Sufism and Suzuki Shōsanʼs Japanese Zen Teachings

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Yasushi Suzuki

Abstract

This paper aims to compare the ways toward true enlightenment taught by Islam’s Sufi tradition and the Japanese Zen teacher, Suzuki Shōsan. Despite differences in fundamental motivation and ultimate goal, the paper will identify a degree of compatibility between both traditions, particularly in terms of their emphasis on: (1) becoming moral and conveying ethical ideals, (2) devoting oneself to oneʼs daily work in the proper spirit, and (3) making services for society in order to overcome the obstacles which human beings frequently encounter. Although the peaceful and non-violent Sufi intellectual tradition has been denigrated by recent militant jihad movements and radical Islamism, this paper aims to shed an analytical light on the universal values and ethics Sufism shares with an Eastern religious teaching in order to contribute towards the promotion of an atmosphere of moderation in society.

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