O)he Station of ‘No Station

O)he Station of (No Station

Open Secrets of the Sufis

OLLI O02)

Henry Bayman

0

North Atlantic Books Berkeley, California

The Station of No Station: Open Secrets of the Sufis

Copyright © 2000 by Henry Bayman. All rights reserved. No portion of this book, except for brief review, may be reproduced in any form—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or recording—without prior written permission of the publisher. For information, contact North Atlantic Books.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Bayman, Henry, 1951-.

The Station of No Station: Open Secrets of the Sufis / by Henry Bayman. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 1-55643-240-2 (alk. paper) 1. Sufism. 2. Sufism—Essence, genius, nature. 3. Sufism—Doctrines. I. Title.

BP189 .B42 2001 297 4—dc21 CPI 00-060961

123456789/05 04 03 02 01

A MAN, IN SEARCH OF TRUTH, IS ON HIS WAY TO KONYA (FAMED FOR ITS MEN OF KNOWLEDGE), WHEN HE MEETS A TRAVELER RETURNING FROM THAT SAME ciry. AFTER GREETING ONE ANOTHER, THE SECOND

MAN ASKS THE SEEKER WHAT TAKES HIM THERE.

“] AM LOOKING FOR GOD, AND | BELIEVE THAT THERE

ARE PEOPLE THERE WHO CAN HELP ME FIND Him.”

TO WHICH HE REPLIES:

“How sTRANGE! I saw HIM YESTERDAY, AND HE was

LOOKING FOR you!”

CONTENTS

PREFACE PROLOGUE The Background of It All The Flawless Human Being INTRODUCTION The Role of Nietzsche The Universe of Signs Man and God Secular Science Overview 1. NIETZSCHE, GOD, AND DOOMSDAY: THE CONSEQUENCES OF ATHEISM In the Mouth of Madness Nietzsche and Science Misconceptions about God The Mansion and the Houseguests The Base Self versus God The Superman The Base Self and Science The Question of Darwinism The Consequences The Search for Superman

The Nightmare of Insanity

Contents

2. THE UNIVERSE, ENLIGHTENMENT, AND ETHICS 85 Man and Universe 85 The Significance of Man 88 Whatever You Do Comes Back to You 90 Gnosis 94 The Subject/Object Dichotomy 96 From Gnosis to Ethics 98 Sufi Ethics: No Spirituality Without Morality 100 Ethics and Spiritual Transformation 102 The Cane and the Skyscraper 104 The Ethics of God 106 The Role of Faith 108 Science and Sufism 108 Faith, Love, and Compassion 109 3. SUFI PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION 113 Preliminaries: Body, Spirit, Self/Psyche 113 Self as Tyrant: The Base Self (Impelling Self) 115 Anthropocentrism 122 Cyberculture and the Future of Modernity 125 Higher Stages of Human Existence 128 4. THE WAY OF THE SELF 131 Stage 1. The Base Self 131 Stage 2. The Critical Self 133 Stage 3. The Inspired Self 136 Stage 4. The Serene Self 138 Stage 5. The Pleased Self 139 Stage 6. The Pleasing Self 140 Stage 7. The Perfect, Pure, or Complete Self 141 5. THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT 143 The Subtle Body and Its Anatomy 143

Cornering the Ornery Self 149

Contents

6. THE ESSENTIALS OF SUFI PRACTICE 153 Introduction 153 The Three Prerequisites of the Path 153 The Three Principles of Sufi Sainthood 154 Formal Prayer and Fasting 157 The Symbolic Meaning of Prayer 164 A Place in the Sun 165 7. THE SATANIC VERSES AND THE DEMOCRATIC PERSONALITY 169 Untime of the Imam 169 Material vs. Spiritual Knowledge 172 The Political Dimension 175 Democracy and Ethics 177 From Civility to Courtesy 180 Monotheism and Equality 184 The Open Society 185 The Nemesis of Democracy 187 World Poverty: A Sufi Proposal 188 8. THE STATION BEYOND ALL STATIONS 193 The Sufi Saint 193 The Nature of the Encounter 194 Awakening 197 Spiritual Embryogenesis 198 Poverty and Self-emptying 202 The Paint of God 204 Culmination 207 APPENDIX FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE TALIBAN 211 ENDNOTES 219

INDEX 239

PREFACE

It’s possible that the truth lies in the fashionable direction. But if it is in another direction, who will find it? ... Dare to follow the beat of a different drum.

—RICHARD P. FEYNMAN

COOYLLD

During the last quarter of the twentieth century, I was in close contact with the Sufi masters of Central Anatolia in Turkey. Most of this period was spent in association with Master (and Mr.) Ahmet Kayhan.

The Islamic Sufism practiced and preached by these masters is so different, so wonderful, and so uplifting that I consider it my duty to humanity to make its existence known. Here is something so valuable that the whole world stands in need of it.

Peter D. Ouspensky suspected that such a source exists, and now stands confirmed. John G. Bennett, in an effort to track down Gurdjieff’s! teachers, uncovered the lineage’s Central Asian precedents just before he died. Even if we do not know them, we must consider ourselves very lucky indeed to live in the same world as these luminaries.

The Master’s approach combined the best faces of Islam and Sufism—faces that are actually inseparable from one another. It

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may come as a surprise to some that this is no recent synthesis, but an integral wisdom passed down from the very beginning via an authentic and authoritative chain of transmission.

The Master spoke of Islam, yet assuredly you have never seen nor heard of such an Islam, nor have I anywhere else except with the Master. The more I thought about it, the more the conclusion was forced upon me that this must be the pristine, primordial Islam as it must have been practiced by the Prophet himself. (I was not alone in this view; everyone who knew the Master shared it.) For this reason, it was the most delicate and rarest of phe- nomena, a true Tradition in live action, as if it were being revealed anew today. In his case, Islam and Sufism were identical.

The bitter, harsh and vindictive image cast by some so-called “Moslems” is a result of their failure to be informed by this wis- dom. Although they may mean well, they have projected a false picture of Islam into other people’s minds, precisely because they themselves have fallen victim to ignorance. (Needless to say, this excludes the vast majority of innocent and peaceful Moslems.) That is why everyone, Moslem or otherwise, stands in need of these teachings.

Let me elaborate by way of a simple example. As Hans Koning has noted: “most of us nowadays would rather come upon a wild animal on a lonely road than upon a strange man. We fear the stranger, ‘the other’: We feel we don’t really understand him. ... Or we may know him only too well and he may hate us for reasons we choose to forget... . Our children are inheriting a world of locks and alarms... .” *

Now contrast this with Robert Kaplan’s account of a shanty- town called “Golden Mountain” in Ankara, Turkey. Comparing it with the slums of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, which has been called “the Paris of West Africa,” Kaplan concludes: “in Turkey I learned that shantytowns are not all bad.

“Slum quarters in Abidjan terrify and repel the outsider. In

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Turkey it is the opposite. The closer I got to Golden Mountain the better it looked, and the safer I felt. I had $1,500 worth of Turkish lira in one pocket and $1,000 in traveler’s checks in the other, yet I felt no fear. Golden Mountain was a real neighbor- hood.” A lady inhabitant told him: “Here we fast. Here we are more religious.” +

Is it only Abidjan that could benefit from the example of Golden Mountain? What about certain parts of New York, or any city, or—for that matter—the whole world? Doesn’t this example indicate that poverty is not the only factor operating behind violence or the lack of it? Doesn’t it show that money alone cannot buy peace?

Having lived in a culture where you needn’t fear an approach- ing stranger—where you needn’t even think about him, except perhaps to say “Hello”—I want everyone in the world to enjoy this bliss, to share it with them. Earlier, this culture didn’t even have locks on doors, because robbery was almost unheard-of. While this may sound too good to be true, the fact that people in the past were able to accomplish it means that it is within the realm of human possibility, and therefore an option open to us also—however remote it might seem from our standpoint. But we don’t have to be utopian; I’ll settle for Golden Mountain.

No amount of locks will deter a determined thief, and the security walls you erect around yourself (or your “gated commu- nity”) will only increase your sense of mental insecurity and anx- iety. It is only when a majority of people agree upon principles that are inherently capable of lending security that we will not only feel, but actually be, secure.

Make no mistake: what hangs in the balance today is not this or that civilization, but world civilization. It is our global civi- lization that is at stake. It is my heartfelt conviction that we must inform that civilization with the life-giving breath, the tolerance, compassion and humaneness of Islamic Sufism, if it is not to

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disintegrate into anarchy and chaos. The famous writer E. M. Forster used to be called “the custodian of civilization.” Today, we must all take it upon ourselves to become custodians of civilization, and stewards of this planet, if we expect to survive in a tolerable world and to bequeath it to our children, and to our children’s children. If we fail to do this, we will not have our children’s children.

This book owes its existence, and I my thanks, to Richard Grossinger. I had previously written two books on the Master’s teachings which are available online, The Meaning of the Four Books and Science, Knowledge, and Sufism. My original essay on Nietzsche is in the second book, and Mr. Grossinger kindly sug- gested that this essay could be expanded to constitute a book in itself. The result is what you’re reading.

Although it draws upon material from its predecessors, this is in effect an entirely new book. Substantial additions have been made, earlier material has been organized differently, and even the Nietzsche essay—which provided the backbone—has under- gone significant change. Hence, it is not simply an abridgement of the previous books.

I want to make it clear from the beginning that while I nor- mally resort to footnotes and other customary tools of scholar- ship, in speaking of Sufism I drop this convention. The reason is that I am writing directly from memory—from the famous Oral Tradition of Sufism which the Master propagated and we were fortunate enough to hear—from Turkish “field notes” I have taken, or from my own studies. In addition, the sources, even if indicated, would mostly be in Turkish, a language inaccessible to the majority of English readers. Only chapter and verse numbers from the Koran are indicated, in the form (chapter-number:verse- number). When I relate a Sufi teaching-story, it is Typrsrr DrrFERENTLY in order to indicate its “trademark.”

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I must confess to having a problem with terminology. The Master always said that he was practicing and teaching “Islam.” By this he meant what he had learned from his own Master, the highest and most ideal sense of Islam as embodied by the Prophet, and the greatest names among his followers, down through his- tory. Furthermore, by “Islam” the Master meant Islamic Sufism. It has become customary to use the term “Islam” for exoteric doc- trine and practice, and to reserve “Sufism” for the esoteric aspect as denoting Islamic mysticism. (There are even those who seek to isolate Sufism from Islam.) But in the teachings and example of the Master, there was no such division or distinction. What he lived, what he taught, was a wisdom which combined the best and brightest aspects of the exoteric and the esoteric in a seamless whole. While he valued Sufism in the sense described above, he always said that the esoteric would get nowhere without the exo- teric infrastructure to build upon.

The Master had nothing against practitioners of the Divine Law (followers of the exoteric path) or those interested solely in mysticism (followers of the esoteric path). He regarded both, however, as halfway houses that failed to take account of the other side of the coin. In his view and practice, only the synthesis of the two could yield the necessary transformation of inner ener- gies and the consequent transmutation of the human being. If this is true—and the Master was the living example of that truth—it becomes obvious why so many practitioners on either side have failed to achieve their objective.

It is clear from this that the Master was using “Islam” in a spe- cial, all-inclusive sense, a sense we are not ordinarily accustomed to understanding by that term. And now, in recent years and decades, we have come to associate all kinds of vile things with it, as if the religion itself were actually teaching these things and therefore to blame for them. The questionable conduct of latter- day Moslems has become reflected upon the religion itself. But as

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many Moslems themselves admit, the fault lies with Moslems and not with Islam. A case in point is the Taliban—the interested read- er is referred to the Appendix, as that treatment is too large and unwieldy to fit into a preface. “Islam” in its true sense has noth- ing to do with the flood of negative associations that occurs in our minds as soon as we hear the word. Likewise, it has little to do with the notorious names that have claimed to represent it, or with events we have come to blame on it. Nevertheless, we are now saddled with this depreciated sense of “Islam,” which evokes an almost “knee-jerk reaction” in people’s minds. “Islam” has become a loaded term. But I have no desire either to defend or deal with it in this sense. Furthermore, it becomes quite cumber- some to say “Islamic Sufism” repeatedly.

So here is how I propose to remedy this problem. Let me state it clearly at the outset. I intend to use the term “Sufism,” which has remained pristine and unloaded, in place of what the Master meant when he said “Islam.” I want to do this as consistently as I am able to. By using “Sufism” in this special sense, I wish to sidestep the problem of disentangling “Islam” from the associa- tions it brings to mind. I feel that the Master’s teachings are too wonderful and important for that. We—the author and the read- er alike—have better things to do with our time and energy than to get bogged down in long, drawn-out discussions about what “Islam” means and what it doesn’t mean.

