet are current, alive, and available to guide our way toward equilibrium, concentration, inner silence, and gentle virtue in the world. Right practice and righteous action are undertaken with the goal of balance, health, and well-being. To reach the level of equilibrium we are given access to all levels of being, from lowest to highest, microcosm to macrocosm, seen and unseen.

[1] Moulana Shah Maghsoud, A Meditation, 9.

[2] Ibid., 20.

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