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The path of Perfection – A thought in progress

By - Jul 28, 2009 - Category Readings - Print Print - Version française

The Path of Perfection

The Path of Perfection, Bahram Elahi, Paraview, 2005

The latest version (2002) of The Path of Perfection by Bahram Elahi is a profoundly reworked reissue of a book already published four times between 1976 and 1992. In addition to the content of the book, briefly reviewed below, it is the pertinence of a thought in progress, demonstrated in these successive publications (and their extension into the Foundations of Natural Spirituality series), that markedly engages the attention.

The very idea of a thought in progress, its ability to constantly challenge itself, adding and subtracting different elements while remaining consistent in its fundamentals, is singularly arresting. Spiritual discourses generally tend to remain fixed in the recall of some immutable principles and rites, or in the repetition of anciently revealed truths. But the arresting quality of Bahram Elahi’s discourse lies in precisely its ability to renew itself continuously in order to reach the essential—the quintessential.

The progress which we have witnessed over a number of years, is part of an even broader pattern which connectsThe Path of Perfectionto the work of Ostad Elahi, and beyond that, to the work of his father, Hâj Ne’mat. Placed in such a context,The Path of Perfectionis the crucible for the synthesis of a spiritual heritage, enriched as a result of several decades of research by three generations of exceptional spiritual seekers, who have transmitted the fruits of their labors and of their personal experiences. Yet The Path of Perfectionis not an end in itself, but rather, an opening into spiritual thinking, a space containing new food for thought, giving access to the other works of Bahram Elahi; in sum, a doorway leading to the heart of the teachings of Ostad Elahi, who intended his spiritual legacy to be accessible to the greatest number of people.

The author’s aim is to render The Path of Perfection free from any reference to the specific cultural and ritualistic features of the Ahl-e Haqq tradition, to which his family belonged. It is his intention to preserve and develop what he deems quintessential in Ostad Elahi’s teachings, which he calls the universal ethical and divine principles, that is the principles that can be shared by all those who strive to attain spiritual perfection, regardless of all cultural and religious labels. There are those who assert that in doing so, Bahram Elahi has sanitized the teachings of his father, that he has stripped them from their cultural identity, that he has, somehow, departed from his father’s heritage. But this is, indeed, far from being fair, for Bahram Elahi’s systematic search for the quintessential core is, if anything, the continuation of the renovating process begun by Ostad Elahi himself. By refusing to allow the exotic to get the better of spirituality, even when it is as fascinating as that of the Ahl-e Haqq tradition, he, like his father, seeks to bring out the natural affinity of spirituality with the universal and the rational.

The invitation to rationality in the quest for spirituality is, actually, one of the defining characteristics of The Path of Perfection. A fact that is clearly reflected in the style in which the book is constructed. Sentences are simple and basic, chapters are short and constructed in a cohesive sequence, with no room for rhetoric or embellishments. The author does not try to seduce the reader or stir up emotions. He appeals to reason, even when dealing with subjects as far removed from ordinary experience as successive lives or the interworld. He is after a spirituality free from prejudice and complacency, as close as possible to scientific reality. He wants, in a word, to turn the page of emotional spiritualities.

The actual subject of the book deals with the exploration of the idea of perfection as the ultimate human destination. The Path of Perfection is a discourse on the truth of the original ethical and divine principles, the practice of which leads to the perfecting of the soul.

Developing concepts that are part of a revealed cosmology, the author evokes the overall ascending movement that gives direction to all creatures, preparing the ground for dealing with the ins and outs and ups and downs of human soul: where it comes from, where it goes to, what does it have to do in this world, the consequences of its actions and its capacity for determining the course of its destiny. Throughout The Path of Perfection the vital thread is the relationship between the Creator and his creatures, how present and active He is in our lives, and in what ways He reveals Himself to us. This cosmogony, which is essentially derived from the teachings of Ostad Elahi, is striking in its cohesion and the precision of its concepts. This makes it possible for the preponderantly spiritual drift of the book to be appreciated by an unprejudiced rational mind.

As to the practical side of this spirituality, the author puts forth modalities already experienced by himself and made available for us to experience. This takes into account the Freudian model of ego, which partly tallies with notions such as the imperious self and the dual nature—heavenly and earthly—of the self, developed by Ostad Elahi. This model functions as a door to self-knowledge, preparing the ground for an updated ethic, placed by Bahram Elahi at the core of the process of perfection, with key practices such as respecting rights in general, having a just vision, struggling against the imperious self, exercising natural meditation, etc. As he goes along, the author sets the guidelines for avoiding the trap of wayward forms of spirituality, outlining the characteristics of authentic guidance and warning explicitly against the dangers of so-called spiritual techniques.

In The Path of Perfection, we can find a dual invitation to reason: the first one, asking us to leave aside our prejudices and look at spirituality as a consistent whole, not at odds with rationality; and the second one urging us to exercise, mind and body, the practical methods of what the author calls natural spirituality, in order to transform our transcendent reason into celestial reason.

By reading and rereading The Path to Perfection, we can find, in ourselves, access to a new way of seeing things, a new way thoroughly reflected in the author’s work.. This, in itself, is the first of spiritual exercises.

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4 comments

  1. Blake Oct 13, 2009 1:41 am 1

    I read this book. More than once. The second time I noticed I have to read it again.

    An eternal reference. Don’t leave home without it!

  2. Veronica Jan 04, 2010 4:03 am 2

    This book answers lots of questions. It’s a must.

  3. neuro Aug 30, 2010 9:17 am 3

    A constant reference… not only does it answer questions about the deepest fundamentals of spirituality such as Creation and the concept of ascending successive lives, but also questions of daily life in society, such as prayer and spiritual music, the upbringing of children, and more. Each chapter begins with a saying by Ostad Elahi, and brings the entire chapter into the context of his philosophy.

  4. m.b Oct 23, 2013 4:39 am 4

    If you need help in your daily life, you have to read this book.

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