The word Sufi means wisdom as well as purity, according to ancient Greek and Arabic etymologies, and both concepts suggest one and the same quality. Wisdom is only there when the mind is purified from preconceived ideas and illusory interpretation of the undefinable. There are as many descriptions regarding wisdom and purity, as there are seekers on the path, but these qualities could never be honestly identified as being the property of just one belief. As soon as one attempts to define abstract concepts, one gets lost in the labyrinth of one’s thoughts, and one builds up illusions, fashioned according to the limited horizon of one’s own mind-world, assuming thereby that one is in possession of the only Truth. Some declare having found truth in Hinduism, others in Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, as well as many other religious denominations, known or unknown to the world at large; but when truth is formulated at the level of human understanding, it is then diversified in various interpretations, just as pure water poured into coloured glasses gives the impression of being shaded to the colour of the glass. The call for ‘Unity of Spiritual Ideals’ is an awakening to a broader outlook with deeper insight into the tragic misunderstandings, which divide earnest followers of various cultures. As to the origin of the Sufi outlook, one could say that it is just as ancient as the concepts of wisdom and purity, which have always been the source of inspiration traced in devotional worships all down the ages; and even though the Sufi outlook has often been periodically appropriated by various cultural streams during different periods of history, it has never lost its own identity.
Murshid Hidayat Inayat-Khan