>>RICK: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. We’ve done nearly 600 of them now. And if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com bat gap and look under the past interviews menu, where you’ll find all the older ones organized in several different ways. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website and there’s also a page of all the ways of supporting it if you don’t feel like dealing with PayPal, which some people don’t. My guest today is Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri. Shaykh Fadhlalla is a Sufi mystic and visionary and enlightened spiritual master. His life and work serve as a reminder that spirituality is a science and an art vitally relevant to our times. Shaykh Fadhlalla grew up in an environment where religious scholars, Sufi mystics, were part of his formative experience. His love and understanding of the universality of the Quranic message have imbued him with respect for other religions and spiritual paths. So welcome, Shaykh Fadhlalla, thank you very much for joining us today.
>>SHAYKH: Thank you. Thank you.
>>RICK: So as I was telling you earlier, I read portions of a number of your books, you’ve written so many. And I found every one of them interesting, I wish I had had the time to read the more than 1000s pages of books that you guys sent me. But they’re all you know, well worth reading. And I’ll tell I listen to about six hours of your other interviews, and I have no doubt that we’ll be able to, you know, have a lively and wide-ranging conversation today. And as I mentioned earlier, if people have questions during it, they can send them in. So you’ve lived a fascinating life, and you’re still living it. You’ve been all over the world and done all sorts of things. And so I thought what we might do today is, you know, have our conversation, be a mix of, you know, your own personal experiences and adventures, and you have also all kinds of interesting stories of people you’ve met, and things you’ve done, and the spiritual truths that, you know, you have gleaned from all those experiences and from your association with, you know, masters of various spiritual traditions and your own spiritual practice. So how does that sound?
It sounds very good. I would like to meet this fellow.
>>RICK: I think you’ve met him. Although he’s more than a fellow.
>>SHAYKH: I’m not sure it’s not very clear. You know, there’s always a hazy view or story. Because go through the senses and monitor, and then the mind interprets and other events.
>>RICK: I was teaching a meditation course in Utah one time, and I came in late to the meeting, and I just got up on the stage. And I started talking, and somebody said, who are you? And I said, I don’t know, I’m still working on that.
SHAYKH: That’s it, it’s always a work in progress.
>>RICK: And that’s a good attitude. You know, I mean, for instance, in the, in the intro that I just read, which someone sent me, you were described as an enlightened spiritual master, maybe it’s a good idea to explain what we mean by those terms.
>>SHAYKH: Fortunately, it wasn’t me who had given all of these descriptions. I didn’t know. But I know from my early days, as a child, I was very curious to discover what is it? And I was fortunate also to take an interest in science and do a very basic good, broad, if you like spectrum type of a science studying. I was curious as to how things work, physical-chemical, biological up down the earth, the spheres turning birth, death time, what? So that curiosity had been always a drive for me to know essentially what turned out to be as a summary of what is the origin and what is destiny and what is beyond space and time? And how do space and time emerge and emerge? So these were really key questions always with me. There are, as I said, my studying a bit basic science was very helpful and then working in the industrial world, and as a petroleum engineer was very helpful also, stealing what the earth had, after millions of years managed to transform from tiny little sea creatures into petroleum. And here we are suffering from the abuse that we’ve all committed. So I was curious as to what is it? Why is it how is it when is it and always aware of the turning of the earth and the day and the night and on and on and on and the seasons and always fascinated by the inner drive, each and every one of us to have that stability, reliability, security, knowing very well that I’m hanging on air? So that’s not a very high secure state to be in. So these had been really the drives that propelled me, with being very fortunate and always have had outer-worldly activity. Otherwise, I wasn’t in a monastic environment all my life. So I ended up realizing that ultimately, I have to refurbish my own inner monastery, or inner Ka’bah, and always calibrate with it, knowing that the outer world will never be constant, will never be exactly the same. There are always strands of energies and inputs and outputs that bring about slight differences. And yet, we’re seeking for sameness, for constancy. And all of the other things that every human being wants.
So soon I realized that really, the answers have been given in different ways, in different cultures, different religions, and some of them are easier to understand and assimilate. Others are a bit more archaic and very culture-specific. So I found that really, we are all the same, the so-called children of Adam, the offsprings of this event in the evolution of the Adamic being the human being, essentially, we are all looking for the same thing. Outwardly as animals, comfort ease reliability, safety. And inwardly, we want to go beyond all of this, so nothing is enough. And that is where the confusion and difficulties arise. There’s an aspect of me who wants the earthly certainty, security, comfort. And another aspect of me can never be content with anything that is discernible, or measurable. So I grew up very much aware of this dichotomy. And that soon, I found that they are not in conflict, they actually complement each other, my earthly, contentment, comfort, ease, recognition, social, political, personal other is never enough. So it was clear to me earlier on, I think, in my early 30s, that I have to give more attention to the hidden cosmology, to the unseen part of me, to the spirit in me or any other name you give it. And I was also fortunate never be too culture-specific, without denying the culture. I always learned and enjoyed learning that one has to accept being local, you’re born somewhere with a skin color, with an ambiance with a certain preference for foods and other things which were important in their locale. But, so, it is not to deny locality or being local, more important to realize the universality of it all. And also go past that. So it is Supra universal, these were early on, by the time I think I was in my late 40s. It was very clear to me, in order to live well, fully enjoyably and be fulfilled, we have to address the two sides of us, the physical visible, the human, and the Supra human or spiritual from which life emerges into me, you and him, and life, in essence, is the same. The way It manifests and the way it experiences, what is good and not, and what is acceptable or not differs all the time. So for me that cosmology became very clear, and that no one is spared the opportunity. And it has a lot to do with luck and good fortune, to see it, understand it and live it. And so that is really a very brief biography, as I experienced it,
>>RICK: let’s get there’s a number of points in there that we could elaborate on. Well, I suppose one is luck and good fortune, is there really such a thing as luck or as our, or a chance or randomness or accident in the universe? Or is everything really sort of divinely orchestrated, and, you know, there’s a sort of a significance or an intelligence in every little particle of creation, and certainly, in every aspect of our own lives.
>>SHAYKH: I think both are true. If, if I consider myself lucky, no matter what even if I lost a leg or whatever, I think that is a good doorway to contentment, because these are events most, which cannot be reversed. So if we accept it, in a sense, then you can go past into higher zones of if you like intelligent perception, or, if you like consciousness, so there is luck in that you are in the right place at the right time at that moment. So things somewhat happened in a far more significant way. But equally, you may consider yourself very lucky for not having been there. So all both of them can be true. And if we measure these values, with the point of view of the inner and the outer, then I think it becomes easier to understand, because I have got an inner cosmology, which is connected to the infinite, and the boundless it is, so it is absolute. And I have an outer sense of being in this world at a certain time, with a birth and a death and a biography. And the two resonate with each other. Once I’ve got a bit of stability in the outer sense, then the more I dwell upon my inner state, which we call if you like a very high zone of meditation, reflection, silence, or all of the other words we use, when people talk about, you know, the bliss of awakening, or enlightenment and all of such words, all that it means is that it is not bound in space and time. It is not describable through sounds or understanding, or the intellect or reason. That’s really all what understand by it and the contrast actually, is by seeing the worldly reflection of it, and the limitations of those, and the two go together. And I think that is perfection.
>>RICK: Yeah I mean, we use the word enlightenment in the introduction, and, to my understanding enlightenment is just kind of what you’re describing where there’s an integration of both the outer and the inner. It’s not a sort of a denial or running away from the outer. And it’s certainly not an obliviousness to the inner but it’s a full blossoming of both, we could even call it a 200% of life if we wanted to.
>>SHAYKH: True true, true, that is fulfillment again, and in a sense, we can say that chronologically, a child or a baby begins by developing the outer senses, the first few months. The cognition of this smell, touch all of the other things, enables the outer senses to develop until one is in teenagers, and then other things begin to arise, the desire to be acknowledged, and the ego and its demands and, and occasionally a child, imagine that it can do anything, and it has to be godlike, respected, loved, adored and followed. And on and on, until we realize that really these are all reflections of what you may turn the light of God within or what emanates from the source of life within and so you realize we are all essentially the same. And if you are fortunate to develop through respect for anything else living or life, then I think you are far more honest, reliable, and loyal, in that sense, loyal to life itself. And then the reflection of it is very different. One minute it is very acceptable one minute is less, one minute you switch off into dream consciousness, and many other levels of consciousnesses. So you, you’re really given glimpses of the cosmologies that I think we all will experience after leaving the screen, and the filter of the body and the mind behind. Once we’ve gone through that into the zone of infinitude timelessness boundlessness, with the soul in me, having already been experienced to all of the ups and the downs and the changes, then it is an incredible I think, ongoingness until the end of the universe. This is how I understand it. So the more I can calibrate with the infinitude, the less there is interference of the so-called me and my desires and my fears and my culture, the easier that transfer will be. So in a way, I often look at life as a preparation for reentry into infinite life, having been equipped by realizing all of the values that are relative, that are changing, that are due to millions of different energy beams. But now it is the absolute perfect, boundless eternal, which we occasionally touch upon in our life it’s a preparation, I think we are in the second womb, the first one being the motherly womb. The next one is the earthly limitation, limitation every day is different every day and yet is the same, because my inner drive seeking the same, seeking that security and certainty of that which is boundless and timeless, and that’s it, then the rest becomes easy. And when one, in an amazing way spared a lot of the drudgery of abuse, injustice, stupidities, you won’t participate in it, it is of no interest. It’s like a child having hobbies, at the age of nine, very different at the age of 20 very different when you’re in your 50s, the same thing happens. And there is a natural filtering. Nature is the most amazing, amazing, amazing flow of guidance and guidelines. But we’re not tuned to it anymore. Our intuition has been dimmed and our physical material fears and anxieties consume a lot of energy.
>>RICK: Yeah when you said guidance, that’s kind of what I had in mind when we were using the word luck. Because, you know, luck implies a sort of accidental or random or, you know, something happening for no reason it just happens. But you know, my sense is that nothing happens for no reason that there’s the sort of intelligence orchestrating the universe and that we can attune ourselves, we can become attuned to that. And then once all life is guided in a very profound way before you respond to that, I just want to make sure that your scarf isn’t covering up your microphone there. Yeah, okay. Good. Okay. Would you like to respond to that? About guidance? Yeah,
>>SHAYKH: I think the word luck is used to describe that, that intellectually or in a conscious way, I’m ignorant, I don’t know how it happened. That really is but otherwise, it is exactly as you said, all the millions of forces that are unknown to me, you know, are interplaying. And the outcome is that, but I was not aware I was not conscious, I was not so we give that name it’s a label to describe that. I was not cognizant, I was not aware. And so a lot of our stuff is subconscious anyway. So much of what happens is, is not very clear, and maybe just as well gives life another wonderful mysterious if you like, drive and flow. I think it’s wonderful, that we know very little, even if your physical sciences or chemicals, we know very little and at the end, we reach a point we give names and titles, and we think this is what it is, but where is the atom What is this reality which ends up being another form of energy, which has solidified or so, this is where we are we are in a very approximate situation here. Part of it is yes discernible, shareable this, and much of it is not. And that’s it.
>>RICK: Some people describe the brain and the sensory systems as filters, and very necessary filters because if they didn’t filter out most of what’s going on, we would be so overwhelmed, we wouldn’t be able to function. And it’s interesting, they’ve done research on psychedelics, and they found that, under the influence of psychedelics, that the brain activity is actually decreased rather than increased, even though the sensory input seems to be increased so much. So it’s almost like that filtering function of the brain is shutting down and allowing a whole lot more in (SHAYKH Yes) and, and we can relate this back, I think, to the idea of enlightenment, where we actually do become far more aware of everything, and we can elaborate on what that means. And yet the mind is less active, it’s more settled, it’s quieter, it’s not so cluttered with noise and thoughts.
>>SHAYKH: Exactly, that’s wonderful. Another way of also looking at it is the physical realities, we talk about chemical realities, all of these realities, they are more discernible, they do follow a certain pattern that we can share. And, but yet, all of it emerges from another reality if you like from a quantum field, rather than the physical or chemical field. So the issue of challenge in life, to be fulfilled fully is to have experiences that these two fields are ever together, they’re seamlessly connected. And to recalibrate my physical reality, my likes, dislikes, fears, anxieties, all of the other disturbances, to calibrate that with the quantum field with the absolute. And that calibration will put things in perspective. So putting things in perspective makes a huge difference in the quality of life and the ease of flow, there comes a point that there is nothing anybody can do about it. So we say these are the circumstances, nature’s way, or luck or whatever the name we give it. So as the mind stops searching, looking, interpreting, or trying to find a different way. So we are really in between these two zones of consciousnesses. And in between, there are many other subzones, like that of sleep like that of, etc., etc. So for insights. So we are here being in a way, more and more and more dependent upon discernible physical, the five senses, the five inner senses, and all of that. But yet, what matters most is that recalibration, the touch of the infinite, the mind cannot touch or has nothing to do with it. But then come back to the mind and the spine is clear. Don’t do it. And back into supra mind there is no mind there is normal mind there is super mind. And there is a Supra and that is the other field you are also alluding to, and it’s wonderful, we have to do it consciously. The more often the better, healthier, we’ll become
>>RICK: in one of your books, I think it might have been your biography, son of Karbala. You mentioned a period that you went into just sort of a spiritual retreat. It started with a K, the word I forget the name of the word. But you underwent quite a profound transformation during that period. And you can elaborate on how long it was and everything. But I remember you saying that for months afterward, you couldn’t really drive. It was just too much to be out in the world because the integration hadn’t taken place. And, you know, you mentioned a little bit earlier today, sort of dipping into the absolute or dipping into the unbounded field. But obviously, occasional dips are really not sufficient for fulfillment for what we’re talking about. We want it to be an abiding reality. And I kind of got the feeling even though I didn’t finish your book, that that retreat you took was a big shift for you. And that, you know, it enabled you to shift from occasional glimpses to a much more abiding resting in Infinity while in the midst of activity. Is that true?
>>SHAYKH: Yes, absolutely, it is, I think everybody goes through that to a different extent of clarity and understanding is that we are, I think, are on a ladder of consciousness climbing higher and higher, subtler and subtler. But every now and then there is a plateau. And what you’re describing is it was part of the Sufi traditions, when the teacher the master saw or felt, that a follower or a student is being sufficiently sensitive enough, have been already in that in and out of that zone, when they say you’re now ready to empty out the word as you mentioned, this starts with is called khalwa to empty out, but to empty out fully to be not you anymore, lose you die into the so-called you or the biographically. So, that demarcates if you like a clear, clear opening, that now if you like, you have had not just an epiphany, not just it is now you have had you have a key to the door into the other consciousness and the supreme consciousness into the quantum field, if you like and from there on, again, there is a continuation, subtler and subtler different nuances, and on and on and on. So, I think the same thing in mind is that of death, it is not the end is the beginning. So is this, if you like a breakthrough in consciousness, I also had come across many people describing that there was a prominent one, I think, become also very popularly known was Krishnamurti’s, description of it, and so on. So it does happen, you know, with some people it’s more dramatic, some people less dramatic. And so, and they have they think, I think with people who take drugs or ayahuasca, that sort of thing, I’ve heard a number of similar type of if you like, a bit of descriptions, it is a breakthrough in consciousness, our normal consciousness is so-called ordinary basic human consciousness is one main strand, which enables us to communicate with each other, and makes us accountable also, with others and so on. But then there are so many other openings that take place so many other and some of them like what you can describe has a lasting effect, you are no longer the same as you were, your value system still is remembered. But it doesn’t move you as it did before. Fear of death, two major things I think happen. One is fear altogether. And the other one is sorrow. Both of them in a way, won’t disappear fully as long as one is alive, they touch you, but they don’t overwhelm you. And so, the progress after this, if you like, crack in consciousness, is refinement, refinement, refinement, refinement, in the Sufi language also is called polishing, polishing, polishing until that’s it you see. And then then I think then you are really a worthy human being, then you are but also, thank God, most people run away from you. They don’t find you interesting, you see, that’s a big gift. They want to go to the club and whatever. So you are spared in order for you to excel more and more in that wonderful twilight.
>>RICK: Well, the people who are attracted to going to clubs may run away from you. But obviously, people who are attracted to the kind of experience you’re having tend to recognize you as having it, you know, and so they get attracted to you. And, you know, they seek you out
>>SHAYKH: true and in my earlier days, I was very pleased with that. But as I grew a bit older, I was indifferent. Now actually I prefer without it.
>>RICK: Yeah, I remember. In one in one of your books, you told a story about this Prince who was supposed to inherit the kingdom, but he was this really spiritual guy, and he didn’t want to run a kingdom. He just wanted to do spiritual practice. So he went off to the mountains and lived in a cave. But you know, due to his charisma and his sort of spiritual magnetism, a whole village ended up building itself up around him anyway, and he ended up ruling that as an enlightened Prince, so he couldn’t escape his Dharma, you know?
