How do you become a Sufi? Sufism is such a tenuous concept, what with all the different Orders and requirements that often contradict each other. The more I discover about my training, I realise that I had a classical training from Pundit Joshi. So here is my potted history and requirements for becoming a Sufi:
Have respect for the religion you were born into and those who believe in that religion. Respect those who are agnostic. Are you prejudiced against a particular faith, a nationality, or the colour of someone’s skin? How tolerant are you to the foibles and shortcomings of people you know, and those you do not?
My experience is that your beliefs will change, and there are times when you will find yourself coming closer to your original beliefs.
Learn as much as possible about the religion you were born into. Explore other faiths and philosophies. Having a range of ideas about the nature of man, religion and God will help you on the Path. Continue this process as you progress on the Sufi Path.
Read a range of religious books such as the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, etc. Pray daily and often. You can use the Lord’s Prayer, or the Sura Fatiha, or other inspirational prayer. Visit religious or spiritual buildings such as Churches, Mosques, and ancient spiritual sites. Associate with spiritually minded people (they do not have to have the same beliefs as you). Practice yoga and or meditation. Learn about spiritual or holistic healing practices. Improve your education. Do charity work in some form. Do not boast about your charity work.
Believing and defending your beliefs
Although Sufism is Islamic, you do not have to convert to Islam, nor do you have to dress in or live the customs of Islam. You do not have to dress like a Sufi.
Diet. Vegetarianism is not a rule of becoming a Sufi. Most Moslems eat meat. Eating halal food is a good idea – I do it myself, but not exclusively. My teacher drank alcohol, and so I did too. These days I drink moderately, and my teacher is teetotal.
Finding a Sufi Master
This can take a lifetime. I was lucky to find mine by the time I was about 24, but it took a long time for me to believe that I had found him. Sufi Masters are found in all walks of life all around the world. Most of these Masters are false. It is the easiest thing in the world to pretend to be a Guru. Gather around you an adoring group of acolytes who laugh at your jokes, explain away your foibles, reinterpret your sayings… the list goes on. A good Sufi Master is often hell to be with. He will chip away at your character defects, your inadequate grasp of philosophy, your weaknesses mentally. You will be standing in front of him naked and exposed for the most part.