Requirements for initiation
What is asked by the Order of someone requesting initiation is first of
all, sincerity of intention. There must also be the attitude of an open heart
and mind toward the teachings, although complete acceptance is never required
and there is no dogma. While the prospective initiate may not understand the
full ramification of this act, there must be an awareness of the significance
of such a step. Initiation signifies a serious commitment to deeply
participate in a process of spiritual training. It is especially important
that one not be unrealistic in his/her expectations, desire "fantastic
experiences" or occult powers, attempt to use spiritual practices as a means
of escape from the world, or evade personal issues through the misuse of
spirituality. A person interested in initiation is usually asked to attend
some classes and seminars on the teachings. During this period he/she may be
viewed as a candidate for initiation.
Objectives of the Training
Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, has enumerated a series of objectives that he
associated with initiation into the Sufi Order. These objectives are offered
here with brief commentary.
The first objective is "to realize the Self within and without". The Self
is the divine aspect of each human being and is often referred to as our
divine inheritance. The Sufi Order also places a strong emphasis on the
initiate creating a meaningful life in the world, since doing this can be the
means to actualize potential qualities, gifts and archetypes, thereby
manifesting the Self without.
Training the Ego
"The path of initiation is the training of the ego, and it is
self discipline which is learned on the path". An important element of the
above quote is the word "training" for it conveys an image of the ego with a
positive and significant role within the human structure when properly
disciplined. It is not destroyed but worked with creatively. The practice of
mastery is taught in the Order as a means to transform the ego into a suitable
instrument for serving the divine within.
The Art of Personality
"The soul is veiled by covers, one cover over the others, and the rending
of these covers allows the soul to emerge and rise high." This image of
lifting the veils is found throughout Sufi poetry and refers to the process of
awakening to one’s natural state of being. The veils are our distorted
identification with past conditioning and personal dramas. The "art of
personality" is in the creation of a personality which incorporates,
manifests, and actualizes the soul’s potential.
Expansion of Consciousness
"To see into the world unseen" is the exploration of transpersonal states
of consciousness. This means not reducing reality to the narrow perception of
"ordinary" human consciousness but reaching beyond these parameters in a quest
for direct experience of union with the Absolute.
Awakening Divine Love
"To kindle the fire of divine love." The awakening of the divine in the
human being is the igniting of the love element in the heart. One of the
essential criteria for recognizing a realized being is captured in the
observation that "the Holy Ones are living streams of love". There is much
emphasis placed upon the kindling of the love element in this training, which
sometimes is described as the "Religion of the Heart".
To Know the Divine
"To know and communicate with God." The various practices used in the
training of initiates facilitate different modes of relating with that
ultimate reality which many call God. Part of this path explores different
relationships between God and the human being and the understanding that
arises from each. The archetypical relationship of particular significance to
the Sufi is that of the lover and the Beloved.
Communication With Life
"To be able to read into nature’s manuscript" represents the mystic’s
capacity to communicate with all of life, experiencing a world composed of
beings rather than things. Learning to read means, in this case, developing
the capacity to see within the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms,
patterns which illuminate the nature of reality and reveal an underlying unity
permeating the micro-macrocosms. Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, the present head of
the Order, describes this phenomena as "discovering that which transpires
through that which appears".
Service to Humanity
"If we ask what profit we derive from initiation, the answer is that
religion, mysticism or philosophy - all that we gain - would help us to
achieve one result, and that is to be best fitted for serving other human
The Sufi Order is concerned that its spiritual training not be distorted
into a narcissistic self-involvement but enables one to become more sensitive
to the human condition throughout the world and better able to respond in a
positive and creative manner. The expanding of individual into planetary
consciousness, is the ideal which the Sufi Order seeks to serve.
The Sufi Order has an inter-faith orientation based upon respect for all
authentic spiritual disciplines. Members are welcomed to participate in the
religious traditions of their choice. If you have been initiated into another
path and are presently doing a daily practice please inform your Sufi Order
guide. This is to insure that the various practices are in harmony or are not
The only rule of the Sufi Order is that initiates are asked to refrain from
using non-prescription drugs. This policy stems from the concern that
combining spiritual practices and drugs may create an unbalanced condition in
There are no financial obligations for those who take initiation. Both
initiation and on-going personal guidance are provided free of charge. In
addition, study circle classes are free for all initiates. Other programs may
cost a reasonable fee.
Membership in the Sufi Order is different from initiation. Membership is
achieved when one voluntarily chooses to pay dues to support the work of the