TOPIC: Sufi Spiritual Practice
The Life of each Human Being is an expression of the overall Nature and Meaning of
Reality.   That expression can unfold in two interrelated ways:   as a specific instance
within the totality of Reality . . . and as Microcosm of that totality.   Sufi Spiritual
Practice is a conscious, intentional process that reflects an understanding of the first . . .
and a process for realizing the second.
Viewed chronologically (or developmentally), Human Beings first reflect Reality's
Diversity (with its corresponding dynamic of Differentiation).  Each individual
unfolds as a unique, even though partial, realization of the total possibilities of Reality.
We are each born at a certain time, at a certain place, and develop in a certain way --
without much initial awareness, attunement, or cooperation on our part.   For the vast
majority of people, their entire lives unfold in only this first possible way.
For others, however, there arises the possibility of undergoing an additional unfolding.
Through Sufi Spiritual Practice, specifically, we can reflect not only the unique instance
of Diversity that makes up our individual Life, but we can also reflect, at different
levels, the Unity (with its corresponding dynamic of Unification) of that Diversity.
A diagram is sometimes used by Sufism to illustrate these two ways that Human Beings
reflect Reality.  The first half of the figure illustrates an "Arc of Descent":
It represents the invariable process by which the possibilities that make up an Individual
Human Being's Life (the specific time, place, personality, etc.) unfold ("descend") into
Reality from the Unity of all such possibilities, according to certain patterns (especially
those known as the "Lataif").  It is how the Diversity of Reality (and its Meaning) is
reflected in each and every Human Being.
The second half of the figure illustrates an "Arc of Ascent":
It represents an additional, but not inevitable, process by which the patterns that unfold
from Unity (especially the "Lataif" . . .) and the Unity itself can be realized in their own
right within an Individual Human Being.   It is how a Microcosm of both the Unity and
Diversity of Reality (and their Meaning) can be expressed through a Human Being.
Sufi Spiritual Practice reflects these two arcs.
First, it is a detailed understanding and appreciation of the "Arc of Descent" -- how each
Human Being develops his one specific personality from all such Human possibilities:
Mentally, Emotionally, and Bodily.
Second, it is a conscious, intentional, and cooperative attunement to the "Arc of Ascent"
-- in which the Unity (at different levels) from which all Human possibilities arise can
itself be realized within an Individual . . .