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The Sufi Path of Annihilation

In the Tradition of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and Hasan Lutfi Shushud

Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

An exploration of the profound Sufi practice of Itlak Yolu

• Examines the three main facets of this practice: zikr or breathing exercises, fasting, and mental suffering

• Shares new Sufi parables, the sayings of Sufi master Hasan Lutfi Shushud, and Rumi’s philosophy on annihilation of the Self

• Reveals how once the Self is annihilated higher levels of perception are reached

In this exploration of the profound spiritual practice of Itlak Yolu, the Sufi path of annihilation, Nevit Ergin examines the three main facets of this path: zikr or breathing exercises, fasting, and mental suffering. Sharing experiences and discussions with Hasan Lutfi Shushud, renowned Sufi saint and final guide of Gurdjieff’s disciple J. G. Bennett, the author illustrates how suffering--“the searing fire of contrition”--is the most effective instrument of spiritual progress, for it is suffering that burns the Self. He explains how faithful practice of zikr and fasting will bring on this kind of suffering when the student is ready and will make the suffering tolerable. He shows how once the Self is annihilated higher levels of perception take hold and one finds oneself on the path to sainthood and immortality.

Interwoven throughout with sayings by Shushud, Sufi parables, and poems by Rumi, Ergin shares the unique Itlak perspective on the major questions of every seeker: the true nature of love and religion, life and death, and other major spiritual questions. The book also includes an essay on annihilation and absence in Rumi’s philosophy and biographical portraits of Hasan Lufti Shushud by other aspirants who met with him.


On Humankind

A Story: Roxanne
Questions and Answers about Humankind

Hasan Lutfi Shushud

Humans are the statues of perception. They represent infinite
layers of limited awareness of the totality.

Who are we?
A creature by our body;
A Creator by our essence;
Neither creature nor creator by the Essence of our Essence.

You do not know yourself as long as you are with yourself.

Your essence has everything, including the Divinity.

Man is the shore between infinite being and infinite non-being.

You will never know the human until you go beyond the humanity.

Mankind has been in a dungeon from birth to death. The strange thing is, they carry the key in their hands.

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Fate is not the slave of heart’s desire.
Existence is a means to reach Absence.
Our nanny is behind the curtain.
In fact, we are not here; those are our shadows.

You are neither water nor earth; you are something else.

You are created from mud, but you are not mud.
You are beyond this muddy world.
You are on the journey to your Essence.
Your body is a riverbed; your soul is the water of life.
But, if you stay with yourself, you won’t know either one.

O my God, don’t leave me in the hands of this unreliable self.
Don’t make me agree with anyone but You.
I run to you from deceits, troubles from my self.
I am Yours. Don’t give my self back to me.

O one who enjoys the tunes of doubt and suspicion,
All these are your imagination coming from your confused heart.
You are “Nothing” and “Nothing” cannot be displayed to your eyes
As a “something” better than this.

You are in my eyes. If not, how could I see You?
You are in my mind. If not, how could I be an insane lover?
There is a place, I don’t know where.
If Your Love isn’t there, how could I be there?

A Story
Nevit O. Ergin

She carefully counted all the money I gave her and said, “You’re $500 short.”

I looked at her face. There was neither beauty nor mercy there. Instead I saw the pleasure of a predator in her eyes. “Mrs. Hunter, this is all I have.”

I was two months behind in rent. When I gathered the rent now, she demanded a $500 security payment.

“Give me a little time,” I begged.

“If I don’t have the money by 5 p.m. the locks will be changed and your belongings will be out.”

When she left, I was shaking. I looked around. This was the house I had lived in most of my life. It had become another body for me. The geometry of every space had been carved in my mind and existence. I could walk through the rooms in the dark without any problem. It was not only me, a whole community lived here.

Anytime I got a little money, I bought exotic plants like quince and pomegranate trees, jasmines and honeysuckles. I made a small pond and put goldfish in it. That small backyard turned into a paradise. I bribed the neighborhood birds with fancy seeds. Blue jays and cardinals came with their cheerful songs and became permanent residents of the garden.

Guests used to say, “Why are you spending so much money? You are just a tenant.” But my father always told me, “Son, be a tenant in this world. If someone tells you whose tenant you are, kiss his hand.”

I knew he was right. We are all temporary in this world; we shouldn’t get attached to anything.

That’s why I didn’t consider buying the house, even when I had money. Now I had to say good-bye to everyone, hoping whoever came after me would take care of them.

When I went outside I realized how easy one could become homeless. All the comforts and security a home provides were gone. I had a couple of hours to find $500.

I didn’t have the talent or labor skills worth that kind of money. My retirement check came at the beginning of each month, and I had used that already to cover the rent.

I was walking on a narrow street, which ended at a small park, when I felt I was being followed. I turned around and saw a small black dog. I increased my pace, but the dog did the same.

I stopped and turned back suddenly. The dog stopped too. We looked at each other. I said, “I don’t know what you want from me, but it’s not a good time. I’m not sure if I have a place to stay, but I know for sure that I don’t need a dog right now. Get lost.”

I started walking fast again. After about a hundred yards I stopped and looked back at the dog, still sitting in the same place. I turned on the next corner and then the next, doing everything I could so the dog could not find me. I felt relieved getting rid of this nuisance.

It was 3 p.m. I had two hours left to find my money. I had already given up, though. Total submission took over sorrow and hopelessness. I walked toward the park, then suddenly realized the dog was still after me. I slowed down, and it passed me, continuing on to the park.

This time, I followed the dog. I sat on a bench and it came to sit in front of me. When I went to use the rest room, I noticed a small bulletin board on the wall. Among all kinds of community news and advertisements, a poster caught my attention. It said, “My name is Roxanne, have you seen me?” There was a picture of a small black dog, and written underneath “Reward: $500.” I didn’t go to the toilet, instead I left. The dog was sitting in the same spot when I yelled, “Roxanne, Roxanne!”

The little dog ran to me.

About The Author

Nevit O. Ergin (1928-2015) was the original English translator of the complete Divan-i Kebir and the coauthor, with Will Johnson, of The Forbidden Rumi and The Rubais of Rumi. In 1955, he became an initiate in the Itlaq (“total liberation”) path of Sufism under the tutelage of Sufi master Hasan Lutfi Shushud.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (April 18, 2014)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781620552742

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Raves and Reviews

“This is a powerful text. . . . Nevit Ergin has lived his life on this path. Here is something to read and reread, to study and assimilate.”

– Coleman Barks, American poet, author of Rumi: The Big Red Book, and professor emeritus at the Univer

“To read The Sufi Path of Annihilation is a tremendous gift--for one discovers the personal spiritual teachings of many true saints of the Sufi path. Originally presented nearly a thousand years ago in Central Asia, these teachings are based upon three simple core practices used up to the present day by all Sufi orders. Once applied, these instructions unfailingly deliver the true goal of all Sufi seekers as well as their teachers--the final recognition of one’s highest self, wherein all worldly desires dissolve and the soul merges with the Creator of the Universe. Highly recommended to all seekers.”

– Shaykh Hakim Chishti, author of The Book of Sufi Healing and director of the Chishti Order of Sufis

“Because of its complexity, Sufi poetry and teachings are difficult to translate. They need a master interpreter to unlock such complexity. Nevit Ergin has brought this language of complexity into graceful familiar teachings, unlocking the treasure box through careful reflection and storytelling, helping us to attain insights into the world of Sufism and be mesmerized by the depth that is veiled behind the magnificent words of the Sufis.”

– Nahid Angha, Ph.D., author of Principles of Sufism and codirector of the International Association o

“What could possibly be better than a mix of the great Sufi poet Rumi, the extraordinarily profound Sufi teacher Hasan Shushud, and the magical Sufi storyteller Nevit Ergin? This is the real Sufism--not the watered down versions--filled with a direct challenge to our perceptions of reality, brimming with hope for our ability to meet that challenge.”

– Will Johnson, author of The Spiritual Practices of Rumi and Rumi’s Four Essential Practices

“Nevit O. Ergin mingles his cryptic contemporary Sufi short stories with sayings of master Hasan Lutfï Shushud and the immortal verses of Rumi to reveal the barest essence of the Itlak Sufi path.”

– Mac Graham, Whole Life Times, June 2014

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