Neo-Sufism – Urban Wellness Centre, Phoenix, Arizona
The following is a transcript of Spiritual Sufi Revivalist Younus AlGohar’s speech at the Urban Wellness Center.
The world we are living in today has changed dramatically. The purpose of religions is almost lost. The religion was like a bridge between man and God, but most religions today have lost their glory. Religious people, allegedly, are not in pursuit of divine love or finding God. They are entangled with their religious differences. They are in a race of being the best of all. That part – in which religion was supposed to bring man closer to God and bring him divinity – is almost lost.
There is a reason for this. Every messenger of God was granted two different types of knowledge by God: the Knowledge of the Interior and the Knowledge of the Exterior. The Knowledge of the Exterior is known as the sacred law – the law of the religion – which is still in practice today. But the Knowledge of the Interior (the Knowledge of the Heart), which is responsible for establishing a connection between man and God, is lost.
What we have today is people who claim to be Sufis but their practice of Sufism is also very superficial. It is not very profound – not to the extent where the hearts can be enlightened and the divine connection between man and God can be established. Today, we identify ourselves as Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs, but the primary goal of each and every religion was love.
Without love, no religion is good. You are better off having God’s love even without a religion.
The different types of worship introduced by the religions were like aid to help you find God and establish a spiritual connection with God. However, without the inner aspect of the religion, the exterior form of worship becomes futile, null and void.
Let me give an example of Muslims today. There are millions of mosques all over the world, especially from the country that I come from, Pakistan. There are hundreds and thousands of mosques and even more clergymen than there are mosques in Pakistan. They show an enormous amount of religiosity by a verbal claim. However, all these people have diversified in so many different denominations within their religion – more than 73 different sects. The religion is lost somewhere and what we see today in the name of religion is nothing but division.
Love of God has become extinct. It has diminished from the practices of the religion.
This happens when the spiritual system in every religion is destroyed. When the spiritual system in the religion is destroyed, the hearts become corrupted.
The corruption of the heart is more severe than the corruption of mind.
When the mind is corrupt, you will become a bad politician. When the heart is corrupt, you will turn the religion into extremism and fanaticism; it will result in global terrorism. This is not the case with Islam only. It is very unfortunate that every single religion has been made subject to this kind of corruption.
This happened when the spiritual knowledge was either shunned by its practitioners or overlooked. Or maybe the religions were deviated from the path of spirituality by the so-called pandits, mullahs, priests and religious leaders – simply because they didn’t have this knowledge and they were not enlightened themselves. How would they accept the existence of spirituality?
This has been causing a lot of distress. This has been creating a lot of problems all over the world in all religions. People are becoming wary of their religious practice. A lot of people who were regular goers to the mosques, churches and synagogues have stopped going there. They hear a lot about glorified personalities and miracles, but when it comes to their own practical religiosity, they do not relate to it. When they go to these worship places, they are told of miracles which took place in history. But in our own world today, we haven’t seen anybody working miracles.
People who practice a religion and they are proud of their religiosity – when you look at their characters, their hearts are filled with hatred and limitations. And they judge you. This is not what religion would teach you; this is not a state God would want to see you in.
Every single religion has this concept of the Awaited One. For example, Christians are waiting for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Second Coming of the Christ is not only found in Christianity but it is also endorsed by Islam. Even according to the traditions of Prophet Mohammad, Jesus is going to come back. What Lord Jesus Christ is going to do when he comes back depends on the circumstances. When Jesus came 2000 years ago, he talked about love.
I am a student of history and I did a masters degree in Religious Studies. I studied every single prophet and messenger. However, the most appealing message that I found was the message of Lord Jesus Christ. So sublime in his word and so sublime in his character. It is almost impossible to even visualise what kind of a character Lord Jesus Christ would be.
He said, ‘Love your enemy’ [Matthew 5:44], and ‘love your neighbour’ [Mark 12:31].
‘If somebody slaps you on your right cheek, turn over your left cheek as well’ [Matthew 5:39].
Personally, I have been practising Sufism for over 30 years. Even now, if I look into my heart and ask myself, ‘Can I do what Lord Jesus Christ asked me to do – to turn over my left cheek as well if somebody slaps my right cheek?’ I find it difficult.
The moment somebody has a go at us, we become hostile rather than forgiving. It’s natural. We are human beings, we are not Jesus.
Now, to vanish and diminish that hostility which is natural in our character – that is spiritualism. That is the Sufi path.
To discipline our emotions and our desires – to discipline what we want. It is to dramatically increase our spiritual endurance and forbearance. That increase in endurance and forbearance is not going to come by verbal diarrhoea.
