A Nimatullahi Darvish has said in an interview that Sufism is- a “major mystical path” that originated 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, is connected to all religions while not being a part of any of them. Some tradition will say that Sufism is active and forever changing its format of presentation for each particular time, condition and people sufism. Dr Bitkoff himself says this about Sufism:
Teachers can instruct in any medium. In the past, they did so in a religious format. In America today, its a scientific/pyshcological/self-help format. In other ages poetry and alchemy where used.
I believe this is a good introduction to the book A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment. Why because in essence the book is a perfect example of the above quote. In my opinion this book shows us how through employing various simple sufic principles we can make the most out of the present.
Dr Bitkoff poignantly illustrates the possibilities for spiritual activity in a something as mundance as the daily commute to work. Dr Bitkoff daily commute takes him through the major Deegan Expressway, a truly nightmarish 8.5 mile stretch of highway. If you are a New Yorker the very name can make you pull out your hair. each chapter corresponds to a one mile stretch of the expressway.
The Book can be easily read by someone of any religon. The exercises are simple and given in a context that anyone can related. I wouldnt label this a sufi book. In my case I am a bit biased. What I found most amazing about the book was how although the tone was different, and the example were maybe different, I could read as well as feel a lot of the words of Idries Shah in the book. I mean this beyond the sense of reading the bibliography and the references. A few months ago I read the perfumed Scorpion by Idries Shah and the 11 Rules and secrets of the Naqshbandi order by Omar Ali Shah and I was able to find a great practical examples of many sufic ideas and themes in a form applicable to daily life. This was very touching to see for me, in that it was like a reunion of old friends. I first came to sufism through the works of Idries Shah, as I am sure you know as I have made many references to him. His works that come to mind specifically are The Perfumed Scorpion, Learning How to Learn, Knowing how to Know, The Commanding Self , The Sufis, and Seeker After Truth. I have read other book by Idries Shah but these ones really stick out the most in my mind. They were like a preparatory course to sufism, and indispensible in my own journey to initation into a sufi order and the time afterwards trying to be steadfast in my practice and self analysis.
There are great exercises in this book namely:
Seeing What’s in Front of you Exercise
Thought Monitoring Exercise
End of Day Contemplating and Writing Exercise
You are the door exercise
These exercises help us to observe ourselves, to know our intentions, and to be able to maintain solitude in the midst of turmoil or the harrowing situation that is many a time the daily commute. These exercises are a through back to the 11 rules, presented in a clear concise easy to understand way without necessarily being named or described as so.
I would reocmmend this book to anyone and everyone, irregardless of faith, spiritual practices. The approach here is universal and applicable to all. I would especially recommend this book for people who feel that spiritual and daily life are like oil and water and cant mix or that one has to work to get to a time and place in life when there are less problems so one can fully devote oneself to spirituality. Imagine the possibilities of living in the present