»Man´s greatest need today is for the exploration of the human personality, in order to find there the latent inspiration and power upon which to build the whole structure of his life. For life means not only to live, but to ennoble oneself and reach that perfection which is the innate yearning of the soul. The solution to the problem of the day is the awakening of the consciousness of humanity to the divinity of man.« Hazrat Inayat Khan
Sufism is not easily defined, for it is neither a religion nor a doctrine. It is not made up of a body of dogma which one must follow, and it does not require its constituents to rely upon specific, prescribed rituals or techniques as part of a spiritual practice. It is not distinctive of any particular race, nation, or church; it has existed across cultures, over centuries. Sufism is a way of looking at the world and a way of living in the world. Yet even when no particular form can be precisely defined, it is possible to describe some of its characteristics
Rather than requiring withdrawal from the world, Sufism practices immersion in life, bringing one's highest ideals into everyday practice. It is a way for humanity to awaken to the abundance of life, both individually and collectively, in every area of human enterprise. Sufism is a contemporary response to the needs of the time and culture within which it exists.
»If anybody asks you, "What is Sufism? What religion is it?" you may answer, "Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which one thing is most important, and that is to seek God in the heart of mankind."
There are three ways of seeking God in the human heart. The first way is to recognize the divine in every person and to be careful of every person with whom we come in contact, in our thought, speech, and action. Human personality is very delicate. The more living the heart, the more sensitive it is. But that which causes sensitiveness is the love-element in the heart, and love is God. The person whose heart is not sensitive is without feeling; his heart is not living, it is dead. In that case the Divine Spirit is buried in his heart.
A person who is always concerned with his own feelings is so absorbed in himself that he has no time to think of another. His whole attention is taken up with his own feelings. He pities himself: he worries about his own pain, and is never open to sympathize with others. He who takes notice of the feeling of another person with whom he comes in contact, practices the first essential moral of Sufism.
The next way of practicing this religion is to think of the feeling of the person who is not at the moment before us. One feels for a person who is present, but one often neglects to feel for someone who is out of sight. One speaks well of someone to his face, but if one speaks well of someone when he is absent, that is greater. One sympathizes with the trouble of someone who is before one at the moment, but it is greater to sympathize with one who is far away. And the third way of realizing the Sufi principle is to recognize in one´s own feeling the feeling of God; to realize every impulse of love that rises in one´s heart as a direction from God; realizing that love is a divine spark in one´s heart, to blow that spark until a flame may rise to illuminate the path of one´s life.« Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Sufi Order is an inter-religious body honoring all religions, traditions and teachings. Its broadest aim is the unity of humanity in brother/sisterhood and wisdom achieved through tolerance, compassion and respect for freedom. It stresses the ideal of living a deeply spiritual life in the midst of the world. The Sufi Order emphasizes the integrated development of inner life and outer accomplishment.
The Sufi Order evolved from the universal spiritual tradition of the Chishti lineage that originated in the East and was brought to the West by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, the founder of the Sufi Order in the West. He was given the task by his Sufi teacher to "unite East with West in the harmony of your music". As the first Sufi teacher in the West, he sought to make the spiritual legacy of Sufism responsive to the needs of our time. He was one of the first to speak of an emerging planetary consciousness as the next stage in the spiritual evolution of humanity.
In the later years of his life Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan spoke of Sufism as a mother who would give birth to a child, which he called the Message, that is beyond any names or labels. He believed the Message would facilitate the awakening of the consciousness of humanity to the divinity within, and bring a new life to all facets of human endeavor. The Sufi Order offers classes, seminars, and retreats to all. It is also an esoteric school offering individual training which is entered into through the process of initiation.
The Sufi Order comprises five inter-related main activities, created by Hazrat Inayat Khan :
»The symbol of the Sufi Order, which is a heart with wings, is symbolic of its ideal. The heart is both earthly and heavenly. The heart is a receptacle on earth of the divine spirit, and when it holds the divine spirit it soars heavenward; the wings picture its rising. The crescent in the heart symbolizes responsiveness; it is the heart that responds to the spirit of God that rises. The crescent is a symbol of responsiveness because it grows fuller by responding more and more to the sun as it progresses. The light one sees in the crescent is the light of the sun. It gets more light with increasing response, so it becomes fuller of the light of the sun. The star in the heart of the crescent represents the divine spark reflected in the human heart as love, which helps the crescent toward its fullness. « Hazrat Inayat Khan
The winged heart is also represented as the tughra of the Sufi Order.