I went to mid-week satsangh recently. It’s always a mid-week breath of fresh air when I’m able to attend and I’m very grateful for it. The gathering was really small: myself, another abhyasi and the two hosts (one of which is usually responsible for conducting the sitting). The other abhyasi present was a face I had seen only once before, a young male whose appearance reminded me of some friends I have from Pakistan. I regret not getting his name.
The sitting was wonderful, as it usually is, and felt very beneficial – as it usually does. Once it was finished, the four of us sat around briefly and chatted about various things, one of which was the mostly-rumored-but-probably-true Sufi roots of our practice. Sadly, there’s very little existing documentation that details much of this, but apparently the current guru’s guru’s guru was a student of a Naqshabandi Sufi master. You’ll hear me mention Lalaji from time to time – it was his guru who was the Sufi master in question, as far as I understand it.
To be very clear: The Sahaj Marg is not Sufism. Although I wouldn’t object to the practice of whirling, it needs to be said that, despite some great parallels, our practice really is different from Sufism.
So… this conversation made me think a bit. I certainly identify as Hindu. Much of the terminology employed in the Sahaj Marg is what many would consider “Hindu.” Lots of other stuff to do with the practice and our organization(s) definitely carries a Hindu flavor. And yet there is this pretty much undeniable Sufi/Islamic influence… maybe even what one would call a foundation.
This strikes me because just about everywhere you turn within Hinduism you will find references to the Vedas and other terribly ancient texts as the foundation, and therefore supposed validity, of one’s path or lineage. In Sahaj Marg, I think many would agree, we often reference sources like the Vedas however we don’t afford them much direct authority. I also think many would agree that in the Sahaj Marg experience is the greatest authority – which is actually quite Hindu. So just about everywhere I dig with this path I end up finding just about as much “Hinduness” as I do “not Hinduness.” It’s a really weird balance and kind of reinforces something that’s been in my head for a long time: That Sufis are really kind of just, like, islamic Hindus.
So, all jargon aside, am I really a Sufi?
No. But maybe.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha