Sufism, the Spirit of All ReligionsMay 24, 2019
The word Sufi, or Saf, implies purity, which contains two qualities. That is pure which is unmixed with any element other than its own, or in other words, that is pure which existed in its own element unalloyed and unstained. And secondly, that is pure which is most adaptable. Pure water, for instance, is water without the mixture of anything else, and the test of its purity is that it can adapt itself to whatever is mixed with it. If it is mixed with a red powder it becomes red, if with a green powder, green.
Such is the nature of the Sufi. In the first place the Sufis purify themselves by keeping the vision of God always before them, not allowing the stains of earthly differences and distinctions to be mirrored upon their heart. Neither good nor bad society, nor intercourse with people of high or low class, nor faith or belief can ever interfere with one’s purity.
The Sufi shows universal kinship in one’s adaptability. Among Christians one is a Christian, among Jews one is a Jew, among Muslims, a Muslim, among Hindus, a Hindu, for a Sufi is with all and thus all are with the Sufi. Sufis allow everyone to join with them in the brother/sisterhood, and in the same way allow themselves to join in any other. The Sufi never questions, “What is your creed, nation, or religion?” Neither does a Sufi ask, “What are your teachings or principles?” If you call a Sufi brother or sister, one answers as brother or sister.
The Sufi has no fixed principles, because what is sweet may be beneficial to one and harmful to another, and it is thus with all principles, good or bad, kind or cruel. If you require of soldiers that they should be merciful during a battle they will at once be defeated. This shows that each person has one’s own principles for each action and situation.
The Sufi is a true Christian in life, in charity, in kinship and in that one heals one’s own soul as well as that of another. The Sufi may not be bigoted in adherence to a particular church or in forsaking the other masters who came before and after Christ, but the Sufi’s attunement with Christ and appreciation and practice of truth are as keen as those of what a true Christian should be. In the lives of the dervishes one sees the real picture of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, especially in that they share their food and abode with others whether they be friend or foe. Even to the present day, they continue in their pure ways. The Sufi is a Catholic in producing the picture of the ideal of devotion in one’s soul, and the Sufi is a Protestant in giving up the ceremonies of the cult.
The Sufi is a Brahmin, for the word Brahmin means knower of Brahma, of God, the Only Being. The Sufi’s religion lies in believing in no other existence than that of God, which the Brahmin calls Advaita. The Sufi has as many grades of spiritual evolution to go through as the Yogi. There is even very little difference to be found in their practices, the difference being chiefly in the names. Of course, the Sufi chooses a normal life in preference to that of an ascetic, yet does not restrict him/herself either to the former or to the latter. The Sufi considers the teachings of the avatars as true manifestations of the divine wisdom and is in perfect sympathy with the subtle knowledge of the Vedanta.
The Sufi appreciates the Jain conception of harmlessness and considers that kindness is the only true path of purity and perfection. Shams-i-Tabriz, the Shiva of Persia, was flayed alive by the people because he had been accused of declaring that the Godhead existed in his mortal body. From his decayed flesh small vermin grew and waxed larger and larger as they devoured it and he, when while walking saw any of them fall from him would pick them up and place them again upon his body saying, “Your food has been created in this.” From past times until the present Sufis have shown great renunciation in their lives. Now most of them are as Jains or Brahmins, leading a most harmless life.
The Sufi is Muslim without any doubt, not only because many Muslims turn out to be Sufis or because of the use of Muslim phraseology, but because one proves in one’s life what a true Muslim is and what the heart of the true Muslim ought to be. Muslims as a race have so much devotion that no matter how great a sinner or how cruel a person may be, the name of Allah or Mohammed at once reduces them to tears. Islam prepares one to become a Sufi. The practices of Sufism first develop the heart qualities which are often overlooked by other mystics. It is the purification of the heart which makes it fitted for the illumination from the soul. The Prophet Mohammed prophesied, “There will be seventy-two diverse classes of people among those who will walk in my light, but among them there will be only one kind who will surely find their way aright.” This is applied to the Sufis because it is they who read the Koran from every experience in life, and see and recognize Mohammed’s face in each atom of the manifestation.
The Sufi is a Buddhist for one reasons at every step one takes as one proceeds in one’s spiritual journey. The teachings of the Sufis are much akin to those of the Buddhists. In fact it is the Sufi who unites the believers and the unbelievers in the idea of God, in the knowledge of unity.
The Sufi, as a Zoroastrian or a Parsi, looks toward the sun, and bows before the air, fire, water, and earth, recognizing the immanence of God in God’s manifestation, taking the sun, moon, and stars as the signs of God. The Sufi interprets fire as the symbol of wisdom and the sun as the celestial light. The Sufi not only bows before them but also absorbs their quality. As a rule, in the presence of dervishes, a wood fire and incense burn continually.
The Sufi is an Israelite especially in the study of the different names of God and the mastery of them. At the same time the miraculous powers of Moses can be seen in the lives of Sufis past and present. The Sufi, in fact, is the master of Hebrew mysticism. The divine voice heard on Mount Sinai is audible to a Sufi today.
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