Dear Bill

The Imam behind the controversial Islam Community Center is a Sufi, and he has 
done some good things to further and mediate tensions in the past with 
education and a more pluralistic viewpoint, or so it seems.  I don't know much 
about him, but do know that he is Sufi and used to come on Cable News and put 
forth a moderate position, which means nothing -- that's politics.

On the other hand, Sufism in the West, as well as the East I assume, has been 
suffering from decades of competing with the Salafi (Wahabi) expression of 
Islam.  Also, it has had a difficult history with legalism in Shia Islam as 
well.  For whatever reason what I call "The Super Sufis" spend much of their 
time winking and nodding toward the universal expression and reality of Sufism 
but putting forth that there is no Sufism without Islam, so they make it 
contained within Islam, specifically.  They do all this with legalistic proofs 
and historical assertions that all the great Sufis were followers of Islamic 
Shariah, Muftis, Muslim Saints, Hadith Scholars, what have you.  They take 
great care to trace the Silsila (Orders/Tariqa) back to the Prophet Muhammad, 
peace be upon him.  

Of course, any impartial objective sociological rational investigation of this 
will show otherwise -- that Sufism was a reality without a name before and in 
the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and that, since it is not a Religion 
perse, it operated within Dar Al Islam once Islam was the religion of the 
people as Esoteric Schools that had a variety of Religious practitioners.  You 
could say it preceded Bahai in its Universalism.  It also had connections to 
Hermetic, Gnostic, Zorastrian, and Christian wanderers.  Sufism is about 
personal transformation (alchemy) and the symbolism of The Bees, among many 
other things.  It is a school without a schoolhouse offering -- poetry, sober 
mystics, drunken mystics, magistrates, wanderers, musicians, merchants, 
philosophers, metaphysicians, psychologists, warriors, etc . . . So there 
really are not any contradictions with Sufism in the realm of Islam, as well as 
Christianity, Judaism, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Shiavite Vedanta, Vedanta, etc . 
. . many of the great Sufi teachers in India held dual citizenships.  Hazrat 
Inayat Khan, one of the first Sufi teachers in the West had a Hindu Guru as 
well as involvement in Four Major Sufi Orders. I guess the closest we have in 
the West is the old associations of Freemasonry.  At least there are close 
parrallels, in fact many believe that Freemasonry came from Sufi Origins.

So, current Sufi Scholarship in the West and the rising immigration to the West 
has created a Sufi that is much more inclined to compete with the decayed forms 
of Imamism, Wahhabism, Salafism -- in short, false Sufism.  

Bill -- 

My connection to Sufism was at first that I was coming out of Zen Buddhist 
background. Of course I had been raised by Christians.  It was from Zen 
Buddhists that I first heard about the Sufis.  When I delved into the study of 
it one thing lead to another and then pretty soon I was amongst most Middle 
Easterners practicing Islamic Sufism and following of Shariah.  For those years 
I practiced nominally as a Muslim Sufi -- salat, ramadan, mosque on friday, 
gatherings for zikr (chanting), study of fiqh (legal), instructions in shariah, 
and Quran study, with some Arabic, enough to recite prayers and practice daily, 
and chant the shorter Surahs (chapters of Quran). 

However, probably because of having the Zen background, and because of the 
inconsistencies in my studies, I began to see something seriously wrong.  As I 
studied the Poets, some Scholars, and the history of what most were practicing, 
and the mindless devotion to the Shaykhs and authority that many so called 
Dervishes (students) displayed, I came to the conclusion that I had to leave 
the practice of Islam and take up the implementation of Sufism.  I realized 
almost everyone I was coming in contact with was just operating under some kind 
of quasi-Religious affiliation that said they were and are the "True Islam" and 
that was the "real Sufism" . . . So I left.  There was not much difference 
between who I was interacting with and Pentecostal nutcases on television.  The 
Order I was apart of even began doing initiation online by putting your hands 
on screen and teaching that we were in the end of times so blessings were 
needed for so many.  Of course no one knows anything about their bank accounts 
I am sure.  Basically it was all Religious exploitive excesses by people 
dressing up in turbans and sufi clothes . . .

We were talking about merchandizing and cultural vampirism, right?  Same thing. 
 I was looking for study and serious people, for the most part I got -- "the 
Shaykh is going to be here, the Shaykh is going to be there, the Shaykh said 
this, the Shaykh said that . . . " And then there was the kissing of the ring.  
I had to leave.

First things first, Sufism calls the teacher to you, not you to the teacher.  
There is a great deal of preparation in first things first before you are even 
ready for a Sufi teacher.  It is not a wider application and expression, it is 
purely esoteric and has very little to do with democratic ideals or eastern 
authoritarian excessess.  But westerners gobble this shit up, trust me.  

So, I am left with my Sufi studies, curriculum, a few teachers, my ongoing 
approach to the two subjects -- Zen and Sufism.  It appears that my life has 
been very much about these two paths.  In my estimation, choosing would not be 
possible, and would only be superficial.  I certainly have been associated with 
Soto Zen Buddhism longer, and have practiced and studied Zen Buddhism longer.  
They both have incredible implementation and possibilities in the west. 


For anyone interested you could take a look at the following organizations that 
were began by Sufis in the west. Of course the Religionists continuously tell 
their followers they are the false teachers.  But by their fruits they shall be 
known, right?  Take a look at the current controversy -- while the Imam has his 
right to put the Community Center there, you have to question his judgements.  

http://ishkbooks.com/books/index.html

http://www.beshara.org/

Interestingly enough, it is the Gurdjieffians in their own way that have kept 
Sufi teaching models alive, which is whole other subject.  This has been my 
experience . . . Sufism really is an Esoteric School that operates with current 
cultural realities.  The Fourth Way schools, the real ones, still do this.  

And then of course, we are back to Zen, which I am glad to return to as much as 
I can.

Appreciate the opportunity to post and to teach a little, shed some light, etc 
. . . 

What we were talking about in terms of commercialization of Eastern Wisdom is 
addressed particularly within my tradition -- they focus on education, 
children's literacy, thinking, cognitive patterns, business, pyschology, 
sociology, politics, service, health, etc . . . it is truly a whollistic 'in 
the world but not of the world' application.  That is clearest expression of 
what Sufism is -- you work in the world in an esoteric manner, share where you 
can, and let your life be your message . . . 

How does this begin?  The beginning of the path is  -- manners . . . you have 
perfect manners and take that into the world.

But, well, donkey is never happy.

Nasrudin Story

Nasruddin put up with the school for some months. After he left, he bought his 
wife some new suits and things for the home and found that he still had enough 
for a bicycle. A neighbour, passing by, said, "That is a fine bike, Hodja.  
Where are you going to go on it?" "Well," replied Nasruddin, I still have to 
give that some more thought, but I can tell you where I am not going."

K among the stable feeders









   