Don’t get me wrong. When the Master says “Islam” and I say “Sufism,” we both mean the same thing, i.e., Islamic Sufism. It is not the case that he meant only the exoteric sphere and I mean only the esoteric. I am doing this in order to bypass fruitless argu- ments that are a waste of time, ink, paper, and attention. There are by now many faces of “Islam,” and the one I want to talk about is uniquely that practiced by the Master, not the ones we have come to associate with Kaddafi, Khomeini, Saddam, Taliban, etc., etc. When I say “Islam,” however, how am I going

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to convey in the same breath that it is only this ideal sense I intend and not any of the rest? For this reason, I have decided upon this course. I have the inclination neither to explain nor to defend any- thing that emerges using the name of “Islam” but which I find to be at variance with the “Islam” I have come to know through the Master. (And the same holds for Sufism.)

There is another reason why I feel justified in doing this. This other aspect of “Islam,” as practiced and preached by the Master, is so exalted, so uplifting, and so unknown generally that it is practically “esoteric” to us, not only to non-Moslems but quite likely to Moslems as well. It is uncharted territory, undiscovered country. Superficially, it may resemble the more mundane sense. But I hope to be able to show that we are here in the presence of something which goes beyond that and hence for us—Moslems and non-Moslems alike—is “hidden” at the beginning.

In talking about historical personages and events, however, it is difficult to maintain this usage. There, an “Islamic scholar” has to remain an Islamic scholar and a “Sufi” has to remain a Sufi, simply to avoid confusion. While this is still not, for me, a satis- factory solution, I hope this explanation at the outset will have made clear how I will be using terms.

Further, I shall consistently try to use “God,” “the Book,” and “the Prophet” instead of “Allah,” “the Koran,” and “Mohammed,” respectively. Since we so often stumble over words and sounds, I want the reader to see if the subject matter still seems impenetrable once these substitutions have been made. Prayer (Arabic salat, Persian namaz) I shall render by “Formal Prayer,” as otherwise it is confused with supplication, whereas “remembrance” (dhikr) will be rendered by “invocation.” Translations from Turkish into English I have done myself. The gender problem in English confronts us as usual. Suffice it to say that when I speak of God as “He,” or when I say “man,” I am not imputing masculinity, and unless an explicitly male person is

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involved, the third-person singular always includes “she.

As always, I owe thanks to Tim Thurston and Peter Murphy, whose help and suggestions have proved invaluable—but for them, this book would not be what it is—as well as to all others who have aided in bringing the book to its present form. My grat- itude also to what I call the “Web Library”—all the sources avail- able on the World Wide Web, whether I have used them or not.

I have used more sources than are indicated in the text, but any attempt to give them all would hopelessly swamp us in a tyranny of footnotes. Hence, only those sources that I consider the most germane are indicated. For example, I have not bothered to document what I deem to be more commonly known facts.

To err is human, and there are few books entirely free of errors. If, in spite of all the painstaking care I have taken, any errors do crop up, I plead the reader’s indulgence.

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X1x

Prologue

OOOO a)

I THE BACKGROUND OF IT ALL

Monsieur de Fortgibu has nothing on me. Never heard of him? Well, he figures in a Jungian case of synchronicity, a true story related by the French astronomer Camille Flammarion: when M. Deschamps was a little boy in Orleans, he was treated to some plum pudding by a neighbor, M. de Fortgibu. Ten years later, he again encountered plum pudding in a restaurant in Paris. He wanted to order some, but the waiter told him that another cus- tomer had already ordered the last remaining dish. M. Deschamps looked; it was M. de Fortgibu who had ordered the dish.

Years later, M. Deschamps was again offered some plum pud- ding at a gathering. As he ate, he recalled the earlier incidents and told his listeners that the only thing missing at that moment was M. de Fortgibu. Suddenly the door burst open, and a very old man verging on senility staggered in. Who should it be but M. de Fortgibu, who had got hold of the wrong address and come to the party by mistake.

