Ten Things That I’ve Learned From the Sufis, by Wendy Jehanara Tremayne (Arthur, 2013)

Originally published in Arthur No. 35 (August, 2013) as a sidebar to What the Sufis Taught Me

Ten Things That I’ve Learned From the Sufis

1. A remedy for boredom: Consider that our senses provide awareness for the universe. For transcendence, freedom is form.

2. Life is a bathhouse. Someone is likely to steal your flip-flops. If you feel impatient waiting for the world to value the knowledge that you value, you may discover a reserve of compassion by considering that ignorance is a shield for that which we are unable to face

3. For the Sufi there is no right and wrong. Life is a dynamic, ever-changing context. This can be confusing. How does one know the right way? Consider a simple rule: Dismiss that which insults your soul. 

4. That which we cannot forgive we are forced to carry.

5. What is savored by gratitude is burned into the soul of the world and lasts forever. 

6. The force of attraction that limits us is our interest in the world. Consider the words of Rumi: “We are that which we seek.” 

7. Look for what is arising.

8. The things that change are not our real life. Within us is another body that belongs to the changeless, and it is fully satisfying. For as long as we are embedded in what is transitory we are only creatures. 

9. The soul is perfect—nothing you do will ever change that you cannot diminish it.

10. Life lives—only death dies. 


A little dream

From a 1996 Gary Snyder interview:

“The marks of Buddhist teaching are impermanence, no-self, the inevitability of suffering and connectedness, emptiness, the vastness of mind, and a way to realization.

“It seems evident that there are throughout the world certain social and religious forces that have worked through history toward an ecologically and culturally enlightened state of affairs. Let these be encouraged: Gnostics, hip Marxists, Teilhard de Chardin Catholics, Druids, Taoists, Biologists, Witches, Yogins, Bhikkus, Quakers, Sufis, Tibetans, Zens, Shamans, Bushmen, American Indians, Polynesians, Anarchists, Alchemists, primitive cultures, communal and ashram movements, cooperative ventures.

“Idealistic, these?” Snyder says when asked about such alternative ‘Third Force’ social movements. “In some cases the vision can be mystical; it can be Blake. It crops up historically with William Penn and the Quakers trying to make the Quaker communities in Pennsylvania a righteous place to live-treating the native peoples properly in the process. It crops up in the utopian and communal experience of Thoreau’s friends in New England.

“As utopian and impractical as it might seem, it comes through history as a little dream of spiritual elegance and economic simplicity, and collaboration and cooperating communally—all of those things together. It may be that it was the early Christian vision. Certainly it was one part of the early Buddhist vision. It turns up as a reflection of the integrity of tribal culture; as a reflection of the kind of energy that would try to hold together the best lessons of tribal cultures even within the overwhelming power and dynamics of civilization.”

courtesy Michael Sigman