Saturday, November 25, 2006

Laughing Buddha, Weeping Sufi

That it is He who brings about both laughter and tears
- The Quran 53:42

Excess of sorrow laughs.
Excess of joy weeps.
- William Blake

“Inayat Khan smiled at me and asked, ‘Mr. Senzaki, will you tell me what the significance of Zen is? ’

I remained silent for a little while,
and then smiled at him.

He smiled back at me.
Our dialogue was over.”

- Sensei Senzaki describing his meeting with Sufi Inayat Khan.

In the book of poetry, Laughing Buddha, Weeping Sufi, the author, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore's introduction is really enlightening. I couldn't resist but to share excerpts from it. He writes:

I first tasted real spiritual centering with Sensei Shunryu Suzuki, a great saintly Zen Master, in San Francisco in the early 1960s. He was a model of enlightenment. Always maintaining spiritual poise, light and easily inspired to a gentle laughter by whatever foible or sweetness was available to the world or his mind, but also deep and profound in his compassionate earnestness for our welfare and for the full “accomplishment” of our Zen practice.

Muslims occasionally express a reluctance about Buddhists because of their often professed disbelief in a single Divine God. But in one talk Suzuki gave he said that Buddhists don’t disbelieve in God, they simply don’t talk about it. Yet I always found their sutras and treatises to be filled with that exalted dimension I might now call “God-consciousness.”

And the positive proof of their spirituality, really, was in the radiance of their actions and in their caring for each other and the minute details of life with a real reverence that can only come from true spiritual teaching. Their “theism” is reflected more in their equanimity and openness, and their sense of a flexible immediacy to whatever the universe confronts them with.

Then when I became a Muslim in 1969 in Berkeley, California, I simultaneously entered a Sufi Tariqa whose Master, Sayyedina Shaykh Muhammd ibn al-Habib, lived in Meknes, Morocco. When I sat in his presence, may Allah be pleased with him, I was in the shadow of a giant mountain of light, an overflowing of that God consciousness, a manifestation of Allah’s Mercy, Compassion and Knowledge in human form, whose very proximity brought both tranquility and a sudden soul’s awakening, a deeper alertness.

And his disciples were people ... (who) saw Allah’s manifestation in everything, which in its way is not that distant from seeing the Buddha-nature in everything. Each is a way of being truly human in a transparent world of signs and meanings. But Allah is the Judge.

When these poems began insisting themselves in my frequent night vigils, I was struck by something a teacher of ours once said, that for the Buddhist enlightenment is a mental awakening, whose experience is that of a state of delighted or liberating laughter, a Satori flash of spacious detachment. While for a Sufi, enlightenment is more a bursting of the heart, fana, a total effacement in Allah, whose expression is more often tears, of ecstasy as well as, later, of grief over separation from that epiphany and a recognition of one’s momentous shortcomings before God.

This is not to say that the Buddhist enlightenment is not of the heart, nor that of the Sufi not also of the intellect. But generally speaking, the Buddhist laughs, the Sufis weeps: for both, that is the apex moment of the world.

Am I advocating a similarity of Paths between Buddhism and Islam? I’ve been a Muslim now for thirty-five years, and for me God’s statement in the Qur’an that Islam (or “submission to Divine Reality”) is the final revelation to mankind has made universal sense, in spite of modern betrayals by misguided Muslims. But we must have mutual respect and honor every worthy Path, and be supportive of any true and noble Way that leads people to stronger, sweeter, more peaceful and enlightened lives.

- Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

About the book, Laughing Buddha, Weeping Sufi | It is a cooly impassioned, and "pathward" adventurous series of poems joining two modes of enlightenment, Buddhist and Sufi, that may in many ways be parallel-from my sitting with saintly Shunryu Suzuki of the San Francisco Zen Center in the early 60s, and my blessed time with Qutb Shaykh ibn al-Habib of Fez in Meknes, Morocco, in the 1970s, may Allah be pleased with both of them. Are the two protagonists of these poems the main characters in Waiting for Godot, now no longer waiting, but there? Exalted humor lightens our spiritual endeavors.

# Related Reads:
* Why Buddha is so Special?
* Is there God in Buddhism?
* Om Mani Padme Hum | a Sufic Interpretation

References: Lulu | Read a preview | Googlebook | Daniel-Moore Poetry Pin It Now!