I was asked if I could be interviewed and answer some questions about sufism. Of course I accepted. Looking back on my responces I learned a lot about how I see things and many of the limitations of my thoughts on Sufism and the way I see things. It was a greate exercise. It was like asking idries Shah a questions and being shown the insincere reality from which the question came from thats not to say that my thoughts were insincere but rather that it was a snapshot of my understand at a particular time, and its interesting to look back on it with the understanding of today and the current moment. But I will add my thoughts on the interview in another post. Please all comments are welcome. Enjoy!
Dave.FromtheBlog: What is your project about? or rather what is your goal/aim/thesis?
Interviewer: well we are supposed to interview someone of a different faith than out own and then using what we learned on how to study religion we are supposed to look at the answers the person gives and tell what it says about the religion and what can people learn from it
Dave.FromtheBlog: ok that sounds interesting this could be a cool interview
Interviewer: well I hope so haha
Dave.FromtheBlog: okie dokie – ok how should we start. ‘m ready
Interviewer: well I guess we could start by you telling me a little about yourself and your religious background
Dave.FromtheBlog: Well I was born and raised in NYC and Roman Catholic. I did all my sacrament when I was younger but never really was serious in my practice
Interviewer: So how did you come to or find Sufism
Dave.FromtheBlog: Religion with its antediluvian practices and dogmatic approaches didn’t really answer my questions so from a young age I set out to find the truth myself. You can say Sufism found me rather than “I” finding it.
Interviewer: what do you see in Sufism that you did not see when you practiced the Roman Catholic faith?
Dave.FromtheBlog: What really is Sufism is an experience that can’t be put into words. It’s like going to someone’s you love’s house for dinner, it’s a personal thing that is by invitation only. You can describe the meal or what you wore but the essence of what is happening goes beyond words. In Catholicism the priest intercedes for us I would rather cut out the middle man there are many other differences: but I am sure they are easier to point out as one is considered a mystical path and the other and organized hierarchical religion.
Interviewer: I do remember reading that Sufis believe that one can be close to God while living and do not have to wait until death, is this what defines Sufism as mystical in your opinion, that you have a direct bond to God?
Dave.FromtheBlog: I can give u a quote from Maghribi and maybe some comments from my own experience to answer that question:
“For so long did the Beloved face my open heart
That accept for His attributes and nature
Nothing remained of that heart”.
DaveFromtheBlog: On the Sufi path we aim towards complete subsistence in God while we go about and doing our responsibilities in the world. Rumi talks about at all time being in the Presence in many of his works to be worthy of being in God’s presence we have to ‘love’ him and only him we don’t love him for want of heaven or fear of hell just because there is a yearning and connection that has manifested itself in all we do that draws us to him if that makes sense and I just use the word Him I am not anthropomorphizing God.
Interviewer: Yes it does make sense…..this religion seems to be very peace and love oriented, do you see God as a loving god or as in some religious texts say a fearful or jugdemental god?
Dave.FromtheBlog: Well Sufism isn’t a religion it’s a solitary path ,that once u enter love becomes your own teacher its like falling in love with someone really I know the analogy has been use ad nausea but that how it is when u fall for someone there is no textbook or guide u live in the present – which is one of the reasons why Rum says lover are in each other all along you exist for each other through each other at the present God is beyond all labels labeling god as just or loving is the minds attempt to rationalize something it cannot Sufis in the oath have been soldiers writers scientist philosophers there is also no sense of hierarchy as we find in religion well in true Sufi orders there are as many imitations as there is real ” fools gold exists because there is the real thing” is the Sufi saying
Interviewer: wow that sounds very enlightening (if that is the right word)…..what are some major practices of Sufism?
Dave.FromtheBlog: Sufism comes with a set of ethics and certain individual practices that comprise it in a way again I like to think the heart of a spiritual aspirant like that of a seed planted in soul the ethics we practice and the spiritual practices that go with it only serve to enrich the soil the seed coming to life is nothing we have control over it’s like being born all couple trying to have a kid will know u have to set up a schedule take the right vitamins but whatever will manifest as life happens on its own accord beyond the wants and frame of time and mind that we operate in.
Interviewer: a Sufi speaker that came to our class stated that there was not just on sacred text but the Torah, Quran, and Bible are followed. Do you study and particular text?
