Chartered by Meher Baba in 1952, Sufism Reoriented was incorporated a year later as a non-profit religious organization. The first leader (Murshida) of the newly formed organization was Ivy Oneita Duce, a former businesswoman, magazine editor and Washington hostess during the years when her husband held senior positions in the Aramco oil corporation and in the U.S. government. . .
. . . For most of Mrs. Duce’s tenure, Sufism Reoriented was configured as a small study group, meeting either at her home or in a rented meeting room on Sutter Street in San Francisco. With the growing interest in spirituality that emerged in the early 1970s, Sufism moved to its current location in Walnut Creek, California. Membership approached its current level in the early 1980s and has remained consistent since that time. Sufism Reoriented does not proselytize or publicize its classes or activities, but welcomes new members who share a deep inner yearning to devote their lives to the love of God and service to his world following the guidance provided by Meher Baba.
Before her passing in 1981, Murshida Duce designated Dr. James S. B. MacKie as her successor. Dr. MacKie, a psychologist who had taught psychiatry at the University of Maryland Medical School and had served as a consultant for the Peace Corps, served in the role of Murshid until his passing in June 2001. He appointed the current teacher, Dr. Carol Weyland Conner, to assume the role of Murshida.
WHAT IS SUFISM?
The word “sufi” refers to the inner path of love for God that has always existed in Creation. It is a generic term found in many languages; for example, it has roots in common with the Greek word for “wisdom” (sophia), the Arabic word for “purity” (safa), and the Aramaic word for “wool” (suf or suppa), referring to the garment of the spiritual pilgrim. Sufism is a universal “path of the heart”, which can be found in any time, place, or culture.
SUFISM AND THE WORLD TEACHER
The stream of sufism throughout the ages is especially associated with the figure of the World Teacher, known in different traditions as the Avatar, the Buddha, the Christ, the Prophet, the Ancient One, who renews the divine message in every age. Sufis are drawn irresistibly by the flame of the World Teacher and surrender their lives in service to him. They dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to living his principles, the eternal principles of love for God and service to His world, freshly expressed in every epoch by his divine example.
There were sufis who followed Abraham, Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad, under different names and forms, always adapting to the new message of the time with the understanding that all these faith streams flow from the One Source. It is sometimes said that sufism is an offshoot of Islam. But sufism is no more a property of Islam than it is of any spiritual stream on Earth. It is associated with all of them, and, though inwardly ever the same, is always changing outwardly with the times.
This ancient stream of sufism has been renewed for our age by the contemporary World Teacher, Meher Baba. He has reoriented it to flow in a new direction according to the principles of the new spiritual age now dawning. Rather than living these principles in monasteries, deserts, and mountains removed from life, Meher Baba charged his Sufis to live them in daily life in America, anchor them in the Western world, and pattern a new mode of life for the coming New Humanity.