Wisdom and Illusion

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Photo by Bahadir Karabiyik

Sonsuz:

Dear Cem, the theme of our seventh issue is Anatolia: The land we live in. I would like to emphasize that we are not trying to promote our “country” via this issue. If you went up to the stratosphere and looked at the Earth below, you wouldn’t see any borders or partitions. You would only see the world and the people on it. Together, we all form the whole, and Anatolia is a part of that whole. Therefore, we have decided to prepare an issue on this subject, which we are experts in. I wanted to interview you because you have many things to say about the spiritual energy of this land. Let’s begin with a remark from another of our conversations. You said, “The Earth is like a body, and each region symbolizes its organs.” This is a crucial point, because when we ignore an event or situation somewhere else on Earth and say, “I don’t care; it’s miles away from here,” we simply harm ourselves. What do you think about this?

Cem Şen:

Dear Hasan, as the years pass, I realize we know only very little, and sometimes the things we suppose we know can be questioned. It’s hard to talk about the “real” things while people still deal with me–you, good–bad, and profit–loss concepts. If you pour a truck of water onto a football field and put a boat there, there is no doubt the boat will go aground. However, if you pour the same amount of water into a pool, the boat floats. You see, any answer you give to anyone is meaningful because of the depth of perception of whom you are replying to. Everyone wants to know, but no one cares about deepening. So, let me ask you this: How deep should I answer you? I think instead of forcing you to make a decision, I should take the responsibility.

Yes, you are right; when we look at the Earth from space, we do not see any borders. However, there is something that makes, for example, Persia, India, and Anatolia what they are. This is usually a consequence of geographical position and natural barriers. Although there are no borders visible, we can in fact think of some divides. On the other hand, these divides never make the people of a specific region superior to any others. These borders tell us how the people of that region reached their reality with the help of different tools, but that reality is the same reality. That’s why any form of discrimination is total ignorance.

The real people—such as from Anatolia, Java, and Greece, or even the Sufi—know that reality is not something we perceive with our senses. What we call “real” is only an impression in our minds that we perceive with our senses and create with the help of our thoughts—it is only an illusion. However, true reality is not an impression in our minds; it is the thing that remains when the “I” dissolves. The real people from every geographical place and time know that reality is perceived through another tool. This reality is more alive and more marvelous. There are gods, there are different dimensions, and there is “the wisdom” at that level.

Reality was also known by the Anatolian people—the Turks, Greeks, Hittite, Kurds, and Laz, as well as other ethnic groups. I grew up with that reality. I was in touch with the latest fragments of it, and I listened to the stories of these real people when I was small. Having been inspired by these stories, I have been on my journey for 35 years to become a real man from Anatolia. Everything we need is here. We just need to deepen; that’s all.
 

Sonsuz:

Cem, you emphasize on deepening, so let’s delve into it. Do you think the existing wisdom, and the wise, are not deep enough? Well, I guess it’s hard to disagree with that point. The knowledge we see around us seems deep, but in fact it is not as deep as it seems. That or the knowledge itself is deep enough, but the people who put it into words act as if they are deep, yet they only wander in shallow water, so they do not have enough power to affect people. Let’s touch on that subject and let me ask you, what is there deeper down?

Cem Şen:

It is hard to describe what is in the deep, because that depth is not within the scope of words and thoughts. In Ephesus, an ancient city, many wise men and philosophers lived throughout history. One of them was Heraclitus. The other philosophers who reached the same depth as Heraclitus also described it as a “mystery.” For them, the road to that mystery was passing through “intuitive knowledge.” By this, I mean they didn’t try to reach reality by discussing whether sacrificing a bull or a chicken made Zeus happy. This “intuitive knowledge” was the basic subject that Buddha—one of the wisest men ever on Earth—emphasized.

Unfortunately, these are forgotten now. Today we think the philosophers of the past, including Mevlana and Yunus Emre, were boring and somber people who did not enjoy life and always worshiped or meditated. Reaching the real depth is only possible with intuitive knowledge, and “the observer” is not included in that process.

The philosophers who were aware of the “mystery,” like Heraclitus, are famous for staring into the emptiness for many hours of the day. Many others used the same method all around the world. I also try to teach this to my students…

I do not know what is there in the deep, Hasan, so I cannot tell you anything about it, but the stories of wise people show it is very different from the reality we believe, which we perceive with our senses. However, this reality matches the realities that were expressed by wise people through stories and paradoxes. Experiencing this, and understanding that the path is not subjective but objective, makes me feel at peace.
 

Sonsuz:

You once posted on your Facebook wall: “My biggest fault is to think that I am Cem Şen. Your biggest fault is that you also think I am Cem Şen.” So, as we begin to touch on the “reality” issue, could you explain this post?

Cem Şen:

I am not important. This post was to express something, something which is so simple it cannot even be expressed. I perceive myself through my senses as a consequence of my past experiences, and this is what I call “me.” To give an example, a flower I see is only an impression, an image, and not the flower itself. I cannot know what the flower is through the common perception methods, just as I cannot know the “real me” using the same tools. We only know the subjective reality that we agree upon, and we only know to extend on what we are told. For example, if you go to some regions of Papua New Guinea and point out a passing plane to the locals, they cannot see it because they do not know what the plane is. I know myself as Cem Şen because I am told so. You and everyone else suppose that I am Cem Şen because you are all told so. I am not Cem Şen!

Recently, an interesting experiment was carried out. A man was hypnotized and told he should not see his daughter when he woke up. The man woke up and could not see his daughter. So, what did he see where his daughter was standing? He saw his daughter’s mobile phone, which she was holding behind her back, as if he had x-ray vision! We only do what we are told, Hasan. Only real people go beyond what is taught to them and see reality as it is.

Could I explain to you why I wrote that Facebook post? This is a kind of hunt for me, to see if any people understand the paradox. Just like sending signals into space to try and contact intelligent life. It’s to find the ones who hope to understand and hope to be trained…
 

Sonsuz:

Okay, this subject is potentially endless, so let’s return to Anatolia. I would like to repeat my first question: In one of our conversations, you said that different regions of the world are related with different organs of the body. Could you explain this more clearly? Which regions match with which organs, and what is the place of Anatolia within that body?

Cem Şen:

I think this question will divert us from the main theme, and we will be talking in the belief dimension. I want to know where you want to go with this question, so I can answer accordingly.
 

Sonsuz:

Each country corresponds to a different part of the body. For example, say the USA is the brain, Britain is the heart, Russia is the legs, etc. Any problem in a part of the body also affects the other parts, so we cannot ignore them. I want to tell this through Anatolia. For example, how does Anatolia’s energy affect the body?

Cem Şen:

Don’t you think that this would be discrimination? Don’t we try to move beyond that understanding? Everywhere is important, isn’t it? An arm is not more important than a leg, nor is the heart more important than the brain. There is a danger here: Such perception may lead us towards a something-centered perception. This can force us into neurotic judgments based on perceived importance and unimportance.
 

Sonsuz:

You mean no part is any more important than any other? The body is a whole, and each part of that whole has the same importance. For example, people in Africa are starving, but most people on Earth do not care. However, a part of the whole is suffering there.

Cem Şen:

I have a question for you: If you had absolute power, would you put an end to the suffering in the world?
 

Sonsuz:

Suffering is a reaction. If I had absolute power, I would interfere with the suffering. People suffer because they escape from facing the facts. If I put an end to suffering, I would prevent their chance for development. Of course, I would do something. For example, I would heal the wounded parts.

Cem Şen

Does it matter? If pain is necessary, does it matter if you heal something? If pain is felt again, the suffering will be double, that’s all.
 

Sonsuz:

By healing, I mean I would at least try to eliminate the imbalances such as hunger, homelessness, poverty and so on.

Cem Şen:

If you try to stop suffering with a dualistic point of view, it is like trying to eliminate darkness. Think how the world would be if there was only light. How would things look? Does it matter that there is still a difference between the good and the bad? Relieving the pain does not make a difference then. According to Buddhism, we are at the fourth level of the bottom six levels, and there are 31 levels in total. Above our level, there is a half-God level and a God level. At the God level, life continues for millions of years in a joyful period. However, according to Buddhism, when this life ends, the living beings are born at the level of animals and hungry souls. Even if they live without any suffering, the last thing they experience will again be suffering. Real suffering can only be stopped by putting an end to ignorance. There is no use in changing the useless elements of a bad dream. The best solution is to wake up.
 

Sonsuz:

Does the country we live in affect our awakening? For example, do people living in India, Indonesia, China, or Anatolia have a better chance to awaken than those in western countries? If so, who decides who will live where?

Cem Şen:

Everybody has equal chances, but the ones who are not interested in the material world are naturally more inclined. The more expectations you have about the world, the more powerful it dominates you. I prefer to perceive the world like the Shramans. The Shramans were masters of non-dualistic teaching and the pioneers of Buddhism and Hinduism. According to the Shramans, everything in the cosmos is determined by cause-and-effect laws; everything on earth affects everything else. A controlling authority is not needed. By which I mean there is no need for God’s intervention, or there is not much to intervene in. Both the cosmos and you take inevitable actions because of these causes and effects until you give up your effort to exist. When this effort disappears, the illusion ends. The effort for existence is a flow that forces us to action. When it begins flowing, all decisions are taken spontaneously within this cause-and-effect loop. So, if we were born in Anatolia, perhaps there is also a reason for that. Nothing but our past actions determine that.
 

Sonsuz:

Then how did you benefit from being born in Anatolia, Cem? You were born in Izmir, the city I currently live in, so I know the energy there is very different. In fact, there are many places with extraordinary energy, such as Mount Ida, Mardin, and Cappadocia. What did being an Anatolian man bring to you?

Cem Şen:

First of all, I learned to respect others and to be free from prejudices… Accepting all the differences… Using all the helpful wisdom without caring where it came from… and being content. However, I still need to progress on that. And of course, I became fond of olive trees…
 

Sonsuz:

Respecting others reminds me that in our country, and especially in Istanbul, the people who believed in the three holy religions have lived in peace for centuries. The same thing is also true for the USA, so is there a difference between these countries?

Cem Şen:

For me, there is no difference. The believers of different religions can live in peace together if the ones who dare to rule the world do not interfere. Basically, all religions are against murder, theft, and lies. There is no teaching that supports killing others or stealing their goods, so why would these believers kill each other against their own teachings? Unless there are people who force them to be enemies and who desire to rule the world, everyone would live in harmony without doing damage to each other.

We are not any more tolerant than others are. Humanity is fundamentally good, that’s all. I followed the masters in many places around the world for many years. Some of these places were ones no one would ever want to go, but I can honestly say that I met more good people than bad ones. Humans have a tendency towards goodness. Of course, they also have a tendency towards badness, but goodness usually always overcomes it, especially when no one interferes…
 

Sonsuz:

You often visit the Far East, as well as the West because your son currently lives in Canada. You then come back to Istanbul where you live on the Asian side and work on the European side. You stand at the intersection point of two different worlds. Your life is such a strange mix. Where do you feel yourself at ease? Where do you feel happy?

Cem Şen:

I feel happy when I cannot give an answer to that question, and when I just look inside. Otherwise, I feel a little unhappy everywhere I go. I do not feel completely happy because my mind still works with a dualistic approach. I am still an illusion. Anyway, I am content.
 

Sonsuz:

Many immortals came to Anatolia, which you also emphasized. What does the term “immortals” mean? Who were they? How did they affect humanity? Could you tell us a little bit about them? 

Cem Şen:

Everyone who is born has to die, and everyone that dies has to be born. This is again a simple cause-and-effect rule, so it is impossible to eliminate death and birth. A man can only stop death if he can avoid being born.

So, he has to give up assuming that he is Cem Şen. Cem Şen has to die because he was born. Cem Şen cannot be enlightened, because he has many debts to pay and with every breath, he creates new debts. If he does not give up being Cem Şen, he has to live the future of Cem Şen, which has no immortality or enlightenment.

If he can give up being Cem Şen, he can go beyond death and birth. This is called reaching spiritual perfection, enlightenment, or immortality in different cultures. Many that reached this visited our lands in the past.
 

Sonsuz:

Who are these saints? Could you give us some names, so we can remember them and take the opportunity to learn more about them?

Cem Şen :

Mevlana, Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektash, Heraklitus are just some of them. In fact, there are more than we know.

There are some who were so transcendent that we cannot know them. However, we should remember that if a saint spends his entire lifetime in a cave and reaches enlightenment without anyone knowing his opinions, we are still somehow affected, and his enlightenment changes the world.
 

Sonsuz:

Yes, it is also said that when the saints die, they leave their energies here and still affect life. Perhaps that’s why the tombs in our country are so full of visitors. The people are attracted by the energy there.

Cem Şen:

You’re right. The wisdom never disappears because it is engraved in us. However, the path that leads to that wisdom, the techniques, can be lost. If you develop a technique or use a method, then you can reach that wisdom, which is already there. So we should proceed with the right wisdom, right master (or method), right place, right relationship, and so on. Then there is nothing left.
 

Sonsuz:

Cem, thank you for this beautiful interview and your valuable contribution.

Cem Şen:

Thank you for your beautiful questions, Sonsuz.



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