Connecting With A Sarmoun Teacher
by Qutub Sarmouni

Seeker:  I have been studying Sufi teachings for years and I have had many occult and mystical experiences.  My Zikr is well-established in my breathing and my bones.  I have a universal perspective without identifying myself with Islam as such, though I feel special respect for that particular religion.  Sometimes I give spiritual advice to seekers who meet me, particularly on the Internet.  I want to help your work and the Sarmoun Sufi Way as a whole.  What can I do to help?  Should I start a teaching center and bring people to it as a service?



Qutub Sarmouni:  You have made some progress on the Path, but your journey is incomplete.  You are not yet in oneness with the Divine level of Being.  Your urge to teach does not come from the Divine Being, but wells up from within your physical mind, your nafs.  Look very carefully and deeply into your own hidden personal motives that make you want to attract and hold people for your own advantages you imagine you would gain for the sake of the students and the Way.  The Cosmic Command to teach does not come as a personal inner pressure.  Learning how this really works will remain a necessary meditation for you.


You are also failing to be objective about your “occult and mystical experiences” you just reported to me as a background of your question.  Your personal spiritual ego is over-confident as to the significance of your experiences.  That you have them is all right, even encouraging for you to continue your studies and practices, but it is only by putting them behind you that you will eventually enter Divine Oneness.  You are therefore being deceived by your accumulated knowledge and experiences, which are becoming a veil, a covering over of the Divine level of Being.



S.:  Is there a special center I need to go to in Central Asia to complete my quest and enter into the Divine Oneness?



Q.S.:  The urge to travel to an exotic center in Central Asia, like the urge to teach, is just another fancy stunt of your physical mind.  Such desires for self-indulgent exotic contacting should be seen clearly for what they really are.  This urge to travel for higher contacts and experiences does not come from Cosmic Command.  The very urge is simply a test as to your real values and responsibilities.  You should not travel physically to dangerous and difficult foreign situations unless you are sent.



S.:  I traveled to come and see you!  Can we say I was sent?



Q.S.:  You were unconsciously brought here for our little talk, but now you should go home and not expand on physical travels and contacts.



S.:  Will the work and the spiritual community or network around Idries Shah and the Naqshbandi Order remain the ultimate Islamic Sufi Way on Earth?



O.S.:  Your beliefs and disbeliefs about Idries Shah or myself or anyone else, are only convictions of yours and not Divine Intuition.  You must proceed from your brain activity of processing information about Sufi figures toward genuine opening of the Eye of the Heart.  Suspend your present convictions so that the Divine Light of Truth can strike your Heart.



S.:  I sense the truth in your words, but I feel some inner pain over your harsh, critical and authoritative way of talking to me.


Q.S.:  If you are hurt by the advice of a true teacher, it is because of your brain-centered pride of opinion.  It means you are stuck in your mental model of the Way.  You are seeking flattery and emotional encouragement.  This emotional drive is shutting off real inner perception and delays the accelerated learning you need the most.



S.:  I know you are right!  I am beginning to wonder if I am really on the right path at all.  Can you help me about this?



Q.S.:  The secret confusion is there because too many of your opinions, beliefs and disbeliefs have crystallized in your cognitive system due to your surroundings at various stages of your life and your years of seeking and meeting others.  Many things that were useful to you in the past are now becoming hang-ups on your journey.  Your spiritual quest needs to push a “refresh” button.  Some of your beliefs and disbeliefs are correct, but even those are not seen in the right perspective.  You need to deconstruct your entire paradigm of the Way and reconstruct it with new knowledge you have so far avoided or failed to seek and find.



S.:  How am I to know which of my inner experiences are valuable and which are just blocking greater progress?



Q.S.:  The most valuable new insights and fresh inner experiences will not at first have characteristics that would enable you to recognize them as “real insight” or “a major illumination”.  Entry into Divine Oneness is not at first dramatic, for instance.  A lot has to happen “behind your scenes” first before a powerful Self-recognition in and of the Divine can happen.



S.:  Sometimes I am not sure that I have the right balance between the Sufi books I study and the Sufi exercises I practice.



Q.S.:  You are too dogmatic and stuck in general.  Try reading some good books on Zen Buddhism and question your theological assumptions.  In terms of Zikr, investigate Kundalini Yoga and Sri Vidya Mantra(s).  Do not be “universal” merely as a sentiment, but as a pragmatic journey with a wider bandwidth.



S.:  Will this not cause a dilution of my spiritual progress by bringing in fragmentary uncoordinated new elements that were not designed to work together?  It could all become incredibly confusing and dysfunctional.



Q.S.:  Fresh evolutionary input will question your assumptions and put your progress in a new perspective.  Temporary chaos is the entry fee to higher order.



S.:  If I keep listening to you, I feel like I may be destroying my progress!



Q.S.:  You are stuck in your progress or you would not have come to an apposite teacher like myself.



S.:  Which just clarifies the obvious fact that I am not sure where you stand in spiritual evolution as a teacher of someone in my predicament.



Q.S.:  You have to explore this issue by activating greater spiritual intuition in the Heart.  If outer reading, listening or meeting are not accompanied by inner reading, listening and meeting, confusion and misjudgments are inevitable.



S.:  How does one get rid of doubts about the teacher?



Q.S.:  You cannot get beyond self-defeating doubts as long as you have hidden assumptions, beliefs, dogmas and prejudices.  Both doubt and dogma have to be set aside to enter a path of learning from a teacher.  You want final convictions for or against me or others.  What you really need is an enlightening exploration so that you can learn how real learning really works.



S.:  I am not sure I could ever fully trust you or any other teacher, however obviously great or even miraculous you or they may be.  Do you understand my feeling about this?



Q.S.:  The entire thing is actually out of your hands.  The Higher Power decides who you will trust and how much.  Trust is a Grace, not a decision!  So stop your head-trips and inner confusions about where and how much to make this or that commitment.  You do not need to develop your opinions and judgments about me or anyone or anything else.  Learn to taste Baraka, Grace, and see where it leads you naturally, where it is stronger or weaker toward you and around you.  You need a sense-of-growing-direction in your Spirit beyond the doubts and convictions of your overworked brain about all this.



S.:  I am beginning to feel that I am just a raw beginner in the Sufi Way.  What should I do now?



Q.S.:  Desocialize yourself!  Stop all your talking and socializing with others about the Way.  Real direction, knowledge and understanding in the realm of Inner Truth are entirely different to what you and others are exercising in your occasional socializing, gossiping and comparing in all this.  Everything you believe you understand about the Path in your social self is not understanding of the Spirit from within the Path.  External assumptions about the Path are endlessly spread on the Internet and elsewhere, but they lead nowhere.  Unconscious imitators are not Conscious Learners.