Contemplative Community


The Desert Fellowship of the Message
• Inayati-Maimuni Tariqat
• Sadiq M. Alam

THE INAYATI-MAIMUNI TARIQAT is an inter-spiritual fellowship of seekers committed to a rigorous path of spiritual development based upon both Sufi and Hasidic principles and practices. In this tariqat or “order,” the Sufi lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927), the first Sufi master to bring Sufism into the West, has been joined to the Hasidic lineage of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Ba’al Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of the influential 18th Century Hasidic movement. It is not the first time that these two mystical paths associated with Islam and Judaism have been brought together; in true spirit the original Egyptian Sufi-Hasidism was practiced by Rabbi Avraham Maimuni of Fustat (1186-1237), who successfully combined these paths as far back as the 13th Century.

For this reason, the “Inayati-Maimuniyya,” is called honoring both Inayat Khan’s vision of Sufism as a universal approach to spirituality, and Avraham Maimuni’s radical innovation which made a peaceful marriage between Jewish Hasidism and Islamic Sufism in a time of open conflict between the Abrahamic traditions.

• Sufism
• The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World
• William C. Chittick, John O. Voll, and Kazuo
• Oxford Islamic Studies Online

Sufism can be described broadly as the intensification of Islamic faith and practice, or the tendency among Muslims to strive for a personal engagement with the Divine Reality.... The original sense of Ṣūfī seems to have been “one who wears wool (ṣūf).” In the eighth century the word was sometimes being applied to Muslims whose ascetic inclinations led them to wear coarse and uncomfortable woolen garments. Gradually it came to designate a group who differentiated themselves from others by stressing certain teachings and practices .... . By the ninth century the gerund form taṣawwuf, which means literally “being a Ṣūfī” or “Sufism,” was adopted by some representatives of this group as an appropriate, though by no means the only, designation of their own beliefs and practices....

In general, Ṣūfīs have looked upon themselves as Muslims who take seriously God's call to perceive his presence in the world and the self. They generally stress inwardness over outwardness, contemplation over action, spiritual development over legalism, and cultivation of the soul over social interaction. Theologically, Ṣūfīs speak of God's mercy, gentleness, and beauty ....

... The characteristic Ṣūfī institutions–the “orders” (ṭarīqahs)–do not begin to play a major role in Islamic history until about the twelfth century, but even after that, Ṣūfīs were not necessarily affiliated with an order....

... It [Sufism] intensifies Islamic ritual life through careful attention to the details of the sunnah [tradition] and by focusing on the remembrance of God (dhikr), which is commanded by the Qurʿān and the ḥadīth and taken by Ṣūfī authors as the raison d’être of Islamic ritual. Dhikr typically takes the form of the methodical repetition of certain names of God or Qurʿān formulae, such as the first Shahādah [testimony of faith]....

Sober Sufism tends to employ prose and to provide rational explications that are ideal for manuals of doctrine and practice and for keeping an eye on the opinions of jurists and kalām [speech, words, or dialectical theology] experts. It has usually attracted the more educated Ṣūfī practitioners, who were willing to devote long hours to studying texts that were no easier than works on jurisprudence, kalām, or philosophy. The attention that it pays to all sorts of juridical and theological issues can quickly prove tiring to any but those trained in the Islamic sciences.

Drunken [intoxicated] expressions of Sufism predominate in Ṣūfī poetry, which is ideally suited to descriptions of the imaginal realm of unveiled knowledge....

Ṣūfī orders represent one of the most important forms of personal piety and social organization in the Islamic world. In most areas, an order is called a ṭarīqah (pl. ṭuruq), which is the Arabic word for “path” or “way.” The term ṭarīqah is used for both the social organization and the special devotional exercises that are the basis of the order’s ritual and structure. As a result, the Ṣūfī orders or ṭarīqahs include a broad spectrum of activities in Muslim history and society.

Becoming a Student
• Ansari Sufi Order of the Southern Hemisphere

In our ṭarīqa [path] our focus is Allāh only....

... You must surrender to Allāh’s [God’s] will....

Our path is the path of love. The shortest distance between you and Allāh is love. We learn through love, not fear. Our only fear is that Allāh will dismiss us from Allāh’s service.