Such “meaningful coincidences”—and I could tell you many more—give us an intimation of the subtler workings of the uni- verse. Behind the coarse mechanics that strike the undiscerning eye, there are connections as fine as the thread of a spider’s web,

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or even finer, justifying Wordsworth’s “sense of something far

>

more deeply interfused. . . .” Some people call it “fate,” others call it “coincidence.” I say names are unimportant; it’s the phenomenon and what it portends that count. Such phenomena are too small and slippery to be caught in the coarse meshes of science’s net,* though they didn’t escape the net of the French astronomer. In any case, my discovery of the Master was as for- tuitous—or was it?—as M. de Fortgibu and his plum puddings.

Did it all begin there, at the Library of Congress, the reposi- tory of all the knowledge in the world? Who knows? I had asked for a book, and the librarians had been unable to locate it. I insisted that it had to be there—how couldn’t it? So, although it’s against the rules, I was for once allowed to go in and check, to see for myself.

Down and down went the elevator—how much below ground level, I’m unable to say. There were many underground floors like the one I was about to see. Then the doors opened, and all of a sudden I found myself in a hall as large as a football field. To my right and left stretched corridors of shelves as far as the eye could see; and ahead of me, countless such corridors stretching down to the horizon branched off right and left. I entered a corridor on my right; the shelves, piled up to the rafters with books, looked like the Grand Gallery in the Great Pyramid of Cheops. It was the closest thing to the Akashic Records on Earth, and I was overawed. I reached out for a book; the one that arrived in my hands was The Morning of the Magicians, by L. Pauwels and J. Bergier, which fell open where the binding was cracked. There I saw an excerpt from Gustav Meyrink’s The Green Face. The Green Face, I was to find out years later, was— surprise, surprise—none other than Khidr (which means “the green one”). So was it that “Khidr manifestation”—the manifes- tation of the saving power of Khidr, who helps those in dis- tress—that saved me? And how had Meyrink found out about

Prologue

Khidr in the alchemistic bookshops tucked away in the narrow back streets of old Prague? I don’t know. Anyhow, I began to read:

You must climb from one rung to another if you want to conquer death.

The lowest rung is called: genius.

What are we to call the higher ones? They are hidden from the mass of mankind and looked upon as legends.

The story of Troy was thought to be a legend until one day a Man had the courage to start excavating by himself.

That is, of course, the story of Heinrich Schliemann, who dreamt as a seven-year-old boy of discovering Homer’s fabulous city, and 39 years later actually discovered it, treasure and all. Was he working in vain when, with watch in one hand and Homer in the other, he re-enacted the movements of the Trojan War, retracing the steps of the soldiers? Not at all. A day before the diggings were terminated in 1873, he found one of the most priceless treasures ever from beneath seven layers of ancient cities.» And today I ask, are believers working in vain when they retrace the movements of a prophet and circumambulate a Holy Sanctuary seven times?

Two other episodes seem relevant: when I was whisked to the top of the Empire State Building by high-speed elevators and beheld the magnificent splendor of New York by night—an ocean of light—and when I visited Cape Canaveral from which the moon rockets were launched, did these have anything to do with my initial descent into the cellars of the Library—an ocean of knowledge? You tell me. Karl Jaspers believed that the universe is a vast cyphertext, a cryptogram, a book of symbols. Over the years I’ve come to believe (or was it always a deep-seated intu- ition?) that the universe—and the Koran which is its mirror image—is, to quote Jorge Luis Borges, “an immense liturgical

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text where the iotas and dots are worth no less than the entire verses or chapters, but the importance of one and the other is indeterminable and profoundly hidden.” A work dictated by God is, says Borges, “an absolute text: in other words, a text in which the collaboration of chance [is] calculable as zero. . . nothing can be contingent in the work of an infinite mind.”® Is this what synchronistic events are trying to help us discover?

In any case, like another Borges character, I too arrived at a mysterious conclusion. The truth, beauty, and goodness you see in anyone are a reflection of a friend, or a Friend of the Friend: “some place in the world there is a man from whom this clari- ty emanates; some place in the world there is a man who is this clarity,” this perfection. Exactly like Borges’ inquisitive student, I found a telltale trail to lead me through increasing heights “of reason, of the imagination and of good.”’ As I came closer to the Source, I began to hear rumors. It was said that the Master lived on top of the tallest building in the world; that he lived on top of the world; that be himself was the tallest building in the world; that his apartment was the Noah’s Ark of our day. At two steps’ remove from the Master, I encountered an immense- ly happy and courteous man; at a remove of one step, I encoun- tered a saint.

