Groundbreaking Events at Annual Enneagram Conference
Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, PhD
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
A learned man once said that in India there is a certain tree whoever takes and eats of its fruit, he grows not old nor ever dies. A king heard this and became a lover of the tree and its fruit. He sent an envoy to India in search of it. For many years his envoy wandered about India in quest of the tree. He roamed from town to town for this object. Neither island nor mountain nor plain was left unvisited.
Many struck him or mocked him. After the envoy had suffered much fatigue in that foreign land, at last he became too exhausted to seek any longer. No trace of the object of pursuit was discovered. The thread of his hope snapped. The thing he had sought became unsought. He resolved to return to the king and set out shedding tears and traversing the way.
There was a wise man at the halting-place where the king's envoy fell into despair. The envoy asked the wise man to help him find the tree, saying "The King chose me out to seek a certain branching tree for there is a tree, unique in all the quarters of the world its fruit is of the substance of the water of life. I have sought it for years and seen no sign of it except the gibes and ridicule of people."
The wise man laughed and said to him, "O simpleton, this is the tree of knowledge of the true Shaykh, very high, very grand and very far-spreading. It is a water of life from the all-encompassing sea of God. You have gone after the foam. You have gone astray. You cannot find it because you have abandoned Reality. Sometimes it is named tree, sometimes sun; sometimes it is named sea, sometimes cloud. It is that one thing from which a hundred thousand effects arise. Its least effect is everlasting life. Although in essence it is single, it has a thousand effects innumerable names befit that one thing.
One person may be father in relation to you but in regard to another he may be son. He has many, many names but he is one man the owner of every quality belonging to him is unable to give any true description of him. Whoever seeks the mere name, if he is entrusted with a confidential mission he is hopeless even as you are. Why do you stick to the name "tree" so that you are left bitterly disappointed. Pass on from the name and look at the attributes in order that the attributes may show you the way to the essence. The disagreement of mankind is caused by names; peace ensues when they advance to the reality denoted by the name.
The weekend of August 9-10, 1997, I was at the International Enneagram Association Conference with the tree of knowledge, beloved Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, representative of Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani, who is world leader of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order. The Enneagram (ennea in Greek means nine, and gram means points) as it has developed the last thirty years in the West is a personality typology, it types human beings according to nine types.
Laleh Bakhtiar and another conference
The drawing of the Enneagram was brought to the West by Gurdjieff in the 1920s. He had met the Naqshbandi Sufis in Central Asia at the turning of the century and later, Shaykh Sharaf al-Din Daghestani in Turkey. What he learned from them was traditional psychology or response typology but as his ideas evolved through a student of his, it became nine types of personalities instead of nine types of moral response to situations. The Naqshbandi participation in the conference was to introduce what is now called the Sufi Enneagram.
While I had studied and researched traditional psychology when I first met our beloved Shaykh there was so much more to learn from a living master. When Shaykh Hisham first saw the work I had done he said to me, "There is a secret which I will tell you one day." Later he was to tell me the secret and he gave me permission to share it with others. The secret was that while there are nine types of responses or personalities, depending upon your perspective, numbers 1 to 9 on the circumference of a circle, the goal is to become a zero, centered, balanced, egoless, selfless, fair and just, ready to pass through fana' or annihilation.
We were given 90 minutes to present the Sufi Enneagram. Shaykh told me to go first. I explained the Sufi Enneagram as quickly as I could through overhead diagrams ending with the above story from Jalal al-din Rumi and further descriptions from Rumi of what a true Shaykh is and then introduced Shaykh Hisham "as a model of a true Shaykh who is centered, balanced, with...." When he stood up to address the 300-plus people, he said that I had hurried through my presentation in order for him to speak. He asked me if this was not true and I said that it was. He said, "Women are so kind and generous. This is why we love them so much." His saying this completely disarmed the New Age audience who never expected a Muslim leader to acknowledge the presence of a woman. They felt an overwhelming love for him from the very start. After speaking for about a half hour, he said to the audience that he did not want to speak too long and sat down. I asked them if they had questions or if they would like him to continue. They all shouted that he should continue which he did. There was a wonderful response of love and admiration for Sufism about which they knew so little.
|The conference audience sat enthralled as Shaykh Hisham described the Sufi Enneagram and the Zero Type, the Perfected Human.|
The conference had asked Shaykh to lead two workshops the next day on the dhikr-- Remembrance of God. The first was at 6:30 a.m. for all the participants. Shaykh was there with 40 murids--they had come from New York, Washington, Baltimore, Michigan and Chicago. We sat on the floor in a circle and Shaykh offered this poor creature a place next to him for the dhikr. I asked him if I should not move to another part of the room and he said, "No, they will appreciate the fact that you are sitting here" and they did. Again he disarmed them from any negative thoughts they may have had about Islam and women.
