I was 13 years old when I asked my mom this question, and she couldn’t give an answer. Instead, she said, “Oh no, don’t be silly.” My curiosity continued for years because I didn’t have the right people in my life to answer my question. I was in my early twenties, and my quest continued until I was given a lecture in Sufism by a very close friend. I became more and more interested in Sufism as my friend told me about Muhyiddin Ibn’ Arabi, Muhammad Nurul Arabi, Yunus Emre, Niyazi Misri, Hossein Hallaci Mansur, Rumi, Sems-i Tebrizi, Beyaziti Bestami, Haci Bektas Veli, Nesimi, Veysel Karani, Sohrevardi, İsmail Mashuki, Hamza Bali, and other Muslim martyrs. I asked my friend many questions, but he told me he was only a student himself, so only a master could give me answers.

The Journey Begins…

I wondered who my master would be and what his or her teaching style would be like. My friend told me he received his education from a wise woman named Sultan. She lived in Sinop, and he visited her occasionally. I persuaded my friend to let me join him on his next visit to Sinop, and after an exhausting journey that left us sleepy, we arrived at the woman’s house. Sultan’s energy was incredible, but I was too tired to keep my eyes open and my mind focused. I really wanted to have a chat with her and ask questions, but it was nearly impossible. It felt like I was in a dream. The woman was stood in front of me, but I didn’t dare ask my question: “Could God be a woman?”
Having stayed in Sinop for a night, we had an idea for who could be my Sufi master back in Istanbul. The most crucial part of Sultan’s speech was this: “When you enter through a door, first you must learn to stay there. At that point, you mustn’t think that you are ready to move through the other doors. Please keep this in mind: First one door, and then the other doors!” I never forgot these words.

Meeting my Mentor

When I returned to Istanbul, I found A. Taner Oğuz, a Sufi master of Melamet. He was to be my mentor during my journey. His first words were, “You didn’t imagine me like this, did you?” He then added, “If the Prophet Muhammad lived today, do you think he would wear a suit and tie?” “Yes, definitely,” I replied. He added, “We are his successors, and we represent him today. You should keep in mind that this discipline is the knowledge of humanity and nature (Ilmi Ledun), but from now on, you will know it as the knowledge of God and his uniqueness.”
My first question was, “What does the cult of ‘melamilik’ mean?” He replied, “Imagine you studied at university and then graduated. You are now starting your postgraduate degree. The cult of ‘melamilik’ is the essence and summary of all the disciplines you are taught at postgraduate level.”

Being a Part of the Sufi Lineage (Intisab)

My dear mentor, A. Taner Oğuz, emphasized the importance of being a part of the Sufi lineage (intisab) before going into the details of Mohammedi Melamet. He said that it meant marrying my soul. It meant taking an oath to live your life for God’s sake and treading the path he shows you, and you can only achieve this by surrendering to your mentor. Afterwards, you start to comprehend the discipline by learning everything step by step by inculcation. In the western world, this process is called initiation.
The first step was one of the most exciting moments in my life. I felt an irresistible kind of love with surrender while sitting next to him with a glass of water. After the inculcation session, Mr Oğuz, in a jocular manner, told me not to drink the water in the glass that we had dipped our thumbs in. It had a symbolic meaning. He then summarized the most crucial step of the discipline: “We are walking God’s path by leaving appearance and superstitions.”

Doors to Sufism

On the very same day, my mentor told me about the principles of Sayyid Muhammad Nur’s discipline about timelessness: “When you arrived here, it was time for the zuhur prayer, and we were talking. Now it is time for the asr prayer. However, we can make our prayer by combining the zuhur and the asr or by combining the sunset prayer with the isha prayer. This way, we do not actually miss anything.”
My mentor kept on talking:
God told his prophet, “Mohammed, there are four doors.” They are, respectively, the doors to Shari’a, Tariqah, Talent, and Truth.
The door to Shari’a concerns everyone, because you can emphasize the religious rules and their didactic quality here. For instance, an insane person should know what sin is, or he may murder someone for no reason, and society then pays for his mistake. So, open this door to anyone who wants.