>>SHAYKH: True the attitude is what matters most and if you just accept it and leave it that’s fine. Earlier on, because one is seriously trying to focus on the infinite. So you are you shun the human side of it, or the, but later on, with fortune, again with good fortune with effort with grace, grace is the ultimate thing actually is not luck or anything else, you don’t mind it anymore, and then it takes its own flow. And then it works out better. That’s why people say, in the presence of an awakened or enlightened whatever name we give it being things happen differently. It isn’t that things happen differently it is our perception of them. Because we are a little bit more tuned to the highest sense, in our consciousness, things are the things you know, but you know, we perceive them differently, our energy changes, therefore, the birds behave differently. That’s how it is. It’s a different atmosphere and different ambiance. And it’s true that we, in order for us to go into a higher zone of consciousness, we try to create those ambiances with silence, incense, whatever else, so that we lose our mind, the mind is the barrier with the infinite, that’s actually causing it to be a mind. These are certain, as I said earlier, what appears to be in opposition or in dichotomy, but they’re not. They’re all seamlessly connected.
>>RICK: There, I remember hearing a story of a saint who, reportedly in his vicinity of a couple of miles radius, the animals wouldn’t fight with each other, they wouldn’t kill each other, just because of the influence that he radiated.
>>SHAYKH: Yeah. That is amazing that these radii differ. You know, it depends, maybe one day comes when there are millions of so-called enlightened people, everybody’s giving a certificate of a radius, you know, I’m five miles. I’m a 10 meter.
>>RICK: Well you know, I think if we had millions, then the world would be blanketed with coherence. And we wouldn’t have all the problems that we have now,
>>SHAYKH: Allah, Just that real awareness of the higher self-accountability, and honesty, many things will change. But honestly, requires a lot of courage. Because then there is no so-called I know when doesn’t try to cover anything, but that’s how it is. And with it comes great contentment.
>>RICK: Yeah, I’ve heard you speak about how you feel that the world is undergoing a really dramatic transformation right now a dramatic shift. And perhaps we can talk about that a little bit about what we really think is going on in the world and what the causes of it are, and what the what direction, it’s heading in it Oh, yeah, you’re still there? Well, for instance, you know, a lot of people think that there’s some kind of Age of Enlightenment dawning or that, you know, we’re moving into a new age or a brighter time and, and, you know, other people think that everybody’s gonna die because climate change is beyond our beyond hope of reversal. And, you know, I think that either is a possibility. But from my perspective, if I didn’t know about all the spiritual stuff happening all over the world, I might take the more pessimistic view, but the fact that there seems to be such a huge upwelling of awakening taking place, I think that may end up really turning the tide. And just wonder what your thoughts are on that.
>>SHAYKH: I think exactly as you described, we really are not sure. But definitely, things are converging globally. Hundred years ago, the issue of the particular local situation of a religion or a culture or a diet, or gray or a color, were very important. So we are moving very rapidly towards a much more of a human universal acceptance, tolerance, respect, I think that’s in itself is a clear indication of the rapid growth, if you like of evolution, and awakening to the higher within us. And I think it’s happening very rapidly. And with it comes a lot of stress and strain and a lot of also suffering, because of ignorance, because of lack of flexibility, lack of acceptance, that in truth, what we have in our hand is very little. And that is don’t cause more damage, don’t cause waste. Don’t do this be accountable? Why are you doing this? Why are you turning the earth upside down to catch more minerals to do this and that all opportunities for material if you like, growth and richness and so on? Look at us now, outwardly, we are very rich, inwardly and even outwardly to a great extent, in terms of locale location, we’re very poor. And so the contrast is going is bringing shocks everywhere. That’s why the very wealthy people who don’t want to see the other side of human misery and difficulty try to isolate themselves, and so on and so on. I think, as a major, if you like, movement within that rush of evolvement, awakening, touching the highest, is very much there now than it had been. And that is why it brings a lot of stresses, social stresses, economic stresses, religious stresses, and all of the other things unless you’re touching the Universal Spirit within, within one. And that Universal Spirit is universal. And then you accept anything, then you really are more aware of the signals that are coming from beyond our tiny little Earth twirling around itself in, in a galaxy, which is one the of billions of galaxies on and on and on. So putting things in perspective, I think the difficulties that we were facing now the uncertainties are celebratory, to my mind, I really celebrate them. That means I now have to be more sensitive, more alert, less egotistically demanding, less conditional as to what constitutes a good life for me or not now, it is life itself, not my life, the more I abandon my life into life itself, the more I can see also what is happening as one side of it, that can bring in difficulties to human beings, but the other side, it has its own purpose, which is a relief from all the stupidities that we as animals are naturally endowed with.
>>RICK: Yeah, perspective, I love that word. And in addition to my daily meditation practice of a couple of hours to three hours a day, I intentionally look at pictures of galaxies, and I sort of take my mind and kind of extend it out, you know, just in my imagination, I guess to the solar system, galaxy, clusters of galaxies, the whole universe and just sort of go through that and twice a day, I do that, just to kind of keep it in perspective and you know sort of realize that how vast it all is by comparison with whatever little thing I may happen to be experiencing.
>>SHAYKH: Wonderful, one, great, great, great if you like, reference to the perspective is the ability to switch off the mind completely. It’s alright, to be mindful because of the focus and but more importantly, I think, is to be mindless no mind complete switch. And what you’re practicing is that in a way, it’s, I think, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our soul, we owe it to our spirit, we owe it to the Divine Light in us or life in us to do that. That is actually reverencing being expressing reverence to that expressing our subservient through that vast, infinite absoluteness. And that is, I think, as I said, it’s a big source of health and inner wealth also.
>>RICK: Yeah, there’s a line in there, whether it’s the Upanishad to the Brahma sutras or something, but the line is, there’s no joy in smallness.
>>SHAYKH: Even in bigness it must be beyond bigness must be on both sides. It must be not connected in any way to space or time, because that is the womb we are all in.
>>RICK: Yeah. Now I know, you know, at one point you had a, a Hindu teacher, Swami Chinmayananda, I believe his name was and so you had a lot of influences and at one point, and then he told you, okay, you’ve learned enough from me now go explore your, your, you know, Sufi and Muslim roots and, you know, really understand that deeply. So, what were some of the practices you’ve done either from Swami Chinmayananda or that you learned in the Sufi tradition that gave you access to this, you know, absolute or unbounded awareness or universal consciousness or whatever you want to call it, what sort of daily practices facilitated that in your experience?
>>SHAYKH: You know, I had really two fathers one physical, and the other was Chinmayananda, my physical father, his own life, his own character, quality, his own status, he was also considered that his time for his people to be at a very high high rank of spiritual awakening. Even the, because I remember I was a youngster that time, Iraq was a kingdom, the King every now and then will send his personal emissary would come quietly, and they sit together and they chat asking certain questions about whatever it is, that will help people reduce. And Chinmayananda really taught me that the courtesy of a grown-up person is maturity, keep quiet.
And it was really much more imbibing by following him. At that time, I was a management consultant in England. And whatever time I could take off two weeks at a time a month at a time, I’ll just pack my bag and jump into whatever the nearest flight to Mumbai and be with him and I knew where he would be. And so on average, maybe two months, three months a year, I would just be with him, you know. And, of course, it was very odd to all of the other, you know, other Hindu whatever because he was surrounded by wonderful sanyasis and others quality of the traditional way, high discipline. And so they would suddenly see this fellow emerging there. And, of course, there was a very special link in Chinmaya obviously must have enjoyed this youngster seeking something looking for. So I would be with Him wherever he’s traveling. And so, it was companionship its being on a day to day basis, there would have been maybe, easily one or 200 incidents, which cannot appear in a book or anywhere it is his life, his conduct his courtesy towards life and the essence of life his respect for the ordinary people and the constant referencing to the absolute, whenever there were difficulties in the numerous situations whether it was a hospital, in a particular case, because he ran quite a number of hospitals, clinics, and other charity. And people are people, so they are ambitious. So the head of the department has died. And there were six other assistants jockeying for the position there was chaos. So immediately, because there I would be with him sitting quietly, nobody knows what pretending that I maybe carry, because he had no bag either. So I was a companion travel companion. So and he tells them “say look, you could have earned far more could have done anywhere, anywhere else, you’ve come here because the ambiance is different you’re serving to get out of your animal self, you’re giving charity whatever in order for you to discover your spiritual, your real self. So if you want to compete if you want money, if you want position, please go somewhere”. Anyway, soon they will quieten down and they’re all agreeable, nobody actually wants to have that position. And then quietly turns to me he says sonny we better leave before the ego comes back, you know, things these for me were great teachings, the ego is there as long as anybody’s breathing. So, I learned a lot from that quiet companionship, which for me was the ultimate because earlier on, I was so much taken by the state he was in I knew this man knows, and yet he says I know nothing. So knowing nothing is the other side of the coin of having access to that zone of knowledge of everything. So, but he did not encourage me one bit to learn Sanskrit to go in anything changed anything talk about it he said that you have it all just keep quiet. So, I mean, that was a very high station, beyond religion beyond culture beyond methodology. So and for me, it was completely done. I mean, I was I could never find anyone of that stature really of reference to the absolute and when he had passed I didn’t feel his absence. I really don’t nor was it an emotional issue of I’m having dreams of him or vision none of that. It was a natural flow. It is as though my own you know soul managed to see beyond the veil of personality. So it was the same without trying to, you know, build my spiritual ego up or whatever was, I felt that’s it it’s already there, I have to stop being here there and everywhere in confusion is really it’s my human side needs to be, you know, made subservient to the spirit within me without denying it. Otherwise, it can come back in, in a greater rampage. Feed the beast, keep it in the zoo and walk in the garden.
>>RICK: Yeah, I remember you saying in one interview that in, I guess it’s the Muslim tradition, it’s considered maybe even Prophet Muhammad said it in the Qur’an, but that when somebody dies, it’s completely appropriate to grieve for three days and recognize the person’s life. But after that, what purpose is their grief, because actually, in a way you should be celebrating because they are in a much happier place than they were. And you know, just from our perspective, it might say, oh, we miss them. But if we actually think about what they’re probably experiencing, it’s almost a cause for celebration,
>>SHAYKH: indeed. And then the Sufi tradition, which is essentially, it is original Islamic tradition, but the majority when more and more towards a ritual towards institutionalizing towards organized religion. So the Sufis still refer to whatever left of Sufism to the death of a master the death of wedding, that means that the soul is now really is at one with his origin with his mate. So it is a celebration, it is a relief. But the specific teaching you refer to earlier on is that three days of grieving is about a limit, nothing more than that, get back into the so-called normal. So as you may, if you are fortunate to have a touch and understanding of the grace of the supranormal, which is within you, which is life itself, which is the soul or the spirit within the heart.
>>RICK: Yeah, well, since you mentioned the Sufis, and you just indicated that the tradition has deteriorated somewhat. May I ask you a couple of questions about that? You know, here in the West, especially since 911, there’s a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment amongst certain types of people. And, you know, they think of al Qaeda and the Taliban and all that kind of stuff. And I think a lot of people who don’t know any better lump the whole religion into those types of groups, you know, and, and then people who are on more of a spiritual path. They think, oh, Sufism, okay, that’s the mystical core of it. And that must be good. And Rumi was wonderful and Kabir, and, you know, Hafiz, and all these guys. But then even I’ve never read the Koran, but just reading in your book and reading some of the quotes that you quoted from it. They’re just as profound and beautiful as anything you’d find in Vedic literature, Christian literature, or anything else. So not quite sure where I’m going with this question. But perhaps you could say something to dispel in the minds of anyone who may be listening who has a less than realistic or less than deep, who has a shallow understanding of the Islamic tradition, maybe you could dispel some of that and deepen their understanding and their appreciation of it by some things you could tell us.
>>SHAYKH: You know, the whole thing is a spectrum at one end of it all of these so-called paths, religions, declarations have emanated from the same light. So there is a not sameness, they are exactly from the same light there this with us, as light recedes, becomes slightly different in his hue, and onus, texture onus, whatever. So, in essence, we are now beginning, I think, to see individual followers of these different parts beginning to recognize that original essence in them being the same. More and more and more, it wasn’t the case even 100 years ago. So it’s happening in its own way. As for Islamophobia or other phobias, that is natural again, it’s part of evolution, I think fewer and fewer people are going to be swamped by that. More and more, I think you’ll find the leadership, beginning to recognize that this earth of ours is a place where everyone can do whatever they can to excel to the utmost. And the ultimate excellence is to awaken to that which is permanent, eternal, and the life on this earth and life after death are seamlessly connected in a way. So I think it’s, happening. And I think the animosities the differences is understandable, because the openings of the nation-states, accepting others’ immigrants, poverty, and bigotry are understandable. But I think it will die out. I think, I imagine not so much in the long-term future, I think within 2, 3, 4 generations, I think I already see it. People are doing well in this world, healthy, happy, content, and fulfilled, there are people who have a religious practice, they do have inner calibration, they learn how to constantly refer to silence, and put things in perspective. And, you know, so that is the universality of the being but equally they have some skills that are helpful, useful to improve the quality of outer life. I think it’s happening. I see it all around. But equally, I think we see, because news are news, simply because they’ve got something scary in them. Because we want to survive so the only news that interests me is how far is the enemy? Are they next door? Or have they been occupied by the next, you know, tribe? Or are they right into our tribe? So it is that that’s why bad news always prevails. But the good news is that more and more we are connecting world-wise intermarriages, relationships, travel, understanding, and more and more people want to get out of their own personal misery. So people are willing to take anything that, you know, that’s why also so many of these physical practices of transcending the mind, whether it’s coming from Peru or anywhere else, please give it to me, I’ve, I’ve had enough, I can’t survive, so anything would do just, I have to stop the noise I have to. So I think we are living in the most wonderful time. Outwardly, with all its difficulties, I can see the rapid openings of human consciousness and the supra consciousness of the spiritual light in us.
>>RICK: That’s great I know here in the US, they say that fundamentalism is in decline, you know, a lot of the churches are getting more and more empty. And a lot of people are just sort of becoming what they call spiritual, but not religious, they appreciate that religion, all religions, have a spiritual core to them, but they don’t they feel more universal in their appreciation are willing to, you know, take honey from all the flowers that you know, that blossom around the world.
>>SHAYKH: It is true. I think the same applies to any religion, the same thing with Mosques, the same thing with a synagogue, you know, it, it has served its purpose, all of these great purposes of being served by making us better human beings, more tolerant, more honest, more accepting, more generous, but now I think it can’t stay anymore in one building if there is a building I have to give it a name, to give it the name is limiting. So we say we are spiritual. That means, you know, partly also can mean I can fool around without being reprimanded by a religious authority. That’s also a danger. But no, it’s happening. I think, humans now are openly wherever you go in the world, you find people like that, seeking a state that they can touch, tap into, that reduces the challenges of the outer world, misery, suffering, fear, and all of the other. All of that is happening. It’s happened already. Here we are two talking from what background what 50 years ago may not have been a third conceivable look, and what medium we’re using its amazing. We have to celebrate the emergence of this animal being into the origin of the light that gives it life. I think it’s fantastic.
>>RICK: Yeah, that’s interesting how there’s this upwelling of spirituality in the world. And at the same time, there’s an accelerating development of technologies that enable that spirituality to spread far and wide. You know, even 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, when I started this thing, I could barely do it, given the technologies and now it’s just so much easier and getting easier all the time.
>>SHAYKH: But equally there is a dark side to anything. So, no matter there is a dark side to it as well it can be abused as it has in many ways to degrade us also to bring us back into a very low animal state as well. So, that also is there, but the arc of the rise in consciousness is clear. It is rising upward, back to origin, which is the same as destiny. So we are unifying with if you like of timelessness and boundlessness, which is the nature of our own soul.
>>RICK: Now the only Sufi practice that I’m familiar with. I’ve interviewed Kabir Helminski. And I’ve also interviewed Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee but the main one that most people are familiar with is the Whirling Dervishes, you know, yes. Was that part of your practice or and if not, what practices?
>>SHAYKH: No, I get dizzy
>>RICK: I tried it once I got dizzy too.
>>SHAYKH: It has become a bit of an entertainment, but a good entertainment but really not, I never cared for labels also, you know really, so and then I really cared for the state. And how can I touch that state of infinitude or eternity or timelessness that is really my interest? No, you know, many of such practices are also in the Sufi traditions, even if you take Sufism as an academic, if you like, issue, you find many of these have occurred after the person has gone. Somebody heard I said, said somebody says so? And so not really No, I’ve never cared for outer practice, except accountability. What am I doing? How can I justify it? Explain it? If not, if not, right? Get out of it, apologize, don’t mess about don’t create more havoc. In other words, nature will prevail. And nature is having a little swirl here in this world, and in that are human beings, for them to be in that laundromat turning, turning on the to wake up that all of it was light, there was hardly any, you may have a faint memory of the you, but who is the you? Where is the you now? Why do we love deep sleep? Where are you in it? So these were what really in a way drove me towards not just Sufism, people anywhere, you know, Hinduism, Buddha, whatever. So it was just look, I, I need to have indications if I’m on the right path, of fulfilling, if you like my little, little journey on earth, without losing also the context without losing the earthly part, the love for the sound, the color, the music, the birds, without losing any of that. They are all symbols and indicators of that garden, which we talk about as paradise or something which were yearning for. So it’s not the physical garden it’s a state. So this is the state of the garden within me that I’ve been looking for. And it was there meant I should be less distracted for other things. No structure for anything else. Focus, stay still wait until the right breeze of grace comes and you suddenly find there is only the garden. The hell that you are experiencing was tiny little hell within the vast garden. That’s all
>>RICK: if you’ve never cared much for outer practices, what inner practices have you employed? You just kind of described something but is there something you teach your students for instance, that you can give informal instruction that people can take away and then do on a daily basis?
