Sufism in America
Honoring the One God in All Religions
By Azima Lila Forest
As a longtime student of the Edgar Cayce readings, and a longtime journeyer on the path of Sufism, I was delighted to read Peter Woodbury’s article "The Way of the Sufi" in the Jan-Mar 2015 issue of Venture Inward magazine. I find such a strong correspondence and harmony between the principles and practices given in the readings and the principles and practices I receive in my Sufi context. Unity, the loving nature of the Creator, the importance of living a balanced life, the practices of prayer, meditation, and service—all of these are common to these two wisdom traditions. I am grateful indeed for having stumbled upon both of them. But then, both of them teach me that there are no accidents!
Peter Woodbury’s article "The Way of the Sufi"
I was inspired to offer some follow-up information on Sufism in America.
Sufism was first brought to the West in the teens of the last century by Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi master from India. From that first beginning, five brother/sister Sufi orders have sprung up and taken root in the United Sates: The Sufi Order International, The Sufi Ruhaniat International, The Sufi Movement, The Fraternity of Light, and The Sufi Way. Each one has a bit of a different flavor and emphasis. I am an initiate of the Ruhaniat, and so I will draw most extensively on the practices and atmosphere, we might say, of that order.
All five of these Sufi orders draw upon the teachings of our common ancestor Hazrat Inayat Khan. This brand of Sufism might be called universal Sufism, as it acknowledges and honors the truth and wisdom to be found in all the world’s major religions and spiritual paths. There are American Sufis who are also Buddhists, and Jews, and Christians, and Muslims, and devotees of the Great Mother, and followers of the Red Road (Native American spirituality). Sufis meditate and chant and sing and dance and pray. Some do more of one than another.
Since the birth of this universal path of Sufism on American soil, several more traditional Islamic Sufi orders have established branches here as well, among them the Mevlevis, who are well known for the dervish whirling; the Helveti-Jerrahis, and the Naqshbandis. While all these orders may differ somewhat in their practices and teachings, there is a bond of commonality that unites us all. The annual Sufism Symposium held each spring in California is a beautiful demonstration of the mutual respect and affection one finds in the larger Sufi community. Speakers from many different orders may be heard, as well as recitation of the poetry of Rumi in Persian and English. One may participate in Dances of Universal Peace (more about that later). The grand finale of the Symposium, the zikr, has everyone participating.
Zikr is an Arabic word that means remembrance. Remembrance of what? Of the truth that we and all and everything—all are part of One God. Zikr also refers to the Arabic phrase la ilaha illa’llah, which is most often translated by universal Sufis as "there is nothing but the one Reality." Sound familiar? It’s another formulation of Edgar Cayce’s Law of One. The zikr phrase is often used in the individual practices of Sufi initiates, and it is also used all over the world in group ceremonies of chanting and/or singing the phrase together. Some groups chant together seated in circles; others move in circles, and in a few cases, squares and lines.
Music is an important part of the heritage of Sufism as practiced in India; Hazrat Inayat Khan was a great musician who sang and played the vina, a stringed instrument of Indian origin. It is perhaps no accident then that his student Samuel Lewis, the first Sufi master born in the West, would give birth to the Dances of Universal Peace, also sometimes called Sufi dancing. Murshid (teacher) SAM, as we lovingly refer to him, was a native San Franciscan and an early student of Inayat Khan. In the late 1960s, he received the inspiration to set sacred phrases from the world’s spiritual traditions to simple melodies and dance movements to be done in circles. By the time of his passing in 1971, he had brought through some dozens of these dances. His students have carried on this work, and now there are Dance circles all over the world, and at last count, I knew of over 500 dances, with phrases in Arabic, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Aramaic, Hawaiian, Spanish, Yoruba, English, and more. Finding a dance circle in the U.S. is a simple matter: go to the website dancesofuniversalpeacena.org and click on "Find The Dances."