As the word literally means “road,” open the door to Tariqah to only those who are willing. If they want to follow God’s path, this is a very important gateway. On the other hand, they will benefit from spending some time here before they move on and get more experience. Open this door to those who are willing.
The road to Talent is for those who have the “talent,” namely those who can hold the spark of love in their hearts. Only those who love me can enter through this door, so open it to those who love you.
However, open the door to Truth to only the ones you love, because this is where they will witness “the divine” and where all the secrets and mysteries of being will be revealed. Open this door only to those who can keep secrets. If the truth is in the hands of those who don’t deserve it, they will try to turn the world upside down. Thus, open this door only to those you love.
Yes, my Sufism journey started like this. The things I heard nearly turned me upside down. After my first lesson, I felt so overwhelmed by the stories I was told.
He said, “Nothing belongs to you. All verbs, nouns, adjectives, and entities belong to God, so if you walk the path of Sufism, you should stop believing you possess all these. Only God will be inside you.” Then, to make himself clear, he told me the story of Mansur al-Hallaj, who was tortured to death because he said, “I am God.” He never recanted, and he insisted there was nothing but God in his existence. He was a real example of modesty. Even after he was tortured to death, his blood read, “I am God.”
So what was there beneath the words of “I am nothing but God”? How would I know the answer? Was God something to be learned or something to become?

Stages of Sufism

My mentor told me I would comprehend the answers to these questions more easily once he preached to me the first stage. At the first stage, I was to learn how the divine dress can cover every piece of you. Then I was to learn how the archangels serve us with their mystery. In the second stage, I would comprehend the adjectives, which in fact would include God’s personalization. The third stage was going to let me experience the meaning of “Essence” by learning bodily unity, bodily absence, and the act of its appearance. He also warned me that after all this, some new experiences may begin that are defined as “rising” in the western world. It is called “Fasting and Journey to Heaven” in Sufism. He added, “If you succeed in learning the first three stages, the next step is called rising. Rising is comprised of four stages. In the fourth stage, you will regain exactly what you gave in the first three stages, and this is the essence of this discipline. Prophet Mohammed journeyed to heaven following the third stage, and when he returned, he received back all that he had given earlier and put on the divine dress.”

The Living Quran

This sentence expresses the most significant knowledge I gained during my whole life: “The Quran is for humans. It is composed of 6,666 verses (ayah), but in fact, this is a limited number within the infinity of humanity.” I almost started flying with this doctrine. I started to regard the Quran as the “library of humanity.” Every single living thing I saw was a part of the living Quran. Once, my mentor told me the Quran verses were “traces and omens.” He said, “As traces and omens do, the Quran verses also guide us on our journey.” He was right—I could see the verses everywhere. God was inside me, and I was seeing, hearing, and experiencing his creation. On the other hand, I was a novice trying to enjoy the experience as an observer.
One day during a conversation, my mentor asked me, “How is your relationship with God?” I replied very confidently, “Pretty good.” He stared at my face with a sharp look and said, “So you still put distance between God and yourself. That’s how you perceive him. Congratulations!” A conversation followed:
If you approach this matter by understanding the love between Rumi and Sems-i Tebrizi, you can remove the distance between God and yourself.
Master, in this case, do I represent Rumi and you Sems?
Exactly! But let us make it clearer. Their lives will always inspire us, but on the stage of evolution, all names should be indefinable. After this conversation, how would you reply if I asked you how you perceived your role of Rumi?
Until he met Sems, Rumi was focused only on his own wisdom and his books. Just like me when I came to you with the religious knowledge I had.
Yes. Just like Rumi, you had the knowledge, and you still do. In fact, what you experience looks like a full bowl. The more you learn, the more it is filled with knowledge, but eventually it overflows. Therefore, what you should do is to reveal the things you know, so you can also realize the things you don’t know. In other words, you should empty the glass so you can fill it with fresh water. That’s what Rumi did. He threw away his books and gave himself to the power of Sems (in other words, his own essence). There was no distance between them, and they experienced the great love. This is exactly where the trick is. Sems acted as a mediator for Rumi, so he could reveal the knowledge he possessed. You should carefully listen to Rumi’s saying: “I was immature, suffered and matured.” By saying, “I am you, and you are me,” he pointed out that his master (Sems) and himself were the same—there was no difference at all.

