Sufism uses practical, effective tools and practices to bring us into a direct relationship with the true core of our being. This brings about spiritual growth and living in a deeper state of love for ourselves as well as others. The true core of our beings, that inner light we all carry, gets covered over and obscured; hidden due to past wounds and limiting beliefs. Sufism teaches a wide variety of ways that a person can strip away the very things that keep his or her inner light from shining in the world. Each person is different and each person has different needs, so in Sufism, it is about discovering what works for you and learning how to implement it. For example, if you are someone who gets frustrated in traffic, you learn practical things to do while driving in traffic so you stay happy, calm and peaceful. Sufism is about developing your own, personal “bag of tools” and using those tools in everyday situations.
There are many different “branches” of Sufism just like there are many different churches. Our particular school of Sufism, known as Shadhilliyya, began in Egypt in the thirteenth century and is one of the oldest, most respected schools. Currently we are under the guidance of Sidi al-Jamal. Sidi guides his students teaching peace, love and mercy. Sidi is not a guru and he does not set himself apart or above anyone. Instead, he teaches that he is only a servant, here to help us navigate a path he has already successfully traveled. He is like the person you ask where the grocery store is when you move to a new town. Since he knows the way, he can show you how to get there. As our guide, Sidi says in his book, “Music of the Soul,”
“The guide, who shows you the way is your brother. You are the way of the truth. To walk in the way is very difficult because you meet with darkness and many troubles. You need to have the guide to help you and to take your hand. If you do not follow the guide who knows the way well, you will not know. He has walked the way before you and knows what is good and what is bad and the right and wrong ways of this world. When you find the love you find yourself. The secret of God is in the love. If you want to go beyond all that you have been to find the secret of the Most High, then I am your brother to take your hand and guide you from the darkness to the light and to the garden.”