Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done over 500 of them now, and if this is new to you and you’d like to watch some previous ones, please go to batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and check out the past interviews menu, where you’ll find all the previous ones organized in several different ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it in any amount, there is a PayPal button on every page of the site, and there’s also a donation page which explains other ways to support it if PayPal is not your thing. My guest today is Shaykh Burhanuddin Hermann. Shaykh Burhanuddin is a contemporary mystic of the ancient Sufi tradition, and he was called to that path at a very young age. And even before he was called to that path, he was a spiritual seeker who went through quite a few things in his search, which we’ll be talking about. As a Sufi, he went through classic dervish training, which involved an intense daily practice of meditation and prayers under the direct guidance of his master, accepting his master’s instructions for inner and outer life, including raising a family, extreme solitary spiritual retreats, pilgrimages, and regular challenging tests in daily life. He received direct transmission of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, one of the most ancient and authoritative of the 40 existing Sufi orders. I’ll skip little bits of this because it’s fairly long. When Shaykh Burhanuddin was 18 years old, he invited to his hometown in Germany the grand master and world guide of the Naqshbandi order. Shaykh, would you please pronounce his name? You’ll do it properly.
Shaykh: His name is Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani.
Rick: Thank you. And when you saw your master for the first time, you fainted in the middle of the street.
Rick: That’s interesting. Maybe rather than reading this, I’ll switch to you right now. What caused you to faint when you saw your master for the first time?
Shaykh: Well, it wasn’t planned to faint. So I was just walking towards him and I just noticed a light going more intense, and finally I just lost consciousness and I fell down.
Rick: And the light was just radiating from him.
Rick: Had you ever seen light radiating from anybody before?
Shaykh: Not like him.
Rick: Not like that.
Shaykh: No. I have seen Krishnamurti like a half a year before him, and he also had a very, very strong presence. He’s definitely one of the people I met that had the strongest presence, but the light he had was just extraordinary.
Rick: Do you see light now when you encounter, let’s say, a highly evolved soul? Can you see light radiating from them?
Shaykh: Yes, usually. Just because these questions are coming to mind, as you walk down the street, let’s say, or go to the grocery store, do you get impressions from the different people you encounter of their degree of spiritual development?
Shaykh: No, no. No, I don’t look at people like this.
Rick: Okay, good. The reason I ask that is, in part of your bio it says, “As a radical lover of the divine, you have an innate capability to convey that longing and are able to read the souls of people, helping them to remember their own origin, destination, and their task on this earth.” So I suppose you have to specifically focus in, it doesn’t just happen as you walk down the street or ride a bus.
Rick: Okay, good. Okay, this is nice. I think I’ll continue reading some of this. “As an appointed Shaykh,” Shaykh means spiritual guide, right? “You were trained to develop an eye to detect the expressions of beauty in life, whatever shape they may take. You were taught that in order to become human beings, we are called to practice love and respect toward the Creator through the creation and His creatures. You were taught gratitude for everything that you had and that you did not have. Your teacher replaced in you the feeling of the need to strive in life with an unshakable joyful faith that everything, good or bad, is coming from the same loving source and that it carries a message and a teaching for our evolution. Your teacher finally provided you with the means and drive to present a life-changing self-realization method called the Uwese System,” and we’ll be talking about that a little bit later, “in a modern and universal key beyond any belief or requirements.” And for 30 years you’ve been leading retreats and meetings all over the world, teaching that system and helping people awaken to the real meaning and purpose of their lives and to remind them of their highest origin and destination and to help them to live a life of the heart in peace, happiness, creativity, and gratitude, whatever their circumstances may be. So, I ended up reading most of that anyway, but it’s very nice. One thing I really like about, I’m not by any means an expert in Sufism, I’ve interviewed Llewellyn von Lee and Kabir Helminski, I think that’s pretty much, and also Andrew Harvey, that’s pretty much the extent of the Sufi interviews on BatGap. But one thing that always comes across, which I really, really appreciate, is the heart. A couple of things. One is the heart value. Lots of expression of love, which you don’t always hear in spiritual circles. Sometimes they tend to be kind of dry. And also a lot of talk of God, which you often also don’t hear. Sometimes it’s just sort of, you know, there’s just not much appreciation for the divine as such. Yeah, some lack of heart maybe. Maybe you could comment on that.
Shaykh: Well, you know, God is, and he is in a way, so absolutely present in our life and in our existence that if you will experience it one day, it will be a shock for you to understand how much he’s in control over everything, that he is behind every thought, that he is behind every movement, that he is behind everything which happens, seen and unseen. And once you witness that, it also will liberate you from fears, because you see that the source is loving, that the source is supreme intelligent, that it’s all-powerful and all-forgiving.
Rick: Yeah, you encouraged me to read a book called “Love is the Wine,” and here’s a quote that I found in that that speaks to what you just said. God says, “I am closer to you than your jugular vein. God is that close to you, within you and completely surrounding you. Everything around you is God. You are like a fish in the sea. You cannot see God unless God chooses to be visible to you, and God will become known to you in a way that is different from the experience of anybody else, so you will never be able to convey fully your experience to another.” Nice. So, since we’re talking about God, let’s talk about God a little bit more. Obviously, many people in the world don’t believe that there is any such thing, and other people in the world believe there is, but they don’t think in terms of being able to experience God. They just think, “Well, this is something I should believe in, because I’m told I should. I’ll go to hell if I don’t believe this.” But Sufism, as well as some other traditions, emphasize the importance of direct experience.
Shaykh: But the thing is, you know, the first God we create is our mind, and that’s the one God we worship. That mind, we have doubts about everything, but we have never doubted about the quality and the superiority of our mind. And the mind is an unstable entity, and so it always lives in a life where it lacks something, where it is never receiving enough to be in peace. No matter what you have been given, there is always a lack somewhere. And so our prayers go always in this way to the Divine, that it says, “If you exist, you should take better care of me. You should take better care of this world. You shouldn’t allow that all these ugly things happen,” and so on and so on. So it is impossible, you see, to convince somebody about the existence of the Divine. And actually, we don’t try to do that. And in the system which has been given to me, it doesn’t play a role if you believe or you don’t believe. So I don’t like to make it a matter of discussion. There is nothing we can win in it. And therefore, you are either called by the Divine or not. And how He does that or how it is happening, this is in His wisdom and His intelligence, and it cannot be granted to anyone. And also, even if you are called, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine now. But the call means that you are called to make your homework on Earth, that you start to work in your life about your unconscious points in you, and that you start to observe yourself now, and to allow the truth inside of you to see it.
Rick: Yeah. Regarding belief in God, I mean, two people could stand outside a restaurant and have an argument about whether the food in there was good or not, and they could starve to death doing that, you know? But the point is, go in the restaurant and eat some, and then you’ll settle the argument.
Shaykh: That’s right. You know, in Sufism, we don’t missionary anyone. We do not try to convince people or to argue with people. That is not the way we do it. But we try to invite people.
Rick: To see for themselves, right?
Rick: How did, I mean, these days, you know, there’s a lot of controversy about Islam and all that, and we don’t have to dwell on the nature of the controversy, everyone’s aware of it. How did Sufism arise? Did it splinter off from the original Islam? And what is its relationship to Islam now, both ways? I mean, how do Sufis regard mainstream Islam and how do mainstream Muslims regard Sufism?
Shaykh: You know, first of all, it’s very impossible to talk about Sufism in general and to talk about the Sufis in general. But let’s say like this, most parts of Sufism which exist nowadays are very linked to the Islamic world, no? And like in every religion, you try, if you follow it, you try to fulfill it with reality, no? Which means you look to the source. So if you look to Jesus and you look to Christianity nowadays, you look to the church, you look to all the churches, they’re not necessarily in accordance with the teachings of Jesus or whatever. But all of them, they have a value. I would not dare to say there is no value in that and we don’t need them. You see, Osho, for example, was a teacher who talked very geniusly, very brilliantly about things, no? About religious topics and so on. But what he would have talked if there was no religion, you know? If there was no tradition he could talk about. So the traditions, they have a great value and you have to understand them, of their roots. You have to really comprehend what you are doing if you follow a path, a religious path, and to fulfill it with your truth, with your reality, no? And then it doesn’t matter if you call yourself this or that. First of all, we are human beings and that is the work we have to learn to become human. We are not yet human, no? We are killing every day on this planet. We have incredible bad behaviors towards nature. So we need to become human now. This is our common task and there is no place in arguing which way is better or which way is wrong or what are the mistakes. We have to act now, you know? And I think this is the purpose of the system which has been given to me, that time is running, we are in an urgent situation on many levels, and we just have to find a way to communicate with each other and friendly and our common interest should be towards the truth, the inner truth.
Rick: Yeah, inner truth, that’s a key phrase right there. Because a lot of times religions primarily focus on various beliefs and codes of behavior and rituals and things like that, but the mystics of every tradition focus on some deeper inner experience that is possible to attain, and I presume that that’s the primary focus of Sufism.
Rick: Am I right?
Rick: So what is that inner experience as understood by Sufism and how does Sufism go about enabling people to access it? Again, that may be a broad question because there are very many different branches of Sufism, but Sufism as you understand and practice it.
Shaykh: Well first of all, you have to understand there is an ego, which is alive in us, and that is the shadow of your real self, let’s call it like that. And once you start to observe yourself with the intention, that is the most important, that you understand what is your intention in life, what is the meaning, why you are alive for yourself, and where you want to go in your life, and where you want to reach also in your life, in a way spoken, the inner intention. So one general thing is that everyone suffers, everyone lives under a certain confusion, and the path is every spirit, reasons for that confusion, what are the reasons for your pain. Then we go on, we look to anger, we look to sadness, we look to fear and all those things, to really work it through, and by that way, you learn to know that you are the source of your own fate. Like God started the game, we call it the game of La ilaha illa Allah, the game of one source. And in this game, you have two ways to play it. We call it the multiplayer mode and the single player mode.
