Sufism

Standard membervistesd
Spirituality 21 Mar '06 21:12
  1. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    21 Mar '06 21:12
    madhhab-i 'ishq (The Path of Love)

    Sufism seems to be a religious expression that has not been discussed on here, so— I am presenting here, in patchwork form, just one stream of Sufism: that which is most similar to bhakti in Hinduism; the Sufism of Rumi, Hafiz, Ibn Arabi and Fakhruddin ‘Araqi.

    Sufis might be defined, simplistically to be sure, as the Islamic monists—that is, Sufism is the stream of the “perennial philosophy”* as expressed in Islamic form. Some Sufis remain more within the exoteric forms of Islam (e.g., sharia) than others; some have certainly been regarded as heretics by traditional Muslims.

    Sufis have also called themselves the lovers of God. In the language of the lover and the beloved, there is what one might call a “relational monism”—since lover, beloved and loving are all forms of the One Being. It is as if, to use an old metaphor, the wave, as it curls, recognizes the ocean of which it is and to which it returns. Sufis interpret the shahada, la ilaha illa ‘llah (generally translated as “There is no god but God” ), as something like “nothing really real but the one Reality.”

    For Sufis, love is the fundamental quality of the One Being, of which we are—that is, to borrow from another monistic tradition, love is the “Tao” of the cosmos.

    This love is neither simply a “warm, fuzzy feeling” nor a disinterested self-giving. The words used by the Sufis for love (hubb and ishq), like the Hebrew word ahava, include desire and passion, as well as affection.* In more Vedantic terms, it is the urge underlying the movement of fullness-form-fullness. I put it into quasi-poetic form thus:

    “God”
    is one of many names
    for the whole,
    indivisible and vibrant

    orgasm of is,
    of which we are—


    If you try to split apart
    is from is,
    to disentangle who and whom
    from the intimate, inseparable entanglement,

    you will only succeed
    in perpetuating the illusion
    of your own coitus interruptus.

    (This, of course, reflects my own personal “spin.” )

    * Which also includes Taoism, Advaita Vedanta, and Zen Buddhism.

    ** I do not know Arabic, but did a search on these terms; hubb and ahava are related in that Hebrew and Arabic are sister languages.

    ____________________________________

    Following are some quotes from the particular stream of Sufism I am talking about:

    My heart has become able
    to take on all forms.

    It is a pasture for gazelles,
    for monks, an abbey.
    It is a temple for idols,
    and for whoever walks around it, the Kaaba.
    It is the tablets of the Torah,
    and also the leaves of the Qur’an!

    I believe in the religion of Love,
    whatever direction its caravans may take,
    for Love is my religion and my faith.

    —Ibn Arabi


    I will incinerate this creed and religion, and burn it.
    Then I will put your love in its place.
    How long must I hide
    this love in my heart?
    What the traveler seeks
    is not the religion
    and not the creed:
    Only You.

    —‘Ayn alQozat Hamadani

    The spiritual community of love
    is apart from all faiths.
    The lovers' community and path [madhhab]
    is God.

    —Rumi

    Even after all this time
    The sun never says to the earth,
    "You owe Me."

    Look what happens with
    A love like that,
    It lights the Whole Sky.

    —Hafiz

    The true way of progressing through music is to evolve freely, to go forward, not caring what others think, and in this way, together with one’s development in music, to harmonize the life of one’s soul, one’s surroundings and one’s affairs…

    If this principle of music were followed, there would be no need for an external religion. Some day music will be the means of expressing universal religion. Time is wanted for this, but there will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity.

    —Hazrat Inayat Khan (a Sufi master from the Chishti order)

    And this “Sufic” saying from the First Letter of John, chapter 4, in the Christian scriptures:

    7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (ginoskei ton theou: knows/recognizes the/this God).
    8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love (ho theos agape estin: the/this God love is).*

    * As the Greek Orthodox Christians are forever pointing out, agape was not distinct or separable from eros, but includes it.
    ____________________________________

    And my own humble addition:

    Fana

    As long as there is herself and myself
    —beloved and lover, an imagined mirage
    cast in a dream of two mirrors—
    love is the desperate, jealous flame of desire.

    When the images join in a singular fire
    —returning to only ourself and no other—
    then love is the passion and pulsation of One,
    forgetful of dreams imprisoned in a mirror.

    And it begins again until it ends,
    this rhythm of form and fullness and form.

    “How silly for the flame to fear
    annihilation in the fire”—*

    —vistesd

    * Verse in quotes adapted from the Sufi Fakhruddin ‘Araqi, in his Lama’at (Divine Flashes); Fana, meaning “extinction” or “annihilation” is a Sufi term for the merger of the ego-self into the Whole, or the One (the philosophy is the same as emptiness-and-form in Buddhism).
  2. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    21 Mar '06 23:182 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]madhhab-i 'ishq (The Path of Love)

    Sufism seems to be a religious expression that has not been discussed on here, so— I am presenting here, in patchwork form, just one stream of Sufism: that which is most similar to bhakti in Hinduism; the Sufism of Rumi, Hafiz, Ibn Arabi and Fakhruddin ‘Araqi.

