The Last Frontier – A Sufi Journey by Reshad Feild
If thou wilt be observant and vigilant, thou wilt see at every moment the response to thy action. Be observant if thou wouldst have a pure heart, for something is born to thee in consequence of every action.
– Mevlana Jelalu’ddin Rumi
Like a lot of great stories, we join Feild who is on a quest and along the way meets fascinating characters who help him and guide him.
Feild’s quest is combination of self-discovery, searching for truth and learning the ‘Sufi Way’.
His journey begins with a chance meeting with a tall Turkish man, Hamid, in London who offers to teach him the ‘way’ in Turkey. Feild leaves behind his comfortable life and the successful family business and travels over to Turkey (specifically, Sidé) to continue his studies with Hamid and ultimately begin his quest.
We follow Feild who is a sensitive young man with plenty of curiosity but despite his best efforts and much to his dismay, stumbles and fails at many of his personal aims and the assignments given to him. This continues until he is able to learn why he was stumbling each time.
In many ways, he represents the delicate uncertainty within all us who are on a quest of self-discovery; all of us are scared of failure or rejection. We have a perception of who we are and we want to protect this – but it is precisely this fear of letting go which is blocking us from progressing further. The Sufi principle of letting go of who we are is in the same vein as shamanic rituals whereby the shaman must ‘die’ and be ‘reborn’ before he can become the shaman, or in this case, the Dervish, and become enlightened so that he can help others.
An extract from when Feild finally meets the Sheikh he’s been looking for.
There seemed to be one more question for the Sheikh. “What” I asked, “is a dervish?”
He looked at me and there was a long time before he spoke.
“We speak in story form, as you know,” he said, “and one of the reasons for this is that you can listen to a story over and over again, for each moment is different and will not repeat itself.”
The Sheikh continued, “Once there was a swarm of mosquitoes. The wind blew, and, since the window of the Sheikh’s house was open, all the mosquitoes blew in with the wind. On the other side of the room was another open window, and the mosquitoes that had blown in one window were blown out the other – all except for one. That one landed on the Sheikh’s wife’s knee. The Sheikh looked, smiled, raised his hand, and killed it. The mosquito that died became the Dervish.”
I found myself sympathetic to Feild’s efforts and engrossed by the wisdom within the book from the teachers and Feild. The book has much to offer anyone interested in Turkey, sufism, and oriental wisdom.
The title also gives us a clue: A Sufi Journey. Sufi principles are integrated into the story at various levels: stories within stories and metaphors which work on multiple level all at the same time – and this book is no different.
This is also a story that one can listen to over and over again.