>>SHAYKH: Not really, I was fortunate not to be I never accepted the time I came in around. I knew days for formal gatherings formal community. It has it can bring about with it a touch of cultism which I don’t accept. So I never did except that there are a dozen usual practices of concentrating on the breath, posture, position, silence of the mind, going into lights, I myself found, the love of nature was very helpful. I always sit, visualize a horizon, on an ocean, and just imagine things emerging from it, just to keep the mind a bit occupied, and then silence it. Silence really, for me, any technique that takes that person into quick switch off, complete switch off. And that is where you can recalibrate you can, in every way, have the right perspective because you’re no longer into the mental arena of good and bad and up and down. So you leave that for a little while. And then you come back to it. I’ve asked whoever was asking the question, what is easiest for you to shut up? Keep quiet. Really. Chanting helps a lot to have a bit of self-hypnosis or mesmerism
>>RICK: Did you learn some practices from Swami Chinmayananda?
>>SHAYKH: A lot, a lot, a lot. A lot a lot. And the Sufis. I found that at the end just the word Allah was enough.
>>RICK: Like I’m using it like a mantra?
>>SHAYKH: Allah. Allah. Allah.
>>RICK: Mentally as well as vocally? Do you do that just on a mental level?
>>SHAYKH: Mental. I tried to be silent. Let the sound penetrate. And no thought no mind. Initially, what is too agitated, it’s helpful to paint it on the horizon. Such a big pain that overwhelms you. So, you lose yourself into that. I’ve done that quite a bit earlier on, as painted different colors. On and on until I lose myself and I lose the sound also. It’s about losing the self.
>>RICK: Losing the small self. A couple of questions came in from people in the UK. One is from Mohammed in Manchester. He said, how did Imam Ali influence your spiritual journey?
>>SHAYKH: He was a master of it, of his time, where there was a great deal of darkness. Human beings were emerging from a very rough and a very gross, if you like, way of life and way of thinking. So he was an amazing example of a being on the edge of the desert, being almost fully enlightened, awakened, and yet being in this world, and able to also help people to have less suffering and so on. So, I think Imam Ali definitely is one of the greatest beings, if you have more of those teachings. It gives us the best quality of conduct. That’s what Imam Ali represents, you know.
>>RICK: Were you with him in person? Or is he more of a historical figure?
>>SHAYKH: No, he’s a historical figure except he was a companion of the Prophet 100 years ago. Yeah. But, you know, the prophet is something else, because there are some other associations of miraculous ways of life and so on. Whereas this being was a human being also, not pretending. So, but his life was that which encompasses a few, like the light of prophethood and yet available, accessible, and all there. So, and there are many people actually, within the Islamic tradition, that profile in every way they exemplify the humanity, but in reference, in calibration, to divinity. So these two, so there are many, many such examples. The others you mentioned, I think, there are hundreds of people like Rumi, not as famous. But there are many, many, many others who are quiet and silent. You know, one of my main beings who have influenced me a lot is a man called Nefari. Or ask out of 100 Muslims, what can you tell me about Nefari. I doubt if one of them can tell you much, really. But Nefari was this amazing being about a thousand years ago. Most of his life was in Cairo. As a family, he was well to do. All that you have in the biography is that he was hardly at home. He’d go away to the desert for a few weeks. When he comes back there are a few scraps of paper in his pockets. He brings them out, and after a few days, he goes back again. Really know where or for how long. And eventually, I think his grandson put all of this work together. And a magnificent book of two sections was produced. One of them is where I was stopped more in Arabic, suddenly I hear I am told, another one is exchange, and a great British scholar actually translated into English. So, there are, there are many people within traditions, not only Islamic, I’m sure many, many others that have lived a life in their time was a little bit unusual, but very full life. And so, this is what it is, you know, to live your life here without denying, without denial of the outer need. Without the denial of my Shaitan, is the dark side of Rahman. Rahman is the All-Merciful. Shaitan is to say always together. We have to accept duality. And accept the drive to seeing duality with the lens of unity. So once you begin to see that then you’re more content, your focus becomes different from acquisitiveness. The love for power, the love for beautiful things. It becomes beauty itself. Beauty is the source of it all. So you’re no longer anymore you know, on journeys, you’re in at all times, allowing the inner lights of your own inner life to show you, to guide you, to enjoy enjoyment, enjoyment even of pain. Without pain I would lose my hand. So, my finger got caught, I have to celebrate that look at this amazing nervous system that reminded me to watch out, you will lose your hand. It is a celebration, but in pain and so on and so on. Our way of looking at everything changes, you see. So coming close to death, some people say oh poor fellow is about to die. But the fellow is really was himself graced, he will celebrate, look here I am ahead of you. I have no need to see you. Soon I’ll be rid of you by leaving the body behind. The mind is gone anyway. But the body you have to take care of, if you please. Thank you. Really.
>>RICK: Yeah, people often have very profound experiences as they’re approaching death. And of course, the people who have near-death experiences who pretty much die and come back, they all say, whoa, you know, sorry, I had to come back. That was wonderful.
>>SHAYKH: I enjoyed very much the practice during the month of Ramadan, like this month that for a few years, I practiced it that every day a few times when I am in the right state of losing my mind or myself, I would put myself in my grave. And dress up quietly and I and I say thank you very much. Your eyes were wonderful. Thank you, you helped me a lot. Thank you for all my senses. You were wonderful, the body. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. And I pat it a bit. I say now go. And I have that near-death experience. It’s very wonderful. You don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are, there is no you. It’s only a short-term aberration of a bit of matter, a bit of chemistry, a bit of biology got together, and a bit of fantastic, you know, the complexity of neurons and the brain, then it becomes me. And then I become a good thing. They didn’t respect me. Who’s the you, you know, as often I joke that you are a mobile septic tank. Watch out. You have to laugh at it really and be relieved of the illusion that you are this, that, and the other. All of us have been touched by the real spirit, by ruh. But you are essentially a cosmic being on a short journey on this earth. That’s all.
>>RICK: Yeah, there’s that popular saying that we’re not human beings having a spiritual experience. We’re spiritual beings having a human experience.
>>SHAYKH: Correct. How unfortunate, how dreadful. Earth needs to be correct. I see it that way.
>>RICK: Okay, so you mentioned suffering and you know, putting your hand on the stove and pulling it back. Obviously, that’s a good we’re glad we have the ability to feel pain otherwise we lose our hand. But how about, you, more chronic suffering? Chronic diseases or people being born in horrible situations and living in refugee camps and starving and in all the suffering on now. COVID In India, all the suffering that happens in the world. Do you see some kind of cosmic justification for all that?
>>SHAYKH: Justification means cause and effect. A lot of suffering is human, if you like, related. Much of the global suffering, climate change a lot of all this is our abuse.
>>RICK: And the consequences of our behavior.
>>SHAYKH: So, it’s in a way that, yes, there is suffering, but there is also grace, in that view, like nature is showing us how abusive we have been. We look at the tree and we immediately imagine the chair and the utility. So a lot of this suffering is due to, if you like, human criminality, lack of awareness, lack of responsibility, accountability, honesty, all of that. But then, there are other things within nature, as you mentioned, people are born with certain deficiencies, biological, hereditary, and so on. That also is there. So that can be partly for us also to take notice, help, serve, and also consider the metaphor that that could have been me, could have been you. So, but for the individual, I came across so many people who in my eyes were suffering from the loss of something or another. But in their state, when they are really in a more tranquil state, they’re quite happy with it, they accept it. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t pain. There is. But with it comes other things as well. It is not easy for a person to put oneself in another person’s shoes, not easy. But there is this, the curve of normality of human being or physical well-being has got the two sides quite wide there also. So there is a lot of that not so normal. I also met people, the mother being quite a high caliber being, a child, who was born with deficiency. They see much beauty, many amazing things that with the normal eye we don’t. So there is that. This is part of nature. So there is nature of you like what you consider to be peak or not peak or low or high. But then the global situation we now all of us are being afflicted with, much of it is due to human stupidity, ignorance, abuse, greed, and all of the other things, because of the lack of distribution of wealth, you have immense wealth. And you have, as a result of it the counter side, immense poverty. And I think these will have to be equalized. And I think governments to be stable will have to do something on these issues. But because they want to have the elite remaining of that top in order to drive the economy, as they say. So, it’s allowed, allowed, allowed. It can’t last.
>>RICK: Yeah, it’s a good point. I heard that just during the pandemic 600 people in the United States have made over $2 trillion. And I don’t know how many million each that is, but you know, a billion each. But it’s, there’s a huge wealth disparity. And I know we don’t want to get into politics too much here. But it seems to me that’s one of the… that and climate change and a number of other things are one of the sorts of critical problems that are somehow going to have to be resolved and humanity is to continue along.