    Sufis might be defined, simplistically t f into the Whole, or the One (the philosophy is the same as emptiness-and-form in Buddhism).[/b]
    Thanks for that stream. I really want to buckle down and delve into The Perennial Philosophy. I have already read from its pages some insight into Sufism:

    One thing that I find noble about the Sufi is the emphasis on trying to live life in the present:

    "The Sufi is the son of time present."

    --Rumi

    "Past and future veil God from our sight;
    Burn up both of them with fire. How long
    Wilt thou be partitioned by these segments, like a reed?
    (...)"

    --Rumi

    The other thing I like about the Sufi poetry I have read is the liberation of oneself from stuffy conformity and order, or at least an approach at re-evaluation. This following poem of Niffari strikes me as very similar to the poem you posted long ago by Hafiz about the 'great ships' of religion:

    "God made me behold the sea, and I saw the ships sinking
    and the planks floating; then the planks too were sub-
    merged. And God said to me, 'Those who voyage are not
    saved.' And He said to me, 'Those who, instead of
    voyaging, cast themselves into the sea, take a risk.' And
    He said to me, 'Those who voyage and take no risk shall
    perish.' And He said to me, 'The surface of the sea is a
    gleam that cannot be reached. And the bottom is a dark-
    ness impenetrable. And between the two are great fishes,
    which are to be feared."

    --Niffari

    Also, I really like the imagery of one struggling in the deep blue -- the surface and the bottom both on fire, so to speak, and great fishes circling on all sides. Sounds like a passionate mind grappling with the absurd to me!!
  3. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    22 Mar '06 02:22
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Thanks for that stream. I really want to buckle down and delve into The Perennial Philosophy. I have already read from its pages some insight into Sufism:

    One thing that I find noble about the Sufi is the emphasis on trying to live life in the present:

    "The Sufi is the son of time present."

    --Rumi

    "Past and future veil God from our si ...[text shortened]... ng on all sides. Sounds like a passionate mind grappling with the absurd to me!!
    Thanks, LJ.

    For me, Zen offers a kind of pristine clarity and simplicity. Sufism offers passion, poetry, song and dance. Hasidism/Kabbalah offers rich textual tapestries.

    I am a nomad, wandering among the various monistic expressions....

    NOTE: After The Perennial Philosophy, you might want to look at Frithjof Schuon’s The Transcendent Unity of Religions—Schuon was a Sufi.
  4. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    22 Mar '06 16:41
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Thanks for that stream. I really want to buckle down and delve into The Perennial Philosophy. I have already read from its pages some insight into Sufism:

    One thing that I find noble about the Sufi is the emphasis on trying to live life in the present:

    "The Sufi is the son of time present."

    --Rumi

    "Past and future veil God from our si ...[text shortened]... ng on all sides. Sounds like a passionate mind grappling with the absurd to me!!
    I was a bit tired last night, and forgot to rec this: so, rec'd!

    Niffari's imagery is like a series of intertwined koans...
  5. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    29 Mar '06 11:09
    Originally posted by vistesd
    You piqued my interest, so I got my hands on The Sufi Book of Life by Neil Douglas Klotz. It is meant to be a quasi-collage of Sufi writings and insight. I doubt it will align well with the particular stream you were presenting in this thread, but I would like to post things that strike me as I read some of Klotz's book.

    The following struck me as similar in some ways to Buddhist thought -- the idea that everything is connected in an ocean of consciousness, and much suffering can be brought about when we focusedly view ourselves merely as isolated waves within that sea. However, Klotz also seems to indicate that spiritual 'escape' can sometimes detract from the here and now, the present being the playground of the Sufi (the text here is Klotz's; I just add some of my own emphasis in bold):

    "The two previous pathways (Mumin and Muhaimin) reminded us that we are not only linked to the ineffable, the spacious, and the ancient caravan of ancestors, but also to embodiment and here-and-now practicality. This pathway takes us further in this direction by reminding us that our physical form itself, and the form of every being in the universe, is also part of the Sacred Unity. In the old Semitic creation stories, earth means our unique, material form; heaven means our communal relationship to the rest of the universe. Just as scientists view the nature of light as particle or wave, our 'earthiness' shows us our individual nature as a particle; our 'heavenliness' reveals our connection to everything else as wave. So in this view, earth is not less than heaven, and the Sufi theory of relativity would be: matter = energy = us. If we primarily look to spiritual practice for techniques to escape from the here and now, we are missing part of the opportunity of human life.