Melting in Your Own Essence…

Later during another conversation, my mentor asked me, “Ok, tell me now. What have you gained from all our conversations so far?” I replied without any hesitation, “I am God.” He smiled and said, “Yes, you are. But be careful it is not your ego telling you this.” He then told me the story of Beyaziti Bestami: “One day, Beyaziti Bestami saw someone reciting the azan and shouted to him, ‘You liar!’ People around him asked why and he replied, ‘During the azan, when he said ‘God is great’ the anvil under him should have melted, but it didn’t.’ The man starts to recite the azan again, and the anvil under him melts, but he then calls himself a liar. People again ask why, and he replies, ‘I should have also melted, but I didn’t.’”
After telling me this story, he asked me, “How would you melt? What would be your method to become one with your essence?” I didn’t want to reply straight away, because I didn’t like clichéd answers. Later, I asked this question to my essence, and the answer came with a crucial secret: “If you leave the physical sciences aside (the sciences you try to comprehend with your mind, the fearful sciences that were taught and dictated to you) and become naked, you will find yourself in the science of emptiness. As you discover this, you will understand how the three religions are the same, and you will realize the oneness of God. You will then allow your own divinity to arise with the joy of unity in your mind. It is the joy of unity that says, “God is the greatest.” It is the essence of all humanity, and we are such unique creatures that we could be nothing other than that essence.
My mentor liked my inner answer a lot when I shared it with him. He said, “You may say ‘I am God’ with this kind of melding or integration. Otherwise, you will start to worship God in your mind. You will cover your essence and start to live according to religious rules and doctrines, and then you will die. So come and die, before you die.”

To Die Before You Die!

My mind was really blocked. As my mentor realized this, he continued his speech: “In fact people live their lives sleeping. They wake up when they die. Therefore, you should forget all the things you know. You should be willing to give away everything you have and die.”
Dying is the most important step in rising to heaven. You should look beyond death in order to die. Because there is infinity beyond death, it doesn’t change anything if your body passes away or not. My mind was giving shape to all these thoughts. My mentor continued, “You should die in your mind to understand death itself. This is the most crucial point. If you are ready to die, we can enter the most important stage of rising. This is where God chooses to kill his divinity in the human mind. This is the stage before the one where God wants to see himself in the mirror. In fact, the moment God was born to this world, he was dead—he was buried in people’s minds. He revealed the most important clue that would remind him to people. He was going to be visible in the Prophet Mohammed. They were to melt into one another and become as one. In this respect, God is the Prophet Mohammed’s past and last, his apparent and unapparent meaning.”

Past and Last, Apparent and Unapparent: It’s Me!

My mentor explained further: “Past is something having no past. Last is something that will always exist. The apparent is everything we can see, and the unapparent is everything we cannot feel with our senses. Death is timeless. As we talk about past, last, apparent, and unapparent, if these concepts penetrate our consciousness all at once, we feel an emptiness. This emptiness is death, and each death means resurrection. If past is last at the same time, then the apparent is also unapparent.”
Everything was okay until now, but I was still looking for concrete examples. I had great pleasure from the things I felt, but I wanted to be “past” in reality.
The act of remembering involves the past in itself. The Prophet Mohammed himself also warned of this when he said, “Whatever I’ve become, I’ve tasted, or I’ve experienced, you will also live the same.” Our minds assume they are learning new things, but consciousness is always past. It opens itself with a click and invites you in, and as you become united and understand you’ve always been a part of the whole, you also understand that it will last forever. When you find yourself in suspicion, you understand that everything around you emerged from this existence. The critical point here is that nothing is as it seems. All the things we see around us are the clothes of God, but these clothes change instantly and turn into unity inapparently.
The things we cannot see or perceive with our senses are made from the unapparent truth. The unapparent things are your essence, and they always want to be apparent. The revealed truth is always past, last, apparent, and unapparent. Every new thing is a new cloth. In other words, the unapparent is unselfishly giving its obscurity to the apparent. Therefore, you cannot fasten, end, or judge it with only one cloth. This is what we call the Joy of Uniqueness. It is the state for beings before entering the experience field. All Sufis share the same opinion and proceed accordingly. Human beings are not created—they are the creators. Everyone is a god. God shows himself in every shape. We must therefore worship the God we see. A soul leaves a body and enters another body. There is no pain in the grave. The dead will not revive, and there is no doomsday.

