Although being born a Muslim and living a conventionally religious life for many years, by middle age I felt increasingly that something was missing. I didn’t understand the feeling, but I knew that it was to do with needing more closeness to the Divine. I began to search for a spiritual teacher. I knew nothing about the different spiritual methodologies, so I just allowed my heart to guide me on what felt right and what didn’t. Over the next six years I attended many religious retreats and met many different teachers.
Through sometimes painful experience I learned that, although there are still many good spiritual schools in the world, not every methodology suits every person, and not every school is genuinely authentic. I had several false starts, where I thought I might have found the right thing, but then it was either blocked from me, or engaging with it didn’t cure my restlessness.
When I finally engaged with the Sufi School of Teaching, I realized that the long-held feeling of searching had vanished and was replaced by a sense of arriving home. In the months that followed, as I learned to become regular in the practices, the feeling of relief was often overwhelming. I felt like a person who had been struggling to swim alone in an ocean for a long time, and now someone had pulled me up onto a boat where I could relax and float, knowing that the boat knew where it was going and that I would be safe.
After doing the practices for almost five years now, the feeling of safety and trust remains. To be sure, the ups and downs of life are still there, but now it feels as if there is a measured way to move through them and make discernible progress. My adult children say that I’ve become a calmer and more pleasant person. I’ve learned to safely uncover some of the hurts and traumas of early life and put them to rest. Everything that happens in life now feels anchored by the practices, aided by Sheikh Hamid Hassan’s gentle advice and leadership.
Penned a short while after beginning the Practices
Where is your Path – the one meant for you?
How do you find it and know that it’s true?
Is it good friendships and company you lack?
Can these be relied on to keep you on track?
Is it in family service and love?
Will that be enough for your journey Above?
Will Nature and art provide enough height
To lift up your Spirit and set it in flight?
All these can help play a beautiful part,
But they don’t fully answer the needs of the Heart.
So where is your Path, oh dear honored friend?
When will the yearning and restlessness end?
When could a boat pick you out of the Sea?
Where you’ve been thrashing for years to feel free.
Free of your angst, your heaviness, your doubt.
Free to work out what this Life’s all about.
When can you enter a current well worn,
By countless others who’ve weathered the storm?
To breathe easy and rest, carried safely along,
The journey facilitated, Silsila-strong.
When you meet a real teacher, you’ll surely know.
Your spirit will recognise where it must go.
Your Heart will rest from the tiresome search.
No more questions or angst – just renewed thirst,
For being filled up with fuel for the ride
To Nearness, when traveling to the other side.
For traversing through Stations of mystery and hope,
All the while feeling safe, holding onto the Rope.
This is the Goal to keep in your sights,
May the Journey be joyful and filled with pure Light!