In addition to the zikr phrase, Sufi practitioners often work with wazaif (singular wazifa), also called the Beautiful Names of God. These are divine qualities, and repetition of their names is a way of calling upon them to manifest in one’s life or in the world as a whole. Some of these qualities are Mercy, Compassion, Truth, Life, Peace, Healing, Love, Strength, and Beauty. The usual list of wazaif contains 99 qualities, but it is said that in truth there are 999 beautiful names, and even more beyond those.
If you were to attend a Sufi event such as a camp, a retreat, or a workshop, you might have the opportunity to participate in a morning meditation, a dream group, a workshop, or all of these—very much like an A.R.E. Camp or an A.R.E. Conference or retreat.
Azima Lila Forest is a longtime student of the Cayce readings and longtime initiate and Sheikha (teacher) in the Sufi Ruhaniat International. She is a dreamworker, a Reiki healing practitioner, a far memory (past/future life) guide, and a Unitarian Universalist minister. Azima lives in Silver City in southwestern New Mexico. Her website is Zianet.com/Azima.
A.R.E. Members will find the current issue and past issues of Venture Inward magazine in the online member section at EdgarCayce.org/members.
WANT TO BE HAPPY?
Then Stop Chasing After Happiness
By Josie Varga
If I asked you, do you want to be happy, you'd, of course, say yes. We all want to feel happiness, no exceptions. In fact, most of us spend a lifetime searching for meaning and happiness in our lives. Why do so many never get there? Why are so many unhappy?
We are all accustomed to the idea that happiness is something that we need to pursue but, ironically, the more we chase after happiness, the further we are from it. Happiness cannot be pursued or chased, because it comes from within and is all a matter of how we think.
True, money is important. Let's face it, we have to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. But according to a recent study, after about $75,000 a year, money does not increase or decrease your level of happiness.
We have all heard people say things like, "I'll be happy when I get a better job" or "I'll be happy when I buy a bigger house," etc. I call this the I'll Be Happy When scenario. But what happens when you get that job and you're still not happy? What happens when you finally get that dream house and feel no happier? "Stuff" does not make you happy. It might bring you pleasure for a while, but it can't bring you true happiness. True happiness is a choice and a state of mind. In other words, it can never be bought.
I can remember when I was a little girl growing up with a disability (I was born with cerebral palsy and suffer from bilateral hearing loss)—there were many times when I looked in the mirror and didn't like that girl with the kinky hair and overbite looking back at me.
It took me a long time to realize that the little girl I saw in the mirror was just a reflection of my mind. In other words, I was creating her by my own negative attitude. Life doesn't just happen. Life is a response to your way of thinking. Like Edgar Cayce said, our thoughts create our reality. Change your thinking; change your life.
Helen Keller with dog, Kamikaze
Author: Perkins School
for the Blind Archives
As many of you know, Helen Keller was both blind and deaf, and yet she went on to graduate from college and become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians. Keller once wrote, "I have for many years endeavored to make this vital truth clear; and still people marvel when I tell them that I am happy. They imagine that my limitations weigh heavily upon my spirit, and chain me to the rock of despair. Yet, it seems to me, happiness has very little to do with the senses. If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in the sky for our delight, there will be joy upon the hills and gladness in the fields because the artist in our souls glorifies creation. Surely, it gives dignity to life to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a higher destiny than can be accomplished within the narrow limits of this physical life."
Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor stated, "Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose." If you believe that life is defined by your circumstances, you will never rediscover the happiness within. Nothing will ever be enough, because you will always be searching for more.
I have both good and bad news. The bad news is our brains are actually prewired to pay more attention to negative experiences. It is part of our natural protective instinct or the body's fight or flight response. But the good news is positive thinking has been proved to literally change the makeup of the brain (a science called neuroplasticity).
One of the ways we do this is by repetition. We are how we think. Focusing on the positive stimulates the growth of nerve connections in the brain, which in turn leads to more positive thoughts.
