In film studies, I have heard that there are three basic stories to tell: man vs. man, man vs. God, and man vs. himself. To say nothing of how misguided these competitive perspectives may be, it is important to note our persistent affinity with these types of stories: stories of adversity.
But what is adversity? The etymology of the word suggests it is from the latin ‘advertere’ or ‘to turn toward’. The real question is, what are we turning toward?
Sufism suggests that adversities are an opportunity to turn toward God; that our obstacles are a stop along the path, there to allow us to pause, and endow us with a greater understanding of ourselves and others.
There is an additional option in this path, though: the notion of diversity, or to ‘turn aside’, ie to work alongside an obstacle. Through Sufism, the University helps our students develop their the vision to see the path of God, and embrace the diverse terrain which we encounter in our lives.
In the moments that trip us up, we can pause, and turn toward the path to find our footing again. We do not dig our way out, but simply step aside and keep walking.
Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with our co-president Kamila Shenmen talk about her walking within Shadhiliyya Sufism, and how it changed her life: click here to listen.