Living Presence Book Summary - Living Presence Book explained in key points
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Living Presence summary

Kabir Edmund Helminski

A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self

4.4 (196 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Living Presence by Kabir Edmund Helminski is a spiritual guide for deepening one's connection with the divine. Through mindfulness practices, Sufi teachings, and personal anecdotes, it offers insight and inspiration for living a more meaningful life.

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    Living Presence
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    Sufism is a practice of Islam that strives to experience a reality of divine interconnection.

    Picture yourself in a city dense with fog. Its tendrils cling to the streets, spreading darkness everywhere. The people around you move about in shadow.

    The inhabitants of this city are constricted by fear. No matter their accomplishments, they carry a deep sense of failure and alienation.

    Now travel beyond the city. You find yourself in a village where people strive to be kind yet are haunted by fears of their own insignificance. Journey further away still and you meet the warriors. The warriors have conquered their fears through the realization that life is divine.

    Continue yet further and you finally arrive with the saints. The saints have not only realized that life is divine, but they also live every moment with the awareness of this knowledge. They surrender themselves to the all-present divinity.

    The key message here is: Sufism is a practice of Islam that strives to experience a reality of divine interconnection. 

    To a Sufi, this imagined journey from alienation to surrender to the divine isn’t simply a spiritual one. It isn’t just a metaphysical aspiration; it’s a journey to fully embrace physical reality.

    In Sufism, all things, and living things in particular, share an essence, or infinite spirit. The spirit creates, connects, and transforms them. So in this way, all things are both individual phenomena and manifestations of the infinite spirit. For a Sufi, reality is oneness.

    What’s more, this view of reality sits in harmony with our modern scientific understanding of the world. In physics, reality is an electromagnetic field. Within the field, subatomic particles vibrate with energy, and this energy draws elements together. The elements transform one another, enabling organic life.

    Consider a rose, for example. The energy within the rose brings sun, water, and minerals together to make it bloom. It’s the same for humans. The energy within us powers our minds; it allows us to have an awareness of the energy itself.

    In contemporary Sufi teaching, this energy, that manifests through all things in the electromagnetic field, is the infinite spirit revealing itself throughout existence.

    But this fit with scientifically approved models of reality is beside the point. Sufism isn’t primarily concerned with arguing the truth. Sufism is about experience. And the most important experience a person can have is presence.

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    What is Living Presence about?

    Living Presence (1992) explores how the teachings of the ancient Islamic practice of Sufism can act as a balm against our fractured, ego-driven age. Sufism teaches that an infinite spirit connects all life and that by becoming mindful of the here and now, we can glimpse this spirit in ourselves and others. Ultimately, in connecting to this presence we allow ourselves to become kinder, more intentional, and more alive. In short, more human.

    Living Presence Review

    Living Presence (2011) by Kabir Edmund Helminski is a book that explores the practice of Sufism as a means of awakening our true selves and living with authenticity. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers deep insights into the teachings of Sufism, providing readers with a profound understanding of spirituality and inner transformation.
    • Through personal stories and anecdotes, the book brings the practice of Sufism to life, making it relatable and applicable to everyday life.
    • The book's exploration of presence and mindfulness invites readers to cultivate a more meaningful existence, fostering a sense of connection to oneself and the world around us.

    Who should read Living Presence?

    • Curious minds interested in exploring the practice of Sufi Islam
    • Big thinkers who sense there’s a greater truth beyond the veil of perception
    • Anyone looking for a guiding light through dark times

    About the Author

    Kabir Helminski has spent over five decades transmitting the wisdom of the East and Middle East to Western audiences. He’s the author of The Knowing Heart and Holistic Islam, as well as the translator of multiple volumes of poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi. Helminski is a shaikh, or spiritual teacher, of the Mevlevi Order of Sufi Islam and was named one of “The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre.

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    Living Presence FAQs 

    What is the main message of Living Presence?

    Living Presence teaches us how to cultivate a deep and meaningful connection with the divine.

    How long does it take to read Living Presence?

    The estimated reading time for Living Presence is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Living Presence a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Living Presence is a profound and insightful book that is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Living Presence?

    Kabir Edmund Helminski is the author of Living Presence.

    What to read after Living Presence?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Living Presence, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • How to Know a Person by David Brooks
    • Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
    • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • The Daily Laws by Robert Greene
    • Know Thyself by Stephen M. Fleming
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell