I grew up during the 60s and 70s in the spiritual supermarket of the world: California. Every possible flavor of religion bubbled around me as I sought to understand the nature of God and me. Some practices were older than others. To understand the California culture one must understand that it is continually reinventing itself. The very nature of California: food, technology, the movie industry and spiritual endeavors is to be the newest, fastest, most-grossing, magical, biggest, darkest, lightest – any superlative ranks here.
So when I ‘graduated’ from my Jewish religious school at fifteen, I still had no idea of who or what God was. Everyone talked about God and made a big deal about it but I didn’t get it. So I knocked at every door available for help in understanding this God idea. In California there were so many nice people willing to help me. Entering college I discovered the rare and occult book section and began an investigation into Atlantis, and then into Lemuria, a trip to Mount Shasta (the purple aura power center), pyramid and flying saucer research.
From there I was led to the various doors of perceptions including gurus, ministers, charismatics, Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and oddly manufactured cults of Chinese sutras with biblical fire passages. Don’t ask me to explain.
I was also seriously studying piano and music composition. The idea of a teacher and student relationship was already formed by the time I was six years old. It was not always pleasant and joyful. There were many tears but my piano teacher became renowned as a master instructor for concert pianists. At fifteen I chose to become a composer and not take the concert pianist track. I wanted to learn my own music, not others. Of course everyone was disappointed but it was something that helped me move forward in understanding my own heart.
After twenty long years of seeking I finally found my Sufi teacher, Shaykh Taner Ansari, someone who knew and lived what he was talking about. What he said was applicable to living life appropriately. In other words, it still works for me.
In 1993 Shaykh Taner, the Pir (head) of the Qadiri Rifai Tariqa appointed me khalifa (representative) and prepared me to teach Sufism as a shaykh.
The internet chat rooms were just becoming available at that time. I wondered if the traditional mode of Sufi teachings could be applied to the online format. I opened it up and allowed users from around the world to join our discussions. Much to my surprise, seekers from every continent began to join in. The students from Australia grew in number until Shaykh Taner instructed me to establish the Ansari Sufi Tariqa there.
Through correspondence, travel and workshops I now make Australia my home. This book attempts to collect the past ten years of teaching into words. The format is a combination of essays and freewheeling dialogues from the online chat room.
As a teacher of music, children and seekers, I discovered that there are as many ways to learn as there are people. Everyone of us has strengths and weaknesses in how we absorb information. Some of these intelligences are:
The Sufi way of teaching usually depends on the understanding and capacity of the person. There is no gospel or general mode of instruction except one of inquiry. It is more a way of learning how to access direct knowledge from the heart (Haqq-al-Yaqin).
Shaykh Ibrahim Ansari