SUFI Journal of Mystical Philosophy and Practice

SUFI #104 is now out!

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NEW — HIGHLIGHT from SUFI Archives

The Quaker Sacrament
By J. Brent Bill

In this beautiful essay about his Quaker experience, J. Brent Bill describes dropping into a “well of holy silence” to achieve inward, mystical union with the Divine. In what Quakers refer to as a gathered meeting, Friends sit expectantly in silence, without paid preacher, choir or structured litany, together experiencing Christ’s presence, “the deep silence of the soul is our Eucharist.” As J. Brent Bill relates during a gathering, “We sensed him in the electrified air. I felt charged with an awareness of the miraculous…the marrow of my bones hummed in holy recognition of the One…”

Read this powerful essay, now free and available to everyone, about how Quakers forsake religious rituals for the “inner sacraments full of life-changing spiritual power.” Subscribe to SUFI to explore the rich and varied collection of interviews, articles, poetry and more that are offered in each issue.

Photo © J. Brent Bill

Click here for FREE ACCESS to the Full Interview


This issue of Sufi presents discussions about the inner and outer dimensions of spiritual traditions and the dynamics of the relationship between them. In his discourse “Mindfulness without the Mind” Dr Alireza Nurbakhsh introduces the increasingly widespread practice of mindfulness with examples of changes in behaviour that result from an increased awareness of one’s consciousness. He further stresses the importance of a spiritual objective for mindfulness, which in and of itself is a neutral skill that can serve diverse aims. An increased experience of oneness with the divine, facilitated by one’s relationship with one’s guide, and increased compassion towards others are among the distinctive objectives highlighted for Sufism.

Mindfulness without the Mind
by Alireza Nurbakhsh

Mindfulness is a practice which originated from the Buddhist concept of Sati, and it has been developed as a meditation technique in both Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. Mindfulness has been popularised in the west for the last several decades as a way to overcome the stress and the pressures of modern life and to enhance one’s attention and concentration in dealing with daily tasks. It has also been adopted now by many health practitioners, including the National Health Service in the UK, which actively promotes mindfulness as a practice that is beneficial to our mental health.

The Mind Is an Inlet
by Mark Nepo

In essence, the mind is an inlet, not a container. The mind doesn’t author reality. It participates in reality. The mind doesn’t create life. It comes alive by joining life. The relationship of our perception to the rest of life opens us to this paradox: to truly be ourselves, we have to learn from everything we are not. A bird is born to nest and fly, and so a bluebird is compelled to enter the sky and not stay in its little house. And salmon are meant to leave their place of birth and return, transforming physiologically along the way. And a caterpillar is meant to spin a cocoon around itself, not to stay there, but to transform in time into a butterfly.

There Are No Homeless People in God
by Paul W. Jacob

My wife, Jess, and I were living in Gainesville, Florida, during the spring of 2019 when I started feeling an interior call from The Beloved to get ready to be on the move again. I know this call well. My spiritual practice is dubbed Nomadic Devotion because throughout my adult life I have felt Divine Spirit has constantly called me, and now us, to different places.

I look upon Abraham as the first practitioner of Nomadic Devotion. “At God’s command he had to separate himself from the ‘establishment,’ to go he knew not where, to find he knew not what. He did not know when or whether or how he would again have a home or a land of his own”.

Reading Rumi in Colonial India
by Gregory Maxwell Bruce and Ali Altaf Mian

Jalaloddin Rumi’s Masnavi entered the cultural consciousness of Islamicate South Asia as early as the fourteenth century. Speculative evidence suggests that the Masnavi served as an exemplary model for the lyrical texts of the Indian mystic Sharafoddin Bu ‘Ali Qalandar (d. 1344). Since then, Rumi and his masterpiece have inspired devotion and longing in countless souls in the Indian subcontinent. In the words of Annemarie Schimmel, “the imitations, translations, and excerpts from the Masnavi were almost innumerable.”1 The broader story of Rumi’s significance in South Asia, from the time of the Delhi Sultans to the Age of the Internet, is yet to be told (our friend Shariq Khan, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Chicago, is rigorously pursuing this ambitious project). What concerns us here is a slice of this reception, namely, how Muslims in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries read Rumi’s parables and poetics.

Book Interview: Buying Buddha, Selling Rumi
Sophia Rose Arjana
Interviewed by: Jairan Gahan

This interview is a conversation with author Sophia Rose Arjana about her most recent book, Buying Buddha, Selling Rumi: Orientalism and the Mystical Marketplace, published first in 2020. Dr Sophia Rose Arjana is associate professor at the department of History at Western Kentucky University, with a specialization in Religious Studies and Asian Cultures. We sat with her to probe into the rise of spiritual markets and increasing commercialization of spirituality in the West. In doing so, we addressed a myriad of topics including the search for enchantment, the Burning Man festival, the burdens of modern life, and pop spirituality to better understand what is lost when spiritual quests are commodified under globalizing neo-liberal economies.


Slider Photos/Artwork: Cover ©Puneet Vikram Singh|Getty Images; ©Google Earth; ©Tony Howell; ©Tony Howell; ©Jr Korpa|; ©Hamed Shahir

Posts Photos/Artwork – Left to Right/Top to Bottom: ©Althea Wilson; ©Google Earth; ©Hamed Shahir; ©Tony Howell; ©Book Cover: Buying Buddha, Selling Rumi