Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spiritual Discipline in the Sufi Path | Shaykh Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

If you know what I know,
you would laugh little
and weep much.
- Muhammad the Messenger of God

Spiritual discipline is part and parcel of Islamic spiritual embodiment. From daily practice of salaat (heart prayer) to sawm (fasting with goal to attain Godly consciousness, taqwa) on the 9th lunar month to various other spiritual practices are embedded in Islamic spiritual life. The best exemplar of this spiritual discipline in Islam is none other than the Master of Mystics, Muhammad Mustafa, peace be upon him who was a deep ascetic in his heart who would keep prolonged night vigil, who would go for solitary retreat in the wilderness, who would eat very little and fast very frequently. All such practices were done while living in the world, performing every single other duties and moreover being the guide of the whole community where everyone's need has to be attended. Model of the Prophet himself, who did not adopt the secluded life of the monk nor preach the virtue of celibacy but it was integrated in the life of this world, but above it. Muhammad was clearly well-versed in at least some ascetic practices and exhibited such Sufi attributes as scrupulous abstinence and wara’ (spiritual reticence), sabr (patience), faqr (poverty), and taw'du’ (humility), as well as such dispositional and psychospiritual qualities as ‘ibada (worship-fulness), shukr (gratitude), and tawakkul (complete trust in and reliance on God). Muhammad epitomized the zuhd (self-discipline) and nusk (renunciation) at the core of both asceticism and mysticism. Such beautiful example of discipline is carried over in the Sufi Path.

Shaykh Llewellyn Vaughan Lee Golden Sufi NaqshbandiAmong the western born Sufi Teachers of present time, Shaykh Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is one of the most important figure. He carries the spiritual heritage of a particular Naqshbandi Sufi lineage through his teacher, Ms. Irina Tweedie, (born in Russia, in 1907) who was initiated in India in the silsila which is an unbroken initiatory chain of the sufis that connect one master to the other going back all the way to Master Mystic, Muhammad Mustafa, upon him be the choicest of divine blessings and peace. The training, position and role Shaykh Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee holds is quite unique, since both he and his teachers were both western born and their primary scope of work revolves around western disciples having no or very little background of traditional form of Islam. I have personally received tremendous blessing and grace through the teachings, talks / discourses of Shaykh Vaughan-Lee, a natural mystic and this is equally true for many of his other students.

It became my regular spiritual practice back in 2006, 2007 to listen to Shaykh Llewellyn's talks via the Golden Sufi website audio archive when I began my deep interest in studying Sufi Tradition, His own innate nature as a Mystic made it very natural to shed light on various aspect of the Sufi Path from the deep mystical point of view which is very traditional mysticism in its orientation, and yet very fresh in its presentation. It  was through listening to many of his talks via the internet that my own journey benefited from.

After a while I was drawn to visit the Golden Sufi Audio Archive and the talk that I would like to share and recommend to listen to is titled: Discipline. The talk was delivered last year.

In this particular discourse the Shaykh emphasizes on why Discipline, physical or spiritual or otherwise is important. Here is a highlight from the talk:

"This afternoon's talk came from a dream I had in which I was giving a talk to the group, first about importance of time and then about discipline...And when I woke up I realized that in about twenty years I had never given a talk about discipline, which I suppose is interesting in itself because generally on this particular path, people are expected to discipline themselves, it isn't something until now has been taught specifically.

In a way you can not practice adab without discipline.

Discipline provides a container and I think in the next few years it is more and more important to have a container for one's own spiritual practice that stops it from becoming contaminated by forces, energies, attitudes of the collective.

Really without discpline, one's container is too easily fractured or diluted, unable to withstand the energy that is already present in the collective which is sometimes particularly antagonistic towards spiritual lives.

Lot of the work on the (Sufi) Path has to do with nourishing the spiritual light that is one is given. Light rises towards light, and light comes down towards light and it is light upon light.

It is important to create a container so that one is contaminated as little as possible by any energy that goes against one's spiritual journey. We dont live in an isolation way, we are part of life. This is the sufi practice. We dont live in a nunnery, in an ashram or remote a cottage in Scotland or Himalayas, even though we might like to. And so we are influenced by much more than we are aware of by the energy present in collective. And so discipline is important.

This is a path of mature human being, so one is expected to discipline one's self. But it seems that there is a need in this time to give an extra attention to discipline."

Click to Download and listen in full | Discipline: Part 1 | Discipline: Part 2

May the talk illuminate your mind and heart and help us on our journey to our true Homeland.

# Further:
* Spiritual Training with Irina Tweedie
* Audio Archive of Golden Sufi
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