About a century ago there were no Western gurus - no Westerners who were Hindu swamis, Zen roshis or Sufi sheikhs. Now there are hundreds. From a standing start, the West has produced its own spiritual teachers in traditions that were originally quite foreign. And in the last 25 years, a number of independent teachers have appeared, who belong to no tradition but teach from themselves.
These people are changing Western culture by making available a view of the human condition which is new in the West. This view is based on four principles:
- human beings are best understood in terms of consciousness and its modifications,
- consciousness can be transformed by spiritual practice,
- there are gurus/masters/teachers who have done this,
- and they can help others to do the same by some form of transmission.
Hundreds of thousands of Westerners now accept this teaching. To begin with, it was propounded by Easterners: Buddhists,
Hindus and Sufis. But gradually Westerners began to teach the Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi versions of it. Of course, Eastern
FALSAFEH Vol. 37, No. 3, Autumn 2009, pp. 37-64
teachers are still important; but now Westerners are doing all the jobs, fulfilling all the roles. They are the gurus and masters now. And they are also doing something new: a genuinely Western form of this teaching is emerging because it is only in the West that the different Eastern forms have come together so that they can be compared. In fact, the West presently contains a greater variety of spiritual teachers than has ever existed in any previous time or place. There is more exploration going on in Los Angeles than there is in Tokyo or Banaras.
The Western genius is to cross boundaries of all kinds and Western teachers have certainly done that:
in terms of geography and nationality - they come from America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and every country in Western Europe (except Norway and Portugal) - and there is also the occasional East European (Russian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Polish); a few of them are the children of Eastern parents (or one Eastern parent and one Western) but are really Western because they have been born and brought up in the West; and some of the all-Western teachers teach in the East (India, Sri Lanka, Japan) or have taken Eastern teachings to parts of the world that are neither Eastern nor Western (Africa, and Central and South America);
in terms of traditions - they have moved from one tradition to another; abandoned traditions altogether and continued as independent teachers; entered more than one tradition; established a Western offshoot of a tradition; and created completely new traditions.
Easterners do these things very rarely or not at all. Tibetan teachers, for example, know little about vipassana meditation or the practice of zazen; Indian teachers who repeat the name of Ram have no contact with Egyptian Sufis who recite the 99 names of Allah. It is Westerners who are making these connections - and when they ask questions about them, it is often a Western teacher who provides an answer. So Western teachers are not just copies of the Eastern models - a few are, but the vast majority are doing something different. And because they have approached Eastern traditions from every possible angle, Western teachers are extremely varied (which means that they can appeal to all tastes). Some are conservative,
some are innovators; some have huge organizations, others are practically impossible to find; some make a lot of money, others have taken a vow of poverty; some are gentle, some are fierce; some make extremely high claims for themselves, others are very modest.
The youngest was born in 1985 (Lama Osel, a Spanish boy recognized as a tulku by the Dalai Lama); the oldest (Jeanne de Salzmann, a French student of Gurdjieff, who met him in Moscow before the revolution!) was still teaching when she died in 1990 at the age of 99.
They include aristocrats, doctors, musicians, artists, ex-soldiers, Catholic priests, ex-nuns; a follower of the Mother who appeared in Fellini's films (Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet); an ex-Hare Krishna guru who made films with Andy Warhol (Bhavananda); a Sufi teacher who sang in a pop group that had Top Ten hits in America and Britain (Reshad Feild); and a guru in Arizona who sings rock 'n' roll in his own Living God Blues Band (Lee Lozowick).
There have been great successes and abysmal failures. You name it - somebody, somewhere, has done it.
The Distinctiveness of Early Western Sufism
All the Western versions of Eastern traditions have started off by taking a form that is decidedly idiosyncratic - which is hardly surprising, given that religious traditions are extremely complex and take time to assimilate. We have already seen this (in the period up to 1939) in
Theravada which began with Theosophical Buddhism, interspliced with general lay Buddhism in the West and a handful of Western monks in Burma and Ceylon;
Zen which was kept going in America by Nyogen Senzaki and Sokei-an (each of whom had a few students), plus five or six Western enthusiasts who practised in Japan for a short while;
Tibetan Buddhism which, in the face of complete silence from the Tibetans themselves, was investigated by a very small number of Western pioneers - primarily in India and Sikkim (but hardly at all in Tibet);
and Hinduism which was brought to the West by Swami Vivekananda, and later by Paramahansa Yogananda, but was also represented by an assortment of Westerners such as Madame Blavatsky, Yogi Ramacharaka, Oom the Omnipotent, Arthur Avalon, the Mother, Sri Krishna Prem, Ren Gunon and Paul Brunton - all of whom had their own agenda and none of whom had any connection with each other
Early Western Sufism is quite as idiosyncratic as any of these. But it is also different from any of them - not just because Sufism is different from Buddhism and Hinduism but because it was established in a unique way. In fact, Western Sufism began with two quite distinct forms which were practically opposites.
One of them, the Sufi Order, was brought to the West by an Indian Sufi of the Chishti Order, Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, who introduced two fundamental innovations: he separated Islam from Sufism; and he gave women - Western women, at that - important positions in the Order. In effect, these innovations made the Order a purely Western phenomenon (even though it was started by an Eastern teacher).
The other consisted of Westerners in the Shadhili Order and its sub-branches in Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, all of whom were either initiated in those countries or in the West by Westerners who had been authorized to give initiations; no Eastern Shadhili (that is, from Egypt, Algeria or Morocco) ever came to the West. All of these Western Shadhiliyya were Moslem and all of them were men. Yet though they were orthodox Sufis in the sense that they followed the same practice as their brethren in North Africa, they were also different from the vast majority of Eastern Sufis in one vital respect: they were Traditionalists. That is, they regarded all religious traditions as valid; and they had chosen the Sufi way not because it was more true than the other great traditions but because it was more effective. This notion of Tradition with a capital T goes back to one of the first Western Shadhili, Ren Gunon.
What we find, then, is an innovative form of non-Moslem Sufism introduced into the West by an Eastern teacher existing alongside, but completely independently of, a form of Sufism that is unequivocally Moslem yet at the same time Traditional - and this Traditionalism is itself propounded by Western, not Eastern, Sufis. Both of these were extremely rare in the East - if they existed at all.
