Sufism Reoriented not a spiritual lineage, but a priestly lineage. (Not my circus, not my monkey.)

Ivy Duce was confirmed by Meher Baba in 1952 as the murshida of Sufism Reoriented, an order derived from Inayat Khan’s Sufi Movement in America. He told her that he would help her and her students spiritually on the basis of her absolute honesty, as she was not spiritually illumined.

In the discussions between Ivy Duce and Don Stevens with Baba on the subject of succession, Ivy came to believe that Baba had promised her that there would be a continuous lineage of saints or Perfect Masters guiding Sufism Reoriented for 700 years, i.e. until Baba as the Prophet/ Avatar once again returns.

This point has been refuted by Don Stevens who was in a unique position to know the facts about this contentious issue. He was in fact the primary liaison between murshida Duce and Baba, and has gone on record as saying that Baba pointedly disabused murshida Duce on this subject; Don relates that Baba said Sufism Reoriented would be blessed with a real murshid(a) “from time to time”, and that this would be entirely Baba’s business. This point has been confirmed by Baba’s secretary, Eruch Jessawala.

Don Stevens resigned from Sufism Reoriented in the early ’70’s because of Murshida Duce’s chronic dishonesty. (Don relates that Terry Duce, Ivy Duce’s husband, once drew him aside and cautioned him, “my wife is an habitual liar”.)

The question arises, how and why did Ivy Duce get so carried away with spiritual pretension? The idea that the sufi order which had been entrusted to her would be guided by genuine saints or Masters for 700 years is a spectacular assertion. In the annals of spiritual tradition, there has never been such an example.

At best, a spiritual lineage (as a public and recognizable institutional lineage) of genuine saints and or Masters  might last for one or two hundred years. The Tibetan lineage of Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa  comes to mind. This lineage continued as the Kagyu lineage, but not with an unbroken lineage of Perfect Masters or saints leading the order. The Sikh lineage of Guru Nanak lasted for two hundred years, assuming that they were all bona fide saints or Masters. The lineage of Moinuddin Chishti is a celebrated lineage, but it did not last as an institutional lineage of genuine saints and Masters for much more than a hundred and fifty or so years.

Please mark my point: genuine spiritual succession continues forever, but not as an identifiable public and institutional lineage. The succession of Perfect Masters and saints is always assured as a transmission, but not at all necessarily within a given institutional context. The Spirit blows where it wills.

The great problem with Sufism Reoriented’s assertion is that it maintains that Baba promised a continuous, public and institutional spiritual lineage of 700 years. This reminds one of the Catholic Church, which is based on a priestly hierarchy.

Why would Sufism Reoriented get confused on the difference between  priestly and spiritual lineages? Well, if murshida Duce had left the problem of succession to Baba, it would have remained a spiritual issue. However, she decided to resolve this problem herself, and not having the spiritual status to properly address it, she appointed an occultist, Jim Mackie, as a presumed saint and successor. This consigned her sufi order to become something like the Catholic Church with its exalted priestly lineage . The proof of this is the newly completed Sanctuary of Sufism Reoriented in Walnut Creek which is built to last 700 years as the seat of this new Papacy.








This entry was posted in articles and notes. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sufism Reoriented not a spiritual lineage, but a priestly lineage. (Not my circus, not my monkey.)

  1. Friend says:

    You raise, as usual, excellent points
    I had always viewed this subject with my perception in mind ‘ you assume this master or murshida to govern your order will be incarnate- why not discarnate or Khidr for example’
    You quote Baba saying they would be blessed ‘from time to time’
    Who says that didn’t mean ‘from Time to Time’ ie every 700 years!!
    I have heard people question the veracity of ‘How A Master Works’ by Ms Duce
    You excel at being one of the rare ones willing to tell it like it is on such subjects (bullshit in the Baba world)
    And when I recall Eruchs statement ‘ if you don’t understand something just interpret it on the gross level ‘ which has always remained with me and something you adhere to Darvish, by not reading into dodgy behaviour as having Baba sanctioned authority tp be exempt from the rules
    Ironically I picked up that Eruch reference in How A Master Works years ago! The thing that I can’t answer, obviously, is 1. Surely Baba understood certain characters would go totally off the rails- did His work require this despite the consequences
    2. The individuals concerned are obviously blessed, Ms Duce on this instance- of having SOmuch proximity to Baba
    3. Doesn’t the similarity, visually, between Blavatsky and Duce freak you out?
    4. Is there some higher law that could determine that Darvish is in fact Ms Duce reincarnated to riposte herself?

    • bill gannett says:

      I believe that SR represents Baba’s work, and that his work is inscrutable. Our work is to respond intelligently and honesty to whatever affects our relationship with him. That SR has gone off the rails is a no-brainer. All of the mandali agreed on this. More importantly, Baba himself corrected Ivy Duce several times on several issues, but she ignored him. There is no question that SR represents a willful distortion of Baba’s wish.

      There is certainly poetic justice in the thought that Ivy Duce was the reincarnation of Blavatsky. Both were laughably pretentious. Blavatsky was the queen of 19th century spiritualism and spewed more nonsense than a broken fire hydrant connected to a cesspool.

  2. Bill….Perhaps a stupid correction, but when I saw Eruch referred to as ‘Baba’s Secretary’ I immediately thought of Adi K. Irani as Baba’s Secretary not the title extended to Eruch who was far more than a secretary.

    • bill gannett says:

      Yes, you’re right. “Secretary” does not properly describe Eruch’s relationship to Baba. I think of Eruch as Baba’s talented manservant; but that is an even more awkward phrase.

Comments are closed.