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