And different as they are, they also have one element in common: they are both instances of 'universal' Sufism - that is, they both held that Sufism was just as true for 20th century Westerners as for anybody else. But they held opposite views concerning the location of this truth. Hazrat Inayat Khan taught that it was in 'inner' Sufism - the mystical core that is found in all religions, independent of the external shell; the Western Shadhiliyya-cum-Traditionalists said that, on the contrary, it was in the whole fruit of Islam, both the outer shell (Shari'a) and the inner core (Haqiqa).
How this fundamental divergence in Western Sufism came about, and the subsequent developments, is an interesting story.
It would be wrong to say that the West of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was totally unprepared for Sufism but the ground was not very fertile. There are a number of reasons for this but they all come down to one: Sufism wasn't very accessible. On the face of it, this seems odd because, unlike Theravada, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, all of which can only be found in a relatively few countries, Sufi Orders existed in every Moslem country - that is, the entire Middle East (the Arabian Peninsula; what are now Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Israel; and Persia) plus Afghanistan, India (which included what is now Pakistan) and North Africa from Egypt to Morocco. So there was no lack of choice or variety.
Moreover, there was a considerable body of what might be called Western Sufi scholarship - mostly translations but with a few expositions as well. (Details of these early works, from de Tassy's translation of Attar in 1864 to Nicholson's 'The Mystics of Islam' in 1914 can be found in the list of Sufi Dates at the end of this article.) So the classics of Sufism were certainly as available in Western languages as those of Theravada and Hinduism - at a fairly early date. (Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, by contrast, had very few translations or expositions in this early period.)
Yet these apparent advantages - a great variety of Sufi orders in a dozen or so countries and a fair sample of translations and expositions - did not have nearly as much impact as one would expect. The Western translations were mainly concerned with Persian Sufism, and Persia, though it had diplomatic, military and trade connections with the West (mainly Britain), did not have a resident Western population (unlike India and Ceylon). On top of that, the Sufi orders in general, throughout the Moslem world, were not in a very vigorous state. This is shown by the fact that only one account of Sufism by a non-Westerner was published in the West before 1914: Mohammed Iqbal's 'The Development of Metaphysics in Persia' (London, 1908). But Iqbal, though he came from a pious Moslem family, wasn't a Sufi. Moreover, the book that did appear in 1914 was Hazrat Inayat Khan's 'A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty' (published by the Theosophical Publishing House, incidentally) - which is to say that it presented a non-Moslem form of Sufism.
So we are left with the two usual ways in which Westerners entered Eastern traditions: by being taught by an Eastern teacher in the West, or by entering the tradition in the East (and I take the term 'East' to include all Moslem/Sufi countries). And here we come to the particular conditions that apply to the development of Western Sufism and which make it different from all other Western forms of Eastern traditions:
there was one, and only one, Eastern Sufi teacher in the entire West - Hazrat Inayat Khan - and he was quite untypical of Sufism for three reasons: he was Indian (and India, despite having a very large Moslem population, was not a Moslem country); he did not in any sense represent the Chishti Order in India but was rather an independent Sufi following his own track; and, as I have already mentioned, he presented a form of Sufism that was non-Moslem and gave a central place to women;
and there were no Western practitioners in Sufi countries (until Ren Gunon went to live in Egypt in 1930); instead, a handful of Westerners made contact with the Shadhili Order in North Africa and were initiated there, and it was they, rather than their Sufi sheikh, who spread this form of Sufism in the West; and perhaps the most important aspect of this form of orthodox Western Sufism was that it was secret; there were no public meetings and no books - in fact, no public face of any kind; one could only find out about it if one was allowed to.
These two developments, which are practically the inverse of each other, explain why Western Sufism is so unusual during this early period: the only accessible form, Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order, is in the West but quite unlike Chishti Sufism in India (or any other kind of Sufism, come to that); and the only Moslem form of Sufism that Westerners can practice is also in the West - but it is secret and only Westerners teach it.
It is interesting to compare this situation with the Western forms of the other traditions (up until 1930, say, when Gunon went to live in Egypt). It is certainly possible to argue that all the Eastern teachers who visited the West and had Western followers are in some way untypical of their tradition. I am thinking here of Anagarika Dharmapala (Theravada), Nyogen Senzaki and Sokei-an (Zen), Swami Vivekananda and other monks of the Ramakrishna Order (Hinduism). Moreover, there are very few of them: one Theravadin, two Zen teachers, a handful of Hindu teachers - and no Tibetans at all. So Inayat Khan, the sole Eastern Sufi teacher in the West, fits this pattern very well: someone who presented a teaching in a form that Westerners could understand. Whether he was right in adapting Sufism in the way he did is a question I deal with in ch.3 (The Issues). The point to be made here is that his was the only form of Sufism that Westerners had any real access to. The Shadhili Order, though it can trace its beginnings to Agueli's initiation in 1907, did not get get into its stride until the 1930s - and was in any case secret.
And there were no Sufi equivalents to the various Buddhist societies in the West, which existed in every major Western country. Whatever one may think of these societies - and it has to be said that they were somewhat amateurish - they did provide a focus of ideas as well as a considerable amount of variety. Even Tibetan Buddhism, which had no Tibetan representative in the West, benefited from this forum because there was at least some kind of Tibetan Buddhism in Westerners' minds.
Hinduism in the West also had far more variety than Sufism. True, there were no Hindu societies; and true, Western Hinduism was dominated by the Ramakrishna Order and Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship up until the 1950s. But other forms of Hinduism did exist. It was an important element in Theosophy, for example, and there were two or three Theosophical translations of Hindu classics such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. Then there were Avalon's translations of Tantric texts; plus assorted mavericks such as Yogi Ramacharaka and Oom the Omnipotent. Again, the quality and validity of these forms of Hinduism is not the issue here. What is important is that they existed at all - and that no Sufi equivalents did.
Finally, Theravada and Hinduism had Western followers living and practising in the East: Theravada monks like Allan Bennett/Ananda Maitreya and Anton Gueth/Nyanatiloka Thera; Hindus such as Margaret Noble/Sister Nivedita, Mira Richard/the Mother and Ronald Nixon/Sri Krishna Prem. Again, there aren't many of them but their mere existence is significant. And for three reasons: first, at least some people in the West knew of their existence; second, some of these Western Easterners produced books; third, these practitioners were part of their tradition and therefore added to the richness and variety that Westerners could draw on when approaching the tradition themselves.