Rick: That sounds like video games.
Shaykh: Yeah, yeah, we have to find some words now. So in the multiplayer mode, you are in this situation that you look outside of yourself and say I cannot be happy because my wife is not recognizing me, for example, no? Or I cannot be happy because I am very sick, or I cannot be happy because my situation in the flat is not good enough, or I don’t have enough money, no? And this is the multiplayer mode, which means you make circumstances, others responsible for your own inner state, no? Also the outer state. And the single player mode, this is the divine mode, is that you understand you are the source of what is unfolded in your life. What you are is what you attract. And when you can take responsibility on that, when you understand it is like this, that there is no other possibility than this, then you can also act rather than react permanently. And in this acting, there is a power, there is a self-empowerment, there is a happiness, there is a joy. And you have to accept that the truth goes against you in the beginning, especially, no? So the real self in Sufism is the no-self, it’s a no-self, it’s a zero point. It’s not another self, it’s just no-self.
Rick: Kind of like shunyata or something in Buddhism, emptiness thing.
Shaykh: Yeah, you could say that in a way, you know. Emptiness is not an easy word because when someone hears emptiness, you know, you think no one wants to go to emptiness, you know.
Rick: That sounds not so good, yeah.
Shaykh: That is not really what you can intend for. So I usually don’t talk about emptiness because it is, the emptiness is a full emptiness, so it becomes ridiculous to talk about emptiness.
Rick: That’s a good little phrase there, it’s a full emptiness. There’s this thing in the Vedic tradition of purnavada and shunyavada. Shunyavada means sort of emptiness, purnavada means fullness, and it’s said that it has both those qualities. In a sense, it’s empty of content or concreteness, but it’s full of potentiality.
Shaykh: We can say it’s empty of you, it’s empty of drama, and it is full of bliss.
Rick: Yeah, nice. So how does Sufism help a person shift from multiplayer to single-player mode? Is it just by imparting an understanding, or are there some actual practices involved that help to restructure your thinking?
Shaykh: There are many practices in the system. Usually we start to observe about complain, that it would be the first work. And in that work of complain, we suggest to people that they should concentrate on little things. And the little things is what we don’t want to look at.
Rick: Like give us an example.
Shaykh: Well, for example, it would be to look at the weather which disturbs you, or the coffee is cold, or the neighbor didn’t greet you as you would have wished it, you know. That would be a little thing, for example. Or just to realize how you feel physically inside yourself, you know, just to connect to that. And we do not first talk about the big issues, you know. Because in the drama mode, we always concentrate on these big things. Like my relationship is a disaster, or my profession is a disaster, or whatever it is. And we don’t go there. We go to the little things first. If you learn to master the little things, if you can have this capacity to be tolerant and to accept little issues, that the coffee is cold and the weather is not as you like, and it doesn’t shake you permanently, it doesn’t occupy you permanently, that is a step, you know, that you expand somehow. You become a bit more capable to carry yourself. And then we work ourselves through different subjects, coming to roles and all this stuff. And then in the more advanced points, we go to anger, sadness, fear. Those are the protectors of the ecosystem, the main protectors. And then we have, of course, certain kinds of meditations, certain kinds of singing. Singing is very important. We sing a lot. And everyone should follow a good way to eat also. So in the Dervish tradition, we recommend to every man, especially, to be able to cook, that he has to learn to cook. So that the little one in him is not so depending, and has to ask his wife always to be his mother. But that he can cook, especially when guests come, that he is able to cook and say, “Okay, no problem, we cook.” And it should be more than just cooking pasta. Pasta every man can cook, you know. Spaghetti and tomato sauce, you know. Every man can cook that. But we like that he can create a little more than that. And then to be conscious about what we eat, you know, is very important. We know now by science that the stomach is the second brain, and has a lot of input to our moods, to our ways we feel in life. So very important, you know, to learn to cook.
Rick: Nice. I would definitely have to do some remedial homework on that. I make a good grilled cheese sandwich and I can bake a potato, but that’s about it. When I was a kid, I used to make cakes. I like that. Do you do the whirling, your order?
Shaykh: No, no. In my order, we don’t do the whirling. Even so, there are some whirlers, but it’s not actually what we teach.
Rick: Okay. One thing I read, I read an article that a friend sent me, and there was a quote from it that jumped out at me. It said, “Some spiritual paths are very focused on the mind, with practices aimed to clear the mental state, tame thoughts, and attain a calm equilibrium. These cooling meditative practices bring equanimity, tranquility, and clarity of mind. The mystical practices of Sufism are hot practices in that they are working with the heart and igniting the fervor of passionate wild love.” What do you have to say about that quote?
Shaykh: We can say that the center of our life energy is not in our head, no? And you feel that when you have a headache, for example, you don’t call the ambulance and say, “I’m really in life danger,” you know? But if you have a heart problem, if you have pain very strong in the heart, you call the ambulance, because you understand that your life power is there. And so the heart, the physical heart, but there is also a spiritual heart, is the thing we concentrate on, and we try to be in connection with this heart, which means to be in connection with life.
Rick: That quote I just read kind of implies that it’s an either/or choice between having a quiet, calm mind, you know, equilibrium, or having this sort of wild, fervent love. But don’t you think that one can have both, that one can have a sort of a deep, peaceful mind, and at the same time rise up in great waves of devotion?
Shaykh: Of course, there is no conflict between mind and heart, you know? So we have to understand how we bring the energies in the right position. Mostly people, as we said before, worship their mind, you know? And it is the only thing which they feel secure about, you know, that their mind is everything they have at the end of the day. And so it’s very difficult to let go this mind and to understand that actually the reason of all trouble is in the mind, you know, where else it should be, you know? So of course we have to work with the mind, you know, and we have to find a way that you understand, for example, not to think or to think less is just an intention. It is not something which rains down from heaven, you know? Of course, if your center is the mind, it feels like you die when you intend to stop thinking. So it takes training to do that, you know? It takes training to let the mind calm down and to understand that you can be happy. The ego is a pain system, it’s a pain body. It needs pain to survive. So we create permanently structures and sentences in ourselves which make sure that we always have enough pain, you know? And to become aware that we want to be happy and at the same time we don’t want to be happy, you know, this is a very important step, you know? Not to play this game all the time with yourself that you think, “Oh, I want to be happy,” you know? But everything in your life shows that you create situations that produce conflicts, you know?
Rick: Interesting, that’s an interesting comment. Sometimes I get the feeling that people who like to argue on the internet are just trying to keep their ego alive. I know two people in particular who have been fighting with each other for about 20 years in various internet chat groups, pretty much ever since the internet started, and they’re still going at it. And it’s like this distinct feeling that it sort of aggrandizes or calcifies or concretizes the ego and keeps it alive, you know?
Shaykh: Yeah, well, I mean the internet is a platform which is ideal for the ego to unfold, no? There is no doubt about that.
Rick: And I guess part of that fighting is the conviction that, well, I am right and you are wrong. And so it kind of reinforces the sense of duality or separation, whereas, you know, if we could maybe see it from God’s perspective, there’s all these different points of view, each of which have their validity in the big picture.
Shaykh: We have to accept that in the kernel of ourselves there is this law that I am right. It is a pillar of the ego system, no? And you cannot think it away. You have to experience your non-importance, you know? You have to go to the zero point and that means that you have to calm down your drama. That is not so easy, you know, because everything happens in the drama and it is the pain machine which we need to make it on going on. And that’s why we, of course, like to play the multiplayer mode. So one of those fighters in the internet says as long as he speaks like this, I have to speak like that because I have the truth, you know? I have to protect people, I have to inform them, I have to clarify things, you know? I’m a fighter for the truth. That’s what both of them probably think. So that’s why we say in Sufism, the other one is right.
Rick: That’s interesting. Yeah, there’s a line from Bob Dylan from one of his songs, he said, “You’re right from your side and I’m right from mine.”
Shaykh: Yeah, that’s nice.
Rick: I heard you say in one interview that Sufism regards difficulties and traumas in life as growth opportunities. Like, these things aren’t just happening because God doesn’t exist or because God is mean or anything like that. They’re happening because, well, like to take a metaphor, let’s say the mother is scrubbing dirt from behind the child’s ear and the child hates it and he’s screaming and he thinks the mother is punishing him, but really the mother is doing something to help him.
Shaykh: Right. All the divine invitations are usually through trouble. Because trouble brings us down, it makes us humble. If we become sick, for example, it gives us a kind of humbleness. And if the wife runs away with another one, that also humbles us down, you know. And it is important that we understand that nothing, that existence never is against you. This is a very, very, very big point to understand. But we are against existence. So what we do with life is that we separate our life from us. We say, I am very high developed already, you know, I’m quite close to the enlightenment, you know. But my life, my life, this is something else, you know. My life, it has some difficulties and this and that, you know, and we separate it. But that is one thing you have to stop. Your life is what you are in every aspect. So what is fine in your life, that’s something you have worked about it, and what is not fine in your life, that’s something you need to work about it. So life is a must, you know, and one of many, yeah. But this is one big one.
Rick: Of course, even enlightened people can appear to have difficulties, like Ramana Maharshi got cancer, for instance, but when you see the way he handled it, I mean, his disciples saw him suffering apparently, but he would say, you know, I’m not suffering, how could I possibly suffer?
Shaykh: That is the point, that you can have a perfect situation outside spoken, and you are depressed, and you can have a very difficult situation, and you are happy, because it is not the situation which makes it. It is your beingness which gives you the joy or not. It’s not from the outside to the inside, it’s from the inside towards the outside. And the body is something we have to accept, that it falls apart in time. We cannot prevent that. And people like Ramana, of course, they were very special ones, and it’s difficult to say, to speak about them, how they were, and why did he have the cancer, you know, and he was so advanced. I don’t like this kind of talking, because it is not appropriate.