Then, one day, I was led into an apartment where an immense spiritual radiance shone from behind a curtain. I caught a reflection of the Master in a glass, a venerable and—to all out- ward appearances—an ordinary-looking man. So as not to dis- turb the crowd already there, I sank into an empty chair and began to listen. What follows is, after many years, a report of my discoveries.

But first: who was he? What kind of phenomenon had I encountered?

Prologue

II THE FLAWLESS HUMAN BEING

An Impossible Task

How shall I begin to tell the story of a man who literally defies description? If there is one thing all the thousands of people— from the most diverse backgrounds—who have been graced with his presence would probably agree upon, it is that the Master (“Effendi,” in Turkish) is indescribable. I have consulted some friends who knew him, and they all shook their heads sadly, knowing that the attempt was impossible.

The reason is that all language presupposes a common base of human experience. Suppose I tell you, for instance, that I have drunk the juice of a South American fruit, guanabana. If you have drunk it too, you will immediately know what I am talking about. But suppose you haven’t, and I’m trying to describe it to you. “It’s sweet,” I say. Now that’s nice, it gives you something to work on. But cookies are sweet too, and so is candy. “Its color and texture resemble those of milk,” I next add. That gives you some further clues. And I can keep on elaborating details until you have a pretty good approximate idea of what guanabana tastes like. But unless you have actually tasted it, you will never really know what I’m talking about.

And the same thing goes with Effendi. The reason is that he was unique—one of a kind, even among Sufi masters—and so, incomparable. Having rushed in where angels fear to tread, I find myself saddled with the thankless job of describing him to a world scarcely equipped with the tools necessary for an adequate comprehension of such a person. Many will say my description is too good to be true, and with them I sympathize entirely—in

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their shoes, not having seen what we all saw, I too would have found such an account unbelievable.

The task that stands before me, then, is to assume the role of a Fair Witness (as described in Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land: “The house looks yellow on this side”) and sub- mit my account as truthfully and sincerely as I know how. To those who disbelieve, let me say in advance that I don’t blame them one bit. The trouble is that this account comes to your doorstep just a bit too late, for it was not so long ago that we watched helplessly as his life, like water, slowly but surely trick- led away through our fingers. The only way to verify my story would have been to come and see for yourself. Now that the only sure-fire means of verification is no longer in our hands, people will be entirely justified in their skepticism.

The question might also arise as to how reliable, how objec- tive and impartial, a humble and devoted student of the Master may be, a person who has known him for two decades, and has been able to observe him at close quarters for fifteen years. The answer is: more reliable than you might think. For it is not only a privilege for me to write about the Master; it is also a duty, and this duty can brook no untruth. The slightest deviation from the truth—the slightest misrepresentation—in explaining such a per- son to the world at large would, to my mind, be fraught with dire consequences. I shall do my best to abide by the ideal of a fair witness, and with the help of God I hope to be as successful as I am humanly able to. But do not forget: what I am going to tell you is an almost illegible replica of the truth, watered down, as it were, to the concentration levels of a homeopathic solution. I doubt that the scarcely discernible traces on this paper will give you much more than the barest inkling of that staggering reality. And I fully accept in advance that the failure to communicate is my shortcoming, not yours.

Perhaps, in the future, others who have known the Master

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will come forth to tell their respective stories. Until then, this account will have to suffice as an introduction to the man— pardon me, the Man—and his teachings.

A Hidden Master—In this Day and Age?

The question immediately arises: if a person such as I claim really existed, how is it possible that he remained hidden from public knowledge until his death? How, in this age of instant communications and the Internet, was he able to remain obscure? We have immediate knowledge of a previously undis- covered tribe of primitives in Indonesia; how can a person of such stature manage to avoid detection so completely to the end of his life?

The answer is that this is possible if the person in question shuns the limelight, and if those who know him consider him so precious, and know him to be so indescribable, that they clam up whenever prying eyes rove by. It can happen if his devotees respect their Master’s aversion to exposure so much that he remains free to cultivate his garden—themselves—in peace. And it can happen if they consider everything connected with him as a different reality, an enchanted realm that is simultaneously in this world and out of it.