As an author and motivational speaker, people always ask me, "How do you stay so positive?" Well, to be honest, being happy doesn't mean we are never unhappy. Let's face it, bad things happen. What it does mean, however, is that we acknowledge the bad but still choose the positive.
Josie Varga is a motivational speaker and the author of five books. Her most recent book, Divine Visits, highlights true angelic and divine interventions from around the world. For more information, please visit her website at JosieVarga.com.
Join Josie Varga online for the upcoming mentored eGroup Rediscover the Happiness Within: Train Your Mind to Think Positive, from Mar 25-Apr 21, 2015. The course reminds us that happiness lies within with topics including acceptance, appreciation, forgiveness, and action. To learn more, visit EdgarCayce.org/egroups.
February 2015 Update
From the Desk of Kevin J. Todeschi
This is my update for February 2015 to A.R.E. members and friends who are interested in the new and exciting
trends occurring within Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. and Atlantic University. A number of exciting things are happening
this month! Please share the following with your friends:
YOUR MONTHLY CREATE CAMPAIGN UPDATE
We have just moved into the final year of our $30 million CREATE Comprehensive Campaign
(capital, endowment, and programs)… and we have raised nearly $27 million – just over $3
million to go! With the Cayce Hospital renovations successfully completed and $6 million
raised already toward our $7.5 million capital projects goal, we now need to raise an
additional $1.5 million to renovate our Library and Conference Center; new restrooms,
HVAC system, Library carpeting, expanding the auditorium, parking improvements, and
upgrades throughout the building. Donors of $500 or more to the project will be listed on
our Stairway to Heaven. You are still supporting our day-to-day program operations through
your annual donations as well. We have raised almost $20 million for these great programs already! Join us for our
CREATE Campaign “Capstone Year” Celebration event on Friday, March 27 from 5:00-7:00 in the Cayce/Miller Café to
get inspired and throw in your support to help us reach the goal.
ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY – NEW DEGREE PROGRAM!
There are so many new and exciting things going on at Atlantic University right now. The University has just been
approved to launch a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies! The first cohort will begin Spring semester 2016. Also, we
have just hosted a group of outstanding students who are finishing their Integrated Imagery: Regression Hypnosis
certificates. These students not only completed three difficult courses to obtain this certificate,
they also had to make the trek to Virginia Beach for a four-day in-depth residential.
Congratulations to all of these dedicated students for completing all three levels of Regression
We are accepting applications for Summer 2015! The deadline is March 15, 2015. For more
information, go to www.AtlanticUniv.edu.
CAYCE/REILLY® SCHOOL OF MASSAGE
The Cayce/Reilly School of Massage continues to attract students from all backgrounds and ages, including military
veterans, to our exciting program. We recently welcomed 14 new day and evening students to the School this past
January. Students can complete their training in as little as 8 months – our next programs will begin
in June and September 2015. We are the only school in the Tidewater region that has a
specialized, institutional accreditation in massage and bodywork and we also accept Federal
financial aid and GI Bill® educational benefits. We are excited about massage student community
outreach at local sports events, EMT meetings, and senior care facilities. Our Continuing Education
program is also thriving, with a number of new courses available to the general public. Please click the link:http://www.edgarcayce.org/ce/ for more information.
Headquarters Conferences is very excited to have Caroline Myss and Dr. C. Norman Shealy return with their program Medical Intuition: Self-Diagnosis and Healing with Your Body's Energy Systems, April 17-19. They will help you learn how to balance your own psychological, physiological, and physical states to create a life filled with greater health, energy, and vitality, creating within you a whole, healed and balanced state of being. Early registration is encourages as this program is on track to sell out! Additionally, we have a very limited number of spots left for our popular Foundation in Hypnosis Training and Certification Course with Dr. Jason Parker. After successful completion of this course, you will be certified in Hypnosis by the A.R.E.
CAFÉ IS NOW OPEN
The Leaping Lizard, a popular Virginia Beach restaurant once featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featuring Guy Fieri, has opened in the Cayce/Miller Café offering healthy and delicious lunches to A.R.E. visitors, spa clients, conferees, and staff. Menu items include a soup of the day, chicken and tuna salads, hummus, tofu, quinoa, sweet potato biscuits, and much more. Learn more here: http://www.edgarcayce.org/cafe/
"CONTEMPORARY CAYCE" and COAST-TO-COAST
Earlier this month, I sat down with A.R.E.’s Marketing Director, Jennie Taylor Martin, to talk about the book I co-authored with Henry Reed, Contemporary Cayce. That interview has been posted on our YouTube Channel at the following link: http://youtu.be/kQCWHfW1Kbc?list=UUnyct2HCC6Q-brUcs6_iO-A.
Last week, I got a call from the popular Coast-to-Coast Radio program and was asked if I would discuss the book this upcoming Saturday, February 21 from 10 pm to 11 pm Pacific Time (1 am to 2 am Eastern Time). The program is the #1 late night radio talk show in the US and is heard by millions of listeners each night. Their website is: www.coasttocoastam.com.
WALK THE LAND OF YOUR DREAMS – A.R.E. 2015 TOURS
These mystical adventures could soon be featured in your scrapbook or on your Facebook Wall…
- Southern Spain & Morocco –Led by Peter Woodbury,
April 11 -22, 2015. Also offering an optional extension to the Atlas Mountains and into the Sahara Desert,
April 22-26, 2015.
- Old Quebec & Montreal – Led by Patrick and Jane Belisle, August 10-16, 2015. Also in the works: an optional extension with a visit to the breathtaking Algonquin Park and a 3-day stay at the nearby Lodge of Sidney and
Nancy Kirkpatrick (authors of An American Prophet)!
August 16 – 20, 2015!
- China & Tibet – Led by John Van Auken,
September 15-28, 2015.
- New Mexico and Mesa Verde – Led by Don Carroll,
October 24-31, 2015.
If you would like additional information about any of our travel programs, contact our Travel Programs Administrator, Cheryl Bernath, at email@example.com or by phone at 1-888-273-3339!
Thank you for your ongoing support of this great Work!
Ever the same,
Kevin J. Todeschi
Executive Director and CEO
The first in a series of discussions from the Cayce health readings.
Josephine Adamson, MD, editor
More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia, and it remains the sixth leading cause of death. The term "Alzheimer's disease" was not a formal diagnostic category during Cayce's lifetime; therefore, many of the health readings he gave which appear to be describing Alzheimer-type pathology simply mention “senility” as the problem.
There is a growing recognition of the complexity of major illnesses such as Alzheimer's dementia: the disease may consist of a group of related diseases with different causes, which result in the characteristic destruction of brain tissue associated with Alzheimer's dementia. Certain genetic variants seem to play a part in the disease development in some people. Researchers have not discovered a universal cause in all Alzheimer’s patients.
Like many of the other dementias, Alzheimer's disease results in the progressive loss of "higher" functions, such as thinking, reasoning, and memory. The deterioration is usually gradual, beginning with mild symptoms, such as forgetfulness of minor things like telephone numbers or dental appointments. As the nervous system becomes more incapacitated, patients are unable to process new information and may experience difficulty controlling their bodies. They may also exhibit deep depression, crying spells, or temper tantrums.
While the course of Alzheimer's dementia may vary in individual cases, the ultimate prognosis is the same—incurable, with progressive decline in functioning at all levels. Premature death can be expected, either as the result of the organic deterioration or by related syndromes that are caused or exacerbated by the dementia
Therapeutic options available for Alzheimer's dementia are mainly limited to adaptive measures. That is, when faced with an incurable progressive illness, the usual strategy is to minimize the effects on patient and family. Rather than directly treating the illness, therapy involves adapting to it.