Rick: Well, everybody dies from something, you know.
Shaykh: Yeah, everybody dies from something.
Rick: The whole history of humanity, every saint that ever walked the earth dies from something.
Shaykh: Exactly. But in our new world, it is always like this, that when someone has cancer, it means he oppresses something, or he has some kind of what hidden issues, you know. You know this psychology of the origin of sicknesses, no? And I find it very respectless to say that to somebody, you know.
Rick: It can be cruel.
Shaykh: Yeah, it can be cruel, and also it’s not appropriate. It’s not our business. At least it is not my business.
Rick: That’s a good point. And even if karma has something to do with it, I mean, who can calculate karma? You know, who can work out all the details of why something might happen to somebody? It’s really not in our human intellect’s capability.
Shaykh: Yeah, in Sufism we don’t go about karma because it’s enough to be in the now, you know. It’s enough to look in this life. For a good reason, people cannot remember what has happened before this life, right? And those who can, or think they can, maybe they also wouldn’t really die for that, you know. So, a few people, if it is like this, it can be. But you see, if you don’t believe in reincarnation, you have an advantage. Because simply, if another life happens to you, you did your best in this one life, you know. And if it doesn’t happen, you also didn’t lose anything. The more intelligent position is to let those things out, you know.
Rick: Yeah, in other words, to just sort of not reach firm conclusions about it, but just leave it as an open hypothesis.
Shaykh: Yeah, yeah. They rather complicate your life, you know. And most people I know, they have been always something very important in their past lives, and now they are just ordinary people, you know. So, there is no need for that.
Rick: Yeah, so you’re saying that Sufism doesn’t have any, what is Sufism’s perspective on, you know, either reincarnation, or what happens to people after they die, or where they were before they were born? Is there any kind of philosophy about all that?
Shaykh: Well, life has no end. The life which is given to us has no end. We are an infinite soul. We have life, we have been given life as an infinite soul, you know. So, we have been given an eternal life.
Rick: But a very temporary body.
Shaykh: With a very temporary body. And if that body comes back, if you come back on earth again, in this world, in this dimension, or not, that is not really important. You will stay alive. And there will be always a time for you, and there will be always a space for you. And then, according to your own development, you come closer and closer to the Divine Presence again, and one day you will dissolve back to the origin, you know.
Rick: And so you’ll then cease to exist as an individual, because the drop will merge with the ocean? Is that the idea?
Shaykh: No. There is a point where you give up individuality. Yes. Because individuality is an illusionary state, you know. It doesn’t really exist. There is, of course, we talk now very high level, you know. So, usually those things, you know, we do not talk in public, because it is not for everyone. We concentrate on the person who is in front of us, you know, and all those higher things, we keep them private.
Rick: Okay, well let me just be private between you and I and 6,000 people who watch this. Because I was thinking of asking you about, you know, we were talking about Ramana and all that. I was thinking of asking you what the Sufi understanding is of higher states of consciousness or enlightenment and things like that. And based upon what you just said, I want to add the question of, you know, can you be, can you totally merge with the universal and no longer have any shred of individuality and yet be living in a body? Or if you’re living in a body, is there still going to be some remains of individuality in order to function as in a body?
Shaykh: Yes. As long as you have a body, this body, there is an I am-ness.
Rick: Has to be.
Shaykh: And this I am-ness travels with you as long as you have a body. That can be at the end even a light body, whatever it is. But this I am-ness is with you, you know.
Rick: Right. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, you’re going to know it. There’s a person there that feels it.
Shaykh: For example.
Rick: Okay. And how about the idea of higher states of consciousness and enlightenment and all that? Do you have a whole cosmology about that?
Shaykh: Sure, there is a cosmology. I don’t think it’s very different than to other traditions. We have different names. We start with Nafs al-Amara, which means the critical self, the accusing self, which accuses everything. And then we have Nafs al-Awama, the distinguishing self, which asks himself what is a higher meaning for example in life. Then we have the state of Nafs al-Muhimma, which is the longing self, that is someone who is completely clear about that he has to work in this life, an inner work. Then we have Nafs al-Mu’maynad, which is the pacified self, and Nafs al-Kamila, and so on and so on.
Rick: So for instance, you could interpret somebody like Ramana or Papaji or Nisargadatta or something like that, and there would be a Sufi name for the state that they had attained perhaps.
Shaykh: Yes, yes.
Rick: I see. And you’ve been involved in Sufism for 30 years and interacting with probably hundreds and thousands of different people. What kinds of transformations have you seen in all the people that have gotten involved in Sufism? Do you see like huge changes in people’s lives and personalities?
Shaykh: I have seen, and that’s a nice thing, I have seen many changes in people during the time we are working. And especially in the latest years, there is definitely an increase of awakening going on. And also the interest, for example, when I started the work, the usual customers were people who had some drug experiences or some this, some that, you know, coming from meditation, whatever. Now I have just normal housewives with me, you know, I mean in good respect.
Rick: Sure, yeah.
Shaykh: People from very common backgrounds, you know, like so-called normal people, positively normal people.
Rick: I know what you mean, yeah.
Shaykh: And they start to be interested, and that gives me a lot of hope and joy also to see that.
Rick: Yeah, I think that’s happening in all the systems around the world, you know? Back in the 60s or early 70s, it was the hippies that were getting involved in this stuff. And now you have yoga classes in the local YMCA, and you know, people are – but that leads to the next thing, which is people start getting interested in spirituality in a deeper way, and people from all walks of life. So actually, that leads into a question I was going to ask you, which is that, you know, do you personally, or Sufism in general, have a view about the spiritual evolution of humanity and the expansion of collective consciousness? Do you see the world kind of waking up in a larger way?
Shaykh: Well, we have to see that, no? It is like a race, yeah? In our tradition, we know that there had been humanities before us on this planet, and they all failed, yeah? And now, it looks like that we are also on the way to fail, you know?
Rick: Possibly could, yeah.
Shaykh: But if we don’t wake up radically with our behavior towards nature, I mean, there is no doubt about that, that we’re going to go in a very bad time. But everything can happen, you know, Rick? Everything can happen, and if you have seen the divine power, you know, you have no doubts that everything can happen. So I would never take hope away from people, but I can also say it is urgent, and this is why we are doing what we are doing, and why I see other people doing what they are doing, you know? And we just, even I’m the smallest particle, you know, but I have to try to do the work, No? To become a human, to have a day without conflict, and that’s what we have to reach. As a humanity, we have to become humans, and this would be the mission.
Rick: I agree with you. I feel, and perhaps you feel as well, that this upsurge in interest in spirituality that we’re seeing around the world is kind of a response to the severity of the problem, you know, the direness of the situation. And it’s not just that humans are thinking, “Okay, I’ll get involved because the world is in bad shape,” it’s more like the divine is impelling humans to feel that way, to arise in that interest.
Shaykh: Especially in the recent times, I think that people can experience, or do experience, that the pressure increases in their lives, that there is transformations going on, you know, that there is things changing, and we are facing this period now. This is clear.
Rick: Yeah, it’s kind of like you were saying earlier when we were, you know, difficult situations are not just God, it’s not God being mean to us, it’s God trying to wake us up, or teach us something. And so maybe as humanity we’re facing difficulties for that very reason.
Shaykh: Our life energy is very much locked in our wounds, you know? And that’s why we have to start there, you know? In our system, for example, the first relationship we look to is between mother and father, you know, towards mother and father. And that’s a very, very important thing, that you come into peace with your mother, with your father, you know?
Rick: So is there an emphasis on respecting one’s parents as there is in–
Shaykh: It’s not only respecting, it is honoring. Honoring them. And everyone has to honor his mother for a simple reason, because she has been the door for your existence. And it’s not only to respect your mother, but it’s to honor your mother, and to honor your father as well. And because they have been the door to your existence, to our existence. And just to do this point, that is important, to say thank you, Mama, thank you, Papa. And I don’t know if you have children.
Rick: No, but I was one.
Shaykh: But you were one. And yeah, so you had a mother, and maybe you can still feel the stream of love coming from your mother to you.
Rick: Yeah, I do. And even my father, who was an alcoholic and, you know, kind of a messed up guy, in fact, my mother was in and out of mental hospitals, but, and it would have been hard as a child to feel that sort of love and devotion to parents who were so dysfunctional. All though naturally, I did love them, but there was a lot of strife in the family. But you know, 50 years later, I look back and the gratitude is much stronger, you know, and I realize they did the best they could.
Shaykh: Yes. Yeah, that is the point, you know, we do not have to look further than the beginning, you know, that’s the, in the beginning, there is a certain reason why you have chosen your parents as you’ve chosen them.
Rick: Yes, I agree.
Shaykh: But if you look at yourself now, now you’re a person who does give a lot to people, who does a lot of work for making other people to live a better life or to become more conscious, you know. So something has happened very good in your childhood, that’s no doubt. Because if you listen to yourself, you know, it could sound like you should be a wreck, you know, like your mother, alcoholic, your father, alcoholic, your mother, a maniac. How come that you came out so well, you know?
Rick: I said that to my mother one time, I said, “Mom, you know, I’m really happy with the way my life is going, so whatever you did, you must have done the right thing, and I really appreciate it.” And she really enjoyed hearing that.
Shaykh: Yeah, and one thing she did is to love you, you know. In all her dysfunctionality, there is something which cannot dysfunction and that’s the love of the mother, because it comes from her soul to your soul. And what happens in the ego mode, you know, is not the most important. So that dream is still with you, and you will see it when you come from this world. You may see your mother again, and you will understand that she was always there for you.
Rick: Well, you know, as I understand it, Sufism is very much about culturing the heart, and it would seem that that would kind of start with your parents, because that’s your primary relationship when you’re young. And then it would go on from, it would build upon that platform to other things, you know, your spouse and your children and your larger society, your community, your whole world. But it kind of starts right where you’re born.