|Participants in the Enneagram Conference gathered at 6:30 am to attend the Remembrance of God ceremony--the Naqshbandi Khatm-i Khwajagan--Circle of the Masters.|
It was the greatest spiritual experience of my 30 years of studying Sufism. While Shaykh has probably lead the dhikr a hundred thousand times in the 35 years of his Sufi life, he recited it with the power of the very first time. That is, sitting next to him it was as if this was the first time. He was fully present in the moment and with the most beautiful voice that can only be compared to the music of the spheres, he expressed his love for Allah and His Prophet in every note he sang. It was as if there was a nightengale in our presence and we were his roses. There were unbelievable vibrations coming from Shaykh as he recited from the very depths of his heart and being. It was like sitting next to a volcanic mountain. The power of the spirit was so great that you knew he was not there with us but circling through the heavens. There was a miraculous energy which transformed those around him. When it ended I had no idea for a few moments where I was and certainly could not have said who I was. There is nothing like it in the world. He gave all of his love. Shaykh is completely giving, giving, giving and receiving nothing from us murids but from Allah, His Messengers and the Guides who preceded beloved Shaykh Hisham.
For the Khatam Khawajagan he told us to put our left
hand on the ground and our right hand over our heart to send
positive energies to our heart and negative out of our body into
the earth. At the point of the dhikr for all Sufi orders
he told us to change position if we were able and to put our
hands on our knees forcing all negative energy inside out through
our fingers. At the end of the dhikr he told us to
prostrate ourselves to God and to ask for whatever we wanted and
with God's permission it would be granted. Sixty people had the
experience of their lifetime.
|After his talk, people gathered en masse to greet Shaykh Hisham Kabbani and get his prayers and blessings. One enthusiastic listener commented "this talk opened a totally new understanding of personality to me. It tied the concepts of the Enneagram back to God and that's what had been missing..."|
Then just three hours later at 10:30 am again he was scheduled to lead the dhikr. The audience of over 100 people were already sitting on chairs facing the front of the room. Shaykh said never mind and to put chairs for the Naqshbandis in front of the people and that everyone would sit on chairs. Again he asked this worthless one to sit next to him and again began the unbelievable vibrations of the spirit fleeing from the prison of the body. All the heavens heard him, all the angles were present and accounted for.
|A second dhikr
was held at 10:30 am.
Where is the Tree or Water of life except in the example of the zero type according to the Sufi Enneagram. As Rumi tells us in the following verses, he or she is called guide or Shaykh. Rumi describes this type using the word Shaykh or Sheik, master, as well as Pir (meaning old), Gnostic, or Sufi.
Who is the Shaykh?
The infinite elixir.
Who is the Shaykh? The very sea of eternity.
Fire is always terrified by water.
When was water ever afraid of being set aflame?
Know that while the
eyes of the egoless Shaykh are asleep,
his heart is awake.
Our eyes are awake
while our heart is sunk in slumber;
the true, egoless Shaykh's eyes are asleep
but his heart is in contemplation of the
opening of the door of divine grace.
While he dwells with us
in some place on the earth,
he is traversing over
the seventh sphere of heaven like Saturn.
Immediate intuition or intuitive knowledge in relation to the egoless Shaykh
is what thought is to us.
Thought is of the past and future.
When it is emancipated from these two,
the difficulty is solved.
The spirit beholds the wine in the grape,
the spirit beholds 'thing' in "no-thing'.
It beholds every conditioned thing as unconditioned.
The spirit beholds the genuine coin
and the alloyed before it is discovered in the mine.
In hot July the egoless sees December;
in the sunbeams he see the shade.
In the heart of the grape
he sees the wine.
In his egoless state,
he sees the object.
When you see two of them meet together as friends,
they are one and at the same time
they are six hundred thousand.
Their numbers are in the likeness of waves.
An egoless Shaykh is as the lion,
and people's hearts are his jungle.
Like hope and fear,
he enters into the heart
not hidden from him are the secrets of the world.
The book of the egoless Shaykh
is not composed of ink and letters
it is naught
but a heart white as snow.
What is the Shaykh's provision?
The Shaykh stalks the game like a hunter
he sees the musk-deer's track
and follows the footprints.
For a time the track of the deer
is the proper clue for him;
afterwards it is the navel
(musk-gland) of the deer that is his guide.
When he has given thanks for having
been favored with knowledge of
the track and has traversed the way,
of necessity by means of that track
he arrives at a goal.
To go one stage
guided by the scent of the musk-gland
is better than going a hundred stages
following the track and roaming about.
The heart that is the rising-place of the moonbeans of divine light
is the opening of the doors of reality
for the egoless.
To us it is a wall,
to them it is a door.
To us a stone,
to them a pearl.
What we see plainly in the mirror
the egoless sees more than that
in a brick. (v1p230)
Choose an egoless Shaykh
for without a him
this journey is exceeding full of woe, fear and danger.
Without an escort
you are bewildered
even on a road you have traveled many times before.
Do not then travel alone
on a Way
that you have not seen at all.
Do not turn your head
away from the guide.
if his shadow
be not over you,
then the cry of the ego will keep you
with your head in a whirl.
The ego will entice you
away from the Way
and cast you into destruction.
There have been on this Way
many craftier than you
who have perished miserably.
Be not a friend to your ego
since it leads you astray
from the Way of God.
Nothing in the world will break or mortify your ego
like the egoless protection
of the Shaykh.
Shaykh Hisham speaks with one of the Conference participants about the importance of "watching the heart" and holding the breath.