Ancient Sufi Wisdom – Interview by MysticMag

Shaykh Burhanuddin Herrmann is a contemporary mystic deeply rooted in the ancient Sufi tradition. Trained in the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, he has spent over 30 years leading spiritual growth meetings and retreats worldwide.  Along with his wife Hajja Huda Nur, they developed the Jahara Method, The Pearl Method, aiming to awaken individuals to the true meaning and purpose of life, guiding them to live from the heart in peace, happiness, creativity, and gratitude. MysticMag has the pleasure of chatting with Burhanuddin and his wife Huda.

Can you share a pivotal moment or experience from your early years on the Sufi path that deeply influenced your spiritual journey and teachings?

It was a summer day, and I found myself hitchhiking in the pouring rain, already soaked through. I was attempting to hitchhike on the highway, which was usually prohibited, but it seemed like the only option at the time. Finally, a car stopped—it was an old Volkswagen Beetle—and the door opened. Without hesitation, I jumped in. Inside, I was met by a person wearing a huge black turban who didn’t speak to me for about 20 minutes.

The first question he asked me was about my relationship with my mother, which caught me off guard. I was just 18 years old at the time, and I tried to explain that it’s not a simple matter. He then said to me, “I know all the time you say ‘me, me, me, me.’ Why don’t you say ‘Allah’?” He didn’t seem to respond to any of my answers directly.
We stopped at a petrol station to use the bathroom, and sat for a coffee and while there, I mentioned that I couldn’t stay long because it was a heavily smoky room (at that time smoking indoors was allowed but I’ve always been a non-smoker). He told me to breathe, saying it was the best air I would ever breathe because it was the only air available at that moment.

This man, though not at all dangerous or scary, was fascinating. He spoke to me about his faith, Sufism, and his devotion to his Shaykh, which is equivalent to the Guru, a spiritual teacher in Indian philosophies. This encounter marked my first meeting with a Sufi, and I only met him three times in total.
The second meeting was when I knocked on his door – he lived in the same town in a very old building. He asked who I was, and when I told him, he accused me of wanting to steal his time, saying that there was no meeting planned.

However, he made me an offer: if I was willing to eat three bread rolls that he prepared, then we could talk.
These encounters were my introduction to Sufism. After the mysterious Sufi passed away, I sought out a new Shaykh, feeling that Sufism was my path. When I finally met my Shaykh, the experience was so overwhelming that I fainted. These incidents served as my initiation into Sufism.

The Jahara, The Pearl Method is described as a modern and universal key to self-realization. How does this method balance ancient Sufi traditions with the needs and characteristics of the current age?

This method is a revival of an ancient approach to self-knowledge and self-realization. It harkens back to a time when one of our greatest masters, Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, employed a method known as “the way of the moon.” This method involved understanding oneself through the cycles of the moon. The system we now offer is based on this ancient approach, which was lost over time due to various factors, including the desecration and banalization of cosmology diminishing of its high value for the humanity.

Our aim is to reintroduce this ancient wisdom in a modern context, aligning it with contemporary life. For example, we explore how our relationship with authority has evolved from the ancient king to the modern government. We also consider how our interactions with others have changed in today’s society. The Jahawara system encourages us to step back and become spectators of our own lives. Instead of being mere actors in our personal dramas, we gain a newfound awareness of our roles and actions.

By becoming spectators, we start to witness ourselves objectively, allowing us to become conscious of our behaviors and choices. This shift in perspective transforms our personal drama into a divine play. We move from being mere players to active participants in the divine narrative. Through this process, we begin to truly know ourselves.

Your work emphasizes shifting from a ‘multiplayer mode’ to a ‘single-player mode’ in life. Could you elaborate on this concept and how it leads to personal transformation?

When faced with a problem, the natural inclination is often to blame someone else, to hold them responsible, and to complain. This tendency reflects the complexity of the human experience, where each individual plays multiple roles within their own life’s narrative.

In this context, you come to realize that you are both the obstacle and the creator of your own story. This realization extends beyond yourself to include your relationships with others, including your parents, partner, and those around you. Understanding this perspective sheds light on why certain events unfold in your life. This concept can be summarized as the “single-player mode” of life, where you are the sole protagonist in your personal narrative, navigating the challenges and triumphs of your journey.

Group work is an integral part of The Pearl Method. How does working in a group setting enhance individual spiritual growth, and what benefits does it offer compared to solitary practice?

In our tradition, we hold the belief that everyone is a mirror reflecting aspects of ourselves back to us. When you look into your own mirror, you see a certain reflection. However, when you look into many mirrors, you see different reflections, each offering a deeper and wider understanding of yourself. Each mirror serves as an entry point to understanding oneself, teaching us not to cling rigidly to any one perspective.

Working in a group is considered a blessing because it allows for a deeper exploration of oneself through the reflections of others. It also highlights the interconnectedness of humanity; we are not isolated individuals but part of a collective consciousness. This realization can be transformative, leading to a more open-hearted, caring, responsible, wise, and loving approach to life.

However, this transformation may not come easily. Sometimes, we are faced with challenging situations that force us to confront our limitations and biases…

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