Yoga, in its essence, is a path to wholeness. By practicing asana, we strive to align our bodies, minds and spirits into one. But, how does unifying ourselves translate into making the world a better place? Teaching that oneness goes beyond the individual practice - be it physical yoga practice or a form of meditation. Sufi mystic, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, hopes to inspire practitioners of all wisdoms and traditions to realize both their commonality and power to help heal the world.
A Sufi in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Order (named after Bahâ ad-dîn Naqshband, d. 1389) and author, Vaughan-Lee is the successor to his teacher, Irina Tweedie, whom he met when he was 19 years old. In the Naqshbandi tradition of Sufism, practitioners focus on one of the eight limbs of yoga, dyana, or contemplation, in this case, contemplation of the heart. “The theory behind our school is the heart is the king of all chakras,” says Vaughan-Lee. “If you immerse yourself in the heart chakra that takes care of everything else. Eventually, that energy of love takes over the energy of the mind.”
Vaughan-Lee (teaching mostly in Europe and the United States) has seen such a dire need for the world to realize its spiritual responsibility that his public profile has begun to spring up. By participating in conferences with other spiritual leaders, being interviewed by filmmakers and authoring such titles as Spiritual Power: How it Works, Vaughan-Lee hopes to inspire people to realize their commonality and true nature to help ease the current level of global suffering. At the core of this understanding, is the concept of Oneness.
“Spiritual awareness is very powerful. It’s underestimated,” Vaughan-Lee continues. “If a practice can rid you of your ego, of greed, of the things that obscure one from realizing god, just think what it can do for the world? The idea is to change the energy structure of the world. Every individual doing spiritual practice is a point of light,” explains Vaughan-Lee at his kitchen table in a home surrounded by trees and the sounds of birds calling. “Every community doing spiritual practice is a point of light. We’re all part of this organic process of life expressing itself spiritually. The responsibility is to realize your light is part of the whole and [you] can participate directly as such to help heal the world.”
One look at the headlines of your local newspaper confirms the need for going about doing things differently, a thought that Vaughan-Lee is passionate about.
“Western culture is the only culture that does not have a spiritual foundation to our everyday life,” he says, believing that Eastern traditions should be taught with a mind to adapting them to the Western way of life. He points out that the Western mind is more geared toward the individual, while Easterners tend to look at themselves more in relationship to the family or the collective.
“Greed corrupts all the values of the Western World,” Vaughan-Lee shakes his head. “We have forgotten we belong to god.”
The everyday news of the world illustrates this as well as his belief that we are at the end of a 100,000-year, multi-millenia cycle of existence.
“The next 20-30 years are crucial. They will determine how the next 1000 years evolve.”
And thus, simply taking on spiritual practice, be it going to a yoga class or something else, is only a step. Vaughan-Lee teaches practitioners to permeate the everyday aspects of life with this realization of the divine.
“We have in us a divine spark. Practice awakens that spark and you learn to work with it to benefit the world,” he says. “A spiritually awakened person helps the environment and connects to other humans. Working in isolation is no longer enough. It’s important to make connections to other communities,” says Vaughan-Lee, who believes spiritual power is strengthened when members of different spiritual groups join together.
“When two meet, a third element enters that is larger than one alone. It is time for us in this world to work together and help the world remember that it belongs to God. We can’t help the world without the intervention of the divine.”
For more information on the work of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and The Golden Sufi Center, go to goldensufi.org