I wanted to know if there was a God. I wanted to know why there is pain and suffering, why people hurt each other, why there are wars and what holds everything together. In a sense I was driven to Sufism.
I grew up during the 60s and 70s in the spiritual supermarket of the world: California. Every possible flavor of religion bubbled around me as I sought to understand the nature of God and me. Some practices were older than others. But to understand the California culture one must understand that it is continually re-inventing itself. The very nature of California: food, the movie industry and spiritual endeavors is to be the newest, fastest, most-grossing, magical, biggest, darkest, lightest – any superlative ranks here. So when I “graduated” from my Jewish religious school at 15, I still had no idea of who or what God was. Everyone talked about God and made a big deal about it, but I didn’t get it. So I knocked at every door available for help in understanding this God idea.
And being in California there were so many nice people willing to help me. Entering college I discovered the rare and occult book section and began an investigation into Atlantis, and then onto Lemuria, a trip to Mount Shasta (the purple aura power centre), and soon ended up in pyramids and flying saucer research. From there I was led to the doors of various perceptions including gurus, ministers, charismatic’s, Masonics, Rosicrucian, and oddly manufactured cults of Chinese sutras with biblical fire passages. Don’t ask me to explain.
As I was growing up, I was also seriously studying piano and music composition. The idea of a teacher and student relationship was already formed by the time I was six years old. It was not always pleasant and joyful. There were many tears, but my piano teacher became renowned as a master instructor for concert pianists. At fifteen I made a choice that I wanted to become a composer and not take the concert pianist track. I wanted to learn my own music, not others. Of course everyone was disappointed, but it was something that helped me move forward in understanding my own heart.
From then on I began to get a small glimpse that there are several kinds of learning: one that is heart-directed, another that is teacher-directed, and a third that is ego-directed. After twenty long years of seeking I finally found my Sufi teacher, Shaykh Taner al Ansari: someone who knew what they were talking about. What he said was applicable to living life appropriately. As regards defining Sufism – well, how do you understand a flower or the sky? There is no linear understanding or teaching that makes sense to the heart.
I have been a musician and composer almost my entire life – that’s about 50 years of practicing, performing and recording. Those years taught me much about self-discipline, and without it I would not have understood the way of Sufism or other true paths. It has become clear to me that it is important for us to delineate the difference between true paths and false, and to understand the need for long-term commitment to a true path. As our society tries to adapt to overpopulation and the continued greed of capitalism, the need for an ethical and spiritual reality makes itself not only apparent but also vital to our soul. True paths such as Sufism offer a remedy of mercy and compassion in a heart-starved world.
I was appointed a Shaykh in 1995 by my Shaykh, Taner Ansari. Over my years of service I took on students from Australia. After making annual visits to Australia for a while, I was finally instructed by my Shaykh to follow my students and come to Australia to live permanently. Arriving in 2006 (from US) my focus is to make Sufism available to Australians. I live in Sydney’s Blue Mountains and travel as needed.