Dumbo Feather



Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee


Filmmaker, composer and Naqshbandi Sufi teacher


Cameron Elliot


Myrtle Vaughan-Lee


Inverness, US


January, 2020

I came to my conversation with Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee in a grim mood. Australia was burning and choking in smoke and our political leaders seemed thoroughly uninterested in addressing the root cause—anthropogenic climate change. Chatting about mysticism during a national and arguably global crisis seemed somehow indulgent. In the week since we spoke, my thoughts have returned to our conversation with surprising frequency. I’ve found myself pausing to take in the “beauty within the darkness”—watching our parched garden soaking up long-awaited rain, my little daughter’s joy as we dance together in the kitchen, and the generosity of strangers helping folks get back on their feet in the wake of the fires. These moments have been a salve for a battered heart.

Emmanuel offers us a way of engaging with the uncertainty, turmoil and bleakness of this moment with grace. The mysticism he shares is not removed from the realities of the world—alone in a cave dwelling in disembodied bliss. His is a spiritual path accessible to all of us deep in the fray of busy professional and personal lives. In addition to being a spiritual teacher and lineage successor in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order, Emmanuel is founder of the thriving online publication, explores the intersection of ecology, culture and spirituality—the director of several award-winning films, a musician and composer, a husband and a father to two children. His life is a testament to the Sufi principle of “solitude in the crowd” encouraging one to “be in the marketplace while still working with true Reality/God.” I encountered in Emmanuel a familiar blend of grounded lightness, humour, gravitas, compassion, directness, clarity and

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