But there were no Western Sufis in Sufi countries. There are a number of reasons for this, including the weak state of Sufism generally throughout the Moslem world as a result of Western colonialism. But the real explanation is that Sufism is an integral part of Moslem society and one cannot be a Sufi without at the same time having a social role. Sufism does have specific religious communities (called khanqahs or zawiyahs) but they are not separate from ordinary society in the way that Buddhist monasteries or Hindu ashrams can be - by which, I mean that Buddhist and Hindu society makes space in itself, so to speak, so that monasteries and ashrams can be distinct from ordinary life. But in Islam, there is no fundamental divide between lay and spiritual life - rather, Sufi communities can be regarded as intensifications of ordinary (with added ingredients, perhaps, but not based on different principles). Moreover, Sufi practice is communal rather than individual. What all this comes down to is that Eastern Sufism is practised by Moslems who already have their place in a Moslem society, and their Sufi practice is itself social - both because it is communal and because a gathering of Sufis is part of Moslem culture.
Needless to say, it is exceedingly difficult for Westerners to fit into this pattern. They cannot enter a specifically religious community, cold, as it were (as Westerners have done in Buddhist monasteries and Hindu ashrams); nor can they practice on their own, anonymously, as it were. Rather, they must already be part of Moslem society - which means being accepted by that society rather than a special sub-section of it such as a monastery or an ashram - before they can become Sufis. This explains why, even to day, Western Sufis in Eastern countries are rare. In the first decades of this century, they did not exist at all. (People like Isabelle Eberhardt, whom I mention below, are not really exceptions to this general rule.)
It is true that Zen and Tibetan Buddhism also did not have Western practitioners in the East until around the 1920s - and in this respect, they are somewhat similar to Sufism. But the variety of each of these traditions was to some extent provided by the Buddhist societies. And in addition, Tibetan Buddhism was also a significant part of Western esotericism.
All of these factors were missing in early Western Sufism: no Sufi societies (of the general lay sort that we find in Buddhism); no links with Western esotericism; no Western practitioners in Sufi countries. Instead, we have a single Eastern teacher - Hazrat Inayat Khan - who teaches quite independently of his Chishti Order in India; and a secret form of the North African Shadhili Order, which begins around 1907 but does not get into its stride until the 1930s. This is a deeply idiosyncratic beginning to Western Sufism, and no mistake.
Now for its specific history. I have already mentioned the background of Western translations and expositions, which, because they concentrated on Persian classics (with some Arabic thrown in) tended to point Westerners towards a country where it was virtually impossible for them to fit in even if they had wanted to. (In fact, I think it is true to say that Western scholarship played no significant part in the development of Western Sufism.) The first active contact with Sufism - and by 'active' I mean with the intention of following Sufism - came in North Africa. In 1900, Isabelle Eberhardt, an extraordinary Russian better known as a pioneering explorer, was initiated into the Qadiri Order in Tunisia at the age of 23. But this was an isolated initiation, unconnected with any Sufi community, and I think we have to regard it as an exception, made by a Qadiri sheikh who was impressed by Eberhardt and wanted to show her some favour. In any case, nothing came of her initiation; she died four years later, drowned in a flash flood.
The Beginnings of the Western Shadhiliyya
But another contact was made in North Africa shortly afterwards - in Egypt by Ivan Agueli, a Swedish painter living in Paris. Agueli was interested in esotericism - he was a member of the Paris Theosophical Society - and particularly that form of it which held that all religions are aspects of a single truth. And it is no accident that in 1907, while on his second visit to Egypt, he was initiated by a Sufi sheikh: 'Abd al-Rahman 'Illyash al-Kabir, who was not only head of a somewhat obscure branch of the Shadhili Order, the Arabiyya-Shadhiliyya but, more importantly, interested in what might be called Islamic universalism. He traced this teaching back to Ibn 'Arabi - and it is possible that he either founded, or was a member of, an order called the Akbariyya (named after Ibn 'Arabi, who is often referred to as 'Akbar', the Great One). In any event, 'Abd al-Rahman appointed Agueli (whose Sufi name was 'Abd al-Hadi) as a moqaddem - that is, one who has the authority to initiate others into Sufism. Whether he was a moqaddem of the Arabiyya-Shadhiliyya or the Akbariyya is unclear; but I suspect the latter since Agueli was soon writing for esoteric periodicals on such recherch subjects as Islam and Taoism - hardly straightforward Sufi material.
It is highly significant that Agueli, the first Westerner to be given a spiritual function in Sufism, was a Traditionalist - a term that I explain more fully when I get to Ren Gunon - and that his sheikh was too. In fact, this form of Sufi universalism was radical and innovative; I doubt if more than a handful of Eastern Sufis would have been able to understand what Traditionalism was.
It is also worth pointing out that this first step in Western Sufism was entirely unconnected with Western scholarship. Agueli did not go to Egypt because he had read translations of Sufi classics but because he was searching for a source of wisdom (which is essentially an esoteric notion). And it is somewhat ironic that Reynold Nicholson, a Cambridge scholar who never went to any Moslem/Sufi country, produced a translation of one of Ibn 'Arabi's works in 1911 at precisely the time that Agueli was publishing his own expositions of Sufism as an initiate of the Akbariyya in French esoteric journals. The two men inhabited quite different worlds.
Agueli's form of universal Sufism-cum-Traditionalism might easily have come to nothing if he had not met Ren Gunon in Paris. Gunon was a remarkable man who started off as an esotericist but quickly became a Traditionalist; in fact, he more or less established this teaching single-handed. I discuss Traditionalism in his entry but what it comes down to is this: that all traditions are expressions of the laws of the universe which emanate from the divine source; and that every tradition necessarily has three levels: a statement of metaphysics; ordinances that govern how (wo)men should live; and a way of initiation and practice that leads back to the divine source. Differences between traditions are thus like the different colours of the rainbow: all of them are refracted out of the pure white light of divine consciousness. No tradition is better than another - just as no colour of the rainbow is better than another.
The significance of this for Western Sufism is that Gunon was initiated by Agueli in Paris in 1912. But he was a Traditionalist first and a Sufi second. This explains why he wrote articles and books about Christianity and Hinduism - but not about Sufism. So the situation around the outbreak of WW1 is that the Shadhili Order (or the Akbariyya - or both) has just two Western members: Agueli (who has the authority to initiate others) and Gunon (who appears to be the only person he did actually initiate). Agueli died in 1918 and Gunon is a closet Sufi. This is a fragile plant, to put it mildly; and moreover, a species that it would have been very difficult to find in any Sufi country.
The Establishment of the Sufi Order
Meanwhile, another form of Sufism had come to the West: Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order. Inayat Khan was a murshid of the Indian Chishti Order but he actually came to the West as a musician. He arrived in San Francisco in 1920 and very soon met his first Western disciple, Rabia Martin. She attended a lecture he gave on Indian music and although he did not mention Sufism, she had already had visions about him (and he had them about her, too). Two years later, in 1912, he appointed her as a Sufi teacher or murshida in her own right - just five years after Agueli had been appointed as a moqaddem (though a murshid(a) and a moqaddem are not the same). And in the same year, Inayat Khan went to Britain, which then became the focus of the Sufi Order.
However, he had already established his universal Sufism among a small number of American followers. One of them, C.Bjerragaard, who was librarian of the New York Public Library, published a book entitled 'The Inner Life and the Tao Teh King' in 1912 - just a year after Agueli's article on Islam and Taoism in La Gnose. This is a good example of the relationship between these two forms of Sufism: following parallel tracks but never meeting.
Yet it was Rabia Martin who developed the American wing of the Sufi Order. She says that her "announcement of the Sufi message" in San Francisco in May, 1912 was the first open declaration of Sufism in the West. As far as I know, this is unique in the phenomenon of Western teachers at this early date: a Westerner who is given responsibility in the West quite separately from his/her Eastern teachers while the Eastern teacher is in the West. Of course, Martin always regarded herself as a disciple of Hazrat Inayat Khan. But this does not alter the fact that she was far more independent than any other Westerner in any other Eastern tradition.
Inayat Khan stayed in Britain for eight years. In 1913, he married Ora Baker, an American who was the half-sister of Pierre Bernard/Oom the Omnipotent and also distantly related to Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science; she was henceforth known as Amina Begum Inayat Khan. In 1914, Hazrat Inayat Khan published his first book, 'A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty' - the first book in a Western language written by a Sufi (but an innovative universalist Sufi, remember). And in 1915, he started a magazine, 'The Sufi', in London - again, the first of its kind. (Agueli was publishing articles on Sufism in periodicals like 'Il Convito' and 'La Gnose' at this time - but both of them were Traditionalist rather than specifically Sufi.)
Gradually, Inayat Khan gathered a circle of disciples - not easy during a world war. Many of the important ones were women and three of them were appointed as teachers. Lucy Goodenough was first made a khalifa and then a murshida (sometime in the 1920s - I don't have the exact dates), and became the leading Westerner in the Order after Inayat Khan's death in 1927 (though she was subordinate to his brother, Maheboob Khan, who took over the leadership); Saintsbury Green was given the responsibility of introducing a religious service, known as the Universal Worship, into the Order; this was in 1921, just after Inayat Khan moved to France with his family; in 1923, she and a Dutch disciple, Mevrouw Egeling, were made murshidas; Inayat Khan only appointed four teachers of this rank and all of them were women (Martin, Goodenough, Green and Egeling); he also appointed a number of shaikhs and shaikhas (the masculine and feminine forms respectively) - but again the most important one in England was a woman: her Sufi name was Nargis and her original name was Dowland (I don't know her Christian name), and she became the British representative of the Sufi Order when Inayat Khan moved to France in 1920; (there were representatives in every country).
Hazrat Inayat Khan's move to France in 1920 did not change the Sufi Order in any important respect. But his visit to America in 1923 was significant - not only because he met Rabia Martin again after a gap of 11 years but even more so because he initiated one of her American disciples: the remarkable Samuel Lewis, better known as Murshid Sam, who first began studying with Martin in San Francisco in 1919. But Lewis was a seeker in more than one Eastern tradition, and as early as 1920 met M.T.Kirby, a Zen-cum-PureLand Buddhist, and through him, Nyogen Senzaki. Lewis was initiated by Inayat Khan during this 1923 visit - and he also arranged a meeting between Inayat Khan and Senzaki (during which both of them went into samadhi, according to Lewis). This was probably the first time a Zen and a Sufi master had ever made contact, and it occurred in a Western country at the instigation of a Westerner (who used a Hindu term to describe what happened).
The year 1925 is interesting because it marks the simultaneous occurrence of three aspects of Western Sufism:
Hazrat Inayat Khan established a branch of the Sufi Order in Geneva; Samuel Lewis received inner initiation from all the prophets culminating in Mohammed; Ren Gunon published his second study of Hinduism (actually, Vedanta), 'L'Homme et son devenir selon le Vedanta'. the first of these represents public and exoteric Sufism of the universalist, non-Moslem form; the second, the beginnings of an independent version of this form of Sufism (because Lewis was always an independent); and the third, the Traditionalist position stated, by a Western Sufi, in terms of Vedanta.
All of them would have been virtually impossible in a Moslem/Sufi country.
The next few years saw significant developments in both the Sufi Order and the Western Shadhiliyya/Akbariyya. In 1926, Inayat Khan returned to India - his first visit since he had left in 1910. And according to Samuel Lewis, he appointed Lewis as Protector of the Message. But in the same year, Lewis helped Nyogen Senzaki establish the first zendo in America - in San Francisco.) But Inayat Khan did not come back to the West. He died in India in 1927, aged only 45, and there was an immediate split in the Sufi Order. Rabia Martin, who had been told in a letter from Inayat Khan that she would have to "attend to my affairs in the West" after his death, came to Geneva expecting to become the leader of the Order. But the disciples there would not accept her, and Maheboob Khan, Inayat Khan's brother, became Pir-O-Murshid (with Murshida Goodenough, leader of the French wing of the Order, as his second-in-command). Murshida Martin returned to America and continued as an independent Sufi teacher - with Samuel Lewis, the arch independent, as her second-in-command or khalif. He received Dharma transmission in the Rinzai Zen tradition from Sokei-an in 1930.
Later Developments in the Western Shadhiliyya
And in that same year (1930), Rene Gunon left France and went to Egypt where he spent the rest of his life as an open Sufi. Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman, head of the Arabiyya-Shadhiliyya (who had started the Western Shadhiliyya-cum-Akbariyya by initiating Ivan Agueli/'Abd al-Hadi in Egypt in 1907) had died in 1929 - so Gunon, now using his Sufi name, 'Abd al-Wahid Yahya, joined another branch of the Shadhiliyya, the Hamidiyya.
As far as I know, he was the first Westerner to genuinely practice as a Sufi in a Moslem country for any length of time. This in itself would be significant. But it might not have led to anything further; Gunon could have remained as a solitary French Sufi in Egypt. However, he was about to gain an ally. In 1932, Frithjof Schuon, a Swiss German, was initiated into the Alawi branch of the Shadhiliyya by Sheikh Ahmed al-Alawi in Algeria, taking the name, ISO Nur ad-Din. And in 1934, when al-Alawi died, Schuon was made a moqaddem by al-Alawi's successor, Sheikh Adda ben Tounes.