The humility of Grandpa (as those who loved him called him—other epithets were “Father,” “Father Ahmet,” or “Grandpa Kayhan”) is the reason why he did not like to adver- tise himself. ’ve been told, for example, that in 1982 he was vis- ited by a Canadian journalist who was so impressed by what he saw that he said to the Master: “Let me publicize you. To the Jews, let me go and say: ‘If you’re looking for Moses, here he is.’ To the Christians, let me pronounce: ‘I’ve discovered Jesus.’ And to the Moslems let me say, ‘Here is Mohammed.’” The Master refused, and the journalist respected him enough to comply with

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his wish to remain unexposed. He could have become world- famous, had he so wished.

Also, Turkey is a country that has undeservedly remained obscure to the outside world. Despite the fact that it is a staunch ally of the United States, there are people who wouldn’t be able to locate this country on a world map. And the Master hasn’t remained entirely unknown. Brief references to him have appeared in the Turkish press, whether veiled or naming him by name. Further, there are Americans, Britons, and people of other nationalities who have gained his acquaintance.

Many are the gurus and enlightened masters, of whatever reli- gion, who ceaselessly labor to make the world a better place to live in, and to them all I extend my best wishes—may they see the fruits of their efforts. Many of them are in the public eye. It appears, however, that the greatest masters always remain hid- den from view, and are deciphered only after they pass away.

Who Was He?

So, what kind of person was Effendi (pronounced exactly like the letters F-N-D in English)? This is the hurdle I feared. Well, here goes:

Up to this day, you have met many human beings. Some of them have struck you as having exceptional qualities. Some are more intelligent, some more compassionate, some stronger in moral fiber than others. Some people excel in courage, others in honesty—and so on.

Now, bring together all the admirable traits you have ever seen in any human being. Next, multiply the sum by a thou- sandfold. That, approximately, will give you what people lovingly referred to as “Effendi.”

This is exactly the point where incredulity, and consequently my predicament, are bound to set in. But this is also the point on

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which I must remain adamant. The Master cannot be described in any terms, except by superlatives.

I can well understand the consternation of the disciples of Jesus in their attempts to describe him to others. The same goes for the followers of the Buddha or the companions of Mohammed. One has to be faced with a difficulty of a similar order to comprehend what they were trying to cope with.

The problem is compounded when you find out that the Master was basically unschooled. He learned to read and write only during his military service, in his twenties. But that has to be set against the fact that he was trained by the greatest Master of them all: Hadji (“Pilgrim”) Ahmet Kaya Effendi, his own master, who was called “Keko” (Kurdish for “Father”) by his followers.

But what about the warts, the feet of clay? The short answer is: there were no warts. And I am not concealing anything here. All right, the Master, being human, was prone to the afflictions of humanity. He was sick most of the time in his old age, and suffered from a badly healed broken leg and failing eyesight in his final years. But this is not what we usually consider to be warts, blem- ishes of the human personality. In all those fifteen years, I saw him really angry only once, and his only response was the softly spo- ken word, “Quiet.” Those are the “worst-case characteristics.”

A Visit to Effendi

Suppose, then, that you had the good fortune to meet the Master face to face, and I or someone else had elected to take you there. What would you have encountered?

We would have approached a four-story apartment building on a major road in Ankara, climbed the stairs to the top floor, and rung the bell of one of the apartments. We would have been ush- ered in by a person opening the door and led into a large living room. In no time at all, if he wasn’t resting or otherwise occupied,

The Station of'No Station

you would have had the audience of the Master. Of all gurus and masters, he was the most accessible.

You would find yourself in the presence of a gracious old gen- tleman. He was a lean person—he once told me he never weighed more than 55 kilograms—perhaps six feet tall, but stooped in his old age. Despite his great age, his graying hair and beard, which were originally black, made him appear no more than 65 or 70.

Even if you were an ant, he would treat you like a king. Pleasantries would be exchanged over a cup of tea. Whether or not you had arrived in the middle of a serious discussion with other people present, you would slowly realize a peculiar sensa- tion—as if all your troubles and sorrows were ebbing away, and you were being filled with a quiet joy. If you were psychically sensitive, you might also feel a tingling in the middle of your forehead. And, regardless of whether you had only engaged in small talk, you would leave the apartment with a great feeling of elation. And this would continue to occur each time you visited him. Many were those who dropped in for five minutes to inves- tigate, and stayed a lifetime.

