103 Vote

A handbook for students of the new medicine of the soul

Fundamentals of the Process of Spiritual Perfection: A Practical Guide - book cover

Bahram Elahi, Fundamentals of the Process of Spiritual Perfection: A Practical Guide, Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Publishing, 2022.

“This path, Ostad Elahi would say, is not a path for words but one for deeds; only through action can progress be achieved.”* But how are we going to take action? Where to begin? With what mindset should we set to work? The foundations of natural spirituality have been laid—a spirituality that Ostad Elahi described as “the new medicine of the soul”. They called for a practical complement, something like a student’s workbook. This need has now been fulfilled with the publication of this Practical Guide, which the author, Bahram Elahi, tells us will be followed by a forthcoming series of four additional volumes. Together, these five volumes will constitute the Fundamentals of the Process of Spiritual Perfection. The Practical Guide indisputably constitutes its core. Punctuated by inserts and diagrams, it has been designed as a handbook, and it is as such that we can make the most of it: the Practical Guide is the reference work for those who wish to study and practice the new medicine of the soul.

* Ostad Elahi, Words of Truth, Saying 6.

The Practical Guide specifically serves a dual purpose:

  1. To draw an overall picture of the basic notions and principles that govern our process of spiritual perfection—a process that will enable us to realize our nature as human beings and reach our ultimate goal (“Perfection”).
  2. To set forth the particular tools and methods needed to concretely implement our process of perfection on the stage of our daily lives (“in vivo”), allowing us to achieve actual self-transformation.

Figures of the self

Part of the method is that we not only read but study this book. Bahram Elahi recommends that we start by attentively examining the introductory series of figures that detail the structure and functioning of the soul (or “real self”). These figures are similar to anatomical and physiological diagrams used for the study of the human body in the field of medicine, as shown by the sample provided on practical-guide.com, an online page devoted to the presentation of the book. Readers are invited to mentally project themselves into these figures and try through autosuggestion to view them as a representation of their own selves. This preparatory exercise is meant to impart to the reader the proper state of mind needed to tackle the detailed explanations that constitute the rich material of the following chapters.

Guiding themes

The foreword and the prologue set forth the resolutely pragmatic orientation of the book, at the same time explaining why it is necessary to define a general framework—along with a specific and precise terminology—for best carrying out one’s “practical exercises” in spirituality.

Several guiding themes emerge from these introductory chapters.

  • Cultivating our humanity. We are oblivious of what we really are: “we do not know who we really are, what our Origin is, why we are on earth, and, above all, what our essential duty is in this world.” To emerge from this state of “spiritual amnesia” (see chap. 10), it is necessary that we begin a transformational work on ourselves. The ultimate goal is to acquire the “acceptability” to rejoin our primordial Origin and benefit without restraint from the generosity of the One. This self-transformation mainly consists in acquiring hands-on knowledge of ourselves, which in turn implies identifying—then fighting against—our “imperious self”, that powerful psychological energy within us that pushes us to think and act contrary to ethics and is the true cause of evil and misfortune among human beings (see chap. 11 and 14). Seen in this way, the process of spiritual perfection corresponds, in each of us, to the cultivation of our humanity. This concern is clearly voiced by the author in a recent video interview available on practical-guide.com: his primary objective in writing this book, he says, was to make us aware of what distinguishes us from “two-legged animals”—namely, a “human dimension” that needs special attention in order to flourish.
  • The sound development of thought. In order to carry out this task, one must realize that transforming oneself abides by precise conditions and causal patterns. Cultivating our humanity thus requires us to soundly develop our thought by assimilating the “correct divine and ethical principles” that govern the process of spiritual perfection (the “foundational principles” are detailed in chap. 1 and 15). In order to sustain effective spiritual growth, this self-educational process implies that we properly examine and mend our faith (hence the extensive explications on the meaning of “God” and “divine”, but also on the concept of “divine guidance”, in chapters 3-5 and 18).
  • Sound reason. The sound development of thought is a learning process akin to studying an experimental science, such as medicine. It is meant to lead to the maturation of “sound reason” (see chap. 2) that is to say, a reason that is capable of grasping the spiritual dimension of life in addition to its material dimension.

    « [T]o reach one’s Perfection, the surest and most natural way is to approach the process of spiritual perfection as one would the study of any experimental science, such as medicine. In matters of spirituality, everything must be understood through one’s reason and regular self-consciousness (the normal state of one’s consciousness), while strictly avoiding any altered states of consciousness that disrupt the psyche and impair one’s reason. »

The fundamental concepts and principles of the new medicine of the soul outlined by Ostad Elahi are of a universal nature:

«  they concern, without exception, all beings endowed with reason, including human beings, regardless of their beliefs or culture ».

To which the author adds:

« The concepts presented here are not based purely on intellectual interpretation, but rather result from personal experimentation aimed at providing direct access to [Ostad’s] thought and teachings. »

A pragmatic approach

It is in this light that several chapters reiterate the necessity to develop a pragmatic approach to spirituality. Only through personal experimentation can we actually develop our sound reason. Correct divine and ethical principles should be assimilated “in vivo”, within the concrete reality of daily life, in the midst of society and through interaction with others (chap. 6-7).

The therapeutic virtues of the “new medicine of the soul” can be verified in the same way: applying our sound reason to study this medicine enables us to “discern and come to know truths concerning the health of [our] soul and the treatment of its character weak points and flaws relating to divine or ethical matters”.

