Zen As An Important Aspect Of
The Greater Sufi Way

by Qutub Sarmouni

There is an urgently significant Zen Koan, Seeking The Correct Interpretation, which we will now look into from the Sufi perspective.  Petty and dogmatic adherents of either tradition will not want to understand the implications of all this, but that should not dissuade us from the Greater Truth.  May Greater Truth be your Guide!


Koan Six:

Seeking The Correct Interpretation


In the assembly hall, Zen Master I Hsuan of Lin Chi (Rinzai) said to the assembly:

 “For the time being, students of the Buddha Dharma should seek only its correct interpretation.  If you can interpret it correctly, you will not be infected by birth and death, and will be free to stay or leave.”



In this time of the Internet, seekers of Zen Enlightenment are increasingly shallow, their minds filled with gossip and self-importance, so they avoid serious study and correct interpretation of the Teaching.  As a result of this restless and arrogant state of mind, they cannot learn to distinguish Host from Guest nor learn the dynamics of Substance and Function.  Seekers are now so superficial and useless to their Self-nature, that the three greatest and most important books in the English language on Zen are now out-of-print and unavailable.  These are the three volumes of Ch’an and Zen Teachings by Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk).  This is a Dharma catastrophe!


For those who do not understand this, ponder the following Koan (Teaching story) from the Sufi Tradition:


The Man Who Wanted Information


A man once said to himself:

 ‘What is the use of carrying out the observances of the order to which I am attached, of respecting the Adepts, of making donations, and of reading all those books?”

  A Dervish who was passing by stopped and said to the man, as if he had read the man’s mind:

 ‘For each outward activity there is an inward activity.  For each inward action there is an equivalent in a far-distant land.’

 ‘But’, said the man, ‘I cannot see what would be wrong with people giving up the relatively superficial observances and protocols of the Path.’

  As one who is dreaming awake in a state of heightened awareness, he heard the Dervish say,

 ‘This is what would happen if there were no Sufi Teachers:’

  And the man’s mind was filled with a vivid picture of all the water in the irrigation channels drying up throughout the land in which he lived.

 ‘And this is what would happen if there were no disciples carrying out the right practices:’

  Every piece of greenery in the countryside turned visibly brown and withered before his eyes.

 ‘And this is what would happen if the right passages in the right books were not being read and meditated upon:’

  Dead birds began to fall from the skies, like hailstones.

 ‘And this is what would happen if enough sincere and devoted people did not have genuine respect for the Adepts:’

  The man began to have a terrifying vision where he felt the very Earth shaking everywhere throughout the globe, which became so intense that the entire planet seemed about to liquefy totally into burning volcanic lava.

 ‘Enough,’ cried the man, ‘I will obey, read, meditate, donate, go to meetings and pay respects!’

 ‘Alas,’ said the mysterious Dervish, as the water, the leaves and the land returned to their normal state, ‘alas, but you cannot now benefit through any such observances and activities.’

 ‘But why?, said the man in shock and dismay, ‘for I am humbled by all you have shown me.’

 ‘Because you would now attach yourself to the Teaching only through anxiety and desperate greed.  It is from such as you that the Teaching itself must detach itself.’

 ‘But I only wanted information,’ said the man.

‘And you got what you wanted,’ said the Dervish; ‘something useless to both you and to Us.’


  This is why Master Lin Chi (Rinzai) also said in the First Koan given above,

“You should not seek the unsurpassed, for the unsurpassed will automatically come to you.”


If you do not approach Zen truly deeply and seriously with the right motivation of true Awakening beyond your striving for sex, money, secular power and social popularity, your mental darkness will only go on pushing you into rebirth in stupid bodies from stupid parents on the planet Earth with its humanity of endless ignorance and suffering.  You will never be free to stay or leave in happy freedom in that case.  Let sex, money, responsibility and respect come to you or leave you as they like so that all your causal karmas empty themselves into the Void.  Walk in that Void and know the Truth directly and totally.