Shaykh: Yeah, that’s why it is so important to make the beginning good, and to look good at that beginning.
Rick: That’s a beautiful point. Now we haven’t, at some point during this conversation, I want to talk about your personal life more and some of the experiences you went through. And I also want to hear some stories about your teacher, because I understand that your teacher was a highly revered and remarkable presence in the Sufi world, and I bet there’s some interesting stories about them that would, you know, that you would enjoy telling and that people would enjoy hearing. So let’s do both in the next coming minutes. Talk a bit about your earlier life and background and some of the more significant milestones that you have experienced in your life, and also let’s talk about your teacher. We can do it in whichever order you wish.
Shaykh: Better you tell me.
Rick: Okay, let’s talk about you first, although I’m sure you’d want to put your teacher first. But I heard some interesting stories in your interview with Ian McNay on Conscious TV, and you were a seeker from an early age, you went to India, as you said earlier today you met Krishnamurti, you were looking for a guru in India, you went through all sorts of things. Talk a little, you read Carlos Castaneda, you practiced some of his stalking technique while walking in the forest. So touch upon what you consider to be a few of the highlights of your search, you know, that led to your finding Sufism. And you had some kind of powerful personal experiences, some of which almost left you incapable of functioning in the world for quite a while. Let’s cover some of those things for starters.
Shaykh: Well, I was interested in spirituality at a very, very young age, I was like seven years old when I can consciously remember it. And with ten, my first book I bought was about Tantra, I had to bring my mother in the bookshop so that the guy would give me the book, you know. And I can’t really tell you why it was like this, you know, this is something I can’t really give you a reason for it. But it has been always in my life like that. And I started to practice yoga with ten, I got the book and I tried to imitate the things, you know, as best I could. And I also forced my mother to do yoga with me in the morning, but she stopped it after she fell asleep and missed her work once. So she gave it up. And I spent most of my days in the forest. Actually, this was my daily life. I was after school, the first thing I would do to go to the forest and spend my day in the forest. And in the more growing elder, I stayed also overnight very often in the forest. And this was my home, I can say. And I became interested in Buddhism on a certain point. So I can’t really tell you why, but it was like somehow coming to me. And I entered in the school of the Karmapa, the old Karmapa now.
Rick: Oh, yeah, Tibetan Buddhism?
Shaykh: Yes, Tibetan Buddhism was. Even so, I was more attracted by Zen Buddhism, but somehow it went in this direction. And I met a lot of lamas and nice people.
Rick: In Germany?
Shaykh: In Germany, yeah, I was a child. They came and I went there. But somehow I never felt really home there. There was always a point missing. But it was a nice time and meditations, they were also nice. So I have thought always that my master would be more in that direction, like a yogi or a Buddhist. And when he arrived, I was overwhelmed, just simply. I would not ever have considered to enter into Islam. This would have been my last perspective. But it became my first perspective, you see. So far about the mind. And you see, love can change everything in one moment. And in my case, it did.
Rick: And what was this experience you told Ian about being at a waterfall and then experiencing going off into the light and then being told you had to come back and all that?
Shaykh: Yeah, I was in India when I was 18 years old and I lived in the Himalayas. And one day I went for an excursion up in the Himalayas and there was this waterfall. And somehow I felt that the waterfall would enter inside of me and I got out of the body and I moved up, up. And I came to the divine presence, let’s say. And I said, “I want to stay here. I don’t want to come back.” And the divine said, “No, you can’t. You can’t stay here. You have things to do. And there is people that need you.” And I said, “No, no, there is only my mother. There’s nobody else. You know, she will take it.” You know, I was somehow, I don’t know why I said that, but I tried to argue, you know. However, there was no way and I got sent back in the body, which was–
Rick: How long were you out of the body?
Shaykh: Well, it’s difficult to say, but–
Rick: How do you say?
Shaykh: Some hours maybe. It’s difficult to say. It could be also less. I don’t want to exaggerate, you know. It’s really difficult to say time. But yeah, I think it was maybe two hours or something like this. And after that, I went into three months of silence, you know, which was good.
Rick: There in the Himalayas?
Shaykh: Yes, there in the Himalayas. And I was communicating with my friend who was with me by little notes. And to come out of the silence was a very difficult thing, in fact. And I would have actually liked to stay inside, but it was stressful, you know, at a certain point for the environment. And I wouldn’t want to run around with a sign that says I’m in silence or something like this. And I understood that there’s also an ego part in it, you know. And so I was saying, “Come back to be normal.”
Rick: In other words, the ego part would be, “I am the unusual yogi who stays in silence and aren’t I special.” That kind of ego thing.
Shaykh: Not only this, but to force people to deal with you.
Rick: Inconveniences others, yeah.
Shaykh: Yes, that is an ego part, you know. And somehow, in me, it was this thought, you know, that I was now in the silence, you know. I learned to enjoy silence and it’s fine now, you know, and now I’m just being with people normally.
Rick: Yeah, and I’m sure you realize now that silence can be there even if you’re speaking and doing things, this underlying deep silence. And then you also said something to Ian about being in some really profound state for about three years where people practically had to take care of you. What was that and what shifted you into that state?
Shaykh: Well, actually it happened through a healer whom I came in contact with. He’s a very controversial healer. His name is Stephen Turoff.
Rick: Oh, I heard that story. He was the guy that cut your mother open?
Shaykh: Right, right, right.
Rick: What a crazy story.
Shaykh: Not only my mother, but he’s a guy who cuts people open in general. You know maybe Juan de Dios, he does that also. He’s one of the most famous. Now he’s in prison.
Rick: He’s in big trouble now, yeah.
Shaykh: He is in big trouble. He had been in big trouble before and somehow he looks like he couldn’t learn. So now he repeated the trouble. But no doubt about that he has a great energy and that he is a great healer. But on the personal level, it’s also obvious that he has to have a work, you know. That happens often with healers. That is a strange thing, but it’s like this. And well, in my case, Stephen Turoff was touching me very strong, you know. And somehow I went out of myself, I can say. And it was such a pleasant state that I stayed inside and I could stay inside. But it was difficult to communicate, very difficult. Also I could hear people’s thoughts and I could hear everything they say and I could also understand. But the world I lived was not the same world they lived. So things appeared very different to me. They appeared very different to me and communication was not so easy. And for example, the relationship to my body was also difficult. I was in a state where I didn’t really know, is it cold, is it warm? Even to go to the bathroom was not always clear. So I was somehow too out, you know, like, and the body was left where it was. So I sit hours and hours on the sofa at home, you know, and my wife was very worried, of course. Many people were worried. Also they also could feel it is not a terrible thing happening. It’s not crazy, you know, it’s not like it’s not for the mental house. No one actually said, look, we have to take you to the mental house, you know. But I needed help. I needed help in the outside. And finally, one called my master and said, look, Burhanuddin is like this. And he said, I have to come. So I went there with some others. They brought me there basically. And this was a very strong period and also a very comforting period because I could understand that he sees me and understands me completely, that he’s in the same world I am. And it was, yeah, and it was one of the most beautiful periods I had with him. So the first thing he said, I’m not going to keep you in the derga, in the center. So he put me in a house on the edge of the village. Also for one reason is that I didn’t sleep in this period. I had, yeah, no, not at all.
Rick: For three years?
Shaykh: Not for three years, but for half a year minimum, I didn’t sleep.
Rick: Let me interject a little question there. So when you say you didn’t sleep, was your body lying down apparently asleep, but you were awake inside, or did you not even lie down to rest?
Shaykh: I had some resting time, usually like one to two hours, but not more than that.
Rick:And even then you stayed awake or aware?
Shaykh: Yes, because I was all the time looking into the light. And if you look into the light, you just cannot sleep, at least me.
Rick: Now you know there is a thing where they say that you go through the normal cycle of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, but the inner awareness or the turiya, you know, the fourth state, remains awake, so there’s what they call “witnessing sleep.” Is that what was happening, or did you actually not enter into the sleep state in any way?
Shaykh: No, I didn’t enter into a sleep state.
Rick: Interesting, wow. And so, let’s just recap this a little bit. So you met with this very unusual healer guy who actually cut people open with a knife, and there’s a whole story around that, I don’t know if we want to take the time to go into it, but he cut you open and actually reached his hand inside your body and apparently held your heart in his hand, which seems very hard to believe, but I’ve seen things like that in the Philippines and stuff, and then that just completely blew you into a different state of functioning.
Shaykh: Well, he took my heart and he teared something out from my heart, you know, that was the main shocker actually, you know, because I thought, “What the heck, he can tear off my heart?”
Rick: Did you see him come out of your body with some physical piece of material, or was it more of a subtle thing?
Shaykh: It was more subtle, you know, and he threw it away. But he showed it to me in the bucket.
Rick: Did you end up with a scar or something where he cut?
Shaykh: Yes, you have a scar, yeah.
Rick: And you have one even now, a scar there?
Shaykh: No, no.
Rick: It went away? Okay.
Shaykh: It disappears usually after three days.
Rick: Yeah. Since we’re talking about this, people are probably curious, “What in the heck are we talking about?” We might as well talk about it a little bit more. And he also, your mother had uterine cancer, and he cut her abdomen open and put your prayer beads or something inside her uterus. This sounds outrageous, but I believe you.
Shaykh: Yeah, well, well.
Rick: I don’t think he would make this up.
Shaykh: It happened like this, you know, and I had a very long prayer beads, very long, you know, like 1,000 beads, no? And he took all these beads into the womb of my mother, you know, and then he threw it to me and he said, “Smell,” and it was smelling like rose, you know? And it kept on there for weeks and weeks.
Rick: And she was cured of cancer?
Shaykh: Yeah, she was cured.
