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Excerpted from Essential Sufism by James Fadiman and Robert Frager. Copyright © 1997 by James Fadiman and Robert Frager. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Sufism is often described as a path, suggesting both an origin and a destination."

 

James Fadiman and Robert Frager
Essential Sufism
, Part 1

Know, O beloved, that man was not created in jest or at random, but marvelously made and for some great end.

 Al-Ghazzali

For thousands of years, Sufism has offered a path on which one can progress toward the "great end" of Self-realization, or God-realization. Sufism is a way of love, a way of devotion, and a way of knowledge.

There is no single, systematic approach to Sufi teachings, and not all of its teachings can be communicated in words. The wisdom of Sufism can be found in stories, poetry, art, calligraphy, rituals, exercises, readings, dance movements, and prayer.

Sufism is often described as a path, suggesting both an origin and a destination. The aim of Sufism is the elimination of all veils between the individual and God. Traveling this path, one can acquire knowledge of Reality. God is the ultimate reality, not this phenomenal world of multiplicity.

To understand Sufism, we must understand mysticism. The Greek root myein, "to close the eyes," is also the root of "mystery"; the mysticís goal is not to be reached by the intellect or by ordinary means. Fundamentally, mysticism is love of the Absolute, the One Reality, also called Truth, Love, or God. According to Sarrajís classic definition of Sufism, "The Sufis are people who prefer God to everything and God prefers them to everything else."

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