From a review in The Sufi Journal by Terry Graham (Issue #79, Summer and Autumn 2010, see http://sufijournal.org/archives-issue-79-highlights/)
The basic premise of this challenging book on Sufism can be summarized in a paraphrase of the words of Jesus in the introduction: “True spirituality can be known by its fruits” The object of the authors is to make the hidden self manifest in a form which the lay person can grasp and even take action upon. Taking the basis of Sufism out of its shell in the context of formal religion, the authors take their message from the words of the first master to bring Sufism to the west, the venerated Inayat Khan: “There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which an enlighten the reader.”
Where the classical Sufi concepts of “annihilation”, “union” and “perfection” may be difficult to comprehend. the authors here state the end result in terms of one’s gaining a palpable harmony with the earthly environment and through this perceiving, even experiencing, what lies beyond it. “The Emerald Earth is right here,” states the authors, “existing in the fullness of our intention. It is not found in an enchanted land or esoteric ritual” The end experience is lyrically and comprehensively put in term of the devotee becoming “ever tuned to a resonant and divine pitch, aware of the splendor of the heavens that is always seeking expression.”
“this interesting and provocative book, in addition to being of interest to the general reader, may serve as a useful handbook for those on the Sufi Path who can find an enrichment of their own practice in the description of steps taken in related traditions.”
From a review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality and Practice.com, and found at http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/books/books.php?id=19397
“Wisdom’s call is to affirm a world of beauty, an Emerald Earth,” write Norton and Smith. It is a call to wake up to the bounties of the natural world and our own souls. It is a call to exercise wonder and to look with reverence on all things. It is a call to change the world, to act responsibly, and to surrender to the mysteries of the universe. Rumi agrees:
Make peace with the universe.
Take joy in it.
It will turn to gold.
Resurrection will be now.
Every moment, a new beauty.
And never any boredom.
(trans. Coleman Barks)
Norton and Smith salute meditation as a tool that helps us tap into the deeper current of our being which is freedom and joy. Beyond meditation, Sufis recognize that every moment in the universe is a movement of love — both in our triumphs and in our tragedies. This reality is illustrated in one of the many teaching stories in the book. The trickster Nasrudin is found sitting in a church with his feet upon the altar. The local priest comes in and shouts: “Nasrudin, never put your feet on something sacred!” Perplexed, Nasrudin looks around: “Oh, forgive me! But where can I put them that isn’t sacred?”
Norton and Smith point out that in the Sufi tradition, the Beloved is actively speaking to us and in us and through us. Or as Hazrat Inayat Khan, who is quoted extensively in this book, put it:
“With all errors and mistakes and lacks which we find in our external life, we see a perfect hand working behind it all. And if we looked at life a little further than we look at it generally, we would certainly find that all the lacks and errors and mistakes and faults sum up into something, making life as complete as the wise hands which are working behind it wish it to be.”
Norton and Smith conclude this salutary mix of wisdom, mysticism, and spiritual practice with their thoughts on the “Great Work” of our time: caring for the inner world of our hearts and the outer world which we have so badly battered and bruised. It brings spirituality down to earth (literally) and deep into our hearts.