These adaptive measures range from behavioral interventions (which organize and simplify daily activities) to general physical interventions (such as basic health maintenance). For example, basic health maintenance might involve bowel regulation; constipation is often a problem for persons suffering from Alzheimer's dementia. Dietary changes, drinking adequate water, and the use of laxatives can help to address this problem.
Individual counseling and support groups for caregivers are two additional forms of therapy that can facilitate the process of adaptation. For many families, institutional care (such as nursing homes) represents the final stage of adaptation.
Research has yielded some promising drug therapies over the years. Unfortunately, these drugs have not yet produced consistent results under the rigors of scientific standards of confirmation. Significant research funding is currently directed towards developing successful drug therapies for Alzheimer’s.
Recent novel experiments at Ohio State University and several other medical centers are exploring the use of deep brain stimulation (mild electrical shocks with surgically implanted electrodes) as a way to prevent memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. It is interesting that the Cayce readings also suggest stimulating the electrical circuits in the brain through non-invasive electrotherapy.
EDGAR CAYCE'S PERSPECTIVE OF DEMENTIA
Edgar Cayce gave many readings for persons suffering from dementia. The readings are in close agreement with modern medicine on the physical pathology of the dementias.
Repeatedly, Edgar Cayce provided graphic descriptions of the nervous system deterioration indicative of these disorders. Often, Cayce's perspective was from the inside of the body, like a high-tech probe or brain scan. His portrayal of the delicate interactions within and between the nervous systems is particularly fascinating. The Cayce readings anticipated the results of modern brain research, which regards dementia as a progressive degeneration of nerve tissue in the brain.
However, Edgar Cayce's perspective goes beyond brain pathology. The Cayce readings discuss how the brain is dependent upon the rest of the body. Without the continual removal of metabolic waste and the supplying of nutrients, nerve cells in the brain will die in only a few minutes. Cayce explained that the various organs of assimilation and elimination are important in the cause and treatment of dementias such as Alzheimer's dementia. Cayce also emphasized the importance of “drainages” and nervous system coordination.
Edgar Cayce also recommended the use of electrotherapy to stimulate nerve regeneration. The use of psychological techniques such as hypnotherapy were suggested. Finally, the spiritual aspects of treatment were also strongly emphasized.
To summarize, Edgar Cayce provided numerous readings describing the pathological process and giving recommendations for the treatment of dementia. In general, his approach was to assist the body in cleansing and nurturing the nerve tissue in the brain by a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual therapies. In fact, Edgar Cayce even provided a “formula” for rebuilding the brain in cases of dementia.
CAYCE'S FORMULA FOR REBUILDING THE BRAIN
In reading 1800-16, Edgar Cayce laid out the basics of a treatment approach for dementia:
- Electrotherapy with gold and silver "vibratory" solutions.
- Spinal manipulations (osteopathic, massage, and chiropractic) to improve nervous system coordination and eliminations.
- Suggestive therapeutics (a form of natural hypnosis).
- Patience (a key spiritual attribute).
- Optimizing general health, including improved assimilations, circulation, and eliminations.
Adapted from an article by David McMillin.
Josephine B. Adamson, MD, MPH, CMT, is the Medical Director for Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. She received her MD from Duke University’s School of Medicine and Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina and is a graduate of the Cayce/Reilly® School of Massage. A director and co-owner of a medical device company, she has a wealth of experience creating and maintaining health-related non- profit and for-profit businesses. She joined A.R.E. as part of the organization’s renewed focus on the health information, one of the most important, enduring legacies from the Edgar Cayce readings. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the health outreach and administration and interfacing with the stellar staff of the Cayce/Reilly School of Massage—which provides a comprehensive education in the art and science of therapeutic massage—and the holistic A.R.E. Health Center & Spa—which provides holistic therapies to clients from around the world in its oceanfront Virginia Beach, Va., setting complete with a Café.
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.