So Gunon, who was not a moqaddem and therefore could not initiate, now had someone to whom he could send those Westerners who, having read his books and articles, had come to him for spiritual guidance; and Schuon, who was quite unknown at the time, found himself with a small but steady stream of followers. It is from this time (1934) that one can truly speak of a Western branch of the Shadhiliyya (or more accurately, the Alawiyya-Shadhiliyya): inspired by a Frenchman (Gunon - himself initiated by a Swede (Agueli)), led by a Swiss German (Schuon) and made up entirely of Westerners.
(An additional strand, so to speak, was provided by Titus Burckhardt, another Swiss German (who had been to school with Schuon), who was initiated into the Darqawiyya branch of the Shadhiliyya in Morocco sometime in the 1930s. Like Gunon, he was never a moqaddem - but he wrote an outstanding book, 'Introduction to Sufi Doctrine', and contributed to tudes Traditionnelles, the organ of the Traditionalist point of view, over several decades.)
And all this was happening in the West; two khanqahs were set up by Schuon in Paris and Lausanne as early as 1934. But two things should be remembered: all these Western Sufis were Traditionalists - that is, they regarded all traditions, not just Sufism, as expressions of fundamental laws; and they were all closet Sufis - that is, they did not advertise, give public lectures or in any way manifest an outward face. True, the mid-1930s was not a good time to draw attention to oneself in many parts of Europe. But this was not the real reason for their secrecy - for this form of Western Sufism is still secret even though we now live in a relatively tolerant society. The real reason was - and is - spiritual and Traditional: truth draws people to it and does not need to be packaged.
By 1939, about a hundred Westerners, out of the many who made contact with Gunon in Cairo, had been passed on by him to Schuon for initiation. Things remained quiet during WW2, as might be expected. But in 1946, on the death of Sheikh Adda ben Tounes, head of the Alawiyya, Schuon was declared a sheikh by his Western disciples (and he only had Western disciples). I discuss the issue of whether a spiritual teacher can in fact be appointed in this way in ch.3. But the significance of Schuon's elevation to the level of sheikh was that he could now appoint moqaddems of his own (whereas before this time he had himself been a moqaddem). I know of two: Michel Valsan/Sheikh Mustafa, a Roumanian serving in the diplomatic service in Paris and head of the Paris khanqah; and Martin Lings/Sheikh Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din, who was Schuon's moqaddem in Britain.
But relations between Gunon and Schuon became increasingly strained - partly because Schuon's disciples wanted to elevate Schuon to a higher position than Gunon (in fact, they wanted Gunon to be Schuon's moqaddem in Egypt); and partly because Gunon objected to what he saw as increasing eclecticism in Schuon's teaching. (Details in Schuon's entry.) By 1949, the two had gone their separate ways: Gunon remained an individual Sufi practitioner in Cairo (and died in 1951); Schuon continued with his branch of the Alawiyya, which he took further and further in the direction of worship of the Virgin Mary - to such an extent that it could be argued that he has created his own Sufi order or tariqah, the Maryamiyya.
However, Michel Valsan/Sheikh Mustafa, Schuon's moqaddem in Paris, split from Schuon about the time of the separation between Schuon and Gunon, and declared himself and his group independent. Since Schuon had already become effectively independent of the Alawiyya in 1946, when his followers elevated him to the level of sheikh, this makes makes Valsan and his group another tariqah - and one that is Western from start to finish (since the original initiations all come from either Valsan or Schuon). This is unique, as far as I know.
The Western Shadhiliyya is still going in various forms, all of which can be seen as versions of universal Sufism - but with the vital proviso that it must be Islamic at the outer/exoteric level.
First, Gunon's Traditionalism has influenced every Western exponent of what might be called Shadhili universalism (because all its exponents are members of sub-branches of the Shadhiliyya: the Alawiyya, the Darqawiyya and the Hamidiyya). Gunon himself continued writing up until his death in 1951 on all aspects of Traditionalism; and Schuon, despite his differences with Gunon, has consistently presented Traditionalist ideas - witness his 'Transcendental Unity of All Religions' and the many articles in 'tudes Traditionnelles' and 'Studies in Comparative Religion'. In fact, the majority of contributors to both these journals are Western Shadhiliyya of the universalist-cum-Traditionalist school.
Then there is Schuon's own tariqah, the Alawiyya-Maryamiyya, which, though not entirely self-contained, is still a separate entity (and will soon have to deal with the problems that will arise when the elderly Schuon dies).
I do not know what has happened to Valsan's khanqah/tariqah and would welcome any information.
Finally, there is another Western Sufi teacher in a sub-order of the Shadhiliyya: Ian Dallas/Sheikh 'Abd al-Qadir as-Sufi, who was initiated into the Badawiyya-Darqawiyya (in Morocco, I believe) in 1973 (and also claims initiation into the Alawiyya via al-Fayturi Hamuda, one of Sheikh al-Alawi's successors). He is currently head of a centre in Norfolk and is probably one of the most Islamic, if I can use that term, of all Western Sufis. That is, he regards the everyday religious observances of Islam as an essential basis for the Sufi path. He is also well regarded by Eastern Sufis and it may well be that, through him, the universalist-cum- Traditionalist stance of Gunon and Schuon (different as they are) will eventually be accepted by Eastern Sufism (which by and large is not true of Gunon and Schuon's own works). If this does happen, it will be a remarkable achievement: a Western understanding of Sufism influencing its Eastern parent.
Later Developments in the Sufi Order
So much for the Western Shadhiliyya. I now want to return to Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order and Rabia Martin's independent group in America (one of whose members, Samuel Lewis, is already showing signs of his own independence).
After Inayat Khan's death in 1927 and the split between Maheboob Khan and Martin, the two groups continued along their separate paths. Then in 1942, Martin heard about Meher Baba, whose followers regard him as the Avatar of the age. She corresponded with him and he told her that "I am not different from your murshid" [i.e. Hazrat Inayat Khan]; she accepted this claim and in 1945 offered her Sufi group to him. Samuel Lewis, who had been acting as her khalif since 1927, could not accept Meher Baba and finally went his own way as an independent Sufi teacher (with a strong interest in Zen and Hinduism). Lewis says that in 1946 Inayat Khan handed him over to Mohammed and Christ for guidance. This took place "in the inner world" and Mohammed gave him the name Ahmed Murad. This is about as strong an instance of 'inner' Sufism (started by Inayat Khan and finished, one could say, by Murshid Sam) as one could ask for.