Rick: Amazing. And yeah, I mean, just for people listening to this who think we’ve kind of gone off the deep end all of a sudden, there are these —
Shaykh: Actually, to make it, to correct things, she didn’t have cancer, but she had a hole in the heart, and the heart, why so ever he opened the belly, I cannot tell you. But he closed that hole in the heart.
Rick: Yeah. Yeah, sometimes people have that, and they have to have surgery to repair it, you know, there’s a hole between the ventricles or something in the heart. It’s wild, but there are these things. I mean, when I was in the Philippines for nine months, and there are all these healers in the Philippines who do something similar, and there were a bunch of doctors with me, and I went once or twice just to watch it, but the doctors went for several months and stood around the table every day and watched these people closely and were convinced that they were actually somehow reaching into people’s bodies and pulling things out.
Shaykh: Yeah, you have to experience it yourself, you know, I mean, if someone comes inside with the arm inside your body, you understand it.
Rick: You feel it.
Shaykh: It’s like that, you know. It’s not something you have to think of, you know, it is very clear.
Rick: Is this person still alive?
Shaykh: Yeah, I think he’s still alive, yeah.
Rick: And do you regard him as a highly evolved person, or is this just some kind of weird psychic ability or something?
Shaykh: No, no, no, he’s definitely a very developed soul.
Rick: Yeah, but in any case, it really threw you for a loop. It really shifted you in a big way. I mean, do you see that as one of the most dramatic awakenings of your life right there, where that happened?
Shaykh: It was a very strong one, yeah. The first one, yeah.
Rick: And it took you three years to set you into a state. So what are some of the ways in which, how did your master bring you down or get you integrated?
Shaykh: Well, by the help of my master, of course.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, did he tell you to do physical labor or eat heavy food, or how did he get you around it?
Shaykh: No, well, first of all, he told me that I have to come back, and that he will do it with me. And he said that when I come back, you don’t come back to your old self, he said, but you fill it now with reality, you fill the path with reality, that’s what he said. And yeah, that’s how we try.
Rick: Must have taken a while.
Shaykh: Yeah, it takes a time, you know. And the point is, you never come back, so there is something which is always staying where it stays.
Rick: Yeah, but you get used to functioning again in the real world. Probably you can drive a car and things like that.
Shaykh: Yeah, I function more or less.
Rick: You seem to be functioning okay right now.
Shaykh: You should ask my wife about that, you know.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, there is a thing here, which you see sometimes, where people who have attained a high spiritual state have a hard time functioning in the world, like Anandamayi Ma, for instance, people had to feed her, or else Neem Karoli Baba, he would wander off into the forest if people didn’t keep an eye on him. They’re not quite so grounded in this world.
Shaykh: But I mean, as you say, the whole purpose of spirituality is not to become comatose or not to get into some dysfunctional state, but hopefully to integrate it so that we can function in the world and yet be in a high state.
Shaykh: Yeah, you have to be useful for people.
Rick: Yeah, and I presume your Master was that way, right? And that’s part of the reason Sufism recommends having a family, isn’t it, to be more integrated and grounded in the real world?
Shaykh: Yeah, you’re in this world but not from this world, you know, that’s what we say in Sufism.
Rick: Sure, the Bible says that too, “In this world but not of it.” Jesus said that, I believe.
Rick: Yeah. Okay. How about your teacher? Tell us a bit more about him. It appears that he was a remarkable soul, and are there any interesting things that you would like to say about him that people would enjoy hearing?
Shaykh: Well, he was a love master, you know, and we say there is an unofficial championship of lovers in the year, every year.
Rick: The Olympics of lovers, huh?
Shaykh: Yeah, and he definitely was the champion over decades.
Rick: Because his heart was just so expansive or great or–
Shaykh: You know, to describe–
Rick: How do you know that?
Shaykh: I know, Rick, to describe a master like this, you know, we call them kings, you know. There is in every time present five kings on earth. And Rumi said, if you haven’t met one of them, you wasted your lifetime. And I was more than blessed to meet him. And it was very much like, you know, you meet Jesus. Imagine, you know, this fisherman, they just met Jesus, you know, they had families at home, they were not socially secured, and Jesus said, “Come.” And they dropped everything and they came, you know. And the same thing happened for us, you know, those who were ready to follow. I mean, he took my life 180 degrees, you know, in every direction. I never wanted to marry and I never wanted to be a father. And these two things were the first things he told me, you know. So that was already strong.
Rick: How many kids do you have now?
Rick: Wow! Seven, that’s amazing.
Shaykh: Six daughters, one son.
Rick: Amazing. And what is their age range?
Shaykh: My eldest now, she’s 34, and my youngest, she’s 20, I think, or 19. I think she’s going to be 20 now.
Rick: That’s great. Congratulations.
Shaykh: Thank you.
Rick: Have you supported your family entirely through your teaching activities, or did you actually have some other sort of profession?
Shaykh: No, no. Basically like this.
Rick: Teaching activities. Have your children taken to Sufism?
Rick: Well, some of them are closer, some are less, but all of them have been touched, of course, by it.
Rick: Nice. They must have been a very nice family to grow up in.
Rick: Yeah, very spiritual family.
Shaykh: Well, you know, from a child perspective, it is not always so funny to have a father who’s never at home.
Rick: That’s true. You travel a lot.
Shaykh: So this was not easy for them, and now they’re older and it makes it easier, but there were times it was not easy.
Rick: There’s a verse in the Bhagavad Gita about the blessing of being born in a pure and illustrious family, and then it says if you’re really special, if you’re really fortunate, you’ll be born in a family of yogis, although it’s much more difficult to attain such a birth. But anyway, that’s kind of what your children have done, I think, been born in a blessed family.
Shaykh: They have to see this interview, you know, they will like it.
Rick: Yeah, you can, yes. My friend in England named Fred, who sent some questions in, asked me to ask you about Khidr, K-H-I-D-R, who he said was sort of like a Maha-Avatar Babaji kind of figure, an advanced, eternally youthful spiritual being who appears to certain individuals. So I guess that’s something in the Sufi or Islamic tradition, this person?
Shaykh: Yeah, there is, in our tradition, there is some people on Earth, they are immortal, you know, and Khidr, alayhi salam, belongs to them. And Khidr means the green, the green one.
Rick: Green, like a frog, green.
Shaykh: Yeah, like a leaf.
Rick: Like a leaf, yeah.
Shaykh: Or whatever. Because when he appears, he taints everything with green color, you know, everything appears green. That’s how you realize that he’s coming.
Rick: And like Babaji, he’s one of these beings that are said to, is he said to sort of look over humanity and guide its destiny and, you know, like an ascended master sort of thing?
Shaykh: Yeah, well, you know, this is again difficult to describe, you know, there is souls and souls, no? And some are very, very, very high souls, you know, you would rather call them gods than just human beings, you know. And they exist and they are with us, they look after you, after me, after all of, after everyone really. And they are great souls with different names and different traditions, and they keep their work as long as it is commanded on them, no?
Rick: Have you ever encountered one?
Shaykh: I have encountered two times the presence of Khidr, alayhi salam.
Rick: Was it a visual experience or more just a feeling of presence?
Shaykh: No, it was a visual experience also.
Rick: Do you mind talking about it?
Shaykh: Well, you know, in general I don’t like too much talking about myself, and especially about what I have seen or what I have experienced, you know?
Rick: Well, don’t think that it’s about you, though. Let’s pretend it’s not about you, it’s about this being that, you know, you saw.
Shaykh: So, as I told you before, when he comes, you will experience green everywhere. Everything is tinted with that color, you know? And so it is a very joyful, very, very joyful thing to be with him because he is, of course, in a very high state. And always when you meet a person who is up, you know, who is really up, they’re very generous and they take you to their state, no? And they take things away from you, sadnesses, for example, anger, yeah, can happen. It depends how much can be taken away because not everything can be taken because you need those things to work, you know? You need those things to develop yourself, no? So there is not a process possible where someone brings you from very unconscious being. There is not this possibility that you come from unconsciousness, total unconsciousness to the highest consciousness, you know, in a jump. That’s not possible.
Rick: Yeah, and also some God isn’t going to come along and do all the work for you. You have to sort of do your own work.
Shaykh: Exactly. And that’s part of the game, no? You must do your game.
Rick: Yeah. I wonder if there’s more I should ask you about that. You seem like it’s a private experience and you don’t want to talk about it too much, and I understand that, you know, because some things are just very tender and intimate and it feels gross to bring them out in words, am I right?
Shaykh: The thing is, look, what I experience is not going to be necessarily your experience.
Rick: Good point, yeah.
Shaykh: So you do not benefit really from experiences of others because you see the truth is not veiled. The veil is not on the truth. The veil is on you, you know? So that’s why you can hear the truth of 1,000 masters and it doesn’t unveil you, you know? Because you have to find your own truth. And to find your own truth, you have to drop all the knowledge which you have read, which it has been given to you from outside, and it must become your knowledge, you know? Only when you receive your knowledge directly, when it comes to you from up, from your soul to yourself, whatever, only then that knowledge will empower you and will give you really a real trust in it, you know?
Rick: Yeah, no, that’s well put. It has to be a living experience, it has to be your experience. I think the reason we like these stories of saints and sages and enlightened beings is that it inspires us. You know, it gives people a vision of possibilities, or one could actually rise to this state, or such beings actually exist, you know? And it can be uplifting.
Shaykh: If it encourages somebody, I’m very happy.
Rick: Yeah, that’s the thing. It gives one sort of a goal to shoot for maybe, and at the same time it also gives you a feeling that the world is full of mystery and beauty and blessings that we don’t see on the evening news.
Rick: Yeah. Okay, so for people who wanted to get involved with Sufism, either as you teach it or in any form, you know, firstly, does that mean that they are becoming a Muslim? I understand that there are many Western Sufi groups that have nothing to do with Islam and say that any connection to Islam is irrelevant to Sufism, and secondly, what impact is that going to have on their own cultural heritage? Could you be a Christian, for instance, and at the same time be a Sufi?
