Organization and the Message
 Wahhab David Sheets

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July 23, 2000

I wish to thank Prajapati for his perseverance in promulgating the vision of the Message and its relationship to the five activities that Murshid established, and in particular the Sufi Order and the Universal Worship.  As usual, Prajapati has articulated the issues clearly and thoughtfully.  As many of you know, this has been the topic of a conversation that has been occurring intermittently over several years now, and many of us have held this vision in common.  There is great power in that. 
When the Council of the Message was created (2 years ago?), I had hoped that one of the key results that would emerge from discussions among the leaders of the concentrations would be the re-conceptualization or re-formation of the Sufi Order International along the general outlines of the concepts you discussed in your email.  Namely, that the fundamental organizing concept of our work is not the Sufi Order but is in fact the Message in our time.  The five oncentrations are essential expressions or activities of the Message (perhaps in much the same way that Murshid talks about the soul as being an activity of God), and each has a unique but interrelated mission to fulfill.  It seemed to me then, and does so even more now, that the Sufi Order is too small a container to hold the fullness of the Message that we are meant to help unfold.  Perhaps the Message Council has already arrived at this, perhaps not.  I hope the Council will soon fully share the status and results of their deliberations.  We all share in the outcome of their work.
The Message in our time was born from within Sufism, perhaps in much the same way that Christianity was born from within Judaism.  For many years after the death of Jesus, his followers functioned as a Jewish sect and considered themselves as Jews.  However, they soon found (after lively and heated "discussions") that traditional Judaism could not contain the fullness of the Message that had been entrusted to their care.  They had to create new concepts and ways to express the Message. 

  I believe that we are at such a juncture in our relationship with Sufism.  In order to serve what Murshid called the Cause, we must, like "pioneers of the Message" blaze new trails and create new forms for expressing the future spirituality of humanity.  In doing so, we must bring forward from our past that which is valuable, while at the same time honoring but leaving behind that which no longer contributes toward the future.  If this means letting go of some traditions, including Sufi traditions, we must be willing to do so.  (On the other hand, letting go of Sufi traditions is the quintessential Sufi act!)

   As an example of one of the ways that we could evolve new forms, we could not only place the Sufi Order conceptually and organizationally within the larger concept and organization of the Message (whatever that might look like), but we could also replace the term 'Sufi Order' by another term, such as the Esoteric School or the Esoteric School of the Message.  We have already been doing that to some extent.  Prajapati goes part of the way when he states that the goals of the spiritual training of the Sufi Order are to enable individuals to attain "full spiritual independence, full individual sovereignty, and deep personal realization."  Going the whole way would simply be to add "…in order to serve the Message in our time."  The purpose of the Esoteric School is to prepare workers for the Cause, individuals who have realized the Message in themselves and are motivated and equipped to carry it forward in service to God and humanity.  Instead of emphasizing alignment with other Sufi Orders, we should continue to evolve the esoteric school into the Esoteric School of all Schools, incorporating more and more 
of the richness of all esoteric traditions while updating them for the 
spirituality of our time. 

   I believe it is essential that all of the concentrations remain 
"inner"connected, as well as interconnected, while at the same time evolving in their own unique ways to fulfill their missions.  To me this means that we would develop not Sufi Order Centers but Centers of the Message, in which members of all of the concentrations could recognize and celebrate their kinship in serving the Message while at the same time participating in the concentration(s) that appeal to them most.  Joining any of the concentrations would mean that a person becomes linked to the larger family of the Message.  It doesn't mean that one must become a 'Sufi,' but that one becomes part of what Murshid called a "world service," the "Cause"; one becomes a fellow worker for realizing and spreading the Message in our time. 

   As far as the future of the Universal Worship is concerned, it is time for us to let go of trembling and feeling confounded in order to build something real that is solidly grounded.  If we wait until we "get the vision right," until we "see the blueprint according to which the structure is to be built," we will wait for a long time.  Visioning is the beginning impulse of a project, and its full meaning is only discovered (and even perfected) in performing the actions that seek to manifest it.  In other words, it is only by encouraging and supporting cherags and communities of the Message to creatively pursue new ways of manifesting and spreading the Universal Worship that we will clarify and evolve the vision of the Universal Worship.  There is no perfect model waiting to be built according to plan, and we don't have time to wait for it anyway.  There are many different (but "inner"-related) models that, through the pioneering work of cherags, are waiting to be discovered and applied throughout the world in order to fit the many different types of communities and peoples who are longing to celebrate the Message in ways that take root and grow in the soil that they call home.

Wahhab Sheets in Austin, Texas USA