Murshida Martin died in 1947, having named one of her American disciples, Ivy Duce, as her successor - that is, as murshida. Duce went to India in 1948 and met Meher Baba (which Rabia Martin never had) and was convinced that, as the Avatar, he was also the Qtub - the leader of the spiritual hierarchy. And in 1952, Meher Baba established Sufism Reoriented in San Francisco with Ivy Duce as murshida. So the American wing of Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order had been transformed, first, into an independent Sufi group under Rabia Martin, and then into disciples of Meher Baba - but in Sufi form. And it is worth knowing that Murshida Duce was the only one of Meher Baba's disciples, of any nationality, to whom he gave some kind of teaching function.
Meanwhile, the Sufi Order in Europe had been going along quite smoothly - first, under Maheboob Khan, and then, when he died in 1948, under another of Hazrat Inayat Khan's relatives, Muhammed Ali Khan. But when he died in 1958, there was another split in the Sufi Order. (The first was between Maheboob Khan and Rabia Martin.) One faction aligned itself with Mushareff Khan (another of Hazrat Inayat Khan's brothers) in Geneva, and one with Pir Vilayat Khan, Hazrat Inayat Khan's elder son, in London.
Then, in 1967, the Mushareff Khan faction split between Mahamood Khan (Maheboob Khan's son) and Fazal Inayat Khan (Hazrat Inayat Khan's oldest grandson - son of Hidayat Inayat Khan, Hazrat Inayat Khan's second son). Fazal Inayat Khan's group called itself the Sufi Movement but it has fared less well than Pir Vilayat Khan's group (still called the Sufi Order though they are thinking of calling themselves the Chishti Order in the West) and is presently in a fairly moribund state. Pir Vilayat Khan has already designated his son, Zia Inayat Khan, as his successor.
Details of the various splits in the Sufi Order are given in Pir Vilayat Khan's entry, together with the Khan family tree, which not only clarifies the relationship between the seven members of the family who have been involved in the succession in some way but also shows how the family has become thoroughly Western by marrying Western women (and having children who are born and raised in the West). In fact, Pir Vilayat Khan is completely Western in every respect except one: his father was Indian. And the Sufi Order is completely Western too and has minimal contacts with the Chishti Order in India.
The other spin-off from Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order is Samuel Lewis. We left him in 1946, unable to accept Meher Baba as the spiritual leader of Rabia Martin's group in San Francisco - but also having been turned over by Hazrat Inayat Khan to Mohammed and Christ for inner guidance. After ten relatively quiet years, he renewed his search for truth. In 1956, he went to the East and was initiated into the Naqshbandi Order in Pakistan and the Chishti Order in India. He was also initiated in India by Papa Ramdas; and had a number of experiences with teachers in Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen and Shingon Buddhism in Japan (some of whom initiated him). And to top it all, he met two other Western teachers during this time: the Mother in India and Ruth Fuller Sasaki in Japan.)
Four years later, in 1960, he made another trip abroad, this one limited to Sufism. He was initiated into the Rifai and Shadhili Orders in Egypt, and accepted as a full murshid of a branch of the Chishti Order in Pakistan. Yet in 1964, he was associating with Master Kyung Bo-Seo, a Korean Zen teacher, in America - and was ordained by him in 1967.
In 1966, Murshid Sam began initiating his own disciples (and also found the time to help establish the Holy Order of Mans, a mystical Christian school, in San Francisco). Then, in 1968, he met Pir Vilayat Khan, head of the Sufi Order (and an initiate, like Lewis, of his father, Hazrat Inayat Khan), who recognized him as a Sufi teacher. In effect, this made Lewis a member of the Sufi Order again - but we should not forget that he had been initiated into four other Sufi orders (Chishti (in India), Naqshbandi, Rifai and Shadhili) as well as being appointed as a murshid in a Pakistani branch of the Chishtiyya - quite apart from his various contacts with Buddhism and Hinduism.
By 1971, when Lewis died (aged 75), he had initiated over 100 disciples - all Westerners - and appointed one of them, Moineddin Jablonsky, as his khalif or deputy. Pir Vilayat Khan made Jablonsky a murshid after Lewis's death and the Lewis group regarded itself as informally linked with the Sufi Order. However, in 1977, Lewis's disciples became dissatisfied with Pir Vilayat Khan's role in their affairs and established themselves as a separate group, the Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society/SIRS (which is not Moslem despite having 'Islamia' in its title). This is not a formally distinct tariqah (which might be said of Schuon's Maryami Order and perhaps even of Michel Valsan's independent group in Paris) but rather a collection of people who regard themselves as followers of the way propounded by Murshid Sam (though many of them have been initiated by Lewis's own American disciples). This is unique in Sufism, to my knowledge - a group that is centred on a teacher rather than a lineage - and another first for the West. SIRS continues in America (centred on the San Francisco Area) and it remains to be seen how it will fare in the future.
The final part of this account of Sufi groups connected with Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order concerns the developments in Sufism Reoriented over the last ten years or so. While Meher Baba was alive, Sufi Reoriented remained under his overall direction, with Ivy Duce as murshida. But soon after his death in 1969, an American professor of psychology, James Mackie, had a series of extraordinary experiences (details in his entry) which brought him into contact with Murshida Duce and Sufism Reoriented. In fact, Mackie regarded himself as a disciple of Meher Baba (even though he had never heard of Baba until after Baba died) but he became a formal disciple of Murshida Duce out of courtesy. She thought very highly of him and named him as her successor as murshid of Sufi Reoriented just before she died in 1981.
Meher Baba had expressly stated that all future murshid(a)s of Sufism Reoriented would be sixth- or seventh-level masters and some of Murshid Mackie's disciples (all American) claim that he is actually at the seventh level; this means that he is a member of the spiritual hierarchy and is at a very advanced level indeed (involving, amongst other things, conscious awareness of every atom in creation!), only surpassed by that of Meher Baba himself. (Details of all this can be found in James Mackie's entry.) This claim has caused a split among Meher Baba's followers, none of whom accept it (apart from the members of Sufism Reoriented). And it is surely ironic that, some 75 years after Hazrat Inayat Khan, who was regarded by his followers as a member of the spiritual hierarchy, came to the West, a Westerner, who is somewhat distantly descended from Inayat Khan (spiritually), should have the same claim - actually, a higher claim - made for him by his Western followers.