Shaykh: Yes. You see, there is no force in the path. So you cannot force somebody into a religion, you know? That’s not a very wise thing to do. And everything comes by itself. Actually when you love someone, you will follow him, no matter what he is or what he does.
Rick: Like you did. You just didn’t think you were going to be a Sufi, and then here you are.
Shaykh: Exactly. But for example, in our tradition there is also a Hindu line, you know? Like for example, Irina Tweedy, you have heard maybe about her. She followed a Naqshbandi teacher, which is the same tradition, but there was a grandmaster in our chain, and he one day said that we open it also for the Hindus, you know? So it’s the same training, it’s the same knowledge, it’s the same everything, but he told them to keep their Hindu beliefs or Hindu rituals, whatever, the social life as Hindus, but practicing the Sufi methods, you know? And yeah.
Rick: So let’s say someone is listening to this, and they live in New Jersey or Iowa or any place.
Shaykh: I like Iowa.
Rick: Iowa, yeah, that’s where I live.
Shaykh: Yeah, it sounds nice.
Rick: Yeah, it’s pretty nice. It’s really hot here right now. But let’s say they get inspired to become a Sufi. What practical steps do they take to get involved? I understand there’s something called Dhikr, D-H-I-K-R, and there’s prayer and fasting and spiritual retreats and all these different things, but someone lives out here, how do they get involved? Can they do it online, or do they have to find a group someplace? I’m sure there’s something in Chicago or whatever.
Shaykh: It is better to be with a group, you know? It makes it easier. The most important is to find the Shaykh, you know? That is the main thing. But in the Oasis system, that’s the thing I teach, it is free of all of those, you know? You don’t have to be in a group, you don’t have to follow a master. You do the work, which is described as self-observation about certain topics. You do a certain singing practice, you do a certain meditation practice, and that would be the beginning, you know?
Rick: So theoretically, you could learn that stuff online and then get a few of your friends, and then you have a little group.
Shaykh: Yeah, yeah, for example.
Rick: Okay. And is there some kind of network of Shaykhs so that if you want to find one, you could look it up or get in touch with you and you would say, “Oh yes, there’s one in Kansas City or there’s one here or there?”
Shaykh: Yeah, there’s a divine network and it functions through your heart. You just make a prayer, yeah, that you say, “God, I really need a guide, and I would like to be guided in that path. Please open something to me.”
Rick: Yeah, there’s that saying, “When the student is ready, the master appears.” I’m sure you’ve heard that.
Shaykh: Yes, and I think it is the truth.
Rick: Okay. Oh, a question came in, let’s see. This is from K.A.I.F. in Delhi, India. He asks, “Can you please talk about your experience of listening to or being with J. Krishnamurti?”
Shaykh: Well, I met him when he was very old and very sick already in Switzerland. And I think he was…
Rick: Yeah, he had Parkinson’s, I think, or something.
Shaykh: Yes, he had Parkinson’s, and that was the most impressive thing because he came up on stage and he tried to correct his microphone, the position of his microphone. And he was trembling, really, really trembling, and the people wanted to come to help him. And then he made a move with the hands to say, “No, don’t come.” He closed his eyes and for some seconds he was able to bring the, how you call it, the tremor down, the tremors down, and he could manage to fix the position of his microphone. And you know, Parkinson, it is absolutely impossible to control the tremor, you know, consciously. But he did it, and it was really, really powerful to see that. And we were like, I think it was 3,000 people in a tent, it was in a tent in Switzerland, in Salem. And I was in a very ideal position, I can say, to look at him, so not too far, not too close. So it was really, really nice. And the silence he produced, you know, was really impressive. I mean, the awareness, the attention he created, this focus, this concentration, you know, this was really, really impressive. And he was a very sympathetic person, a very lovely person, really. Yeah, a great man, no doubt. Yeah.
Rick: Nice to have been able to meet him. I read an article that someone sent me about Sufism, and it said that there are seven main points to consider. And I don’t know if all branches of Sufism would recognize these points, but each of them is interesting, and I thought you might like to comment on them. The first is, I’ll just read them one by one, you can comment. The first is, “Surrender to love.”
Shaykh: Okay. I wouldn’t agree with that, simply because if I say to you, “Love now for the next 24 hours, everyone,” can you do that?
Rick: Not necessarily.
Shaykh: You cannot. Okay, but if I tell to you, “Be true with everyone for the next 24 hours,” you can do that. So the first thing is the truth. And then you become capable for love. The truth must come first, and truth has a sister, and that’s called love.
Rick: That’s nice. Yeah, I mean there’s stories in the Vedic tradition about people who spoke the truth so much, so assuredly, that it got to the point where anything they said had to come true because it was like reality conformed to their words rather than the other way around because they were so consistent in telling the truth.
Shaykh: Right, and it’s just the one attribute everyone is born with, you know? You can always speak the truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re angry, envious, proud, depressed, or whatever, but the truth is always available to you at any moment of your life.
Rick: And how about qualifying that a little bit to say that you should speak the sweet truth? I mean, there was a story about Winston Churchill where he was at a party and he came up to some woman and said, “Ma’am, you’re the” � I can’t do the English accent � “you’re the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.” And she said, “Mr. Churchill, you’re drunk.” And he said, “Yes I am, but in the morning I’ll be sober, yet you’ll still be the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.”
Shaykh: Well, there is a truth of the ego, and if you’re very identified with the ego structure then you think this is the truth. And in that truth you usually make others responsible for your condition. And then there is a truth of the heart, and that is a truth which doesn’t complain about others or accuse others.
Rick: Or speak untimely to them, even if there might be something true about it.
Shaykh: Exactly. And tries to respect others and to be friendly. Churchill could maybe say things we cannot. So some people can, and some people cannot.
Rick: He also enjoyed cigars, which I don’t think you and I do. The second point on that list is chanting the divine name. And I know you’re a musician, you actually have a musical group that you play with. And so I presume that chanting and singing is an important part of your path?
Shaykh: Yeah. As a musician I’m doing a lot of things, you know. But in the Oasis system, the singing is mainly what we try to, or how I introduce it is through dhrupad. I don’t know if you have heard about dhrupad singing.
Rick: It’s an Indian style of music, right?
Shaykh: Yes, it’s the oldest school of singing in the world, let’s say.
Rick: I used to have some recordings in my music collection of dhrupad.
Shaykh: And I’m honored to be a student of a very famous and very known teacher. His name is Ustadji Waseefuddin Degha. And the dhrupad is a very universal approach to explore your voice. Because usually when we hear our voice for the first time recorded, we think this is absolutely horror. You know, we say, “This cannot be true. This is not my voice. This cannot be how I sound to others.” And to become friendly with your own voice is a very important point. So singing, this kind of singing, is a kind of meditation also. And it’s very liberating.
Rick: Yeah, and it’s a very universal practice. I mean, the Indians have their bhajans, and the Christians have their hymns. There’s something about it which I think stirs up the heart, stirs up devotion.
Shaykh: Of course, Sufism also has their own styles, like Qawwali music, for example. I don’t know if you know Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. So that’s Sufi music. You know, that’s a very classic Sufi music in all the Pakistan, India, all those areas that is the main Sufi music.
Rick: It seems like a lot of the great sitar players were Muslim, like Ali Akbar Khan.
Shaykh: Well, actually, most of the great classical musicians are Muslims.
Rick: Yeah, there’s that tabla player, he’s the best in the world. What’s his name?
Shaykh: Zakir Hussain.
Rick: Exactly, right. He’s fantastic.
Shaykh: Yeah, and most of them are also in Sufism.
Shaykh: That’s nice.
Rick: Yeah, it’s nice to know. A third point on this list was working with your dreams, and it says that the ancient Sufis turned to their dreams for guidance, clarity, and wisdom. It was an important tool to help them on their spiritual path. The Sufi tradition has a well-developed philosophical psychology which includes dream interpretation. Do you concur with that?
Shaykh: Yes, on a certain point it can become important, but not in the beginning.
Rick: A certain stage later on. And so when it does become important, why is it important, and how do you work with it?
Shaykh: Well, because it is called symbolic thinking. In the dreams you have kind of symbolic thinking, and to translate that into your daily life, that can help. CG Jung, for example, was working with those things. In Sufism, we have different categories of dreams. We distinguish different categories. So the higher categories, they are important to tell to the Shaykh so that he can say something to you about it.
Rick: I’ve had some dreams in my life which didn’t seem like dreams because they were so profound. It was more like the innocence of sleep enabled me to enter into experiences which I wouldn’t have been able to do in the waking state. Do you relate to that in terms of having…
Shaykh: Look, everyone has experienced in his life a set of dreams which he can remember them very, very clearly, even in high age, it doesn’t matter. And those dreams, they have been messages, of course, to you. They are invitations, divine invitations, because God has his ways how to call you or how to invite you. And sometimes it happens through dreams, and there is teachings through dreams.
Rick: You’re more open in a way.
Rick: Interesting. Okay, the fourth point on this list is entering into devotion and service, and to remember God and to serve others. The true practice of devotion is service. In India they call it seva. If you wish to serve the beloved, you must serve others. In selfless service, we begin to see ourselves clearly. The rough ego starts to be smooth, and we learn humility, tenderness, and love.
Shaykh: Well, servanthood, of course, is a big part. The highest spiritual state is a servant. What else should it be?
Rick: Do Sufis tend to get involved in service projects, like feeding the poor, or things like that?
Shaykh: Yes, also. I mean, it is a usual thing that when you come to a Sufi place, the first thing is they give you food, and they also give you a place to sleep, usually. I mean, that’s for certain.
Rick: Yeah, there’s that saying in India, “The guest is God.”
