Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi mystic and author whose new book, Spiritual Power: How It Works (Golden Sufi Center Books), advocates using personal spiritual energy to heal the planet. When not writing, the soft-spoken Englishman with engaging blue eyes conducts meditation classes at the Golden Sufi Center in Inverness and gives occasional seminars in the Bay Area and beyond. He appears with distinction in One: The Movie.
Sufism defines itself as a path of love. Vaughan-Lee follows the non-Islamic Naqshbandi tradition of Sufism, which practices silent meditation to induce enlightenment. He studied Sufism intensively in England with Irina Tweedie and received a Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from the University of North London. The Naqshbandi tradition contains a strong psychological element, and part of Llewellyn’s mission has been to integrate the ancient Sufi approach to dream work with the insights of modern psychology.
Vaughan-Lee moved with his family to California in 1991 and lives near Inverness. We met at his rustic home and chatted at the kitchen table while enjoying afternoon tea.
Common Ground: Your first few books were about making mystical Sufism more accessible, but recently your focus changed.
Vaughan-Lee: Over the last couple of years, I’ve really been pushed into the theme of global oneness as the next step in human evolution. The idea that we must shed this myth of separation and begin to relate as an organic unity. And so I wrote the books Working with Oneness and Spiritual Power.
What makes your concept of oneness new?
Essentially, it’s moving from spiritual work for individual growth and healing to using the power on a global scale. What’s interesting is that humanity is now being given access to this level of consciousness without having to do the mystical training.
So the New Oneness is more expansive?
Precisely. In the mystical tradition, divine oneness belongs to the self, connecting the inner and outer worlds. But it’s important to make the transition to contributing to the whole and giving something back. We have to take responsibility for the healing transformation of the world, and every human being can make an important contribution. Spiritual power does not just belong to individuals but to the world, and there’s a way to work with it that involves channeling energy from inner places to the outer world.
How do you see the world coming closer together?
The new global oneness is firstly ecological. We are part of an interdependent organism, but when a species begins to destroy its own ecosystem, then it’s severely out of balance. We have substantially changed our environment since the Industrial Revolution. Now humanity itself should adapt and change, because without adaptation, any organism dies.
The New Oneness is also economic — the global marketplace. And oneness is found in technology, especially the Internet. The ability to tune into the whole planet with just a computer and a modem without going through an organization or a hierarchy. This direct connection to the whole living network of humanity is completely organic. An organism recreates itself by feeding information to all of its cells, and people are communicating like never before and connections increasing exponentially. I think we are just starting to realize the incredible potential of the Internet, the connections themselves, not the goods or information exchanged.
You seem to feel that women and feminine energy have a special role to play in this shift.
The natural understanding of women has not been a part of technology, which is still working primarily within a masculine analytic paradigm. Women understand the patterns of relationships and networking on a cellular level, how relationships are as important as the things themselves. Women understand the wholeness of life in instinctive ways that men can’t, and they need to claim their power and authority.
What are the main obstacles to achieving global oneness?
As with spiritual growth, we must conquer the lower self, our dark side. Things like ego, fear, greed, and materialism. We, as a society, believe in the myths of materialism, the supposed happiness of consumption. Then there’s the issue of tribalism or nationalism — people protecting their way of life regardless of how it affects anyone else. You see it breaking down in things like the worldwide disaster relief efforts, but tribalism is still very prevalent.
You have some harsh words for the so-called New Age and what you call the “garbage of spiritual materialism.”
Much of the initial energy of this new era has created spiritual illusions that are an escape from life rather than a full engagement of life. So much of the New Age rhetoric encourages visiting the inner for the sake of one’s own personal knowledge or gains. The spiritual values of the 1970s got hijacked by the self-development movement and became just another form of materialism. Surely, using the imagination to create your world is a part of the shamanic tradition and is very sacred. But now it’s been taken over by the ego, and there’s a great danger in that. Spiritual maturity means using these gifts for the benefit of others.
How can individuals contribute to the New Oneness?
Life is a living organism, and it will show you where you can be useful. Each of us has a different note to play. You only need to know the general direction and move that way, and life will tell you if you’re on the right path. It doesn’t have to be through an organization or hierarchy. Those are the models of the past, and in the organic pattern of life, everybody is directly connected. Good people will come together in different ways with a shared purpose of helping the world.
You talk about the world’s spiritual leaders using this power. Are these the masters of wisdom you write about?
I work on the theme of oneness with others from different traditions such as Adyashanti and the synthesis is exciting. But I believe that the world’s problems are so great they cannot be addressed solely on the physical level. In Sufism, there is the tradition of the awiliya — the friends of God — and there are a certain number of masters in the world at any one time. Whenever humanity reaches a crisis point, they intervene in a way they normally wouldn’t because they understand how spiritual power works.
How does this tie in with the power places you describe in your book?
According to the Gaia theory, the Earth is a living being. Just as humans have energy centers (the chakras ), so the planet has these spiritual centers that need to be activated by those who understand how this energy works, mystics who live in two worlds. There’s the whole tradition of ley lines and dragon lines in China and temples built in power places and the use of spiritual power to help civilization develop. Power places are spots where the inner and outer worlds meet and create the potential for magic.
Are you saying these are energy vortexes and spiritual places such as Tibet and Sedona and Mt. Shasta?
Places of power are no longer isolated, but are often found in the midst of humanity. Hidden not in darkness but in light, centers of worldly power such as Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley. It’s here that the influx of energy will be given, directly into the social and economic structure of life. Some claim the center of the world today is Silicon Valley because it’s where ideas first come into manifestation. So the real power for spreading global oneness is there. Look what it’s already accomplished with computers and the Internet.
Have the power places been activated yet?
In order for this to happen, enough people have to come together to hold the energy. This work can’t be done by individuals or even spiritual masters, but must be done by groups, people with a shared higher purpose for the sake of the world.
Other than good energy and love, what might be transmitted through these power places?
Each critical era in history is given certain energy to work with. The last was fossil fuels and, before that, the gift of agriculture. My sense is that the next energy source will be light. You can see it developing on many levels, in healing, as solar energy, by using the fiber optics network already in place. Not to mention the spiritual power of light.
What can you suggest on a practical level for someone who wants to help achieve global oneness?
For one person, it might mean volunteering in a hospital and for another, planting trees. Individual consciousness can be attuned to the needs of whole. Just so oneness is not an abstract idea but a lived reality. My goal is to tell people there is this other way to be, and it’s not just some spiritual ideal. It’s grounded in the way life really is. I have a firm belief that human beings can change the world, and I’m optimistic because oneness is so present now. Everyone needs to wake up and see it and live it.