A Return to the Spirit: Questions and Answers
Dr.Lings answers various questions posed to him relating to his life, Islam, Sufism, Religion and Spirituality.
This final work of the greatly revered Martin Lings opens with an insightful autobiographical account of his own interior journey, the finding of a spiritual master, and the conclusions he ultimately reached regarding the inner life and Islam.
The 96-year-old author, a respected British scholar, recounts the lessons learned from his life as a practicing Sufi, including the answers to profound questions such as: How did I come to put First things First?, What is the Spiritual Significance of Tears and Laughter?, What is the Spiritual Significance of Civilization?, What is the Qur’anic Doctrine of the Afterlife and How is it related to Sufism?, and Why “With All Thy Mind”?
Prior to publication of this volume, its distinguished author, Martin Lings, did in fact “return to the Spirit” on May 12th 2005. This has occasioned the addition to this work of an “In Memoriam” appendix.
Readers will be treated to tributes that have arrived from the world over written by those who simply read and loved his work to those who knew him personally, some of whom were under his spiritual direction. These diverse accounts of this extraordinary man round out a profound image of his person. The book also includes a selection of previously unpublished photographs taken throughout his life.
A remarkable kind of last testament by an individual who successfully bridged the gap between Christianity and Islam, His questions and answers will be of great value to both Muslims and Christians who are seeking the Truth. His words are a blessing for our times.
In Dr Lings' case, he saw beneath the surface of things and helped us to penetrate the veil behind which lies the sacred meaning to so many of life's mysteries. He helped us to look beyond the literal and to comprehend that there are many layers of meaning within the hidden universe - something which science is now at last beginning to recognize through the acknowledgement of an inherent order and harmony to the world about us and within us.
"Lives of great men all remind us / We can make our lives sublime…" "Beholding His glory, we ourselves are transformed from glory unto glory." Martin Lings has been a role model for me…like everyone else who knew him intimately, I revered him for being the saint he was.
With a poet's pen, a metaphysician's mind and a saint's concerns, Dr. Lings has left for us a profound posthumous farewell letter, filled with poignant insights gleaned from a lifetime of devotion, contemplation and concern about the human condition. He did in his life what he is urging the rest of us to do: return to the spirit.
Writing with the same measured beauty that typifies all his books, and with a fresh perspective as always on the many vestures of Truth, the author has chosen, in this final spiritual testament, to bequeath yet additional gifts: numerous treasured moments of insight into his own inward life-the life, as those of us who had the privilege of knowing him personally can well attest, of a genuine saint.
At the end of a long and dedicated life Martin Lings wrote this short but remarkable book, a summation of a body of work extending over half a century. In it he has dealt with some of the most difficult questions dividing Christians and Muslims. He has done so convincingly and with characteristic wisdom while offering the reader fascinating glimpses of his own spiritual history. This is essential reading for anyone who seeks answers to the really important questions, which trouble the contemporary mind.
Martin Lings seems to me a man profoundly quiet. He was accomplished and honored; he had much to teach but nothing to prove. In his writings, which I have read fairly extensively, he neither condescends to the reader nor appeals for the reader's indulgence, but says merely and plainly what he knows. His aim, as he put it, was to make his work "reliable in that it is not written any more simply than the truth allows." I am particularly indebted to him for his book on Shakespeare, which I think of and return to again and again.