Four Questions: Sufi Mindfulness

/, Buddhism, Meditation, Mindfulness/Four Questions: Sufi Mindfulness

Four Questions: Sufi Mindfulness

As I contemplate new and more effective ways to travel the path of the Jizo Bodhisattva, I find myself encountering more and more astonishing suggestions for “How To Live.”

I found a Sufi teaching that goes something like this:

Before speaking, to others or to ourselves, we might consider passing through four gates.  At the first gate, we ask ourselves, “Are these words true?” If so, we let them pass on; if not, back they go. At the second gate we ask; “Are they necessary?” At the third gate we ask; “Are they beneficial?” and at the fourth gate, we ask, “Are they kind?” If the answer to any of these is no, then what you are about to say should be left unsaid.

And, so, in practicing mindful and compassionate communication, we surely must slow our electronically-generated velocity-addicted minds down to a more gentle pace in order to consider these questions.  I envision my Chibi, my wildly imaginative and somewhat impulsive inner child, wanting to be right; to say Everything, to not pause and consider how my thoughts may impact my inner state or other people.  Then, I envision my Jizo, holding Chibi and asking the four questions.  “Is what you are saying True?  Necessary?  Beneficial?  Kind?”  If the answer to any of the four is ‘no’ then I may find peace in silence.  If the answer is a reluctant ‘I don’t know’ then I will try and wait a while before speaking.

I have a folder on my desk called, “72 Hour Hold” — where dangerous words are kept until they can pass through these doors.  In the practice of asking these questions, so much becomes less

By | 2019-01-23T15:31:31-07:30 February 19th, 2014|All, Buddhism, Meditation, Mindfulness|3 Comments

About the Author:


  1. Roger Sween June 20, 2014 at 8:21 am - Reply

    What is the origin of this Sufi quote? I am trying to establish the original source. Others quote three gates/sieves.

    • Valerie Johns June 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Roger, it’s a good question, and I am humble enough to tell you I don’t know the origin.

      • Valerie October 10, 2020 at 9:15 am - Reply

        Apparently, I see, it’s from a piece Rumi wrote:
        It was Three Gates…

        At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”

        At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”

        At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

        ~ Rumi

        The great Sufi Poet, Rumi, once postured that when considering speaking allow your intended speech go through three gates first: “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

Leave A Comment