Shaykh: Yeah, yeah. And I would say that if you have ever been traveling in the Middle East or in oriental countries, the hospitality is outstanding.
Rick: That’s true.
Shaykh: Like in the Ottoman Empire, for example, if you had built a house, the first house you would build for your guests, and then you would build a house for yourself.
Rick: I also experienced that. I was a traveling meditation teacher for several years, and I always loved the Jewish mothers. They were just so � they were like, “Oh, like I was their son,” and they kept giving me food and making sure I was comfortable. There’s something in that tradition that was very nourishing. The fifth point on this list is Rumi, the importance of Rumi. And I think Rumi is the most popular poet in America, I’ve heard that, or in the West, which is interesting because he lived hundreds of years ago. So for those who aren’t familiar with Rumi, do you want to say a few words about his importance and who he was?
Shaykh: Rumi was a Shaykh, no? He was a master, Sufi master. And he also was a scholar. Many people don’t know that. He was a scholar in Islamic law, and that was his main function in the beginning. But then when he met his master, his second master, Shams al-Din Tabrizi, then his career went very down as a scholar.
Rick: Because he was so heart-oriented and less intellectual, is that why?
Shaykh: Shams al-Din Tabrizi was a very radical master. He was a Kalender, probably, which means he’s a wandering dervish, like you can compare it to a sadhu in the Indian world. And he was a guy who was not taking much consideration about the sensitivity of his audience. So he would go very strong and very straight.
Rick: He would say controversial things.
Shaykh: Very strong, yes. So they asked Rumi to depart from him and not to associate with him. But Rumi, his answer was that he secluded himself three months in one room with Shams al-Din Tabrizi, and they stayed three months in one room together. So he gave up every official profession, and he completely dropped his normal life which he had before, being with his Shaykh.
Rick: Well there’s a saying that “that which is closest to truth lasts longest,” and Rumi has certainly lasted. And I’ve never been much of an appreciator of poetry, but having listened to several hours of Rumi over the past week while I was cutting the grass and doing things, I was listening to it in my headphones, I thought, “Wow, I could really relate to it. It really moved me.” Beautiful.
Shaykh: Yeah, poetry, they say if the Koran was not having been revealed, they would have taken the Masnawi as a guidance.
Rick: The writings of Rumi?
Rick: Yeah, yeah. I have a couple more points here to read on that seven-point list, but our friend from New Delhi asks another question here, we might as well interject it. He says, “If this is not too intrusive, would you like to talk about the reason why Sufi teachers including yourself often dress and appear in a certain way, such as having a beard, a cap, a fez, and so on. Does this have a spiritual significance or is it more just part of the culture of the Islamic civilization?”
Shaykh: It is an expression of love, you know.
Rick: Respect for the tradition?
Shaykh: You just want to look like him. You want to look like the beloved one, and that’s why you see all the traditions, they’re clothes very similar, no? And because the beloved one is one. So when you visit, if you would visit a king, would you come in the dress you have now, for example?
Rick: No, I’d dress up nicely, you know.
Shaykh: Exactly. So we are living in the presence of the king, so therefore we dress like we are in the presence of the king.
Rick: Yeah, so it’s a sign of respect, you could say. And it’s certainly not unique to Sufism. In every tradition, you can recognize a rabbi or a zen monk or anything.
Shaykh: You can also recognize a baker and a policeman, you know.
Rick: Good point.
Shaykh: It is your dress which defines you in a certain point and gives an expression to what you want to express. So the Sufis, they want to express their love and their respect, their consciousness that a king exists.
Rick: Yeah, I once heard Maharishi Mahesh Yogi say that, he was talking about monks, and he was saying that in a way their attire protects them, because it reminds them that they’re a monk, and it reminds other people that they’re a monk, and so it sort of helps them to behave as a monk should behave. Whereas if they just went around in regular clothing, they might sort of be less aware of that role that they’re playing.
Shaykh: And with the beard, it’s very easy also, you know, a lion has his hair, no? And it has to be like that.
Rick: In my case, I’m lazy, I don’t feel like shaving it.
Shaykh: No, it’s okay, it’s okay.
Rick: Here’s a question from Laura in Monmouth, Oregon. Laura asks, “Can you speak on fear or anxiety as it relates to awakening? For those that have experienced awakenings over the years, but are now in long periods of fear and anxiety, can you please offer advice on how best to work with this arising? Blessings, thank you.”
Shaykh: Okay, this is a good question because it’s a practical question, you know. So we have to understand that fear is a protector, yeah? It’s an ego protector. And usually it’s not easy to start with fear, you know? So the first thing is that whenever you have something which you don’t like, as a feeling, as an emotion, like fear usually we don’t like, the first thing is that you learn to honor it, that you allow it to be your guest and that it can be there.
Rick: Rather than fighting it.
Shaykh: Yes, rather than fighting. So that’s the first thing. So when the fear comes, whatever it is, you don’t try to avoid it as much as you can, okay? If you run into a panic attack, let’s say, while you are watching your fear, then you stop it, you know? But the thing is first that you observe the fear, you know? You just observe it and you allow it to be there, you know, as much as possible. And you just look into it. And when you look at something clearly, it shrinks. It will somehow, it’s like you look into fog. Let’s say fear is a kind of fog. And if you keep on looking to the fog, the moment comes that the sun goes stronger and stronger and the fog will disappear and you see the light. And this is what happens when you come out of fear. When you go through fear, when you pass through fear, you will see light. And when you have done that process one time and another time the fear comes, it’s much easier to do the same thing. So it needs the courage to face it, you know? To allow it to be there and to face it and to honor it.
Rick: One thing Laura said, that she had some kind of awakening and then the fear seemed to bubble up. And in my experience, talking to so many people, I’ve often seen that pattern. It’s as if, you know, the ego begins to be threatened because an awakening has happened and ego maybe senses its impending demise. And there’s also this saying in the Upanishads, which is, “Certainly all fear is born of duality.” And just like breaking the sound barrier, you kind of go through this turbulence before you break through the sound barrier. I think that there’s a kind of a, when you are about to break through duality back into unity, there’s a barrier of fear that has to be kind of crossed, and a lot of people encounter that.
Shaykh: Of course, fear is the last barrier, you know? What can happen to you if you are not in fear anymore? So the ego will do everything to hold you in fears. And that’s why you have to face it. And in all these fairy tales where the young man faces the dragon, and you think, “Oh my God, how can he face a dragon?” But he can. He can, and it is described, and the young child who listens to those fairy tales gets this information, no? That when you are standing and you face it, then you can even win over a dragon, no? Or even over the worst fear there is. So fear is not really existing, you know? Fear is just something which is not. And that’s why when you look at it, it will go. Then the mind wants to create it again, because the mind is the servant to the ego, right? And you have to do it many times, you know, to become stable.
Rick: Yeah, you don’t just solve it in one session.
Shaykh: Yes. And once you do that, once it’s clear, there is nothing to fear. The only thing you have to fear is your own ego. And that is also not really to fear. So anything else, what is there to fear? Death. Death is not there to fear, because death does not exist. So pain, yeah, pain can be a fear. And that’s why I always say the most important is the research on painkillers, on good painkillers, you know, who do not dampen our consciousness, no? Who don’t make us sleepy or dizzy. And pain shouldn’t be there, you know? But anything else, there’s nothing to fear, you know? What should we fear?
Rick: President Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Shaykh: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: Now when you mentioned painkillers just now, are you talking about pharmaceuticals, or are you talking about spiritual painkillers in a way that …
Shaykh: No, no, in the physical level, no, when you have pain, yeah, that can be very strong sometimes.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, that’s a whole topic in itself, because in the United States we have this huge epidemic of addiction to opioids.
Shaykh: Yeah, that is terrible.
Rick: Yeah, yeah. We prescribe them much too generously, and being given wrong information about how addictive they are, and stuff like that.
Shaykh: Right, right. Yeah, that of course is terrible, but that’s why I’m saying it has to be in good hands. It has to be in responsible hands. I mean, those doctors, they should be really punished, you know?
Rick: It’s happening, actually. The pharmaceutical companies are being sued for billions of dollars for misleading information.
Shaykh: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: Okay, so the last two of these seven points actually are quite interesting, and we’ve almost touched upon the next one, which is dying before you die. And the explanation of it is that to a Sufi, each moment could be the last, so it’s important to be present in all of life and to live as if you could die in this moment, with your heart pure, your actions good, and your relationships at peace.
Shaykh: Well, die before you die is the saying of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and of course it has many levels. Now that’s a very high topic. The one you just quoted, let’s say, is the lowest level on that description. But of course, the first thing which has to die is your own self, is the false self, the idea that I’m the center of creation, and that the existence owes me, that everyone owes me recognition, respect, love, and so on. That all these demands that we have permanently, they have to die. And that is a process, and when you do that process, that feels like you die, because you feel that you are the center. You feel that you have the highest, smartest mind in the whole universe. It’s not a thinking, it’s not a thought, it’s an existential security that it is like this, and you feel that when you step out of the house that the world turns around you and everything is you. You are in the center, right? So this center has to go, and that feels like death. And that’s not easy, that’s not from today to tomorrow, that needs practicing, and that needs also guidance. At the end of the day of this process, we put people into seclusion, that is like where you are going into your grave, that is like symbolically to go into your grave, and you stay there for a minimum period of 40 days, and that’s extendable, depends on the Shaykh’s expertise and on his judgment, and it can go up to years. It happened to many Shaykhs, they went up to years.
Rick: These days, do many people go through that sort of thing?
Shaykh: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Rick: I mean, your students, for instance, have you put some of your students in seclusion for a month or so?
Shaykh: We are starting now. We are starting now with certain people to do that, and yeah, we are starting now.
