Pir Elias Amidon is the spiritual director of the Sufi Way International, a nonsectarian mystical order in the lineage of Sufi Inayat Khan. An initiate of the Sufi Way for 47 years, Pir Elias has studied with Qadiri Sufis in Morocco, Theravadan Buddhist teachers in Thailand, Native American teachers of the Assemblies of the Morning Star, Christian monks in Syria, Zen teachers of the White Plum Sanga, and contemporary teachers in the Dzogchen Tradition. He was one of the editors of some of our favorite prayer books: Life Prayers from Around the World, Prayers for a Thousand Years, and Earth Prayers.

Sufism, often called the way of the heart, affirms and polishes the spiritual practice of openness. In this elegantly written collection of meditations, Elias Amidon challenges us to avail ourselves of spiritual wealth available to us through nondual expression. He describes this as the flow of aliveness that resists imprisonment within a system of thought or belief.

Another aspect of this openness is a love-mysticism which reverences the indefinable Divine and the abundant mysteries of human nature and the grand and glad earth. It is our openness to the present moment that fuels our gratitude for all the blessings of life; see his meditations on "Beginnings" and "Summertime Reverie."

Sufis speak of ihsan which means "doing the beautiful." Amidon lyrically celebrates the different shades of beauty as arising in our quietness, our kindness to others, and our experiences of the evanescence of life. It engenders within us a keen sense of wonder that will not let us go.

Near the end of this marvelous book, the author ponders prayer that gives thanks for "all that is most dear to us." He delights in the word "oh!" calling it "the best of our words. . . . the spontaneous sound of mystic surprise." Throughout, he tells stories and gives us illustrations of spiritual truths. Here is one:

"When Robert Kennedy lay dying from an assassin's bullet, hie blood spreading across a kitchen floor, he opened his eyes and asked, 'Is everybody all right?' I like to believe that question eased his homecoming. At least it taught me this counter-intuitive calculus: when you are in need, give."

Elias Amidon's presentation of Sufism reveals the rich mix beauty, goodness, meaning, creativity, mystery, and wonder available to one with an open heart.

Read a practice on Openness