“Sufism is about love. It’s about the heart. It’s about this extraordinary secret of human beings that within our heart – not our physical heart but our spiritual heart – we have a direct connection to God. And we can experience that directly within the heart through love,” Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee told Oprah in a recent episode of Super Soul Sunday on the OWN Network.
Author of the book “Sufism: The Transformation of the Heart,” Vaughan-Lee sat down with Oprah in the garden of her home and explained Sufism is a belief in oneness and love. Not matter what religion a person may practice, Sufism can be a part of that, the author said.
“You can be a Christian, you can be a Buddhist, it doesn’t matter … what matters is how you live your relationship to God,” Vaughan-Lee told Oprah. “God is everything. This is one of the basic experiences not just of Sufism but the core of every mystical path is oneness. Everything is God. There is nothing other than God. We are all part of this great mysterious outpouring of love that we call creation. Everything in creation is an expression of this incredible love. If you go to the core of your being, into the very center of yourself, what do you find there? Either love or longing for love.”
In the book, Vaughan-Lee explains in Sufism there are three journeys – the journey from God, the journey to God and the journey in God. The first – the journey from God – is about forgetfulness because when we come into this physical world, we forget our Divine nature. But for many, there comes a time when something wakes them up, and they begin their journey to God, he said.
Reaching the journey in God is realizing there is nothing other than God. This can be an experience of oneness or even an experience of love, the author explained. “You live what God wants you to live without an eye that says what about me.”
Oprah pointed out that for many, the journey to spirituality can be painful, and often it is a tragedy or trauma that opens the door to the spiritual path. Vaughan-Lee believes this is because the heart needs to break open.
“Most people are so closed. They are so contracted, it’s all about me, me, me … one has to learn humility. You have to learn patience. You have to learn that it isn’t about you, and those are all painful lessons, and we don’t learn them so easily [as] human beings,” he told Oprah.
Both Oprah and Vaughan-Lee pointed out the world is in a state of longing, as are most people. Many look to material things or situations around them in order to fill this void, but what they are truly seeking is love.
“It’s a hunger for something that is real. All these things, all these material things, they don’t satisfy our soul. They may give us a moment of pleasure … they don’t nourish our soul,” Vaughan-Lee explained. “There is this longing and people sometimes mistake it for depression … we have lost the understanding of longing and so [people] project it. They want a new pair of shoes. They want a new boyfriend. They want something, and they do not realize it will not satisfy this hunger in the heart.”
The author also spoke about the ego, and what he called “crucifying the ego,” in order to know God. In Sufism, they talk about dying before death, and this is about the ego.
“For most people the ego is the king … [But] there is something else. There is this Divine part of you that you can be guided by, you can connect with, that can give you the help, the grace, the nourishment, the meaning that you need. It’s the soul that gives us meaning in life,” he explained.
Right now the world and our planet are in a moment of crisis, said Vaughan-Lee. We have forgotten that everything is sacred – every leaf, every tree and everything around us, he noted, explaining he would like people to remember the world belongs to God, not to us.
“Part of my practice, and the practice I try to teach people is in your prayers remember the world to God, feel it in your heart, the suffering world and offer it to God because God is the greatest power. God is the greatest healer. God is the only real truth. And then maybe out of this world of forgetfulness there can become remembrance, and then the world can respond and something can be born again.”
If you missed the episode with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee you can watch it at the Super Soul Sunday Web site.