If you continued your visits, you would have come to the con- clusion that the Master had the uncanny ability to read minds. This was alarming to some; others took it for granted. The Master never laid claim to such an ability, of course, and he was always discreet in such matters. But suppose you went to visit him with a specific question in mind. And suppose others were present, so that you weren’t able to voice your question. As he talked, you would by and by realize that he was answering your question without even speaking to you.

It goes deeper. People have told me that on some occasion when they were alone together, Effendi told them the innermost secrets of their lives, memories never disclosed to anyone and known only to themselves.

And deeper. A British friend visited him one day. The Master

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Prologue

was unavailable, my friend intended to go to a seaside resort on the Aegean coast, and while he was waiting for the Master, he kept repeating over and over in his head the Turkish phrase for “Should I go?” which he had just learned. As he was pondering this thought, the housemaid came in and, for no apparent rea- son, turned on the TV set. There, on the screen, my friend saw the fleeting words: “Go, you can go” in Turkish—a fortuitous display from whatever TV channel the set happened to be tuned to at that moment. The maid turned off the TV set, again for no apparent reason, and left the room. Coincidence? You tell me.

A sage cannot be known from his external appearance. Many people who came could not see beyond his hair and his beard— at first. Later, as they became better acquainted, they would begin to understand something of Effendi.

If you continued your visits, you would learn many things you had never known before. And finally, you would come to realize that here was the most lovable, the most adorable, absolutely the most wonderful person on Earth.

His Life

The bare bones of the Master’s biography are quickly told. The closest I can make out is that he was born in late winter or early spring, 1898. Since he died on August 3, 1998, he was a hundred years and seven months old when he passed away.

On his ID papers, his birthdate is given as 1903 (1321, reck- oned by the lunar calendar, which was then in use). Because vital statistics were not conscientiously collected in those years, however, he was registered together with his half-brother when the latter was born several years after him. His birthplace was the small village of Mako (Aktarlar, as it is now known) near Poturge in the province of Malatya.

He lost his father when he was only a year old. His mother

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The Station of'No Station

remarried, but died when he was seven. After that, he stayed with an aunt for a while. Even at an early age, stories are told that indicate he was brave and under divine protection, perhaps supporting the claim that sages are born and not made. (They’re both born and made, actually; we can’t neglect either face of the nature/nurture coin.) He was only four or five years old when he first met, and was extremely impressed by, his Master (Keko).

When the last Sultan departed from Istanbul on a ship (November 17, 1922), he was there by chance to witness the occasion. From then on, he would shuttle often between the large cities of Istanbul in the west or Ankara in Central Anatolia and Malatya in the east, for it was in the village called Ali Bey near Tillo (in Malatya) that Keko resided.

Ahmet Kayhan settled in Ankara in the 1930s and married Hajar (March 25, 1937), who remained his wife until his death. Keko passed away on May 7, 1944. He was a very great master, routinely visited by hundreds of people, and when he died the task of enlightening the people fell to Musa Kiazim, who had been Keko’s fellow-disciple during and after the First World War. With the death of Kiazim Effendi in 1966, Grandpa Kayhan “donned the Mantle.”

Up to this time he had taken odd jobs in Ankara, opened three shops, finally settling down as a government employee at the State Waterworks, from which he retired for reasons of health. All this he did in order to support his family. He had four children, two girls and two boys, from Mother Hajar. They, in turn, have lived to see their grandchildren.

From the sixties onward, Grandpa conducted the activity of enlightening the people. Since he was retired, he was able to devote his full time to this effort. I once counted 47 visitors on an average day, but in recent years this number increased sub- stantially as more people came to know him.

The facts of a Sufi saint’s life, however, rarely tell us much

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Prologue

about who he was. I have related the above only because it is necessary, not because it is helpful for an appreciation of Effendi.

His Line of Descent

Master Kayhan’s chain of transmission is traced through the Prophet, his close associate and first Caliph Abu Bakr, Abdulqader Geylani, Bahauddin Naqshband, Ahmed Sirhindi, Abdullah Dehlewi, Khalid Baghdadi, Sheikh Samini, Osman Badruddin, and Ahmet Kaya Effendi. I have omitted most of the names in the Golden Chain from the list