The Sufi path is a (not the) way of seeking truths concerning the nature of one's relationship with Being. I have had two spiritual guides in my life -- one was authentic and one was a charlatan, and both individuals had something to teach me about myself, life and the nature of my relationship with Being.
Struggling to establish the truth is of fundamental importance to any mystical pursuit. However, without character, the search for truth tends to become very dysfunctional, and, therefore, those who have aspirations concerning the mystical path (whether Sufi or otherwise) come to understand the importance of seeking to acquire qualities of: Honesty, fairness, patience, tolerance, nobility, courage, humility, gratitude, generosity, perseverance, self-sacrifice, equanimity, forgiveness, friendship, love, and compassion.
The following are a few truths concerning my life. To what extent those truths helped me to develop and realize any of the foregoing traits of character is a more difficult issue to assess.
I am 73 years old … hoping to become 74 in September.
I was born in Colorado but grew up in various parts of Maine. The year (1962) that I graduated from high school in north-central Maine there were 44 students in my school, 11 of whom were in my class.
After high school, I went to Harvard College. I've often thought that, perhaps, individuals at the Harvard medical school might have wanted me for experimental purposes, but a mistake was made, and a letter of acceptance emerged from the wrong department.
I began university with a pre-theological major. However, before finishing university, I transitioned through a number of majors including: Physical science, philosophy, and, finally, social relations (an interdisciplinary curriculum involving sociology, anthropology, and psychology) before graduating with honors.
Within 6 months following graduation, I went to Canada to protest the Vietnam War. While in Canada, I was initiated into a Sufi mystical order and, in the process, became a Muslim.
Shortly after stepping onto the Sufi path, I entered a doctoral program in education at the University of Toronto. Due to a variety of issues, 17 years passed before I was able to obtain my degree.
To make a very long story mercifully much shorter, my graduation only became possible after I fired my original thesis committee and went about cobbling together my own oral examination committee. Following their examination of me, that committee (which consisted of several physicists, a linguist, two specialists in the philosophy of science, as well as several other individuals) voted to accept (by a tally of 7-0) my dissertation on hermeneutical field theory .
Several years before I obtained my doctorate, my spiritual guide passed away. Feeling the need for further guidance, I went in search of another teacher, and, several years later, found someone.
Initially, the new teacher seemed ideal. However, it took me 11 years to discover that he was a charlatan.
Despite the difficulties entailed by those 11 years, I learned a great deal about myself, other people, the Sufi path, and life. In many respects, those 11 years helped to constructively (if rather painfully) complement what I had learned from my first spiritual teacher (someone whom I consider to have been quite authentic).
During the foregoing period of time, I moved from Toronto to Ottawa and, then, to New York, New Jersey, and, finally, back to Maine. For the final 4 or 5 years of that 11-year time frame, I was -- with the exception of a few odd jobs here and there -- both unemployed and couch-surfing (in fact, for more than a year, I slept on the floor of an office managed by a friend of mine, and the logistics of removing myself from the office before workers arrived for the day was always a challenge).
Six months, or so, after arriving back in Maine, I went to work for my brother in his insurance firm. When my brother sold his business a year, or so, later, the new owner decided not to keep me on and, as a result, I went through several more years of unemployment and semi-homelessness (my age, education, "checkered" past, lack of a vehicle, and living in an economically depressed area all served as obstacles to obtaining gainful employment).
I finally got a position as an adjunct professor of psychology in a local university. This lasted for about six years before the opportunities associated with that position began to dissipate.
I resigned and began to devote my time to writing full time. Although I had written and published several books prior to moving to Maine, my career as a writer didn't really begin to blossom (in terms of production but not in terms of financial success) until after I resigned from my day job and retired at age 63.
To date, I have written 39 books (mostly non-fiction), 39 pieces of floetry (poetry set to music), as well as produced a DVD. While over the last 10-12 years, I have managed to sell 3,000, or so books, in some 20 countries, making money as a writer of books is fairly difficult to accomplish (especially since, for the most part, I do not engage in advertising), and, consequently, if my motivation for writing was financial, I would have stopped generating books a long time ago.
My written works explore an array of topics. These range from: Quantum physics to: Cosmology, psychology, political science, constitutional law, religion, evolution, mysticism, spiritual abuse, 9/11 (no conspiracies are advanced but plenty of questions are asked), shari'ah (I think about this in a manner that is very different than many, if not most Muslims, do), terrorism, mythology, economics, philosophy, and education.
Last year I died … several times. Not only were the percentages running fairly high against my surviving the ordeal, but even if I did survive, only a small number of people who experienced what I did actually escape suffering neurological deficits, of one kind or another, as a result of such problems.
After being put in a medically induced coma for several days, I was brought back to consciousness and went through a couple more days of medication-psychosis (i.e., this condition was caused by the drugs that I had been given to help keep me alive). During this phase of things, I was operating under the delusion that the medical staff was going to kidnap me, ship me overseas, and, then, have my body parts harvested to be sold on the black market.
Naturally, given the foregoing circumstances -- or what I thought those circumstances to be -- the idea of escaping from the hospital seemed like a rational thing to do. Despite having been tethered to the hospital bed by a series of restraints to help manage my medical situation, I somehow managed to pull free from the system of restraints and, subsequently, began to pull out many -- but not all -- of the tubes that were running in and out of me.
Blood started flowing in every direction. Fortunately, the nursing staff was able to stop me from doing any real damage to myself while they wrestled me back under control.
A day later, the medication-psychosis passed. My sensibilities returned, and I began to work toward recovery.
Last summer (some seven months after dying), my wife and I took to a trip to the Boston/Cambridge area. One of the purposes of this trip was to make some inquiries at Harvard to determine whether the University might be interested in receiving some of my books as a gift.
I left a 5-volume set of books with the staff at Widener Library along with a covering letter. In that communique, I indicated that I would like to gift to Harvard the set of books that I had left at Widener Library during my visit. In addition, I indicated in the letter that I was probably one of the most prolific, diverse, innovative, and, for a variety of reasons, unknown Muslim/Sufi writers in North America, and, if the people at Widener were interested, I would be quite willing to donate whatever other books of mine in which they might be interested.
Less than a week later, I received a letter from a librarian at Harvard indicating that Widener would be quite happy to accept whatever additional books I would like to send. So, I sent him the rest of my body of work -- including several CDs of floetry and a DVD (An Appeal to Christians, Muslims, and Jews) that I had made.
The foregoing series of events eventually gave birth to the idea of wanting to do the same sort of thing for a variety of other libraries … a sort of Johnny Appleseed project with books taking the place of apple seeds. However, although I paid for the books that I sent to Harvard, I really don't have the financial wherewithal to repeat the process in conjunction with other libraries since supplying such material costs approximately $900.00 for all 40 books (as well as CDs and DVDs) plus the added costs required for packing and shipping those books, and this is one of the reasons why I have signed up with Patreon.
I believe the perspective that is given expression through the foregoing works is fairly unique and has something constructive to offer to civil discourse. To reduce that message down to its bare minimum, I am committed to exploring how the idea of inalienable sovereignty is at the heart of both western and Islamic approaches for trying to understand, as well as bring to fruition, the constructive potential that is inherent in the relationship among human beings, society, and reality.
I do not profess to have all of the answers or even any of the answers. Nonetheless, I feel that my work might serve as a useful resource for anyone to consult and critically push against in his, her, or their own search for the truth concerning the nature of that individual's relationship with Being.
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