If you ever want to be a dervish…


If you ever want to be a dervish… video with Sheikh Burhanuddin

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Sheikh Burhanuddin  is a mystic and spiritual teacher of German origin.

When he was joung the desire of his heart led him to Maulana Sheikh Nazim

Adil al-Haqqani Rabbani, the current Grand Master and th world guide of the

Naqshbandi Sufi Order. He initiated and educated him to the traditional way of t

he dervishes mainly in Cyprus, where Maulana resides, and during numberless

journeys around the world.

Upon request of Maulana and in line with an old Sufi custom,  Sheikh Burhanuddin

for nearly three decades teaches travelling with tireless passion, sweetness and humor,

through cities, nations and continents. He loves to sit with with the searcher of truth,

with the hearts in love of any backrounds and beliefs.

Sheikh Burhanuddin is also a musician and a composer.


Sheikh Burhanuddin es un místico sufí, discípulo de Mawlana Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani,

actual Maestro de la Orden Sufí Naqshbandi. En sus charlas, conciertos y seminarios,

Sheikh Burhanuddin lleva a los participantes a reconocerse a si mismos mas allá de los

velos de la ilusión de estar separados del Todo. En la tradición sufi se dice que lo que nos

separa de lo Divino es nuestro ego, los velos de nuestros temores, expectativas, deseos y

depresiones, sobre lo que Sheikh Burhanuddin dice: “Déjalos caer y verás que el Amor

viene a tu encuentro, dándote la bienvenida. Olvídate de tu historia personal. I

nvéntate a ti mismo a cada instante.”





Sufism is the longing for the Devine, for His Beauty and His Majesty

contained in the Heart of every human being.

The need for Godi is born with man and accompanies him from the

beginning of time. Through the countries, it took different forms, reaching

today to the islamic expression, the devine revelation transmitted by

Prophet Muhammad, the seal of the prophetic line.

Some consider Sufism as a doctrine. They make object of their studies and

once they master its thought, they are convinced they have become Sufis,

or at least they are on the good way to become one.


Differently, the Way of the Sufis, also known as Dervishes, as a sign of

humbleness, is pimally a way of life, and as suchi t must penetrate every aspect

of existence. The teaching is learned only through the guidance of a living

master, through the practice and a direct experience.


The duration of the journey towards the self-determination depends primaly

on the determination, the discipline, but especially on the devotion of the student.


To define in words Sufism is like trying to describe honey to one who has never

tasted it. Whatever definition will turn out to be partial and inadequate. The

words are limited, while Sufism ragards the essence of things themself.


The scholar investigates in literature, art, history, the mystery of the devine

presence. He tries to reach God through his intellect without however

questioning his own daily existence.

The dervish, on contrary, asks his Lord to turn his gaze toward him, he invites

Him to inhabit into his heart. At the same time, he knows that the dwelling

has be adequately prepared to aspire to receive a quest of such an importance.

Here it arises the need for inner the inner work. The dervishes, in fact, when

referring to the Way, they do not usually speak of “Sufism”, but of the “Work”.


You can not become a Sufi and remain as you are. It is impossible.


Out belove Master Maulana Sheikh follows an iron discipline, he has spent years

and years immersed in the practice, underdoing very rigid retreats, as his master

did. Not everyone has become a master, but everyone is invited to work on

himself and to try to reach his highest destination. To accept this invitation means

to serve humanity. (Burhanuddin Herrmann)





A dervish is an apprentice, one who is learning the profession that will provide eternal

livelihood. This profession is still taught in certain “schools of higher learning.”

While there are many skills that can be self-taught or learned alone, the skills of

dervishhood are learned by being in relationship to a Shaikh, or guide, and within

a spiritual family, a Sufi circle.


There will always be much to learn on one’s own, through one’s own efforts, and within

one’s own understanding. The final responsibility, of course, lies with ourselves, and in

reality there is no intermediary between us and our God. And yet one can no more

become a dervish alone than one can become a lover alone.

People will dedicate the whole of their lives to becoming a accomplished musician or a

professional athlete. In doing so they will have to organize the whole of their lives

around this one master desire. A dervish is one who has made Truth his or her master

desire and is willing to submit all other desires and aims before this aim.


It is possible to make Sufism a pastime, one interest among others, but that does not

make one a dervish. It is fine to read widely and become acquainted with various

traditions, but to be a Sufi is much more than to have a preference for reading Sufi

books or listening to Sufi music.


The price of dervishhood is one’s whole life, a total commitment of one’s

life energies. Fortunately, in our tradition it does not mean the

abandonment of a productive and socially useful livelihood, nor the

renunciation of marriage and family, but it does mean that everything

we are involved with will be understood and arranged from the

perspective of our essential spiritual intention.


Certain lifestyles may not be consistent with our intention; certain forms of livelihood

may not be appropriate in the light of the more stringent requirements of remembering

God with each breath. We may find that we are not asked to sacrifice everything, that

the Way does not contradict our essential humanity. We may find that our Friend is a

patient, generous and compassionate Friend, but we gradually learn that we ourselves

must withhold nothing.

In dervishhood we pledge ourselves to a Shaikh and a lineage. This reaches hand over

hand all the way to Allah. Our pledge, our obedience, our commitment is to Allah, and

the Shaikh is a link.


Why should there be any intermediary at all? This is a very good question. Actually

there is no intermediary if the Shaikh is a real Shaikh and if one’s pledge is sincere.

The Shaikh actually is the evidence of God’s mercy and generosity, making grace

more tangible, more immediate.


The Shaikh does not gather power or privilege for himself, but is the

servant of the yearning of the dervish’s heart. The Shaikh may also be

the challenger of the dervish’s egoism, calling us to surpass our timidity,

our fears, our comfortable complacency. The Shaikh may be the one to

say, “Come into this fire, it will not burn you.”


No Shaikh is perfect, and it is particularly in his function as Shaikh that he may

sometimes disappear and become a pure medium for Divine Grace or Wisdom.

It is the dervish who helps to create the Shaikh, and both are in the process of

learning from the relationship. It must be remembered that before becoming a

Shaikh one had to be a dervish, and one never stops being a dervish.


Spiritual seekers are typically people who have learned to question conventional

reality. Most spiritual seekers have experienced a loss of “blind faith” and have

searched for answers to legitimate questions. Our post-modern culture has also

suffered a loss of faith, the result of which can be characterized as a pervasive

cynicism. The conventional conditioning and orthodoxy of the post-modern world

consists of a profound cynicism, doubt, and inability to approach truth innocently.


While one should look quite critically at any spiritual path or teacher

before committing oneself, one shouldn’t allow the pervasive cynicism

and rebelliousness of our times to prevent one from seeing what

humility and trust can offer. Once one has decided to play the master

game of self-transformation one must do it wholeheartedly.


In my own case it took quite a while for me to understand the value of cultivating

a relationship with a teacher. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was a

typical product of my own culture, a culture which has a fundamental mistrust

and disrespect for leadership and authority.


Perhaps I was simply too rebellious and critical. Now I can look back on my own

relationships with my teacher with some remorse for the disappointments and

pain I caused him through my insensitivity and lack of awareness. It is easy

to forget that the Shaikh is a servant more than a master.


The Shaikh holds the keys to a treasure the seeker cannot really understand. He may

be able to unlock the treasure within the dervish’s heart, but how likely is he to do

this for a someone who is half-hearted, ungrateful, or full of resistance, who lacks

humility or respect?


The dervish’s intention should always be to allow a sincere love for the

Shaikh to grow and deepen. Sometimes the outer respect is the best

that can be offered, but we must realize that we can fool ourselves

more easily than we can deceive others and especially our Shaikh.


What is required in this relationship is a connection of love, rabita, which allows

all that one has to pass to the other. When there is real love between a Shaikh

and a dervish, the dervish comes into resonance with the wisdom and light of

the Shaikh, and the Shaikh carries some of the burden of the dervish.

A Shaikh needs to be strong enough to do this and this is possible only with the

help of God and the lineage,especially the Pir, the Complete Human Being from

whom the particular order derives its baraka, or grace.


There is more than one kind of real Shaikh, in addition to the self-appointed

teachers who can do some good and much harm. There are Shaikhs who serve a

kind of managerial function in dervish circles. They need to have a certain natural

authority, experience, and knowledge; they must be trusted not to use the

position to gain any kind of advantage for themselves. In their managerial

capacity they are useful in the preparatory work of dervish training, provided

they are backed up by a real source of baraka.


Then there are those Shaikhs who have the permission of the unseen

world, who have true spiritual authority. Such a Shaikh not only has

experience, wisdom, and knowledge, but also serves as a channel for

the transformative energies of the tradition, both in group activities

like the zhikr, and in relationship to individual dervishes. In order

for this individual connection to work at its highest potential, the

student needs to cultivate a spiritual connection with the Shaikh. The

Shaikh is a “wireless transformer” connected to the powerhouse

of the Master.


In the story-book version of Shaikh and dervish, the dervish is involved in a

period of closely supervised experiences under the watchful eyes of the Shaikh.

While it would be wonderful to have such a Shaikh in one’s life to listen to

one’s problems and answer one’s questions, such a situation is rare.


A Sufi Shaikh is likely to have a family and a profession and rarely has the time

to give such personal attention to many people. Unless one somehow shares in

his mission, works by his side, or has reached a high degree of surrender and

can give all one’s time to the service of the Shaikh, one’s relationship will more

likely be through attending regular meetings and keeping the heart connection a

ctive at other times.


Given the rarity of real Shaikhs, especially in the Western world, one should

be thankful if one has found a connection even at a distance to an effective Sufi

lineage. In reality, the dervish’s connection is beyond the tangible matrix of

space and time, beyond even the conscious mind. What needs to flow to the

student will flow if the student knows how to cultivate that connection and

has surrendered to it.


In the physical world we are under many limitations of time and space.

In some cases you may see your Shaikh in the tangible world only rarely.

In the world of the conscious mind, you may cultivate a positive bond

and even converse inwardly with your teacher. At the subconscious

level of the heart, however, the Shaikh’s benevolent energy will be

working on you continuously. As Yunus Emre says, “Ever since the

glance of the mature one fell upon me, nothing has been a problem.”


There are many legitimate issues regarding authority and its abuse that have

occurred as Westerners have uncritically accepted other traditions, especially

traditions untied from their traditional ethical moorings. In some cases we have

been led to believe that outrageous and abusive behavior from the teacher

is part of the training.


One cannot have an absolute rule, but generally the stronger tactics are reserved

for the strong and devoted dervishes, and only after the greatest bond of love has

been made certain. Rumi’s own teacher, Shams of Tabriz, was a stringent master,

and once said, “My wrath causes a seventy-year-long unbeliever to become a

believer, and a believer to become a saint!”


We should bear in mind, however, that abusive conduct was never the method

of Muhammad, peace be upon him. On the contrary, he showed profound

respect to people, always being the first to greet someone, jumping up to greet

the humblest people. If Muhammad, peace be upon him, set this example he

was teaching a lesson for generations to come.


Shaikhs may also challenge a person’s conditioning or belief structure, may even

appear to be doing something unethical or harmful, as in the case of Khidr and

Moses, peace be upon them, in the Qur’an. No real Shaikh, however, would

keep a student in a state of prolonged moral ambivalence.


If the Shaikh appears to do or require something that contradicts one’s idea of

the good, or moral norms, or the religious law, the reason for this should be

made clear before too long, as it was in the case of Moses and Khidr.


The relationship between a Shaikh and a dervish is one of the most

sacred bonds any human being could experience. To find a real Shaikh,

and to be accepted by one, is a great gift. Shaikhs are taught that if

one of their dervishes were to be excluded from the gates of paradise,

the Shaikh, too, must remain outside.


If a Shaikh accepts you into his heart and you can accept the Shaikh into yours,

it is in order that hand and hand you both will go to God. Value that relationship

as you would an infant put into your hands: in the beginning it may require

great care and sacrifice, and even perhaps sleepless nights, but eventually, after

tests, difficulties, and joys, that infant relationship may mature into a being

of strength and great beauty, and the generations of the Way will continue.


 Made with cuore in Italy