>>SHAYKH: I’m sure. It’s beyond us now. I think we have gone overboard. So, whatever is going to happen, how far is the… how far or modest or partial is the extinction? As you said earlier, we really got no idea. But certainly, things are not going to be normal, is not going to be the usual thing everybody has going. And more holidays, more waste, more drink. It can’t be. It may take a decade or two for the dust to settle down. But we have especially the political side, we’ve promised human beings, all kinds of vulgar if you like, entertainment. It’s not going to work. It can’t be. And it’s not about bringing about very few, if you like, genteel, boring, more….it’s normal. It has to be exhilarating. It has to be ..you have to be thrilled, by sight, by insight, more insight and loss of sight and being at one with the original sight. So these are the thing. It will come in his own way. I think we’re going through a very difficult period of uncertainty, and on the face of it, loss of spiritual or religious interests. Within reality human suffering, we’ll have to find a way to accept the original offering. And I think it will happen.
>>RICK: yeah, I’m optimistic.
>>RICK: I don’t know how long you and I will be around. But it could well be that within our lifetime we’ll see even more dramatic changes, you know. They say the darkest hour is always before the dawn. And it could be the dawn is coming sooner than we think.
>>SHAYKH: I think so. Also, they may be already happened, many dawns.
>>RICK: Very true
>>SHAYKH: Many, many, many things. And I already accept exactly as you say, we have to do what we can, I have to save myself from myself. And then I begin to see things are not as bleak as we think.
>>RICK: It’s good we’re saying this, you know, because I know that, again, during the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in depression and suicide and things like that. So a lot of people must have a very bleak perspective, to feel that way. And I think anything that we can say or do to uplift people’s perspective and to give them hope is worth doing.
>>SHAYKH: Except that if somebody is being egotistic, and suffering, and so on, the best, the natural ways to allow them to suffer more until a point is reached, that it begins to look for its opposite side of the coin. In other words, just to relieve suffering, just a religion… As I said earlier, the pain in my hand, was a great blessing upon me, for me not to lose my hand. So everything has its own timing and its own situation. Some people need to suffer a bit more before as they say, the penny drops. So who am I to interfere? What license do I have? So I must take, if you like, I must make reference to the authority. The authority is the Absolute. The authority is the eternal light, maybe that this whole half of the world or all the world order or few other planets may have to be destroyed. We can never tell.,
>>RICK: I’m sure it happens every day in the universe, some inhabited planet gets blown to bits.
>>SHAYKH: Absolutely. So, I have to take reference, to my judgment of human suffering, and so on. Human is one aspect of life. How much suffering have we, as humans, inflicted upon other animals? What we’re doing, our huge industries, because we have our love for meat and anyway, on and on. We have, we have become, we have played demigods. We have taken it upon ourselves, we can fix it. We haven’t fixed ourselves. Here we’re driving all the way to get out of this planet, after almost ruining it, just to get somewhere else and start again. Really?
>>RICK: Ha Ha Ha. I know they’re talking about making Mars inhabitable. How about making the earth habitable? I meant to say habitable. You know, this thing you said about suffering and bottoming out. And maybe we need to suffer more. I mean that they say that all the time about alcoholics that sometimes they just need to hit a bottom, rock bottom before they’ll have the motivation to turn it around.
>>SHAYKH: There are these cycles in human beings. But you know, it’s difficult for us with empathy, to just sit still and see somebody is, is crying with pain and so on. We immediately want to do something. Because we put ourselves in their positions. So it’s natural for us. As you’re suffering.
>>RICK: There’s a story about a saint, he was sitting by the roadside, and someone who was observing him, and he kept like, doing something and then crying out in pain. And so the guy came closer to see what he was doing. And it turned out there was a scorpion that kept falling into the ditch. And he kept pulling him out of the ditch so he wouldn’t drown but then the scorpion would sting him and then he’d pull him out, the scorpion would go back to the ditch. The saint would pull him out again. This happened several times. And the guy said, why are you doing that, he keeps stinging you? And the saint said, well, it’s his nature to sting. It’s my nature to save.
>>SHAYKH: Oh, brilliant! Thank God I’m neither the saint nor the scorpion.
>>RICK: Most of us are in between.
>>SHAYKH: It’s not my nature. My nature is light. And I have to be honest to that.
>>RICK: Do Islam and Sufism have the concept of Karma the way Hinduism does?
>>SHAYKH: You see again these words become cultural. It’s not quite the same but cause and effect. Everything has yes, it may show now, it may show later. It may show, you know, whatever. So there is, of course, that. You know, Hinduism really is a vast, vast if you like, heritage, so, it contains much of what later on became of a different culture or compartment. Of course, they do. Nothing escapes. No matter what I think, whatever I touch, whatever I think, or I do, has balance, has a counter.
>>RICK: How about reincarnation? What was the perspective on that?
>>SHAYKH: You know, the general cultural Islamic perspective is that it is not across the board. But there are indications that it can happen, and it does happen. And the Quran even uses that word. If they are really brought up, brought back as dogs or as a song. So, it leaves a window, it leaves an opening for that. Okay?
>>RICK: Yeah, I mean, it does help to answer some questions about the fairness of life and the nature of spiritual progress, since obviously, most people don’t make all the possible spiritual progress that could be made in just one lifetime. So, you know, kind of gives you that perspective.
>>SHAYKH: But also, it continues after death. The issue of hell and paradise is almost finishing it off, you know. And the Quran also tells us that those who have experienced the brilliant beauty of earthly gardens and paradise, when they are in the eternal garden, they say, we have experienced all of this before. So this is a continuation. It happens after, you know, leaving the body, some in-between stage and then continues after that. Purgatory.
>>RICK: Right. Yeah, we could talk about that for two hours, but we won’t dwell on it. Another question from the UK, from Steven: given that many male spiritual teachers put forth the understanding that quote,” We are all God’s creatures” end quote, then why is it that females have been so excluded from spiritual leadership not to mention the separation division and disrespect shown to females? What is your view of this cultural division? What can be done to balance the schism? I struggle to understand this.
>>SHAYKH: Well, I think the way is going. Soon males will be hoping to have some sort of equality because females are leading everywhere. It is an evolutionary thing you know. A thousand years or more they specialized in reproduction, more and more, keeping the home more and more whatever. But it has changed. So as I said, maybe another two or three generations you find a lot of males hoping, praying, requesting more equality. So it is like that. It’s a historical issue. And the patriarchal domination is on.. is reached a point where it’s no longer. We’ve come a long way.
>>RICK: Are there some more liberal branches of Sufism, for instance, or anything in this tradition, where, you know, you have the equivalent of women priests or Imams or something?
>>SHAYKH: Not so much in the public because that is different. Don’t forget the outer environment is very harsh. So, it was manly, manly, you know, all of that. And, but in terms of teachings, in terms of transmission, in terms of helping others to awaken to the higher, very much so. But it is kept a bit hush-hush, because of the patriarchal thing. So, it’s not very much, if you like, right in the upfront, but you have great beings from a historical point of view. Ibn Arabi is a very prominent one and many others who claim that his main teachers earlier on were women. So it’s never… but it was quiet. It was not in the front, as I said because of the harsh environment, harsh deserts, difficult, and so on. So, a woman was, in fact, revealed more, respected more so she was not right in the front.
>>RICK: She didn’t have to do all the dirty work.
>>SHAYKH: Exactly. A dangerous exposure to the elements.
>>RICK: Yeah. There’s one point that was sent to me of, you know, talking points we can discuss and, and that is, does liberation truly make you free? What do you mean by liberation? What do you mean by freedom?
>>SHAYKH: That is, this state of my spirit or my soul. It’s not subject to space and time, to any limitations of, you know, either of these two major, major constraints. So, ultimate liberation is transcending beyond this womb of space and time. And we’re all aspiring for that- liberation, freedom. There’s no such thing. I am a spirit or a soul, which is, in its own state fully liberated, but caught for a while. And trapped in a while, in this body, and the mind. That’s all. True liberation only comes when I leave the body and the mind. That’s the soul. But the so-called me, which is a combination of a divine light and entity called soul, and the bovine entity that grew up with evolution, the so -called me, the animal, me, the combination of these two is constrained. That’s all that it is. The best liberation I have is conscious silence, or deep sleep when there are no movements. This is the nearest I get to touching the boundaries of beyond space and time. Otherwise, I’m here, constrained. Have I explored all the possibilities now? That’s the issue. Accepting my limitations opens up for me many, many great, if you like, lights and delights.
>>RICK: Well, you know, obviously, we’re all constrained in certain ways. We can’t walk through walls or lift automobiles or, you know, fly through the air or whatever. But um, you know, don’t you feel a sort of inner liberation that persists, regardless of, you know, your physical limitations, or whether you’re healthy or not, are all those things? I mean, hasn’t the kind of inner freedom dawned for you, after all these years? I get the impression it has.