--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, <billsm...@...> wrote:
>
> Kirk,
> 
>  
> 
> I heard the imam behind the controversial Islam Community Center near
> `Ground Zero' in NYC is a Sufi Muslim.
> 
>  
> 
> Sufism is described as a mystical practice within Islam -  a subset of Islam
> just as most people would classify Zen as a subset of Mahayana Buddhism
> which of course is a subset of Buddhism.  Is that how you see it?  Is that
> how you practice it?
> 
>  
> 
> Thanks...Bill!
> 
>  
> 
> From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
> Of salik888
> Sent: Monday, September 13, 2010 9:16 PM
> To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Re: [Zen] Practical Mysticism - Evelyn Underhill
> 
>  
> 
>   
> 
> Dear Mike
> 
> Good questions and good post. It is interesting that perhaps we have come to
> a little of the same conclusions, only I derived it from an impact of
> Japanese Soto and Rinzai Zen Buddhism in America and you are seeing the
> reality of culture and the inner life of Zen in Japan.
> 
> To a certain extent, I would have to say that while the Japanese intentions
> probably would automatically be implementing and apply the Zen (Tradition),
> I would not say this is entirely true. I will explain. But before I do,
> having said that, I would like to point out something derived from the
> Perennialist/Traditionalist School of Comparative Religion, which is a
> Philosophical and Metaphysical overview of Ancient Traditions perse -- that
> on an exoteric level, the outward manifestation of the Tradition, of course
> the Japanese would be closer to this reality, although the West could and
> should be doing this as well. So, I would say that Zen is in good hands with
> the Japanese under the onslaught of post modernist times and Secularism,
> which steam rolls everything in the name of progress. On the other hand,
> Zen, the esoteric, which is what is essential, the inner life, this no
> culture can place any claim to. It is the reality and the slipperiest of
> fish to obtain -- as the Sufis say, the kernal and the kernal. 
> 
> In the case of Americans or Westerner plundering the Tradition of Zen. I
> think that is two answers -- first, there are some who have kept up the
> Traditions of Soto and Rinzai very well, but expressing a natural sense of
> American Transcendentalism. We sort of have our own secrets and gnostics
> inherent in our experience. That is culture and the Tradition, like the
> differences between Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen. And then of course there
> has been those that have expressed an anything goes sort of Zen, or Zen and
> this and Zen and that. So, in short, I don't think Zen Buddhism is under
> anymore attack in America than Japan, at least on the esoteric level. 
> 
> I do think there is a possibility in both Japan and the West for any
> Tradition, whether that be Sufis or Zen, for it to continuously be under
> attack from Secularism and syncretism. This is post modern information age
> times. In some sense it is what is wrong at the heart of the Middle East . .
> . not only is Islam fighting the Secular West, but more importantly they are
> fighting themselves, in terms of post modern times. Technological and
> Western individualism and syncretism has made advances on their civilization
> (traditional culture)and they are having a sort of nighmarish reform that we
> are all witnessing. Trust me, it probably was not much fun in Europe for
> many during the upheaval post Reformation. 
> 
> So, in perspective Zen is alive and well. It offers a good Tradition and
> leans on its pluralistic expression. The Sufis do likewise, however they are
> on the run in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two major power brokers in Middle
> Eastern culture. When the Sufis can practice again in Mecca, you will know
> that its all turned for the better. But in the case of Zen, and even in
> China, which I hear Buddhism is flourishing after all these years, as I
> said, I think the prospects look good.
> 
> best wishes
> 
> Kirk
> 
> --- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com> , mike
> brown <uerusuboyo@> wrote:
> >
> > Kirk,
> > 
> > The below was an interesting read. If I read it correctly. you seem to be
> saying 
> > that practioners of Zen need to adapt their practice to suit their own 
> > particular cultural milieu. As someone who is living in Japan, and isÂ
> reminded 
> > daily of the chasm between Asian/western thinking, I think I'd have to
> agree. 
> > 'Zen' is Japanese, but what is at the heart of Zen is not. The change
> towards a 
> > more western approach to Zen, however, is slow and incremental and maybe
> that's 
> > as it should be. I wonder tho, will a more western approach to Zen
> include it as 
> > 'just' part of a wider, eclectic system of religious/philisophical etc.Â
> study 
> > and practice - or will the efficacy of Zen be diluted by such an approach
> (the 
> > traditional Japanese viewpoint).
> > 
> > Mike  
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > ________________________________
> > .From: salik888 <novelidea8@>
> > To: Zen_Forum@ 
> > Sent: Mon, 13 September, 2010 2:28:50
> > Subject: Re: [Zen] Practical Mysticism - Evelyn Underhill
> > 
> > Â  
> > Dear Ed
> > 
> > I appreciate the affirmation, you never know what is going to be taken out
> of 
> > context in the wrong way in the peanut gallery. Nevertheless, at some
> time, 
> > later for me than sooner, and really through the Sufis, who have a
> different way 
> > of explaining psychology, where they break down the levels of delusion and
> 
> > attachment, it became clear to me, at least for myself what my overall aim
> is 
> > and could be. 
> > 
> > 
> > We were talking about mysticism earlier, in my estimation a wholly
> unproductive 
> > discussion, since people would be speaking about the end results and their
> 
> > definition of this -- enlightenment, cosmic concsiousness, etc . . . The
> reason 
> > I bring this up is that it has to do with greed and not realizing first