Dave.fromTheBlog: no hmmm That’s an interesting issue I say and this is my opinion that truth is absolute however and whatever way it manifests it’s still truth, an experience of truth manifests at a particular place and time, with a particular culture and Rudolph Otto described this phenomenon really well he says you have an initial experience by one person or a specific group of people that experience is religion in its purest form its earliest form in time it becomes a cult and then from a cult to a hierarchical religion Sufism is the experience of God or truth itself beyond any cultural socio political or personal biases it has been said it’s the essence of all religions I have seen dervishes of all religions Some Sufi orders work within the context of Islam some don’t it’s all about the time place and specific needs of a person
Interviewer: So I guess you do not work within Islam?
Dave.FromtheBlog: No not at all. I see Islam as a revelation of truth but there is a quote I am trying to remember by the late Ikbal Shah. I found it. It says
“No understanding of the holy book is possible until it is actually revealed to the believer just as it was revealed to the Prophet” – Ikbal Ali Shah, in Islamic Sufism (1933).
I think that phrase applies to all religions and all holy books the experience itself of Mohammad or Christ or Buddha is free to all of us when that experience is projected outwardly its religion when that experience opens a highway between you and god and is a total inward experience I would say it approaches Sufism I hope I am not being verbose or overly chatty lol
Interviewer: oh no this is a very good interview and I think your answers tell a lot about Sufism
Dave.FromtheBlog: I hope so , At most I see myself a donkey loll as a close and dear friend says but the cool things about Donkeys I suppose is one day you can find yourself walk with Christ sitting on your back
Interviewer: I’ve never heard that before, I like it ha-ha
Dave.FromtheBlog: yeah I don’t know if I heard it somewhere or it just came to me lol inspiration blurs all lines I suppose
Interviewer: yea lol
Dave.FromtheBlog: this is a nice interview thus far. I am ready for more questions if you have.
Interviewer: ok, so my school is an all women’s college so a big issue while studying Islam is the view and separation of women in Mosque, what is the view of women in Sufism?
Dave.FromtheBlog: Historically Sufi practice has always treated men and woman as equal. Many times in some Islamic countries to avoid problems with authorities they conform to separating men and women etc but as darvishes we are suppose to dress regular and not dress in any way to draw attention to ourselves. On all sincere pathways I feel there has to be equality between man and woman. God is an experience beyond gender beyond race and those are still two major issues that we are grappling with as a planet I would like to share an observation of mine if you don’t mind?
Dave.FromtheBlog: When I was younger and I first got into seriously searching for the truth. There existed in my head this distinction between daily life and spiritual life but there is no such thing there is only life there is no Sufi practice and regular life it’s all life. The chaos and prejudice that exists in our daily lives is the root of what manifests in the world. A stadium full of cheering fan has a real energy that can be felt a community full of negative unhappy people has a real energy that will manifest itself sooner or later. The way the mind works is that its divisive. It says:
- This is good for me. / This isn’t.
- These are my people. / They are not.
- This is my land. / This is there.
That is fine and useful up to a point. The goal of any spiritual path is to foster unity not only between men and women but between all manifestations of life. That’s just my wordy 2 cents lol I could be bat-shit crazy as my sister claims but that just my personal experience
Interviewer: lol….I think it is a good view
Dave.FromtheBlog: Always have a salt shaker in your pocket to adjust what you hear with grains of salt. I don’t want it to seem like Sufism is like some factory to produce super godly men and women like something out of Nietzsche. I have a job I have bill to pay which are late lol, I hope the cavaliers win the championship and stomp all over the Lakers everything has its purpose and roll in our lives in Sufism or rather as darvishes we strive for this union with god in everything we do
Interviewer: I just have 2 more questions left, one being how does your family and friends react or reacted to your faith or Sufi path and the last one is there anything else you think should be said about Sufism
Dave.FromtheBlog: we are asked to be brutally honest with ourselves – actually I remember one Sufi master saying a lot of today’s problems stem from insincerity. It’s always a challenge because sometimes living in a dream can compensate from the rigors of life but as a darvish we have to accept that whatever comes to us is a gift from God. So with my friends I am the same Dave I have always been, i like drinking beer, I eat whatever, I love basketball and UFC etc. but my relationship with god is a personal thing it’s like telling the details of your marriage Rumi stated “when I come to love, I am ashamed of all that I have ever said about love.” I guess sometimes I feel the need to be quiet or to rest or to meditate but other than that I am still the crazy Dave from college as to my family my wife and sister are both darvishes we are a Sufi family So it takes our relationship to another level.
Interviewer: That’s really cool that you can share with your family.
Dave.FromtheBlog: It adds levels of depth that go far beyond other relationships I have been a part of yeah it eases my heart there is a lot more to be said sometimes after meditation there is an intense feeling of grief or sorrow sometimes that of amazing elation and joy Its impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced.