________________________________________________________________________ This is a sohbet that I transcribed when I lived in Chapel Hill in 1999.
_____________________________________________________________________________________ Baba: Hoshgeldiniz. We welcome all of you. We wish you a blessed year, and we are now wishing from Allah that this upcoming year will be one that will bring goodness and beauty to all humanity. So all together: Hasbin Allah, Rabbin Allah. Tonight I'm going to be asking certain things. You know, the questions that we ask are all of the systems of life that we need for our lives. Who is a happy person? Audience: [A happy person] knows who he is and what purpose he came for. Baba: Very good. This is the 1999 model. The 99 Attributes became the 1999 model. Audience: I say the happy person is Hu. I guess that feeling of being a real human being, the feeling of being aware of that love. Mercy and Compassion. Thankfulness. Baba: Alhamdullilah. This is good too. So this year has passed well. 1998 passed very well. You tell me, who is a happy person, according to your understanding. Audience: The one who is moved by love. Baba: Eyvallah. This is nice too. These are all words which should be recorded, because every human being is a flower and every flower has a different fragrance, but the smell of all of them together is the scent of jennet, paradise. Each answer that is given is like the scent that come from separate flowers. These are all systems that we need in our lives. The first answer was for a person to know himself. The second answer is for increasing the compassion and mercy and thankfulness in a person, and the third is to be given direction, to be moved by love. Does anyone want to add anything to these? Let us add another scent of another flower among these flowers. Yes? Audience: The one who is content. Baba: Alhamdulillah. That's a good one too. These are all the same words that the Prophet spoke. This is what the Prophet said. The one who is the wealthiest is the one who has kanaat, the one who has acceptance and complete contentment with his state. This also gives much happiness to a person. What else? Audience: A person who is attached to God and is detached from all else. Baba: Very nice. Alhamdulillah. These are difficult to live, but we're going to try to learn them. Which scissors do we need to cut these attachments? You know the umbilical cord that attached us to our mother? They cut that, and there our connection to our mother ends. But still it doesn't end. Then it starts from up here, in the breast. So that means however much you cut, you're still connected from one place. Audience: One who is submitted to Allah. Baba: Eyvallah. That's good too. This is our path, anyway. Everyone has said such beautiful answers. All of them. Everyone's dotted their I's and crossed their T's. There's nothing else to say. There's still one more symbol. There's a question mark. Beauty is endless. Audience: I'll be very happy today if I can control my sweets intake and can control my digestion. Baba: That's good too, because with that we remain standing on our feet. Audience: But that's what brings us down too. Baba: We have to go down, then we go up. If we stay on top always, then they'll throw rocks at us and bring us down. There are those up there who throw rocks down at our heads. Audience: One whose heart is open all the time. Baba: Eyvallah. Beautiful. Audience: It also feels like with all of this feeling you could extend your hand and allow that to live in another human being. Baba: That's a beautiful thing as well. It's important; in fact, in this time, in our world, it's one of the things that is most important. These questions are the ones that are going to be opening up this year, 1999, because everyone is expecting happiness, and so this is how we caught the key to 99. Audience: One who has found huzur, peace and tranquillity, in every circumstance. Baba: That was the second question, because when this happiness ends we are going to go into huzur. So let's fill up happiness now. Is there anyone left? Do you have anything to say? Audience: Happiness is within - to be happy within the heart. Baba: You're writing all of these down, aren't you? We're going to be asking you. Do you have something to add? Audience: I'm the happiest when I have only God in my heart. Baba: Eyvallah. He doesn't go anywhere anyway, and wherever you go He is with you, like a shadow. Sometimes you chase Him, sometimes He chases you. No separation. Audience: I'll repeat something I heard a very beautiful dervish once say. Someone gains great happiness when he catches the shirt-tail of his inner murshid, teacher, and then every day is bayram, his holiday. Baba: We just sang, "I am the holiday. Bayram is the holiday." So happiness happens when you find a murshid. Audience: Before, I was thinking that so many people were happiest when they could recognize grace. Like in the song, when wake from heedlessness. When we feel that we are in His arms whether we know it or not. Baba: To wake up from that heedlessness is when you find your murshid and start to listen to him and start to follow his path. That's when a person starts to wake up from the heedlessness. I've given you this as an example always. No matter how much you read, no matter how much you know, no matter how wealthy you may be, if you don't know yourself you will not be able to find happiness. You will always be in stress, and you will always live with "I wonder if," in duality, and always there will be complaints. When a person finds his murshid, his spiritual guide, in his mirror he will begin to recognize himself. Then he will look and see that happiness lives within his own self, and then he will stop searching for happiness outside. Today, people are looking for happiness outside. Some say, "Let me make a lot of money, be wealthy, then I'll find happiness." Some say, "Let me study a lot, and be one of knowledge, a possessor of knowledge, know everything, and I'll find my happiness." That's not how you find happiness. Let me give an example to you. The father of Hazreti Mevlana, Jelaluddin Rumi, was a great scholar, a religious scholar. He had studied every kind of knowledge. When his father died, a murshid of the tarikats, of the spiritual path, Burhaneddin, came, and taught him everything. He learned Tasawwuf, Sufism. He became the greatest scholar of his time, but still he was not able to find that happiness inside himself. He was searching for it. But what did his teacher say to him? He said "Go to Damascus. There is a murshid there. He will show you the parts that I have left lacking," because Shaykh Burhaneddin could understand him. He had a lot of knowledge, but no happiness. He was searching for something. There was no complaint in his outer world, but in his inner world, there was constant complaint. And so his teacher said to him, "Go to Sham, to Damascus and study there awhile. There you'll open up." So Mevlana went to Damascus, and stayed there two or three years. He was looking outside in books. He was the possessor of great knowledge; he was a scholar, and he had money. He had everything. In Konya, he had no problems. He was the top man of the Sultan of the Seljuks. So why was there no happiness? Well, he went to Sham, to Damascus, and studied, but still he was searching. Then Shems came to him, and looked at him. There, Mevlana collapsed. What did Shems say to him? He said, "Look for me. Find me." So what was he to search for? What was he to find? He started to think for himself, and he returned to Konya. Time passed, as you know. They met, Shems and Mevlana, and all of the old stuff that he had studied was reduced to zero, as if he knew nothing. He gave his whole being in submission to Shems, and in his mirror began to see himself. And he saw that everything he had been looking for was in himself. This means that happiness is not to be found outside. Only when we find a murshid, when we listen to him, when we see ourselves in his mirror, can we find happiness. Then everything which is said here is inside of this. There the eye of your heart opens, and the rahmet, the compassion, and the mercy increases, and then you become directed by love. Such a love-a love that never ends. Your mother, father, brother and sisters cannot give you the same love. You grew up with them, you drank the milk of the same breast, but the love that you cannot get from your brother or sister, you can get from your spiritual brothers or sisters. This means that when you find a murshid, you are able to find yourself within yourself. This is how it has come throughout history. I'm not speaking this from myself. It is the experience that is speaking. This is how happiness is. As you say, to find yourself is when you find your murshid. When that happiness comes, then you begin to find yourself within yourself, because when you find this happiness, there your thoughts of duality end. "What am I doing?" "Where am I going? "How am I going to live?" "What's going to happen tomorrow?" "I have a lot of sins." " What if Allah doesn't forgive me?" All of these things just make you tired. All of this is darkness. When you find your murshid, when you come to that happiness, there the dark questions end. Then the questions of joy begin. And to whom do you ask those? You ask those to yourself. And let me tell you the first question. You ask yourself, "What did I do today for Allah?" What? Did I say my prayers? Did I fast? Did I do zikr? What? Musa, Moses, went to the mountain of Sinai, and Allah asked him, "Ya Musa, what did you do for Me?" He said, "I worshipped. I fasted. I did zikr." "So what did you bring Me?" "I brought you what I did," he said. Allah said, "I have no need for that. I have no need of any of that. You need those! What did you do for Me?" This is the first question we are to ask. When we find happiness, this is the first question that we are to ask. Then we'll begin to pull ourselves upward. Of course, this is something that will happen in time. It doesn't happen all at once. Yes, all of you gave beautiful answers. I thank you. Insha'Allah, this year, we and the whole world will find this happiness. We're going to be stirring up the garbage a lot, all the way until we find the jemal of Allah, the beauty of Allah. Of course, we are going to find that within our own palace, but we're always going to be stirring. We are not to be afraid. Do not be hesitant or lazy. Work. If someone says something, we're to look and see, is it beneficial to us or not? If it is beneficial to us, fine. If it's not, it'll go just like it came; it won't make us tired. This is how they worked in the old days, and this is how they brought this path thus far, and this is how we're going to work. We're going to give to humanity, constantly. When you find happiness, then you're going to start to share it. Then you're going to give to everybody of this happiness, to the extent that they want. Say that you've made money and you've become wealthy. You're not going to sit on your money. You're going to distribute it. How are you going to distribute it? You're going to give your zekat, your charity; you're going to give help. Then you will have made people happy. This is how spiritual happiness is to be found. When you save one person from darkness, then your happiness will increase and you will also have given that person happiness. This is the greatest of all worship. The Prophet said to Hazreti Ali, "To save one person from darkness is a greater blessing than to conquer the world." When you find your happiness, then you have to give it to people as well. Don't be afraid. Work. Our path is the path of humanity. It's the path of love. It's the path of service. Now it's the turn of huzur, of tranquillity. So let's start with you. Who is the person who has huzur? Audience: The one who has found sirat ul-mustakim, the straight path. Baba: Eyvallah. Now let's ask again? How are we going to find sirat ul-mustakim? Audience: By serving the human being. Baba: Beautiful. We're writing all of these down, right? Look, tonight we're planting a flower garden, and then we're going to open a flower shop. What else? Who is the person who has huzur, who has tranquillity? Audience: One who trusts Allah. Baba: Very beautiful, write it down. But we're not going to trust anywhere else, even if we take a beating. Saying that the beating is coming from Allah, we're not going to open our mouths. Just like Hazreti Isa, Jesus, said, "For those who slap on one side, we'll turn the other and say 'slap here too.'" That's a very good one. In a little bit, the beating is going to start. So tell me, who is the person who has huzur? I spoke of this before. Audience: The one who remembers Allah in all things. Baba: Eyvallah. Beautiful. In every breath. Because in every breath His Name comes up. Hu. Huuu. We take Him in, we let Him out. All transactions are through Him. Yes, who else? Audience: A person who is completely relying and dependent upon God. Baba: Eyvallah. The one who lives independently. Audience: Independent from all except God. Baba: Eyvallah. Yes? Audience: The one who has the most beautiful eye? Baba: That's good too. A good eye sees beauty. You know that these are the windows of Allah. Audience: The one who is at peace with him or herself. Baba: So how are going to find it? Audience: Everyone said something. It's beautiful. You're going to smell those flowers. So, teacher, what do you say? Baba: One who actually can say, "Eyvallah!" One who can actually say it, and mean it, and live it. A murshid says one day to his murid, "Son, whatever you see, you must say, 'Eyvallah.'" And he puts the eyvallah hat on his head, and so he lives with this eyvallah always. He's going to find his huzur, his tranquillity. Time passes. He comes to such an event that there's no place left to say "eyvallah." "What am I going to do?" he says. He comes back to his murshid and he says, "Here, take the eyvallah and give me illallah." This is also huzur. So, eyvallah will bring you to one place. When you find yourself, all problems are solved. And then, as we just said, you begin to live independently. Then eyvallah is no longer acceptable, because then it's illallah that's acceptable. Only Allah. Whenever you find yourself, then you will say illallah. Audience: Does that mean that all of that difficult stuff that you've got to say eyvallah to has finally disappeared? Because there's only illallah? Baba: Of course. You use eyvallah just to pass all of your tests. Audience: Then you graduate to illallah? Baba: So you say illallah and pay the entrance to the turnpike and you drive on! Audience: Alhamdulillah! Baba: Alhamdulillah. Audience: Oh, no. . . illallah. Audience: It seems to come to that place. . . you've talked so much about the zoo that we carry within us, and all of these outrageous animals, and true living and taming this menagerie. Baba: Of course, then the animals do nothing bad to you. Then the animals protect you, and make money for you! Mashallah, alhamdulillah. Audience: Illallah! Audience: Eyvallah. Audience: Hu. Inside of the events of this life, in these difficult places that we encounter, can we find the huzur to the extent that we can fulfill the correct actions that our murshid expects from us? Baba: This is truth. Put a period on this one. Audience: It seems like one would reach a state of huzur when he is satisfied with Allah. I guess it's the same as seeing the beauty of Allah. Baba: What else? There's one point you haven't come to yet. Audience: It might sort of join several points. It seems that when you approach a difficult situation, if you can approach it with the intention and the behavior that your murshid has set out for you and then completely let go of the outcome, then whatever the result is will more naturally be able to be seen as beautiful. Baba: Exactly. These are the beautiful points of huzur. Audience: You reach huzur when you, insha'Allah, tame your nefs, your ego self. Baba: Eyvallah, when you come to nefs al-safiye, the seventh level of the nefs. Audience: Baba, when I think of tranquillity, huzur, like stillness, quietude, maybe a quite listening inside. . . then we'll know huzur. Baba: Of course, when we go to the graveyard, we're all going to shut up and listen to ourselves. There, there is no fighting, there is no nothing, there is no eyvallah, there is no illallah. This that you are talking about is very important, but we have to find that in this crowd. Inside of all of this noise, we have to find this silence and this will also bring huzur. Beautiful. Yes? Audience: One like Merkez Efendi, who is down the center and doesn't want to change anything. Baba: That's good too. That's the crown that we're going to put on at the end. Hazreti Sümbül Efendi was the murshid of Merkez Efendi. Just before he was to die, he had many dervishes, and all of them were looking to establish themselves in his kingdom, but he was going to give it to Merkez Efendi,whose name was Musa Muslahettin. Sümbül Efendi looked at them all. He was not approaching anyone. The title of murshid was approaching Merkez Efendi, and everyone was jealous of him. So Sümbül Efendi saw this and put everyone to the test. I've told this story before. He said to them, "If Allah would give rububiyat, lordness, to you, what would you do for the world?" One says, "I would make everyone do the namaz, the ritual prayers," and another says, "I would close all of the cafes and the places of gambling," and some say, "I'll do this," and others say, "I'll do that." Everyone has something to do. Sümbül Efendi says, "Ya, Musa, what would you do?" He says, "I won't do a thing, because Allah does what's best. I will go neither one hand-span forward, nor slow down one hand-span. I'll leave everything in its merkez, its center, because this is how His center is established." And to that Sümbül Efendi says, "Do you see now, this Musa? He's found the path of dervishness. He's arrived at the center. So he's the one who deserves to be the murshid." So that means the one who finds huzur becomes murshid. We have to find the center. So who else has an answer? We're talking of huzur, of tranquillity. Yes? Audience: When we find the center, then there is no separation between ourselves or those around us. Baba: We're all going to go there together. We have to follow the trail. In the same way that the hunter who goes into the forest to hunt follows the trail of his game, and then when he finds it, the tracks end. The trail ends. So from then on, which trail is he going to follow? He's found what he's looking for. Then he's going to follow himself. So if we find the center, then we'll follow ourselves. How are we going to follow ourselves? We know what we do. Are we going to do jelal, or are we going to do jemal? When we act knowingly, then we follow ourselves. The street of huzur. This is good. So what else? Audience: Shukur. (Thanks) Baba: That's beautiful too, and that's also from the layers of worship. Now we're ready to go to the center of huzur. It's from the center that we're going to find huzur. Now, where is our center, the center that gives us life? It's our hearts, and what is the heart connected to? It's connected to this center, the brain. You know that when both of these work, we have life, and when both of these stop, we have death. If your heart stops, but your brain continues to work, you're not dead. The two have to work together. That's where life and death start. The actual heart is the brain. This is our physical heart. It's a blood-pump. It keeps our body on its feet. Whereas this heart holds our spirituality on its feet. This also has a circulation. In the same way that this circulates the blood through its pumping, this is also a pump for the circulation of something. This is the center, so we have to come close to the center. It is from there that we will find huzur. All action, all worship -for example, seeing beautifully through our eyes, our acceptance of everything, our being thankful-all of the words that we have said until now come out of this center. If we're not able to do what we say, that means that the center is not able to circulate that blood in a proper fashion. And what is that blood? Audience: Our thoughts? Baba: Correct, and that's where we start from. So that pumps the thoughts. That's more important than this, the physical heart. Because this can die, and its work in the world is finished. But when this dies, it goes into deathlessness. Because it lives. Its physical dies, but its spiritual lives. Look, we're speaking of those who left 4,000 and 5,000 years ago. We say Moses, we say Abraham, we say Confucius, we say Buddha. It means that their thoughts have not died. The center pumped it well. Thousands of years pass; there is still that which has been pumped. It's turning around in our brains. It's from here that we are to find huzur, tranquillity.
Hu, Dost! This is my way of saying thank you for all of the gifts that my teacher, Sherif Baba, has given all of us.
I love the Ahl-ul Beyt, but I am not Shi'a, at least not in the usual sense. I love the Alevi way, but I am a mainstream practicing Muslim (or, at least, trying to be one). I love Mevlana, but I'm not a Mevlevi. I love some teachers who may or may not be very shari'ah adherent, but can open hearts. Several that I love most are practicing Muslims, but not all of their students are. I've even seen one or two Salafis who are dripping with the Nur of Allah. As a Bektashi Baba once said, if we find something useful, we embrace it. I'm a liberal, but practicing Muslim, and I believe that anyone who is showing us Compassion and Mercy is showing us the way of Islam.
May we all become beautiful human beings, insha'Allah! ;)
This is really putting up some things I put together for myself about my shaykh and our path-- a friend suggested that it might be helpful for some other people as well. I thought while I was at it, I might as well add some music links along the way. Because this began for my own personal use, I have no idea where some of these pictures and quotes came from, so I apologize for putting them up without citation. I make no claim that all of this is my own. I'm simply trying to share a beautiful vision of God and humanity that I have learned about from Sherif Baba and also some inspirations from the Alevi/Bektashi tradition of Turkey, with whom Rifa'i Marufi shares many principles. Let me make it clear that I am not myself a Bektashi, though I love their path. My connection is to the Rifa'i. I hope you enjoy this offering and that these things will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.