>>SHAYKH: Your liberation is what has another name, we call it your soul, your spirit, the divine light in you. Whatever name you give, that is inner leverage. That entity, which is the source of my own life and life experiences, is not constrained by space and time, except for the temporary period in which it’s trapped in me. So, I feel sorry for my soul. I apologize to it. For a short while, you’re trapped in me. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know what were the amazing mechanisms in the womb before, afterward. But at least I can apologize on behalf of. So that is beyond liberation. I as a human being aspiring liberation, meaning in a sense, I am aspiring to the real me, the permanent me, the eternal me, which is not me. It is a divine light in me.
>>RICK: Yeah. And, you know, when you dip into the transcendent, it’s not trapped, right? I mean, it’s there, it’s free, it’s always been free, it just appeared to be trapped. And, and when you had that 40-day retreat, or whatever it was, that starts with a K, it sounded to me like there was some kind of breakthrough so that it really wasn’t trapped at all anymore, or at least not very much. And you know, as we know, from Hindu and Buddhist traditions, liberation is considered to be something that can be attained, while we are alive, not just something to look forward to, after we die,
>>SHAYKH: I say it is exactly as you say. But it is the knowledge of that entity or that state within me, which is not subject to limitations of space and time. It’s liberated. So, I am aspiring for that. But I still remain partly as a biographical thing as a human being, I am still trapped, but I now know the real me is not trapped. The truth within me, the light of that which gives me life is not trapped, is not conditioned. I am conditioned, mentally, culturally, religiously as well. So that is the ultimate, the nearest you can get to full liberation. The full liberation comes after leaving the body and the mind. But that preliminary awakening gives me, if you like, an understanding that death is a great celebration. That doesn’t matter. Welcome whenever it comes. And without desiring it because I’m accessing again, the touch of that part in me, that is liberated.
>>RICK: Yeah, there’s a saying in Sanskrit and Vedanta, which is Leisha Vidya, and what it means is faint remains of ignorance. And they say that you need a little bit of ignorance in order to just function in the world. So, in that respect, you’re trapped. But it’s just a faint remain. So predominantly, you’re not trapped. But then you know, the little bit you are. So, I mean, you know, Shankara had health problems and Ramana Maharshi had cancer, and you know, all these people, everyone dies of something. So the body definitely has its limitations. But they all spoke of an inner freedom, which was untouched by those physical problems.
>>SHAYKH: Absolutely. I mean, just the look of Ramana’s has faced that reconciliation of what it was, as though I could occasionally hear a voice saying that what’s with all of the others don’t realize all of this. They want me to talk. What’s there to talk? So already, it’s around us if we’re sensitive enough to see it.
>>RICK: What are some of your books about? I know Son of Karbala, is an autobiography subtitled; “The spiritual journey of an Iraqi Muslim”. Sufi Encounters, if you could just say a sentence or two about each of these books so people could know whether they might want to read them. Sufi Encounters, sharing the wisdom of enlightened Sufis. What is that like? Stories of different Sufis?
>>SHAYKH: That was really a collection, an anthology of interesting situations I’ve learned from, and I enjoyed, and I was in, it’s probably 30,40, 50 connections that I’ve had. And, so, each one of them was made into just a small little vignette. It was that. It was, if you like, my journey. I was very fortunate in being able as a young man, to travel around the world and on and on later on. So Sufi Encounter was my little meetings with different people who had influenced me. So.. and I learned something, I benefited from all of those there. They are real. I mean, that is really much more my Sufi biography or my spiritual biography. As for Son of Karbala, it was much more of a commentary connecting the personal individual, with the social and the political, to show how hypocritical we are, as human beings. We’re supposed to be religious, spiritual, accountable, this and that, and look at all the hypocrisy that’s happening in Karbala. And which ended up actually in the destruction of it all, by heavy-handed, you know, criminal politicians and so on. But really, these were all expressions of my own movements and having had the time and the energy and the means of producing them. That’s really expressing my gratitude. Actually, most of what most of these books were that: expressing gratitude. If anybody enjoys them, good. If not… there was no attempt, whatsoever, to create an ambiance of a special community or a special, you know, gathering or grouping or none of that. I somehow knew, from a very young age, that the time for individual closely-knit people together, in a place will not work anymore. The universality had taken over. Otherwise, we’ll end up being a bit like an Amish type of an attempt. And as I said earlier, it will have touches of cults. It won’t work. And whatever religion you are born in is an accident of your birth. But wake up to the real you, which is beyond you, and beyond all. And that’s where we unify. Essentially, from that perspective, we’re all the same. Therefore, you respect everyone. They’re all spirits caught in a while, in the mind and in the body and in the culture, and the color of his skin. So that’s really.. had been.. once I knew that, then what am I trying to do? What community? We’re all the same. The whole world is the same.
>>RICK: But you did create a community down in Messina, Texas, which sounded like it was quite successful.
>>SHAYKH: No. I.. it was.. well, I don’t say for me as a person. Yes. Because I did it and I run out of it to get out of it. Not really, no. Too late. Two hundred years too late. Or 300 years. But I had to do it. I had to, in a way, an act of service and I had the means and the energy, and youthfulness. No, I think I could now say it was even very honest foolishness. But that’s fine. But it was honest. I didn’t know any better. That’s fine. I had the means and the energy part. And I ended up harboring a lot of ex-Vietnam soldiers, other poor people, messed up with, out of place, out of context. No. Anyway, it was one of those things that there was honesty in it and quite a bit of lack of wisdom in a higher sense.
>>RICK: Seems like Texas might not have been the most supportive place to try such a thing.
>>SHAYKH: Nowhere in the world at that time. A few hundred years ago, maybe. But no, it’s too late. Now here is a young person with aspiration having suddenly glimpsed something, experience, something wants to share it, wants to care, as you know, there are limitations, you can’t. And at the same time, incidentally, Rajneesh was a few hundred kilometers up north.. Another. Yeah. So, no. Time has passed. Now you have to truly individually wake up through silence, to turn off your human side, to catch a glimpse of the great gift in you; the ultimate treasure without measure. You’re.. also. That’s how I see it.
>>RICK: Couple more books I’ll ask you about here- Spectrum of Reality, Sufi insights. That’s again this little vignette or…?
>>SHAYKH: This has ended the whole story, I think, about three or four hundred inside. Yes, they are a bit like the pattern of how things are. That is a textbook of how things are. It is this but not quite a bit of that. That is a very useful book. If I am to have anybody serious, want to see the overlaying of multitudes of atoms, that governs existence and human being. I think that’s as good as it..
>>RICK: So maybe people should start with that one.
>>SHAYKH: Definitely. I think if you start with that you will end up rejecting the shadows of the so-called you. And without denying it fully but having it less afflicting you. I think I think that’s the…
>>RICK: I think I’m going to read that one myself. The Garden of Meaning?
>>SHAYKH: This is a commentary on that. Is that every meaning, every form has an innate, inner origin, pattern. It is the seen and the unseen. Connecting. Is the micro and the macro, the balance of that. It’s an enjoyable book, for you to be one hour….
>>RICK: It’s a short one, it’s really an evening.
SFH: You will enjoy it, you’ll enjoy.
>>Rick: And then Witnessing Perfection- a Sufi Guide.
>>SHAYKH: It’s a bit dense. I dip into my… the other side of the higher. And so it is again… you will enjoy that. Witnessing Perfection is to transcend anything within duality. Anything I perceive as imperfect, the pain that my finger had by being caught in the door is in its appearance imperfect, but it conceals perfection. It is the balance that whatever I conceive has in it an outer state, not appropriate, not good for me. I am held in an inner higher meaning which prevails in a sense. These were all expressions of my own phases and states that I’ve been in. But these three books you mentioned are the best.
>>RICK: Which three are the best? So, Witnessing Perfection, Garden Of meaning and Spectrum of Reality.
>>SHAYKH: Spectrum is the dictionary? Yeah.,
>>RICK: Okay. good. So you have a YouTube channel and you have about three websites. So, what, in what ways can people connect with you or interact with you or learn from you? Do you give online courses? If we weren’t in a pandemic would there be something they could come to South Africa to do or…? Or if people are listening to this what, how can they plug into what you’re doing if they want to?
>>SHAYKH: I have a feeling that through the YouTubes and the few books like four or five that we already covered there is enough material for anyone to take from it, what is suitable for them. And then practice as you do to transcendence. Practice silence. Practice. With that background, I think the practices will make the journey quicker from the scene and the visible and duality into its origin and the energizing source, which is the eternal unity. I think it’s already there. And through YouTube and so on, almost every week or two, there are few people, very serious. They communicate. And if it comes to me, I do answer. I have the time, I have the energy, but I don’t have an institutionalized organization as such. As I said earlier, I avoided, thankfully, successfully, creating a community and an ashram. I think nowadays every home needs its own inner ashram. Every human being. And we connect, communicate and, and through the internet here. I mean, you and I, I mean, I have here met somebody I trust completely in their authenticity and honesty. So these are big gifts nowadays. So there’s more and more, if you like, in the cloud. So that is a big gift really, rather than the physical travel and the difficulties that I had for about 15 years, the center in Pretoria, is very well done, beautifully built. Several friends and supporters locally. They did a magnificent job. By the time we ended up having a magnificent library, there was nobody to come to the library. It is a lockdown.
