David is a Sufi Movement In Canada centre leader living in Edmonton, Alberta.
On Being a Sufi…..
There has always been a reluctance to apply labels to my life. “Sufi” is one such label, which has always seemed out of reach.
My youth was exposed to the Anglican Church in small town Ontario, where we lived after the Second World War. I enthusiastically sang in the boys’ choir and was an altar boy for a while.
My first residence at the University of Toronto was Wycliffe College. It had a small chapel and I remember sitting there on my own, thinking about the world that was rapidly expanding around me. The search for meaning had just begun in earnest. It was 1964.
The 1960’s and early 1970s was a period of exploration into existentialism, religious philosophy, Zen, pyramid power and meditation.
Sufi Dancing, ca. 1975
My first exposure to anything sufi was what we called the sufi dances in Edmonton. They are now known as the Dances of Universal Peace. This was the late 1970s. We met at Carol and Gary’s house across from the Provincial Museum. There were a lot of people that I would eventually get to know and befriend over the coming years. Schamcher Beorse came to visit a few times.
It was the friendships that drew me to the sufi path. There was a great camaraderie and we must have dreamed about a bright and collaborative future.
The Lake O’Hara retreats began in 1980. That is where an intense immersion into the world of Sufism really began. It took a while to feel comfortable in this group initiative, where I was surrounded by those who had been exposed to the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan much longer than me.
Over the years, as we developed the annual Lake O‘Hara program in the context of a week-long retreat, with Hidayat Inayat-Khan as our guide, the subtle influences of the teachings and practices began their effect.
image: Lake O'Hara Dock, Sharda Murray-Kieken
Sufism as taught by Hazrat Inayat Khan has enhanced my own innate potential, has clarified my own ‘religion’ and been a tremendous boost to my effectiveness in the world. It has never been in conflict with my rational side, and has opened up my path to explore mysteries that might otherwise be inaccessible.
Finally, the development of heart qualities through sufi teachings and practices is perhaps the greatest effect that I feel. We stumble along an ideal path, with successes and failures. I have learned that there is never an absence of hope. Love, harmony and beauty remain the goals for a good life, where I will have a positive outcome on the progress of the human condition.
The teachings of Inayat Khan and other sufi teachers have allowed me a framework from which I interpret the world and a way to polish the mirror of the heart so that I can both enjoy the beauty found in our daily lives and withstand the pain and sorrow that is also a part of being human. I don't know what my life would be like without this framework and I try daily to live up to the ideals expressed so eloquently in the teachings of Inayat Khan.