> things 
> > first. If you look at Zen Masters, Texts, and Sufi Masters, you will find
> plenty 
> > of address about having your mind on the wrong things first --
> enlightenment. 
> > The Sufis would address this as a sort of greed that operates and is
> furthered 
> > in the Nafs, The Commmanding Self, that is overlayed with personal
> experiences, 
> > wrong education, trauma, prejudices, opinions, and all the seven deadly
> sins. 
> > Oftentimes we bring our lower instincts into our practice without ever
> realizing 
> > it, through worldly conditioning. 
> > 
> > 
> > I have witnessed plenty of ego maniacs who are very clear in terms of
> their 
> > meditation practice, or their pious dedication to their path, but are as
> greedy 
> > as if they were thieves. 
> > 
> > 
> > Now, having said that, I realize that I am a thief as well, robbing this
> and 
> > taking that. Now we are in the realm of what a Zen Buddhist Master used to
> talk 
> > about -- the big doubt. He was not doubting the tradition, but doubting
> our own 
> > sincerity and utilization of the tradition. This can be useful, make us
> human 
> > and humble . . . keep us from being big shits, big know it alls, big
> kahunas . . 
> > . there are big kahunas in Zen and big Kahunas in Sufism too, in fact lots
> more 
> > in Sufism, since it has a devotional nature to teachers at times. 
> > 
> > 
> > I think what is needed sometimes is fresh perspective on an ancient
> message. 
> > That is pretty much it. There is really nothing new, and I don't say this
> to 
> > bring attention to myself, although there is that, we are all looking for 
> > attention, or we would be doing something else, but also as a reminder. As
> the 
> > Sufis say, we are forgetful people. Remembrance on the path is a useful
> tool. We 
> > want to keep our practice and path alive and vital, not by rote, fall
> victim to 
> > Japanese cultural customs of order and clarity. This is a by-product of
> Soto 
> > Zen, and only gets you so far -- a bad imitation of Japanese
> practitioners. 
> > 
> > 
> > At times I am very excited to see the expression of Zen Buddhism in
> America, it 
> > appears to be trying to keep the tradition alive and deal with cultural 
> > conditioning that might not be applicable. Let's keep in mind the
> expression of 
> > Chan in China and then Zen in Japan. Once again, the Sufis have addressed
> this 
> > thoroughly, in terms of pluralism -- one path, many permissions. 
> > 
> > 
> > As anyone might be able to gather my area of practice and specialization
> has 
> > been mostly Soto Zen and Sufism. I have delved into the Hermetic
> traditions 
> > considerably, as they related to Sufism. I have not joined the Tibetan 
> > discussion but have found it interesting, since I know very little about
> the 
> > Dalai Lama other than he wears glasses and has a nice smile and appears to
> be 
> > everywhere. I don't know much about the Basques either, other than Ernest 
> > Hemingway sure thought they were swell. So hopefully my offerings will
> serve as 
> > crumbs to strengthen you heart in the path, nor detract. 
> > 
> > 
> > Thank you all for letting me post here . . . 
> > 
> > Donkey is never happy.
> > 
> > K among the permissive
> > 
> > --- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com> ,
> "ED" <seacrofter001@> wrote:
> > >
> > > 
> > > 
> > > Kirk wrote:
> > > 
> > > > I think it is safe to say that Zen is a path that addresses the
> > > > experiential with zazen as its central methodology -- a sort of
> > > undoing of yourself,
> > > > the conditioned cultural and experiential part of your personality
> > > that
> > > > continuously reacts and feeds your ego.
> > > >
> > > > Think of it this way, while you are reading this you are already
> > > reacting
> > > > inside in an automatic way. Zen seeks to loosen the bounds of your
> > > false
> > > > self and return you to your natural state. Part of the reason why Zen
> > > > honors spontaneity, clarity, nature and a sense of the primordial
> > > untouched
> > > > mother that feeds us all.
> > > 
> > > 
> > > 
> > > Greetings!
> > > 
> > > I resonate strongly with the above statements on zen. Does anyone hold a
> > > different perspective?
> > > 
> > > --ED
> > > 
> > > 
> > > 
> > > --- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com> ,
> novelidea8@ wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Greetings
> > > >
> > > > In my estimation there really is no way to assert what Zen is, whether
> > > you
> > > > are restricting it to zazen; or opening it to a wider religious and
> > > > cultural discussion. The best we can do is just admit we fall short
> > > and perhaps
> > > > point to our own experience, to presence. Of course we could ask
> > > ourselves
> > > > who is being present?
> > > >
> > > > So repeating zazen zazen zazen with platitudes to support it, or
> > > explaining
> > > > big Zen and little zen, does do much but tell us something about who
> > > is
> > > > doing the talking and perhaps who is doing the listening here.
> > > >
> > > > I think it is safe to say that Zen is a path that addresses the
> > > > experiential with zazen as its central methodology -- a sort of
> > > undoing of yourself,
> > > > the conditioned cultural and experiential part of your personality
> > > that
> > > > continuously reacts and feeds your ego.
> > > >
> > > > Think of it this way, while you are reading this you are already
> > > reacting
> > > > inside in an automatic way. Zen seeks to loosen the bounds of your
> > > false
> > > > self and return you to your natural state. Part of the reason why Zen
> > > > honors spontaneity, clarity, nature and a sense of the primordial
> > > untouched
> > > > mother that feeds us all.
> > > >
> > > > In this respect Zen shares a great deal in common with Sufism,
> > > although the
> > > > methods might be a great deal different.
> > > >
> > > > Best wishes
> > > >
> > > > Kirk
> > >
> >
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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