No matter how many times I visit the Holy Kaaba, no matter how many times I go to the mosque every day, nothing will change in me, for except when the root of all evil is taken care of.
Let me give you a piece of advice from the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Mohammad. The beauty of this message is, he is not addressing Muslims. The Prophet of Islam is addressing the entire humanity here.
He said, ‘O’ Sons of Adam, there is a lump of flesh in your body. If it is set right, your entire body will be set right. But if it is corrupted, your entire body will remain corrupted. Remember well: it is your heart’.
So, what we need to do is fix our hearts.
I came across a lot of people who claim to be spiritual and I had discussions with them. I asked them about the reforms of the heart, how to set the heart right. It is very unfortunate that a majority of people who claim to be Sufis take the Spiritual Heart as a metaphor. They are not aware of its true existence. A lot of people think this physical heart has the same attributes of the Spiritual Heart. But I think I was blessed enough to be in the company of my Master, His Divine Eminence Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi, who taught us how a physical heart turns into a Spiritual Heart – and what is it that this physical heart requires before it is granted by God the status of the Spiritual Heart.
His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi said, ‘When we say to people that the heart will remember God involuntarily without us making any effort, the people question us, “How? The heart is just a piece of flesh, it doesn’t have a tongue”’.
Then He goes on to say, ‘Maybe there are some people who are unaware of the nature of an egg. If you tell them that there is a hen inside it, maybe they will say, “We break eggs every day. We never see any hen inside it”’.
But His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi says, ‘In order to retrieve a hen out of the egg, you need another hen that will keep the egg under her wings. Her wings will produce heat. There are three layers on the egg and they will be removed by the heat. When they are removed, a small hen will come out of the egg’.
In a similar way, His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi said, ‘This heart also has the similitude of an egg. The only difference is that the egg only has three layers.
‘When the heart is activated and constant remembrance of God is taking place inside the heart, it becomes so enlightened that it starts to attract God’s presence’.
The moment the divine energies are emanating from the Spiritual Heart, it will be caught by the divine glimpse of God. God starts looking at such hearts which are enlightened.
When the heart is fully enlightened, it becomes a generator of divine energy. The divine energy is generated in the heart and the heart is responsible for oxygenating the blood. Impure blood comes into the heart and the heart oxygenates it. With the purification of the heart, divine energy is also mingled with the blood. The blood becomes entwined with divine energy.
At this moment in time, our blood is not only purified, but it is also a source of divine light and divine energy. This way, the divine energy travels throughout our body and reaches every nook and cranny of our body. Once the divine light is everywhere in our body, our body submits to God’s light. Naturally, our body becomes obedient to the divine light. This is the first step towards submission to God.
You cannot force yourself. Sometimes, we can tame our desires and we do not do bad things. But sometimes, it is so overwhelming and we succumb to the bunch of desires that arise in our hearts.
Sometimes, we become so vulnerable to temptations that we forget our promises to God and we happen to do bad things.
When the divine energy has reached every nook and cranny of the body, the body submits to divine energy. We become naturally obedient to the divine light. That is the time when we become perfectly pure in the eyes of God.
Getting to this stage is important. Whether you get to this spiritual status by religions established by Abraham, Moses, Ram, Jesus or Mohammad, it doesn’t matter. Wherever you find this knowledge and get this spiritual practice – if you get to this status with God – it is fine. In the eyes of God, they are all are equal; it is God who sent everybody. The source is the same.
Why should we differentiate ourselves? We are all brothers and sisters; we are all equal in the eyes of God. We should not fall to these petty differences. We should aim high, and that aim should be God. That aim should be bringing God in our hearts, from whichever religion we can obtain it, from whichever Spiritual Guide is available.
God has been ever generous. With God, it’s not the case that he gave little spiritual knowledge to Abraham and more spiritual knowledge to Moses. Spiritual power and spiritual knowledge were equally granted to all messengers and all the prophets. They’re all good sources.
There may be many more internet providers – the main thing is the internet connection, not the provider. These spiritual dignitaries like Moses, Abraham, Ram, Krishna and Mohammad are, so to speak, internet providers.
We need an internet connection. We have ATNT, Cricket, Sprint, etc. – we don’t love them, we just love the service. If my mobile has ATNT but there is no service – and someone else has a Cricket sim card that is working, he is better off because his phone is working.
Somebody asked His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi, ‘Who is the best? Muslims, Jews or Christians?’
His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi said, ‘Whoever has God’s love in the heart is the best. Whether that person is a Muslim, a Jew, a Christain, a Hindu – or he is none of them – he is the best’.
So, the best are those who have the love of God. Today, religions have become monsters. Today, religions are just talking about divisions, limitations and sins. They give you dos and don’ts. They don’t let you enjoy your life.
