Thank you all for your warm welcoming messages.
Mubarak Ramadan wa Leyl-i Kadr to you Dawud. I'll try to answer your questions and express myself better. Religious issues and beliefs are somewhat delicate so please do not feel offended by any of my words, just trying to explain myself better.
When I say Orthodox (from greek orthos "right", "true, "straight" + doxa "opinion", "conviction") I mean the perspectives claiming to be holding the true conviction rejecting all others. Heterodox being the antithetical word stands for allowing a multiplity of opinions or convictions, giving non of them a hierarchical dominance above others. For me Orthodoxy is the claim to be holding the only true meaning of a teaching while heteredoxy is the tolerance to all different interpretations regarding we have limited knowledge and what we think to be true might not be so in all cases. This is why I call myself a non-Orthodox Muslim (or rather a heterodox one).
Delusion of grasping and capturing the Truth might be very dangerous, counter-productive on the way, and might turn a promising spiritual way into a dogma and sometimes cruel tyranny over others as we see in cases of many sufi masters being tortured to death by orthodox ulema eg. Halladj al Mansur, Nesimi, Shams-i Tabrizi (the mentor-disciple of Jalaladdin Rumi) and many others. The truth can't be grasped and captured and our knowledge is limited, Alim Allah (Allah knows the better)(or you can rather say Tao or the Way)
This is not peculiar to Islamic Orthodoxy and is also valid for all other religious sects and spritiual ways which are claiming to know and hold the only true meaning.
I totally agree with it but I doubt mainstream orthodox Muslims would agree. I will quote the words of Sheikh-ul Akbar Ibn Arabi's words upon his meeting with Ibn Rushd at the young age of 19 and asked if the truth he had come to understand with contemplation (murakaba) was the same as thier philosophical understanding. Arabi answered:
"Between the Yes and the No the spirits take their flight beyond matter, and the necks detach themselves from their bodies."
I take it a rather elegant way of saying "if I declared what I came to understood I would be taken right to the gallows!" (And this is of course only one interpretation of his words and I acknowledge and approve many other interpretations as well) But later on when he became famous as the Great Sheikh he declared much more of his gnostic lore. Besides his most prominent works like Bezels of Wisdom and The Meccan Illuminations his Mirat al Irfan is a great treatise which is not translated into any western languages yet as far as I know (but I might be mistaken as well)
I agree with you that most Sufi masters were pracitioners of exoteric "ways" of Islam but I would not call those practices orthodoxy. And we could have such a long and interesting talk on the esoteric meanings of the five pillars of Islam (by the way don't the Shiite have a sixth pillar - Justice) and contemporary practices of them but I guess this is not the right place (oh I might also be mistaken about this ) but I can't help myself giving a little example:
Take praying, for instance. The arabic word for it is salaat which literally translates as meditating, contemplating and supporting. There is no inscription in Koran on how to do it. The form we do today - and there are countless different forms depending on your sect with slight alterations - is just the tradition. And what is worse is during this contemplation prayer words are read in Arabic whereas most of the Muslims in my country and elsewhere don't know Arabic and just don't understand what they are praying to Allah. It is quite like reading some sutras in Hindu or Tibetian languages without understanding what it means and I doubt anyone would benefit much from such a practice. (On second thought, sure they would benefit some with good intentions and if they feel His Highness in their hearts. But anyway, you don't need to be doing the salaat for such a benefit)
And don't forget the Marifat
Ok, I don't wanna be too much controversial. Just some thoughts...
And I appreciate very much that sermon of Ali you sent. I haven't read Nahj al-Balaghah yet but will definitely read soon. Thank you very much for this.