So much for the parallel histories of the Sufi Order (and its off-shoots, including Sufism Reoriented) and the Western Shadhiliyya. It is a fairly tangled skein and I want to finish by listing the various strands that make it up.
Gunonian Traditionalism rooted in two sub-orders of the Shadhiliyya (the Arabiyya and the Hamadiyya) but also connected with Sufi universalism (the Akbariyya) and Gunon's own Traditionalism (which is essentially supra-Sufi and can be expressed in terms of any Tradition and hence includes Traditionalists who are not Sufi at all).Frithjof Schuon's Maryamiyya started off as a khanqah of the Alawiyya-Shadhiliyya but has developed into a tariqah of its own; heavily influenced by Gunon's Traditionalism. Michel Valsan's independent group in Paris something of an anomaly; caused by the split between Gunon and Schuon; Titus Burckhardt/Sidi Ibrahim a solitary Sufi initiate Ian Dallas/Sheikh as-Sufi a sheikh in the Darqawi Order.
The Sufi Order
Hazrat Inayat Khan's original Order - which existed when he was alive; non-Moslem and with all the important positions held by Western women. the Order since Inayat Khan's death - led by various members of his family (two brothers, a 'cousin-brother', a nephew, a son and a grandson) and involving a split between the Sufi Order (presently led by Pir Vilayat Khan) and the Sufi Movement (currently in a moribund state). Rabia Martin's Sufi group - started in 1927, after Hazrat Inayat Khan's death; switched allegiance to Meher Baba in 1942.
Sufism Reoriented - established in 1952 by Meher Baba under the leadership of Murshida Ivy Duce (originally a disciple of Rabia Martin); presently led by Murshid James Mackie but not fully accepted by other followers of Meher Baba.
SIRS - Samuel Lewis's group (which started off as a sort of branch of the Sufi Order under Pir Vilayat Khan but has since gone independent); Lewis himself was an initiate of Hazrat Inayat Khan and Rabia Martin's khalif for nearly 20 years but also entered other Sufi orders in Pakistan, India and Egypt, as well as practising various forms of Zen Buddhism and Hinduism
All of these, without exception, are deeply Western. They are are all in Western countries and I doubt if any of them could exist in any Sufi country.
Other Forms of Western Sufism
But there are other forms of Western Sufism, quite unconnected with any version of either the Sufi Order or the Western Shadhiliyya - and again, all of them are very untypical of Eastern Sufism. They do not make their appearance until the 1950s (decades after the Sufi Order and the Western Shadhiliyya) and for the most part they are all independent of each other; rather, they are each linked with an unusual Western teacher.
The first of these is J.G.Bennett, a student of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Convinced, like Ouspensky, that Gurdjieff's system lacked an essential element, he set out on an extraordinary spiritual quest (rather like Samuel Lewis, his nearest equivalent) which took in Subud, at least two 'Hindu' teachers (Shaivapuri Baba and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) and Catholicism - but also included a long foray into Sufism. In 1953 (just a few years after the deaths of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky), Bennett went on a trip to the Middle East, visiting Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Persia, and met two unusual Sufis: Farhad Dede, a Mevlevi (not to be confused with Suleiman Dede) and Emin Chikou, a Naqshbandi (though both of them were far from typical representatives of their respective orders). And it is one of the nice coincidences of this whole phenomenon that in the same year (1953), a New Zealander, Neil Dougan, who ended up as a Naqshbandi teacher, should have made contact with C.S.Nott, another follower of Gurdjieff, in London. Two years later, in 1955, Bennett returned to the Middle East and met another Naqshbandi teacher (in Beirut), Sheikh Abdullah Daghestani, who told him that he (Bennett) would prepare the way for a Messenger of God (whom Bennett later identified as Pak Subuh, the founder of Subud).
It would be wrong to say that Bennett was a Sufi teacher at this time. But he did have a relatively large number of pupils (about 200) whom he had gathered in his capacity as a teacher of Gurdjieff's and Ouspensky's ideas, and his contact with Sufi teachers in the Middle East certainly influenced his teaching of the Fourth Way. In subsequent years, Bennett made contact with a number of other Sufi teachers, including Idries Shah (of whom more immediately); Hasan Shushud (who taught a way of Absolute Liberation); and Suleiman Dede (a Turkish Mevlevi sheikh who figures later in this story in connection with Reshad Feild). All of them influenced Bennett in varying degrees. And needless to say, his was a Sufism that was non-Moslem and universal - that is, Sufism is the Islamic name for the True Way and is hence part of Islam only accidentally and not essentially.
Two other Western Sufi teachers need to be introduced at this point - both of them connected with the Naqshbandiyya but otherwise quite different from each other. The first is Idries Shah, born in India of an Afghani father but in every other respect completely Western: his mother was Scottish; his father settled in Britain years before his son was born; and Shah himself was educated and spent nearly all his life in Britain. His book, 'The Sufis', published in 1964, is perhaps the best-known of all works on Sufism - but his contact with Sufi teachers is decidedly problematic. He claims to represent the Naqshbandi Order but no one knows who his teacher is. And an earlier book, 'Oriental Magic', published in 1956, has just a single chapter on Sufism and is evidently not written by an initiate.
Shah's Sufism is also of the non-Moslem, universal kind. In 1963, he met J.G.Bennett, who was still looking for the missing ingredient in Gurdjieff's teaching. He convinced Bennett, first, that Gurdjieff had drawn all his major ideas from Sufism. This view can certainly be supported - Gurdjieff himself said that he had gained his knowledge at "a certain Dervish monastery" and his sacred dances are undoubtedly similar to those of the Mevlevi dervishes - and it is worth knowing about it. But the matter is quite complex and this is not the place to discuss it - see Gurdjieff's entry for further details. And second, Shah also convinced Bennett that he (Shah) was in contact with the Guardians of the Tradition - that is, the Inner Circle of Humanity which Gurdjieff had spoken of. As a result, Bennett incorporated some of the stories of Mulla Nasaruddin, which Shah had popularised, into his own teaching; and in 1966, he turned over his centre at Coombe Springs to Shah (who subsequently sold it).
