"The Sufi Ruhaniat International (SRI) is the Universal Sufi Order established by Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, as a stream within the spiritual lineage of his own teacher, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, with whom he took bayat (initiation) in 1923.
The Ruhaniat is composed of sincere mureeds (formally initiated students) who tread the Path of Initiation and Discipleship, seeking the truth of the Inner Life through personal practice and direct experience — just as the disciples of Christ, Buddha, the Divine Mother, Mohammed, and other Illuminated Souls, known and unknown, have done through the ages." — From the Sufi Ruhaniat International website
The Sufi Ruhaniat International (SRI) is a stream of Universal Sufism and draws inspiration from traditions of Sufism within and beyond historic Islam. SRI is an initiatic order within the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan (Inayati-Chishtiyya). Murshid Sufi Ahmed Murad Chishti (Samuel L. Lewis), a disciple of Hazrat Inayat Khan, formally founded the order in 1970. There are centers throughout the United States, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Sufi Ruhaniat International has five primary activities.
Initiation and progress on the path of discipleship is the central theme of the Sufi Ruhaniat International. The relationship between teacher and student exists for the purpose of providing training that leads to realization of the Divine essence in each human being, and to leading a life of service to God and humanity. Through various centers, classes are offered both to the general public (in accordance with the brother/sisterhood work) and to those interested in the path of initiation. Initiates are expected to maintain a relationship with a spiritual guide. Students are referred to as mureeds.
The Dervish Healing Order serves as that aspect of the Sufi Ruhaniat International which maintains and promotes the vision of health and Divine Healing as presented by Hazrat Inayat Khan. The Dervish Healing Order is an initiatory order. All members have demonstrated their deep involvement in some aspect of healing, either toward self or others. A primary activity is the conduction of the Healing Service of Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Ziraat is a heart-based approach to gardening and food production outwardly, and to spiritual growth inwardly. The heart, like the earth, is regarded as sacred soil to be prepared for planting. Rocks and roots are removed; last year's stubble is plowed under. New seed is placed in the furrow. Sunshine and rain attend the turning of the seasons, and the ancient cycles of sowing, growth, fruition and harvest are realized in ourselves and in our gardens and farms.
The Universal Worship Service was created by Hazrat Inayat Khan to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diverse religious traditions of the world: both in the beauty of their distinctions and differences, externally, and in the transformative and healing power of their inner Unity...all coming from the same Source. Conducted by ministers called Cherags (Lamps of the Message), the Service honors nine of world's major religious traditions – the Goddess Tradition, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, the Native Traditions of the world, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For each tradition, a candle is lit, a selection from the sacred scriptures is read, and a spiritual practice or Dance of Universal Peace is led. Leaders of the Universal Worship Service are referred to as cherags and cheragas.
The Dances of Universal Peace are simple, meditative, joyous, multi-cultural, circle dances that use sacred phrases, chants, music, and movements from the many traditions of the earth to touch the spiritual essence within ourselves and others. Based on the work begun in the late 1960s by Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, they promote peace and integration within individuals and groups worldwide. There are no performers nor audience – new arrivals and old hands form the circle together. The International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace was formed under the auspices of SRI to serve as a network for the many Dance meetings and leaders throughout the world, to publish recordings and instructions for the Dances, and as a resource for the ongoing development of new Dances and for the training of dance leaders. Dance leader certification is available through the affiliated Mentor Teachers Guild.
The Sufi Ruhaniat International was incorporated as the Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society by Murshid Samuel L. Lewis in November 1970, shortly before his death in 1971. In 2002 the name was changed to Sufi Ruhaniat International.
Leadership of SRI is provided by a pir (spiritual leader) and a council of murshids and murshidas (senior teachers). Teachers are referred to as sheiks and sheikhas. SRI is not "guru-centered" and maintains a minimal hierarchy required for any effective organization to function. All members are respected for the unique perspectives and abilities they offer.
Other teachers have informed the Sufi Ruhaniat International's spiritual tradition. Among these are:
Sensei Nyogen Senzaki (1876–1958) was a Rinzai Zen monk and student of Soyen Shaku. He was the Zen teacher of Samuel L. Lewis. His last words were said to be "Remember the Dharma! Remember the Dharma! Remember the Dharma!"
Ruth St. Denis (1879–1968) was a modern dance pioneer and a major influence on Samuel L. Lewis, who called her "Mata-Ji" (Honored Mother) and referred to her as "my fairy godmother". She was a source of inspiration in Samuel L. Lewis' creation of the Dances of Universal Peace and of the Spiritual Walks.
Joe Miller (1904–1992) was an American mystic best known for his Thursday Morning Walks in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park with his wife Guin during the 1970s and 1980s. Joe was widely respected for his spiritual clarity and Dr. Evans-Wentz, the original translator of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and other sacred Mahayana texts, considered Joe Miller "the only man he had met in the West who understood the Doctrine of the Clear Light." Joe was a close friend of Samuel L. Lewis who upon his deathbed asked Joe to "Take care of my disciples." Joe provided spiritual guidance to Sam's disciples, and many others, until his death in 1992.