Sufism and Universal Harmony is the theme of the Seventh Annual International Association of Sufism Symposium, which is being held in Bellevue, Washington in May, 2000. Universal harmony may sound like an enormous subject. However, it is also a term that is used casually or informally, without a true understanding of its meaning or how it may be achieved. The psychology of Sufism is based on the understanding that to achieve harmony with the whole, we must first achieve harmony within ourselves.
One way that we may achieve harmony within is by removing conflicts, arguments, and imbalances from within our systems. As we achieve inner harmony we are not separate from the whole. Therefore, our connection to the whole must become balanced to fully experience harmony. The balance starts from within and moves outward to greater realms or domains of our lives. Once we begin to experience inner balance, harmony may then be achieved in our families and societies. On a larger scale harmony is achieved in our job settings, cultures, and expands to nature and the environment. To experience harmony, it must be achieved within and with each level of life as we live in the world. As harmony deepens and expands within, the Sufi practitioner will notice that the distinction between inner and outer diffuses and the experience of separation falls away. The microcosm and macrocosm come into balance.
Each of us may have varying amounts of success with achieving or experiencing harmony on different levels. For example, some of us may realize inner harmony as long as there are no disturbances in our family or at our jobs. Probably most of us have had the experience of achieving harmony in one aspect of our lives only to have some other aspect of life fall out of balance. In addition, some of us are more susceptible to disharmony than others, or some may achieve harmony on one level but consistently have greater difficulty at another specific level. Unless the problem can be seen, and changes made, we will have difficulty experiencing the state of universal harmony, the state in which we are balanced within our surroundings on every level. We will continue to be thrown off balance, or continue to be susceptible to disharmony, unless we find the rule of harmony within and then attune this harmony with our greater environment. Inner harmony, when fully achieved (meaning that it becomes a constant awareness) becomes an anchor for every aspect of our lives, which enables us to handle any situation that comes our way, on the physical, emotional, and environmental levels.
In studying the subject of harmony we may learn by looking at the physical system. As an example, we can see that the same concept of harmony discussed above applies to the immune system. Some of us may have a weakness or susceptibility in our physical systems. If our immune system is weak or out of balance we will be more prone to catching a cold or the flu than someone who has either an innate balance in his or her physical system, or has achieved balance through specific practices.
Additionally, if our systems are stressed or overwhelmed by outside factors we will also be more susceptible to contracting diseases. It is possible, knowing that the system is compromised, to avoid certain environmental stressors. However, it is also possible to balance the physical system from within. Over the long-term we can increase resilience by using specific practices such as eating and sleeping in moderation, regular exercise, and otherwise balancing and toning the physical system. If our immune systems are strengthened we will be less susceptible to outside influences. The same is true of inner harmony, beyond the physical system. As inner harmony is achieved vitality and health may be experienced on all levels and we may become less susceptible to the influences that might have thrown us off balance at another time in our lives. Harmony within is also known and experienced as self-confidence, which is something that everyone needs and is a major subject of psychology. When we have a strong source of stability within, we have a foundation of balance and harmony with the whole, including family, job, culture, nature, and environment. In this state we may experience great self-confidence in every aspect of our lives.
One may wonder how this self-confidence and healing can be achieved and how it may be facilitated or strengthened by the teacher or therapist. According to Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D., "Therapy and healing is achieved not only by talk; to be present at the presence of a stable person is 60% of healing." This statement provides important guidance on how we may become more effective at achieving harmony in our own lives and in helping those whom we treat in clinical practice. Just as we probably would not want to be treated by a physician who had a contagious disease, similarly, it is risky to put our inner lives in the hands of someone who has not achieved stability and harmony within his or her own system.