Rick: To me, that phrase, “Die before you die,” I mean, it brings to mind the quality of surrender, because when you die, you don’t have any choice in the matter. You pretty much have to surrender to the process. You can fight all you want, but you’re still going to die. So if we sort of have an attitude of surrender, perhaps then…
Shaykh: Yeah, of course, surrendering is an easy word to say, and not so easy to do, right? Because what we have to let go first is the mind, you see? And it is the only security we have. It’s the only, absolutely only pillar. We really believe in it. And to let go of that is not so easy. That means that you have experienced before some other states where you can relate to, you know? Otherwise, you go in the mental house, you know? We throw someone into that, that is the path to the mental house. So it needs a preparation, it needs practicing, and yeah, that’s how it is.
Rick: The final of these seven points is an interesting one. It’s to honor the divine feminine. And apparently, Sufism has always done this, and it’s an esoteric aspect of a religion that outwardly seems patriarchal. So what would you have to say about that point?
Shaykh: I really wonder where you got those seven points from, you know?
Rick: I can send you the article. It was this article about Sufism that this fellow in England sent to me, who wanted me to read it before the article. So I’m just educating myself here about Sufism.
Shaykh: I mean, the Prophet Sufism was a revolutionary, was maybe the first feminist in the world, you know? In history, yeah.
Rick: How so?
Shaykh: Well, he gave, he made men equal to women, you know, as a right to be, as a voice. And he gave schooling, he said the women have the same right to study, and they can become scholars. They have the right to make their business, their professions, if they want, and so on and so on. You know, so the first universities who allowed women to study in Europe were Turkish universities, you know, for example, oriental universities. They were the first. And then years and years later in Europe, it was allowed that a woman could study medicine. But all that has happened a long time before in the Islamic culture. And women had always a great input and a great importance, the greatest. So it is written in the Book of Love, the Holy Quran, that the paradise is under the feet of the mother, you know? So that means many things. Or the Prophet was asked, “Who has the more right on your presence from anyone?” And he said, “The mother.” And then they said, “And then?” He said, “The mother.” “And then?” “The mother again.” “And then?” “The father.” So three times the mother, you know? The mother is everything, you know? And the love to women, the celebration to femininity, to the grace of women, to respect women is a pillar, absolutely pillar.
Rick: How did it get so turned around so that these days, you know, they don’t let the young women study in Afghanistan and stuff like that? I mean, it seems like the whole thing got distorted.
Shaykh: Well, how it came that the Christian culture developed atomic bombs, that’s one of the others, you know? There’s many how-came in this world, many how-came questions, but we do not look to that, you know? We look to ourselves. So I can ask myself, how did I end up where I am now, you know?
Rick: And with six daughters.
Shaykh: l Yeah, for example. So we stay with ourselves.
Rick: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, every tradition gets distorted, and there are parts of it that it always happens.
Rick: Yeah. I mean, so many horrible things have been done in the name of the beautiful traditions that started out so beautiful.
Shaykh: Right. Right.
Rick: A question came in from Omar in the United Arab Emirates. Omar asks, “What is one teaching that you think is essential to awakening, a teaching that one can stay with all day, like Ramana taught self-inquiry? What equivalent would the Sufis teach?” Thank you.
Shaykh: Very good question. Thank you, Omar. This is a good question. Thankfulness. Yeah. Yeah, that’s the first thing you have to practice, to say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, day and night. And even you don’t feel it all, you know, it’s good to say it, and it will have a very, very strong impact on you. Many times people ask me, “What is the most powerful mantra you could give me?” And usually I say, “Thank you.” That is the first thing. If you can say, “Thank you, God,” that’s fine. But if God is conflicted for you, then no need to say that. So just say, “Thank you,” for everything, you know. Thank you in the morning to your mirror. Thank you to your people who are around you. Thank you that you can see, that you can hear, that you can smell. If you don’t know what to say, thank you, put three things on a white paper that you are certain to say thank you, then add another three in the next day, and another three in the next day, and so on and so on, and read it every day out. That is very, very important, you know. Because the ego lives in this consciousness, it lacks something, and that’s why it complains permanently. It wakes up with a “no,” it says, “No, it’s not enough. It’s not yet enough.” And the heart says, “Yes, it is. It is all there. It is enough.” So we have to give power to the heart. Thank you opens the power of the heart, very, very powerful. So that should be his practicing.
Rick: Okay, good. So to culture a feeling of gratitude.
Shaykh: Right. Day and night, for the past, for your presence, for your future, for your mother, for your father, for your president, for your country, for the air you breathe, for the coffee you drink, for everything, you say thank you.
Rick: And how about for your car accident, or your cancer, or your, you know, child dies, or how do you maintain that attitude if something difficult happens?
Shaykh: Well, we have to distinguish things that doesn’t mean that you can be happy with everything. You know, like when your child dies, that’s not something you can be happy for it, you know. And so you don’t say thank you that my child dies, you know, but you can come in peace with it. And on a certain point, you understand that when someone you love dies, there’s always a very big lesson for us. The first one is that nothing is permanent here. So we come, we go. And our people we love, they come and go as well. Therefore, at the end, also thank you for that. But of course, when someone comes and says, “My daughter just died two days ago,” you know, I’m not going to say anything, okay, you’re not going to say thank you, you know. It’s not appropriate, you know. But you don’t have to go to the most tragic things in your life, you know, and start to want to embrace those, you know. Go with the things you can be easy with, you know, and step by step you understand that everything is coming to you for a good reason.
Rick: Yeah. There’s a story of a Chinese farmer, I just happened to reread this yesterday, where … you know that story?
Shaykh: That’s a Sufi story.
Rick: Is it a Sufi story?
Rick: You want to tell it? Why don’t you tell it rather than me?
Shaykh: No, you tell it, you speak better.
Rick: All right, well you fill in the gaps if I’m leaving some gaps.
Shaykh: Okay, if you make a mistake.
Rick: Okay, so the farmer had this beautiful horse, and one day the horse escaped and the neighbors came and said, “Oh, it’s so terrible the horse escaped.” And he said, “Oh, not necessarily, we’ll see.” And so then after a few days the horse comes back and it brings another beautiful mare horse with it. And the neighbors came and said, “Oh, what a blessing, you got this extra horse.” And he said, “Well, we’ll see.” And so then after a while the son is riding the new horse trying to train it, and he falls off and breaks his leg. And the neighbors come and say, “Oh, this is terrible, your son broke his leg.” And the farmer says, “Meh, we’ll see.” And so then a war breaks out and all the young men are recruited to join the army, but the son isn’t recruited because he limps because he broke his leg. And many of the people who got recruited ended up dying. So we just never know what’s going to happen or what the implications are of anything that happens. Yeah. That’s a good one.
Shaykh: Yeah, that’s a nice story.
Rick: Yeah, that’s a good one. Everything God does is for the best. There’s a whole other story about that where this minister was always saying everything God does is for the best and he ends up, you know, I’ll try to cut it short, but he ends up getting thrown in jail and it seems like a terrible thing, but it turns out if he hadn’t been in jail he would have gone on this hunting exposition with the king and he would have been taken as a human sacrifice, but it wasn’t because he was in jail. So, all these great stories. Okay, so thank you. So you have a website, no doubt, and I’ll be linking to that from batgap.com, and if people go there, what will they find that they can …
Shaykh: They find some information there and they find the calendar, what I’m doing, and they find some nice stories, for example, that story maybe is there. And yeah, they find just a way to contact, let’s say, you know?
Rick: And do you have some like webinars or something online so that they can work with you even from a different location?
Shaykh: Not yet. Not yet.
Rick: Okay, planning to do that?
Shaykh: Oh yeah, you know, I’m pretty old school here. I like also that people make effort, you know? If something is precious, you know, you go, where’s the source?
Rick: So do you travel around or would they have to come to Germany?
Shaykh: I travel usually two times around the world in a year, so they have quite a chance to see me close to them.
Rick: Okay, good, so your whole schedule will be on there and all?
Shaykh: Yes, yes.
Rick: Good. Okay, great.
Shaykh: Maybe in the future we may do a webinar because now it’s 2019 and we have to sacrifice romanticism also sometimes.
Rick: Yeah, get your 20-year-old daughter to help set it up.
Shaykh: Exactly, she’s always saying to me, you know? Yeah.
Rick: Yeah, good. All right, well it’s really been a delight to meet you and spend a couple hours talking with you. I really appreciate the opportunity.
Shaykh: Thank you very much, also Rick, very nice to meet you. And best wishes for all of you and for your platform also and for your wonderful work that you do. I’m very thankful to you also.
Rick: Well thanks, and I’m thankful to be able to do it. It’s a privilege to be able to do this. I really appreciate it.
Shaykh: Yeah, thank you very much. I hope we can meet in this lifetime also in person.
Rick: That would be wonderful, yeah.
Shaykh: Yes, that would be really wonderful.
Rick: Keep it in mind, maybe we’ll have the opportunity.
Shaykh: Okay. Rick, thank you very much and thank you to the team behind you also.
Rick: Yes, it’s quite a team, Irene and various other people that you can see on the website, the volunteers page.
Shaykh: Right, right, right. Yeah, thanks to all of them.
Rick: Before you disconnect, I just want to make a couple of concluding remarks. So I’ve been speaking with Shaykh Burhanuddin Herman, and I’ll be linking to his website as always. You have a few books that I could link to, but they all seem to be in Italian. Do you have anything in English?
Shaykh: Not yet.
Rick: Not yet, okay. Let me know in the future if you do and I can update the page. And as listeners will know, this is an ongoing series. If you would like to be notified of future interviews, subscribe to this YouTube channel. And also you could come to the website, batgap.com and subscribe to an email notification thing. And while you’re there, check out what else is on the website. You’ll see a number of things that you may find of interest. So thank you for listening or watching and we’ll see you for the next one. And thanks once again, Shaykh Burhanuddin. Appreciate it.
Shaykh: Thank you. Thank you very much. All the best to you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. See you.