Are you willing to hold fast to the rope of Allāh? Are you ready to take the step to polish your heart, clean your nafs [ego], surrender to Allah [Allāh] though it may be very difficult?

Ṣūfī Contemplative Traditions: A Bridge to
  Intercultural Dialogue and Peacemaking
• Meena Sharify-Funk
• Assistant Professor, Religion and Culture,
  Wilfred Laurier University

Islām’s contemplative tradition, Ṣūfism, is an exceptionally varied, culturally diverse, and historically significant spirituality. For centuries, Ṣūfīs played formative roles in Muslim cultures from West Africa to China, leaving for posterity a remarkable tradition of philosophy and spiritual practice, calligraphy, music, dance, and architecture.

The Bektashi Order of Dervishes
• The People of the Cave

“The Bektashis,” says Ahmad Sultan, a Ṣūfī scholar and prominent calligrapher whose family was well-acquainted with the order, “were different from other religious orders in that their members were prmarily warriors. Of course they followed the basic concepts of Ṣūfism, which can be defined in a simplified way as the attempt to bring about the development of the whole being through enlightenment, based on the discipline of body and mind; but while most Ṣūfī orders concentrate on spiritual development, Bektashis stressed physical strength equally, through the practice of martial arts. They exercised strenuously and constantly and achieved a degree of control of all their faculties so great that they became superior warriors, instrumental in giving the Ottoman armies their reputation for courage as well as ruthlessness. They contributed in a major way to the Ottomans’ successes in building their empire.” After the Ottoman collapse, of course, adds Sultan, “the Bektashis abandoned martial arts and became a contemplative order of celibate dervishes whose dwindling membership had no wish to meddle in the affairs of the world. This is how they were known in Egypt.” Commenting on the religious practices of the order, the Blue Guide describes the Bektashi dogma as an amalgam of Sunnī and Shīʾi but with the added imposition on the initiates of the practices of asceticism and celibacy inspired by Christian monasticism.

• Common Terms

A contemplative is a person whose life is shaped by constant prayerful awareness of the presence and action of God in their lives and in the world.

Institute for Contemplative Living

We understand contemplation as the process of seeing God in everything, and tactical contemplation as a set of contemplative practices that may be applied to respond contemplatively to the exigencies of daily living.....

So how do we create a contemplative community given the realities of our twenty-first-century lives? Well, we do it electronically. That’s what the ICL is about, creating an electronic community, a sort of monastery without walls, of people interested in contemplation, but who live at a distance from one another.

Incarnational Contemplation
• David Frenette

The ancient tradition of contemplative Christianity has always ebbed and flowed. Its subtle, quiet values are often over-run by social and political change. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Christian contemplation existed as a living tradition primarily only in monasteries, but in the late twentieth century contemplative practice was renewed outside monasteries. Contemplative teachings, practices, resources and small communities, both within and outside of churches, are now available for those drawn to this quiet tradition.

God brings the contemplative path back to life for new seekers in every generation. Although fragile in the world, the contemplative life is is based in God. It is eternal. It is the still quiet life of God within us which searches for and recognizes the invitation of contemplation.

Incarnational contemplation and Centering Prayer are part of the renewal of Christian contemplation. We hope the resources of this website help you on your journey, as you listen and are drawn by God to explore contemplation.

The World Community for Christian Meditation
• Founded by Fr. John Main

If you would like to explore this Benedictine path as a way of life growing out of your meditation we will be happy to help you understand what it involves. You will find basic vision by reading John Main's Community of Love....

John Main is the founding father of the community and the first thing an Oblate does is familiarize themselves with his teaching. The teaching on meditation is available through many books and CD's. John Main had a vision of ‘a new monasticism’. He speaks of this in a collection of essays published as ‘Community of Love’. For those who can read English (and so far it is only available in English) it is a valuable text to see how meditation fits into the monastic tradition. The same theme is covered in the recently published ‘Monastery without Walls’– a collection of John Main’s letters to the community....

An Oblate would also commit themselves to some form of ‘Lectio Divina’ during the day. For many this takes the form of ‘the Divine Office’ which is some part of the daily prayer of the Church; psalms, readings, intercessions etc. These are normally woven in around the times of meditation. For others it may be a time reflecting on a Gospel passage or psalm each day. The World Community for Christian Meditation has also received ‘Silence and Stillness for Every Season’ (Ed. Paul Harris) that gives a reading for each day of the year.

Contemplative Outreach of Colorado

There are four online contemplative communities for those interested in learning Centering Prayer or are already practicing it as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating OCSO and Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.

Contemplative Community
• Bro. David Steindl-Rast O.S.B.

On one end of the spectrum lies a type of community in which togetherness is the goal that is sought above all: a particularly close-knit family, for example. We may call this type togetherness-community. On the other end of the spectrum lies a community totally oriented towards solitude, for instance, a community of hermits. Let us call this type solitude-community. Since in either case both solitude and togetherness are essential for true community, the difference is one of emphasis....

By contemplative life we do not mean life in a cloister. Contemplative life as a vocation means a particular form of life in which, ideally at least, every detail of daily living is oriented towards recollection. By recollection we mean mindfulness, ultimately unlimited mindfulness, the inner attitude by which we find meaning. Contemplative life in this sense is a form of life designed to provide an optimum environment for radical search for meaning.

The Contemplative Sisters of the Good

To be a contemplative, and everyone has a built-in capacity to be one; we must come to a profound self-knowledge that is both frightening and liberating. We learn to surrender and yield to a God whom we cannot understand most of the time but dare to trust! We let go. We believe God's Word and care for God's world with no strings attached. We accept who we are. We also let ourselves be like furrowed ground that lies in wait for the seeds of transformation, confident that God will bring these to fruition in us.

Contemplative communities believe that one of the most time-tested way to bring God's reconciling love and peace into the world is through a contemplative vocation nourished daily by a rhythm of prayer, work and leisure.

Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Catholic Contemplative Affiliation (CCA) affords support to Christians who, while living in the world, seek to live the contemplative life within the Catholic tradition, affirming complete commitment to the mystery of God's inner life within them and, at the same time, embracing in loving obedience the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church and rejoicing in the Church as the visible fullness of the Body of Christ.

The Contemplative Order of Compassion

The Contemplative Order of Compassion is a non-sectarian intentional spiritual community, rooted in the rich tradition of Buddhist Dharma, interpreted through an inclusive, non-religious, culturally relevant, post-denominational and post-modern lens.

Drawing on a diverse heritage, inspired by the monastic and contemplative spirituality of the Benedictine Camaldolese, the pre-institutional Franciscan charism of caring for the sick and poor, the Quaker tradition of interior listening and discernment and the non-dualistic philosophy of Buddhist and Advaita dharma, the Contemplative Order of Compassion is committed to an unorthodox, non-traditional and often controversial spiritual practice – affirming the essential truths taught by the great Masters: Buddhā Sakyamuni and Rabbi Yeshua ben Yusef (Jesus the Nazarene), which are often obscured by the institutional dogma and doctrine, cultural mythos and superstition and midrashic literature that has been regarded as scripture.

Order of Buddhist Contemplatives
• Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, Founder

The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives is dedicated to the practice of the Serene Reflection Meditation tradition, known as Tsʾao-Tung Chʾan in China and Sōtō Zen in Japan....

The practice of the Order emphasizes serene reflection meditation, mindfulness in daily life, and adherence to the Buddhist Precepts. The Order provides opportunities for Buddhist practice at introductory and advanced levels to lay people and offers training programs for women and men in both the lay ministry and the priesthood.

The Order of Bels

The Order of Bels is a private world-wide ecumenical organization which promotes spiritual growth and religious tolerance. The Order has members from all of the world’s major religious faiths, including Judaism, Christianity, Islām, the Baháʾí Faith, Ṣūfism, Zoroastrianism, Hindūism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintō, and Zen.

The Order of Bels has no outer or conventional organization, but its members are guided entirely through contemplative practices of prayer and meditation. The Order of Bels is a contemplative and ecumenical organization concerned with spiritual formation, which is inherently God-centered and not personality-centered. Thus the work of the Order is conducted through its members not by virtue of what they say or do, but by virtue of how they live their lives, through character and consciousness. Members simply endeavor to live according to spiritual principles.

The real test of character and consciousness is in the way people treat each other. Each member of the Order endeavors to live according to the ethical and moral teachings of his or her faith.