If you are giving away so many of your comforts and luxuries of life, in return, you should get something! That something you should be getting out of the religious practice is God’s love.
Your heart should be illuminated and enlightened.
I was a very good student in Chemistry, I did a masters degree in Organic Chemistry. I studied physical chemistry and everything so my mind was argumentative, looking for reasons and answers.
I wasn’t a person who had a blindfold over his eyes who would agree to anything a religious cleric said. My mind would juggle. Questions would simulate.
[In Islam, we were encouraged to grow a beard as a religious practice]. I wanted to see what benefits I would reap from growing a beard. After I had grown a considerable length of beard, I looked into myself for any change. Had I become holy? Honestly, I didn’t become holy. I was still the same sinner. Then, I realised with the eye of certainty, that the exterior forms of practices are only good when you are connected to God.
Then, I found my Master, HDE Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi. He set me free from all religious calamities. He said ‘Your mission should be to earn love, give love, receive love.
‘The best human being on Earth is one who has learnt the art and expertise of love. One who loves God truly, he or she cannot hate any of the divine creation. If you hate somebody for any reason, then think twice before you claim you love God. God is love’.
Do not buy the idea that God will want divisions. God loves all equally. We all have the potential.
One day I was surprised when my Master said, ‘Every single human being has the potential of becoming a saint of God’.
I was shocked because, in my religion, I was so suppressed.
I was told, ‘You are a sinner, you’re a bad guy [because] you are looking at women, you are not going to the mosque five times a day and you don’t fast!’
I thought, ‘I’m the worst person on earth’.
Every time I would go to the mosque, I would go there out of fear. All these Muslim clerics tell you about death. It is like a horror movie!
Women get more scared [in Eastern culture] than men because they tell them, ‘If you trim your hair, you will get penalised in the grave. There will be 1000 snakes crawling over your body!’
So these things were scary. I would go to the mosque with shivering legs and there was always this fear, ‘What if God doesn’t like my prayers? What if God rejects my prayers on the Day of Judgement? What if I miss my prayers?;
But my Master told me, ‘Forget everything. Learn to love God!’
I thought, ‘I need to learn to love? As if I don’t know how to love. I love my mother, I didn’t learn to love her’.
I had so many questions. Like earlier I said, my mind is very argumentative and my mind needed reasons.
I said to my Master, ‘Master, don’t I love my mother?’
‘Yes, you do.’
‘Yes, but you said, you need to learn to love God? But I love my mother and I didn’t go anywhere to learn to love my mother’.
My Master said, ‘That’s right, but the time will come when you are in a situation where you have to choose one out of the two. You will be tested. Then you will know who you really love’.
We claim we love our mothers, sisters, brothers and spouses, but a time comes when we are in a situation and position where we have to make a choice. Sometimes the choice is bad. We think we know how to love but then when calamity strikes and our love is tested, our claim of love goes down the drain.
Sometimes, you find somebody and think she is your soulmate. The next minute, she might be sleeping around. Where is the love? Maybe it was just puppy love, not platonic, pure love.
Then I asked my Master, ‘What is pure, platonic love?’
My Master said, ‘Before you are able to learn platonic love, you need to purge the Lower Self. You have to diminish negativity from your body’.
The Lower Self is the root of all evil that raises the slogan ‘Me, I first’.
In every sentence, they will use ‘I’ and ‘Me’, not ‘You’. ‘You’, is never mentioned.
When you are only concerned about yourself and become self-centred, you lose empathy. You don’t sympathise with people. This is because of the Lower Self.
In Sufi terminology, the Lower Self is the Nafs. Even according to the Kabbalah, they call it the Nafs. This Nafs is the representative of negativity and evil in our body. It is this soul that generates temptations – and not just when you want to love God. It creates problems even between men and women. If there is true love, our desires generate temptations and we fall apart. We need to purge the evil presence from our bodies. That purge is very important.
No matter how hard you worship God, no worship is able to purge the evil presence in you. The only way this can be taken care of is through spirituality. The Spiritual Mediator implants God’s name into that evil soul and God’s name generates divine energy. That divine energy purges the Lower Self and it is purified to a degree where it doesn’t generate temptations anymore. Then it does not ask us to hate anybody, it does not see any differences.
They would equal in the eyes of God, but in your and my eyes, they would only become equal when this soul [the Lower Self] is taken care of.
So, we are promoting this divine knowledge, the knowledge of Sufism. I will call it ‘Neo-Sufism’ because some new spiritual laws have been introduced and added to spirituality and Sufism by His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi. This is a form of spirituality and Sufism which caters for the needs of all religions, for everybody.
His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi loves everybody and wants everybody to love God.