    Rumi says:

    Listen to this story:
    When the soul left the body
    it was stopped by God at heaven's gate:
    'Alas! You have returned just as you left.
    Life is a blessing of opportunity.
    Where are the bumps and scratches
    left by the journey?
    '
    "

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "In the pathways of the heart, we find several ways of looking at the phenomenon of life energy. This pathway tells us that every particle of the universe already contains a kind of life energy, and so ultimately nothing needs to be received or given. When the Sufi penetrates the depths of life, she finds what she was looking for already there. From such an experience, the twentieth-century Sufi Shah Maghsoud speaks of the divine Beloved in this way:

    The sun's radiance in her face is in
    the heart of every particle,
    and I am like a wave
    glimpsing into every cell
    .
    Through her parting elixir of alchemy
    my face becomes golden,
    and so I could plunge the heart
    of the universe into red fire.
    "
  6. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    29 Mar '06 16:48
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    You piqued my interest, so I got my hands on The Sufi Book of Life by Neil Douglas Klotz. It is meant to be a quasi-collage of Sufi writings and insight. I doubt it will align well with the particular stream you were presenting in this thread, but I would like to post things that strike me as I read some of Klotz's book.

    The following struck ...[text shortened]... es golden,
    and so I could plunge the heart
    of the universe into red fire.[/i]"
    Those are wonderful quotes.

    I frankly did not like the Klotz book. All those 99 names! But I am lately realizing then when I get into the more complex streams, as opposed to Zen, I get myself entangled in the complexities--that can be fun, but it may not be efficient. This seems to be true for me vis-a-vis hasidism/kabbalah as well as that, "more intellectual," stream of Sufism.

    The Sufi Idries Shah (in whose line I think Klotz might be) once said that Zen and Sufism are saying the same things, but in vastly different ways. Taking that cue, I'll submit that Sufism is about realizing and dancing with "the rythms of emptiness and form."
  7. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    31 Mar '06 00:33
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Those are wonderful quotes.

    I frankly did not like the Klotz book. All those 99 names! But I am lately realizing then when I get into the more complex streams, as opposed to Zen, I get myself entangled in the complexities--that can be fun, but it may not be efficient. This seems to be true for me vis-a-vis hasidism/kabbalah as well as that, "more intel ...[text shortened]... submit that Sufism is about realizing and dancing with "the rythms of emptiness and form."
    I frankly did not like the Klotz book.

    Sadly, that makes two of us. I do, however, like some of the Sufi writings that Klotz presents:
    ______________________________

    "Majnun knocked on Leyla's door.
    'Who's there?'
    'It is I.'
    'Go away. There is no room here for you and I.'
    Majnun retreated to the forest, meditated for a long time, and then
    returned.
    'Who is it?'
    'It is you.'
    The door opened."

    --Attar
    ______________________________

    "If you wait until the end of time,
    you will never smell love's perfume
    until you kneel at the doorstep
    of your heart's tavern and sweep it,
    night after night, with your forehead.

    Likewise, if you want to taste
    the pure wine in this
    jewel-encrusted cup of love,
    you may have to bump
    your head on its rim
    countless times
    before you get a sip."

    --Hafiz
    ______________________________

    "Neither sober nor drunk, sometimes I feel the joy of
    my soul's eyes looking out through mine.
    Other times I feel the curl of the Beloved's hair
    and my life wobbles and staggers.
    Sometime, the seasons of life turn and
    I find myself back on the compost heap.
    And sometimes, when her glance finds me again,
    I am back in the Rose Garden."

    --Shabistari
    ______________________________

    "This moment is like a sword,
    gentle to the touch,
    but with a very sharp edge.
    Handle the moment gently
    and you go unharmed.
    Handle it clumsily and you
    feel its cutting edge."

    --Al-Qushayri
  8. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    19 Apr '06 08:48
    Damn you, vistesd. How dare you leave us to fend for ourselves! Without you around to get me back on track, my thinking has become very cramped. I needs to be gettin' back on track. I think this is a good start:

    "The Lord is an ocean of oneness
    in which lovers swim as they please, free of care.
    In their own turn, they appear in the world
    to dive deep into that ocean, to gather pearls.
    Among the pearls is a gem --
    unique in value, unmatched in lustre --
    that shines like the moon.
    (...)"

    -- Sultan Bahu
  9. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    30 Apr '06 08:091 edit
    "So long as we do not die to ourselves,
    and so long as we identify with someone or something,
    we shall never be free.
    The spiritual way is not for those wrapped up in exterior life."

    --Farid ud Din Attar

    _________________________________________

    "There is only one reason
    We have followed God into this world:

    To encourage laughter, freedom, dance
    And love.

    Let a noble cry inside of you speak to me
    Saying,

    'Hafiz,
    Don't just sit there on the moon tonight
    Doing nothing'..."


    "Come,
    let's scatter roses and pour wine in the glass;
    we'll shatter heaven's roof and lay a new foundation.
    If sorrow raises armies to shed the blood of lovers,
    I'll join with the wine bearer so we can overthrow them.
    With a sweet string at hand, play a sweet song, my friend,
    so we can clap and sing a song and lose our heads in dancing."

    --Hafiz (What a wino.)
  10. Joined
    26 Aug '05
    Moves
    110748
    03 May '06 21:06
    Rumi seems to the epitome of Sufism!😉
  11. Joined
    03 Jul '03
    Moves
    84652
    11 May '06 01:12
    You really can't go wrong with Rumi's ecastatic poetry. Great stuff.
Back to Top