This liaison between Bennett and Shah may seem somewhat unimportant and there are various ways of understanding it. But the fact remains that these two Western teachers, both of whom claimed to have penetrated Sufism to a significant extent (and both of whom were associated with the Naqshbandi Order in some way), are part of the development of Western Sufism - perhaps something of a backwater or a cul de sac but nevertheless on the map. But it is fairly obvious that this part of the map, at least, is quite different from anything that could be found in an Eastern Sufi atlas.
The other Westerner who claims to be connected with the Naqshbandiyya is quite as unusual as Bennett or Shah. This is Irina Tweedie (born in Russia but married to an Englishman), who went to India in 1961 and found a Sufi teacher, whom she refers to simply as Guru Bhai Sahib, in Kanpur. There followed two years of intense spiritual ordeal (recorded in her book, Chasm of Fire) and she was then sent back to England to teach (in 1963). But this teaching is based on her own experience and is only Sufi (or Naqshbandi) because her teacher said it was. That is, he could have said it was Hindu (or Vedantin) and nothing essential would have been changed. Given that this is so, it is hardly surprising that Tweedie's Sufism is non-Moslem (just like that taught by Hazrat Inayat Khan, Meher Baba, J.G.Bennett and Idries Shah - though perhaps not for the same reason; see ch.3 for a discussion of this whole issue).
Shah and Tweedie certainly have no connection with one another - and neither do two other Western Naqshbandi teachers: Abdullah Dougan and John Ross/Sheikh Abdullah Sirr-Dan al-Jamal. I have already mentioned Dougan in passing because of his contact with C.S.Nott, a follower of Gurdjieff, in 1953. Fourteen years later, in 1967, Dougan made contact with Mushareff Khan, who was head of one of the factions of the Sufi Order at the time. He set out on a trip round the world in 1968, which ended, after a series of providential meetings, with a visit to Afghanistan, where he was initiated into the Naqshbandi Order and made a sheikh. (But there is no connection with Shah's Afghani Naqshbandiyya.) Dougan recorded his experiences in his spiritual autobiography, 'Forty Days'. He then went back to New Zealand and taught until his death in 1987. This is yet another form of Western Naqshbandiyya - and again, it is non-Moslem.
Ross/Sirr-Dan al-Jamal, on the other hand, is a Moslem. He went to Turkey in 1964 and was initiated as a Naqshbandi. He currently teaches in London.
Starting in 1955 (when J.G.Bennett met Abdullah Daghestani in Beirut), a number of Westerners (including Bennett, Shah, Tweedie, Ross and Dougan) all made a form of Naqshbandi/Sufi teaching available in the West (and all independently of each other, apart from the Bennett-Shah connection). Yet apart from Ross/Sirr-Dan al-Jamal, none of them could be said to be representative of Eastern Sufism. Rather, they are all presenting universal wisdom in Sufi guise. And as we have seen, this is also true of the other kinds of Western Sufism: Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Order (in its various forms); Meher Baba's Sufism Reoriented; Samuel Lewis's teaching; and the different versions of the Western Shadhiliyya. This search for universal wisdom is deeply rooted in the discovery of all the Eastern traditions but is particularly evident in Western Sufism. And the last three Sufi teachers that I want to look at - Reshad Feild, E.J.Gold and Lex Hixon - are also obvious examples of it.
Tim Feild was a singer who had some success with the Springfields pop group before the illness of his wife caused him to start his spiritual search. In 1962, he met Pir Vilayat Khan, head of the Sufi Order, and received twelve initiations from him - the equivalent of being made a sheikh, he claims. Seven years later, in 1969, he met another Sufi teacher, Bulent Rauf, in unusual circumstances in a London antiques shop. This meeting and Feild's subsequent journeys to the Middle East are described in two books of spiritual autobiography, 'The Last Barrier' and 'The Invisible Way'. Rauf was Turkish and certainly had Mevlevi connections, though he never claimed to be a Mevlevi sheikh; he also taught the way of Ibn 'Arabi. (Remember Sheikh Abd al-Rahman and the Akbariyya, which was the start of the Western Shadhiliyya.) Through Rauf, Feild met Suleiman Dede, head of the Turkish Mevlevi Order, and was initiated by Dede as a Mevlevi sheikh in Los Angeles in 1976. This is another typical example of the Western way of crossing barriers: an Englishman initiated by a Turk in America.
Yet Feild does not present himself as a Sufi sheikh but rather as an esoteric healer and a teacher of the science of the breath. He is currently leader of The Living School, whose curriculum and practices "are based upon the essence of the knowledge of the Sufi Tradition" according to one of its brochures, which also quotes Ibn 'Arabi to the effect that "the wise man follows no set form or belief, for he is wise unto himself." This is another form of non-Moslem universal Sufism - but one that is independent of all the other forms we have come across.
The same could be said of E.J.Gold, whose 'Autobiography of a Sufi' appeared in 1976 - the same year as Feild's 'The Last Barrier'. This is one more 'spiritual quest' book involving meetings with teachers (all of whom are given pseudonyms or are otherwise unidentifiable) in unusual circumstances - compare Tweedie, Dougan and Feild himself. And like these three, Gold is certainly not a straightforward representative of the Sufi tradition. If anything, he is a Fourth Way teacher (though also somewhat tangential to Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) - witness the titles of some of his books like 'Dance of the Angels: sacred dance movements of the Fourth Way' (1982). (And remember that Gurdjieff's own dances have been seen as variations on the Mevlevi dervish dances.) One could say, then, that Gold and Bennett have both tried to uncover the Sufi roots of Gurdjieff's teaching - but quite independently of each other. And needless to say, this form of Sufism is entirely Western.
As for Lex Hixon/Sheikh Nur al-Jerrahi, he was initiated into the Turkish Halveti-Jerrahi (sometimes referred to as Khavati-Jerrahi) Order in New York in 1980 by Sheikh Muzaffer al-Jerrahi, the head of the Order. But he has also been accepted into other religious traditions: the Ramakrishna Order; Zen Buddhism (under Bernard Glassman); Tibetan Buddhism (under Tomo Geshe Rinpoche, who, in his previous incarnation, initiated Lama Anagarika Govinda in India in 1931) and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In this, he is very reminiscent of Samuel Lewis (and to some extent, J.G.Bennett) - but again, quite independent of either. These men were the pioneers of what I call experiential comparative religion - that is, entering several religious traditions not out of curiosity but as part of a continuing spiritual quest.
This brings us to the end of the history of Western Sufism (in the specific sense of Sufism taught by Westerners). It is a complex tale made up of disparate threads - and these threads are themselves just one of the patterns in the whole tapestry of Eastern traditions in the West.