To this end, the Practical Guide describes the concrete steps that are required to get to know one’s self, in other words to recognize the manifestations, within us, of character flaws of terrestrial-animal origin such as hardheartedness, pride, greed, lack of willpower, ingratitude, etc. (chap. 13). Working on our self-knowledge entails shifting the center of gravity of our conscious self: we must emerge from our ego or “surface conscious self” to reach our “inner guide” or “deeper conscious self”, a space of consciousness that manifests itself, among others, in the form of what is commonly called the “voice of our conscience” (chap. 10-11).

The Practical Guide provides further instructions as to how to refine our focus on the true conditions of spiritual practice by describing the method to efficiently fight against the impulses, desires and ruses of the “imperious self” through which our character weak points express themselves (chap. 14).

A redefinition of prayer

Among the tools and methods that the author recommends for complementing our “in vivo” practice, the daily exercise of attention-dialogue holds a central position. Its significance and the way it should be concretely performed are detailed in chap. 12. What we have here is nothing less than a redefinition of the very meaning of prayer, beyond ritual conventions and unessential details:

« What is referred to as “attention-dialogue” here is not a prescribed ritual, but rather a form of universal prayer and invocation that can be practiced by anyone sincerely seeking the Truth, regardless of individual beliefs or culture. »

Thus described, attention-dialogue is perfectly compatible with the practice of the ritual prayers prescribed by religions. Just as Ostad Elahi has defined a “quintessence of religions” that draws from the fundamental and universally shared principles of religions (chap. 4), this chapter on attention-dialogue uncovers what is arguably the quintessence of any sincere act of prayer.

The subject is approached by the author using a range of notions that again rely on understanding the diagrams presented at the beginning of the book. The point is to control the flux of thought that passes through our self while directing our attention toward our “inner guide” to avoid being drawn into the preoccupations that incessantly stir up the ego. Practically, this means striving to focus our attention on the “divine flux” that encompasses all things, and through which the generosity of the One exerts itself. In addition, it is important that we mend our intention in order for our prayer to be correctly oriented. We need to break from a spontaneous and somewhat unconscious understanding of prayer as a mercantile transaction, based on a “give and take” relationship with God.

Conclusions

The book concludes on a series of short recapitulative chapters: a simple analogy (that of traveling in a car) is developed in full detail in order to sum up the multiple challenges inherent in the process of spiritual perfection (chap. 17, “Journey toward the Origin”); a final clarification is dedicated to the meaning of the word “God” and its imaginary counterfeit meanings (chap. 18); a “recommendation” reminds us of our “essential duty” (chap. 19), while specifying the meaning and scope of the word “Truth”; and finally, “a few key practical points” (chap. 20) summarizes the three essential aspects of the “fundamental stage” in our process of spiritual perfection: 1) mending our faith, 2) developing our sound reason, and 3) cultivating our humanity.

The epilogue that closes the book puts everything back into perspective, particularly in reference to an unpublished manuscript by Ostad Elahi that readers can discover on their own. For those who have completed the journey through the dense network of ideas making up the two hundred pages of the book, this chapter arrives as a kind of reward. It opens a small window onto the prodigious scene on which the process of perfection of all souls really takes place; it gives a concrete sense of the depth and scope of what is at stake.

To conclude, let us give the final word to the author:

« […] it is strongly advisable that we not neglect the spiritual side of our life and avoid squandering our precious time on futile pursuits. »

Students about to engage in the fundamental stage of their process of spiritual perfection, or who want to deepen their understanding of the related subjects, will find additional motivation in this exhortation. Equipped now with this new handbook, they have no excuses left for not getting to work.

 

Article first published online on 12 April 2022.
Updated on 21 April 2022.

 

 


See also:


Creative Commons License This work is offered under a Creative Commons licence

Go to top

6 comments

  1. EF Apr 17, 2022 1:09 pm 1

    So grateful to have this book in English.

  2. pzlz Apr 18, 2022 5:00 pm 2

    This book is epic in every way. Never seen such quality paperback. The colors, the binding, the print… I have read the Farsi version and I am reading the English now. The clarity, harmony, and the flow used in this version is out of this world, which makes reading it so effortless. How could that be? Each word is carefully chosen as noted in the “Note on the English Translation”. Talking about the content of the book is beyond me. I keep going back to the first figure to remind myself of who am I really? I am speechless and immensely grateful.

  3. mahnaz Apr 25, 2022 1:42 am 3

    Thank you so very much for the new book, in english.

  4. Linda Jun 24, 2022 4:24 pm 4

    Thank you so much for presenting the book here and for the link to the Synopsis and the interview. Indeed Dr. Elahi never fails to be succinct and right to the point as he is in the interview.

  5. azam zahmati Jun 24, 2022 5:30 pm 5

    How can I get the electronic version of this book?

  6. Yan Jul 01, 2022 9:16 pm 6

    In reply to @Azam Zahmati

    As per OstadElahi.com, you can buy the electronic version of the book from Apple Books, Google Play, Kindle [Amazon], NOOK

    https://ostadelahi.com/works/related-works/

retrolink url | Subscribe to comments on this post

Post a comment

All comments are moderated and will become public once they are validated
Terms of Use

e-ostadelahi.com | © 2022 - All rights reserved | Terms of Use | Sitemap | Contact