Alhambra Mosaic

Four interviews about the true self Part 3: Peter Hüseyin Cunz (Sufi, Switzerland)

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LOGON: The spiritual path leads to the true self. What does the true self mean for you?

Cunz: Sufism is part of Islam. We believe in a time-space dependent realm on this side of the veil, whose counterpart is a spaceless, timeless realm beyond. The two belong together like the twin sides of a coin and God holds this coin in His hand. The path to that divine proximity for which we so much yearn is thus not from this realm to the other realm but with one foot here and the other in the world beyond.

By nature, we are imprisoned in our own substance (body and fine material soul) and thereby feel like half-persons. But in our innermost being - whether we notice it or not - there is a need for connection with the world beyond in order to become whole, in order to be in unity. When an opening to the world beyond occurs, then our material soul is inundated by the spiritual forces awaiting us there and is correspondingly „spiritually irrigated“.

In Sufism, we learn that we are at best enabled to imagine a first step. After this step we are transformed and search with new eyes for a further step. We are also told that each individual has his or her personal secret with God, which remains undisclosed to others. Mindful of this, I wonder whether the questions posed here might not delude us into believing in a reproducible process somewhat akin to a recipe. Can we imagine a „true self“ without having arrived at it? Well, the desire for orientation is legitimate so, despite my reservations, I’ll therefore attempt to formulate a response.

Who is man before the true self is realized?

Once man is in a position to fulfil his basic needs, a need awakens within him to attain recognition in order to be the centre of attention and thus feel whole. He attempts this by means of power, wealth, fame or other forms of public awareness, such as the dissemination of accrued wisdom and abilities. But being of service, subservience or a demonstrative victim’s role also serve this need for attention. The natural striving of man is a strong I-consciousness, perseverance and material success, in order to be someone.

If this striving is thwarted or - by whatever means - overcome, then the gates to a spiritual path are flung open.

Who is one afterwards? Is it a matter of awakening or of a transformation of being, or…?

The spiritual path is not an awakening of something dormant on this side of the veil but a transformation of being allowing the spirit-powers of the world beyond to penetrate the soul on this side. It is a „perish and become“ - a path to something new. Every thought and feeling is influenced by the budding or already present bond with the world beyond. Decisions to act are formed accordingly.

Can one say something about who actually treads the path?

A well-known prophetic saying from Sufism is employed in several esoteric methods of training, namely, „Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord“. From this, we like to deduce that self-observation, self-control and self-awareness lead to recognition of God. From the Sufi point of view, this is at most a useful start to the spiritual path, for the prophet also states, „I know my Lord through my Lord“.

From the Sufi point of view, „treading the path“ means firstly, not placing importance on oneself. Outwardly, this manifests itself as humility, modesty and dedication. This requires of the originally self-aware soul that it dedicate itself to greater things and surrender to them. Self-less instead of self-aware; de-becoming instead of wishing to be someone! In the search for visions and enlightenment, it is still always a matter of being someone, „I am connected with the world beyond!“.

How do you rate the importance of realizing the self for daily life? And for mankind in general?

We maintain that, by and of itself, the process of devoting oneself to the world beyond does not yet lead to the goal. A bond to the world beyond can be attained by means of the appropriate retreats or through drugs without having to relinquish the ego. The world beyond is not exclusively good; alongside the angels, we find devils housed there, who wish to provide nourishment for egotistical longings! Only when all the soul-layers of man together dedicate themselves to the greater need does room for egotism disappear. In other words: truth (haqq) appears in its totality and not partially.

The purpose of religions is a protected and holistic crossing of the boundaries of conception. Ambitious spirituality leads to competitive half-truths, disastrous to humanity. Holistic spirituality is rather unspectacular and proceeds in small steps. How was it for Elijah on Mount Horeb (Kings 1,19)?: „The Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire;…but then there was a still small voice, and the Lord was there.“ [The Holy Bible, RSV, 1965]

Thank you, Mr. Cunz, for this interview.

Peter Hüseyin Cunz

Born in St Gallen in 1949, Peter Hüseyin Cunz, a retired electrical engineer, worked in corporate environments as well as the public sector. Born and raised in a Christian environment he later turned to Islam and increasingly Sufism, the mysticism of the Islamic world. He joined the Mevlevi order (colloquially known as “dancing dervishes”) founded in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi’s descendants. In 1999 he acquired the rank of Sheik (teacher) within the order. In this function he leads international sections of his order. See www.mevlana.ch for further information.

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