Category: SUFI Journal

The Experience of Nothingness

by Alireza Nurbakhsh

“In one of his last interviews, my father said that the goal of Sufism is nothingness, and then added, “because it is only when one is zero that one experiences the infinite.”  To paraphrase what he meant in this context: it is only when we do not experience our own individuality that we experience the divine in ourselves and in others.”

(Original Enso by Kazuaki Tanahashi)

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From History to Her Story

Women in Sufi Discourses

by Safoura Nourbakhsh

The history of women in Sufism has not been written yet.  The problem with our historical understanding of women mystics of the early period and even the later generations is that none of them left any writings. We therefore have to piece together their portraits from the writings of male Sufi historians and biography compilers, who had their own views of womanhood and whether or not it was possible for women to embark on a spiritual path alongside their male counterparts.  This article explores the competing narratives of women in emerging Sufi discourses.


(Photo by Mena Momeni.)

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Fly First Class

SJ78-FlyFirstClass by Anonymous

Psss..t! Want to learn an odd secret? Let me show you how to buy economy, but Fly First Class!

This is not a joke or a prank, and for sure it isn’t sales copy. I’m serious! Lots of people bump into this secret daily, but they don’t get it. So open your ears and listen for once!

I’ve an inquisitive mind, and once it notices something worthy of investigation, it will not let go till the mystery is solved.  I couldn’t figure out why I was relishing every morsel with this almost total stranger.  I began to wonder whether I was being drugged or even hypnotized!  I’m not exaggerating; there was something magical in operation which I could not figure out.

If you live to be eighty, you’ll probably go through 29,219 breakfasts! How many of your breakfasts conjure up feelings like that?  Well, I certainly cannot recall many in my case.

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On the “Path of Love” Towards the Divine

SJ78-OnThePathofLoveA Journey with Muslim Mystics

by Omid Safi



Always traversing the world


Tell me:

What benefit has come of it?



Which you are seeking

Is with you;

And you seek

Elsewhere? (‘Ayn al-Qozat)

Consistent with seeking the Divine inside their own being, the Sufis of the Path of Love consistently valued spiritual experience  over theoretical knowledge.  It is important to point out that they did not wish to abolish theoretical knowledge; indeed, they themselves have left some of the richest theoretical works in all of Islamic history.  Rather, they wished to emphasize that ultimately it is personal experience that will lead one down the path, not theoretical knowledge.

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Spiritual Empowerment

SJ78-SpiritualEmpowermentby Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

All Human beings carry within themselves a light that belongs to God. This light is our most precious substance. It is our divine essence, our true nature. It is also potentially the most powerful force in the universe, as it contains the power of the divine, the Source of all that is created.

Knowing that we are one reconnects us with the whole life in every moment, and in this reconnection we both empower and are empowered.  Our spiritual light is the light of the whole, and our light is also in service to the whole.

It is time for humanity to reclaim the knowledge of how the divine works within creation.  It is time for us to step into spiritual adulthood and realize the true meaning of co-creationism:  our divine light working with the divine light within creation.  It is up to us: if we do not take this step, a door will remain closed, and the soul of the world will know the despair of a lost opportunity.  If we respond to the call of the times, we will play our part in the miracle of life being reborn.

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The Meaning of Surrender

SJ78Discourseby Alireza Nurbakhsh

The first step on the path of Sufism is to surrender oneself to God.

The essence of surrender to God is our acceptance of the world as it is.  There is a story in the Bhagavad Gita illustrating this point about acceptance in a profound way.  There was a sage who repeatedly pulled a drowning scorpion out of the Ganges and who was repeatedly stung for his efforts.  Asked why he kept rescuing the venomous creature, the sage replied that it was the nature of a scorpion to sting but that the nature of a human being is to save.

… in a fundamental sense, spiritual surrender does not have to be in conflict with the effort to better ourselves and our surroundings.  Accepting the world as it is does not mean that we should not or cannot contribute to its harmony and beauty.  One of the hallmarks of those who have surrendered to God is that such people are no longer motivated and driven by self-interest since it is this quality that brings them into conflict with others, thereby terminating the path of their surrender.  It goes without saying that it is only when we are not at war with ourselves and others that we become creative and sympathetic to others.  After all, it is our essence to save.

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Hast O Nist

SJ78-HastONistby Dani Kopoulos

Although we may question the spiritual usefulness of hope, hopes still rise up within us all day long.  They can’t be seen, only the most pressing are shared.  Physical hopes of convenience.  Hope the L-train will wait until I get down the stairs.  Hope this pay phone works. Hope my transfer is still good.  Hope the rain lets up.  Hope I have enough cash on me for a coffee.  Hope he calls.  Psychological hopes of approval:  Hope this paper is good enough.  Hope I say something smart.  Hope my face looks good.  Hope she looks up at me.  Hope he doesn’t think I’m desperate.  Emotional hopes that bubble up and make you teeter throughout the day.  Hope the chemotherapy works on him.  Hope she can handle his absence.  Hope he’s not late again tonight.  Then, the moral hopes, the only point of all hopes, the over-arching hopes in the background of every moment, a low tension hum:  Hope I don’t get old.  Hope I’m good enough.  Hope I don’t feel pain.  Leading to the only real motivating force, the hope against hopes:  Hope I don’t die.

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