From the newsletter, Sufis Speak
A beautiful Sufi in the prime of youth complained, “The world is bleeding to death while we sufis are wallowing in self-praise, boasting of achievements, power, force, ignoring children starving…”
So true to the egg and I, but we are in the egg, it in us; we are the egg and it is us, so why not stop, look and listen? If you see children starving and if you aren’t sure the latest charity begging letter that just came through the mail will solve that matter entirely, would it be wrong, heartless, to pause for a moment and think? Use the grey matter in your nubbin to sort out the threads and figure what to do? You may call it thinking. You may fancy bigger words, call it meditation, which may not make it bigger, really, nor smaller. If you feel the need of force to carry out that meditation, you may squirm seeing how little of the Power of the Universe (which is all yours) you have been able to partake of and use, so you cannot wallow in self-praise to the disgust of this precious young sufi who, on her part, failed to see the striving GOD-embryo trying to charge itself.
As you plod along thus you may see several plots at once, confusing you, so you end up asking half in despair: Why doesn’t the President do something? We elected him for that, didn’t we? You may have voted for him but also a few millions did. His task is not to follow your ideas exclusively but all the ideas of his voters as far as he can, and with due regard to the accumulated experience and ideas of his bureaucracy. What are those many ideas? Why don’t you find out? And after having found out, nudge the whole system and nation in the direction you think it ought to be nudged, without hurting or antagonizing any one too seriously?
It’s becoming a bit complicated now, isn’t it? You feel not quite up to it? In that case, is it not your obvious duty to elevate yourself into feeling and knowing you are up to it, at least partially? Here then, you have arrived at or are back at analysis — analysis of yourself as well as the egg around you — to enable yourself to tackle the burning problems. It does not mean you wait until you are perfectly prepared before you act, but while acting, you go to school, a mundane school or religious training or even a yoga or sufi training, all with the same intent: To equip yourself to act efficiently.
Among all these training trips, what characterizes the sufi trip? Many things, first that all religions, sciences and efforts are expressions of the same universal drive, the arms and tools and thoughts of GOD. What help is that? It helps you not to waste your time and effort on useless criticism, but to see, understand, encourage and gently lead all sincere efforts. Religion may have lost much of its grip but religious bigotry still has a firm grip and is to blame for much of the starving of children, for the very same bigotry expresses itself in color, race, social strata. A New York Corporation lawyer, my uncle, told me too many of the important company executives he knew thought they, the executives, were a special kind of people, chosen by God or somebody to lead men and that the opinions and needs of the men they were leading did not matter much. With such ideas a society is bound to suffer tension, malnutrition, even possibly destruction. Such dangerous sentiments are thwarted by such groups as sufis, yogis and all who see the spirit permeating all life.
The sufi training or simply the sufi attitude also makes you see the stirrings and movements of thoughts and feelings that make up and move society and the nation. You learn to see why and how the richest nations in the world develop desperate poverty pockets, health hazards, foul air and water and how to correct these things and you can also see which public servants ably perform and who do not.
A yogi, Swami Rama, is presently retained by the Menninger Institution, that prestigious Hospital and Research facility for mental health. His task is to train doctors as yoga preceptors so they in their turn can use the yoga methods to establish communication between a patient’s (or any person’s) deeper divine faculties and the conscious mind. A magazine reporter interviewing Swami Rama asked what he thought of Americans as yoga pupils and teachers, especially the American youth, its future.
“American youth” said Swami Rama, “is the best in the world, you know, with unlimited potential; their deep and strong emotions assure success if properly directed. Emotions are the driving force of life. Unfortunately American youth are lacking essential qualities today.” “Which qualities?” “Discipline,” (which he explains, not as a relation to others or to imposed rules but as efficient communication between the inner, deeper man and his conscious mind). “The reason for this is,” continued the yogi, “that the American home has lost its sacred hold on the family members.”
We know that this is the case in some homes, even in some that are called good homes. I never thought it was the case for the majority of American homes. At any rate, I know of sufi homes, and Yoga homes, and homes of no such designation but of the spirit , in which the light shines brightly, in some homes like enormous blazing suns.
Why do Americans go beyond their borders to accept Sufi and Yogi methods? First, because a thousand sects of Christianity, the Hebrew religion and Islam are already with us. It behooves us to acquaint ourselves with the origin and pure aspect of all this, which is sufism for the Western and Near-Eastern traditions and Yoga for the Far Eastern ones. Apart from that, the same truths were already honored by great Americans of the past, by practically all the nation’s fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin who were not narrow sectarians but ‘deists’ which is much the same as Sufis. And the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman is essentially the Sufi line. Whitman’s friend and physician Richard Maurice Bucke wrote “…with the flux of cosmic consciousness all religions known and named today will be melted down [into an essence that] will absolutely dominate the race. It will not be [just] part of life [limited to] sacred books, mouths of priests or bibles. It will not ‘save’ men from sins or secure entrance to heaven, will not teach future immortality or glory, for immortality and glory will be in the here and now, the evidence of it in every heart as sight in every eye. Each soul will feel and know itself to be immortal, and that the entire universe with all its good, all its beauty belongs to it forever…”
The same elements are found in the Maya culture, born in the heart of the Americas.
Far afield we find this same spirit in the ancient Chinese culture, claimed by some to be the origin of sufism. The best known evidence today is perhaps the I CHING, the book of changes, that recently captured the fancy of Carl Jung, the prestigious psychiatrist who seeks to combine the wisdom of all cultures. He sees in the I CHING an approach to understand life different from Western Science’s Causal idea, the theory of cause and effect. In contrast he calls the Chinese idea the synchronistic approach and wonders if it isn’t more true. He sees modern Western physicists now approaching this synchronistic concept, realising that to satisfy the more current western idea of cause and effect you had to go to a laboratory, with artificial restrictions, to reproduce the desired results, to make the experiments ‘obey’ the ‘laws’ we thought we had ‘discovered’. The findings of these modern physicists have been with us for millenniums, hidden behind the contempted term “mysticism”. Great scientists and artists of all ages have known.