>>RICK: So when lockdown’s over there, maybe people could come there?
>>SHAYKH: I don’t know. But everything is available. Everything has been digitized. So really, life has changed. And I’m delighted with that also. And I somehow believe in providence. If you’re up to it, if it is ready, it will come through. It will open up. Here today, we have a bit of a glitch here about our power, you know, we’re in the end of it really right in the tropics of South Africa. And I thought, well, if it is to happen, I think visible goodness and joy will come. If it is not to happen, I celebrate the master of it all. So we have to do what we can and trust the cloud.
>>RICK: Trust the cloud. There’s a story that kind of reflects on your aversion to institutionalizing things. There’s the story where God and the devil are walking down the road together and God reaches down, picks something up, and puts it in His pocket. And the devil said, hey, what’s that? And God said, Oh, it’s just the truth. And the devil said, oh, give it to me, I’ll organize it for you.
>>SHAYKH: But we also like order. So organizing is a natural state of the macro situation of the micro desire for order. It’s unavoidable. It happens anyway. You know, so like some of these against organizations, I guess, they become another organization. Really it happens like that.
>>RICK:I think, you know, we’ve talked a lot about liberation, and boundaries are being confined or restricted. I think that again, I mean, we kind of started this whole conversation on this topic. But I think the name of the game, the trick is to integrate or coordinate. Integrate is the best word, boundaries and boundless. You need orderliness and structure and routine in order to function efficiently. But those can be very restricting, they can kill the genius in you, you know. But if you can incorporate the unbounded, the transcendent within those boundaries, then you have the best of both worlds. You have the freedom, and you also have the efficiency of organization.
>>SHAYKH: And those two zones are seamlessly connected. The infinite unseen and the finite limited, seen and structured, they’re infinitely connected. One of them is the earthly side in us, the human side of us. And the other side is the heavenly side of us. And the sacred, eternal lightness, ever together. We have to reconcile that experience and see it and then apply the zones and this is a very practical matter. You’re talking to me about a roof that has fallen, you know. We have to get somebody who knows more about that site. And if you’re talking about you know, spiritual ego and somebody’s gone out of his head, you know, as many people do – people don’t revere me enough as a god, you know. That’s something else, run away. If anybody tells you again, I’m Buddha, anybody says (I’m Buddha) kill him. It’s a lie. Don’t do that. Run away from this. Nonsense. You know, the essence pervades all with the physical, material, the chemical is something else, you know, perspective. There are two zones in us. One zone in me is limited, human- being fearful, anxious etc. Doesn’t want to cause havoc. Correct. This is a decent human being. But the other side of me is beyond the beyond. Everything has its own, if you like, domain. And the two meet, they do not mix up. One of them does not overwhelm the other. Otherwise, it is religious fascism. Everybody has to be the same everywhere. No, people are different, some people will go through a lifetime, very simple. And they’re quite -whatever it is. Others like to be in ritual. Others will organize different, different, different. But the quest is the same. The quest is to touch by will, by grace, the zone of infinitude. It gives you more than hope. Reassures you that this thing is perfect.
>>RICK: Very good
SFH: There is a perfect..
>>RICK: And, of course, that infinitude is… what’s that saying? I think it’s from the Quran, isn’t it? Or from… that God is closer than your own jugular vein?
>>SHAYKH: Correct. It’s in the Quran.” I am closer to you than your jugular vein”. There are a dozen such little verses in the Quran. He is with you wherever you are. He was already there before you, after you, accept that there is only God. That means there is only that reality. It is in you and God. The so-called you
is only a shadow. Also, and many, many aspects of other religions have similar things such as man is the shadow of God on earth and all of that. That’s because there is within every human being that eternal light, that sacred light. If I don’t interfere too much, if I put my shadow away, then the light will guide me, will lead me, never mislead me. I will never be disappointed. I will never be… I do what I can and trust in the rest.
>>RICK: Yeah, that’s great. I don’t think we can overemphasize this enough. You know, all the 8 billion people in the world no matter how poor or uneducated or wealthy or well-educated or whatever tradition or non-tradition, whether they’re atheists, anything else, you know, we all have that light within. And you know, so it’s kind of like we’re all.. we’ve all won the lottery, and most people don’t realize that they left the lottery ticket, the winning lottery ticket in their sock drawer, and they’re walking around begging on the street. But imagine if everyone were to sort of claim that prize, that prize of God that is so… is closer than the jugular vein, how that would transform the world?
>>SHAYKH: You can’t claim it. It claims you. Once you claim it, then you have brought spiritual materialism and all of the other dreadfulness that happens. You have to lose all. There are two zones in you. One is the earthly zone. The more I have, the more I have, I can demonstrate. For the spiritual side of me, spiritual health of me, the less I have, the more it is. So the courtesy to each zone is very different. The outer is outer, measurable. Where’s your money? Where is the building? Where is your wealth? Not that they’ve been lying. But the spiritual side of me. I know what secrets I harbor in terms of, you know, desires, hope, what I know, for who am I lying to? If I’m truly, utterly in submission to the moment, then it is wonder upon wonder upon wonder upon wonder. But when it comes to the worldly side, I’m expected to provide a meal or a place or a house, then it’s something else. I’m accountable in that zone. That’s why our human justice has to be only on the outer. What did you do? Obviously, he lost his leg. They caused an accident. Accountable. So, you can’t… it’s a beautiful, amazing description of the end of physical, historical Jesus. Quran says he was never killed. They imagined him. One of the meanings of imagined him is that they took him as this body. He is a light. He’s a divine light, not a body. So, so we have … there are two sides in each one of us. The outer is visible, measurable, discernible. The inner is a state, and you can’t flaunt that, because it’s between you and the creator of it, if you knew, and the grace that is upon you. And as long as you are alive, there is always a touch of the animal. We can’t deny that. So, it becomes less and less and less, and sorrows, miseries, afflictions, fears do not affect one deeply. They just touch you. Oh, yes, yes, this is a loss. Because the soul is so rich beyond any measure of richness. So, there is no loss. The so-called me- I do experience loss, gain, good and bad. The less there is of there, the more there is of the master within. My also, the Divine Presence.
>>RICK: Good. Well, that might be a good note to end on. It’s very profound. I don’t think we can, I certainly can’t improve upon it. Are there any other final thoughts you wish to express or…?
>>SHAYKH: Yes, I want to express gratitude.
>>RICK: Oh yes. Likewise, it’s an honor.
SHAYKH. Really. We to have to express gratitude. It is not… not ordinary, not someone like you, the work you’re doing, what you’re trying to spread, make available, is most commendable. Really, truly, truly, truly.
>>RICK: Well, as you know, from your own experience…
>>SHAYKH: Be supra-efficient. May it be such that, that stuff just flow and flow and flow.
>>RICK: Yeah, it’s a joy. And you know, as you know, from your experience, it’s, you’re the prime beneficiary of, you know, it’s, it’s touching people and helping people, but it reaches you so much to be an instrument for it.
SHAYKH: Of course. It enriches you by getting rid of the so-called you. It’s a stripping out because the real you is beyond richness. So that’s… it does. But I’m really delighted for our guests.
>>RICK: Yes well, thank you very much.
SHAYKH: And I truly pray for it to reach wherever, whatever, whatever the right timing, because these things, again, have to do with grace. If it touches in the right time, that’s it. There’s a big step in that awakening to the high treasure. Then we stop chasing after all of the other things. Not important.
>>RICK: Good. Well, as they said in Star Trek, live long and prosper and prosper, especially, I mean, in this in a spiritual sense, which you are doing, and thank you so much for everything you’ve been doing. You’ve led such an exemplary life, and, you know, really bridging the practical world and the spiritual world and integrating them and sharing the inner treasures that you’ve found with so many people. It’s just really the way life should be lived in my opinion.
SHAYKH: I am most, most grateful for what I’ve been put through. Again, it is the grace of God. And there is only the grace of God with shadows that we also fall into their traps. I am delighted, delighted, delighted. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As I said to you, I take it to as universal on Origin and cosmic essence. Thank you.
>>RICK: Thank you Shaykh Fadhlalla. So, and thanks to those who have been listening or watching. As you know, as you said in the beginning, this is an ongoing series. There have been nearly six hundred of these conversations now. And if you go to batgap.com you can find all the previous ones organized. And if you explore the menus you’ll see a bunch of other things that you might be interested in. So thanks a lot, and we’ll see you for the next one. Thanks again, sir. Blessings.
SHAYKH: Thank you. I agree.