What Does it Mean to Know Everything?

No matter what I learn, it all depends on my experiences. Okay, but how am I supposed to enter the field of experience? What will happen next? Will it not be boring when I remember to be God? Knowing everything would end the desire to survive, wouldn’t it? I was really struggling with a question in my mind: “What will happen once I know everything?” I had a conversation with my mentor:
– Master, I heard you talking with your wife last night. Actually, I woke to your voice.
– Do not worry. This may happen sometimes. Try not to think about it too much, or you will prevent your own enlightenment. The thing you experienced last night was a kind of expansion. It’s called clairaudience.
– Yes, I even saw you. You had the conversation in this room, didn’t you?
– Yes, and this shows your clairvoyance has started too. These are your gifts, and they will surface one by one. If you want them to be balanced, you should let them happen slowly.
– Okay, but will I learn everything with this gift?
– Other than knowing my secrets you mean? Think about your gifts of clairaudience and clairvoyance as ways to know God better. They never change. These gifts must be used to hear and see God, rather than hearing and seeing other people. Otherwise you will feel confused. If you want to improve yourself, let me tell you a story about Veysel Karani.
You know that Veysel Karani was a very important saint who lived during the time of Prophet Mohammed. He was physically blind, and his most significant aspect was his loyalty to his mother and his deep love and respect for the Prophet Mohammed. He begged his mother several times to allow him to visit the Prophet Mohammed, but she wouldn’t let him go because there was no one else to take care of her while he was away. Even though they had never met before, the Prophet Mohammed used to say, “I can smell the scent of my love from Yemen,” meaning Veysel Karani. When he was asked if Veysel Karani ever saw him, he replied, “Yes, but not with his physical eyes.” He requested that upon his death that his cardigan should be given to Veysel Karani. This is also a way of seeing each other. People who are able to see each other with the eyes of their heart are very lucky, even though they can’t see each other physically. Besides all this, it is very important to live a balanced life. Even though he was a prophet, the Prophet Mohammed also suffered and acquired grey hair in his beard during his journey to unite all the verbs, adjectives and essences of God within himself when the 112nd verse of the Sura Hud was dictated to him. The verse was, “Therefore stand firm (O Prophet) as you are commanded, and (also) he who has turned (unto Allah) with you, and (O’ men) do not transgress (from the Path); verily He sees well what you do.” It is the unification point of the Prophet Mohammed and those following his path. In other words, when knowing surrenders itself to being, the real knowing begins. That is why the Prophet Mohammed said, “The ones who see me also see God.” When they asked him, “Prophet, are you God?” He replied, “I am a worldly one, but I’m the one (with the eyes of my heart) who knows God best.”
Knowing God was definitely to know everything, but it was impossible to do this with my mind as a worldly being. I decided what I should do was to be in harmony with the part of myself that knows God best. I should have understood this without the distinction between God and his liege. It was time to fly on my own. I was eager to feel and say, “I am God” in a modest manner like Hallaci Mansur. Now it was my turn.

When the Bird Decides to Fly on its Own…

I spent more than ten years studying God’s oneness. I went through the teachings of all the Sufi masters and learned many things, but I also learned that you should be brave when it is time to find your own path. Otherwise, everything you’ve learned will remain theoretical. Now it was time to pass from one gate to every gate…
When I decided to fly on my own, everything seemed cold and dark. I retold all my thoughts aloud during my educational period, and my mentor approved them. I was also taught many hints for further bigger questions. In addition, my dark side was thought to be my most precious gift. I was told to open it with the help of reflection (to remember divinity by thinking through the mind to the heart) because I would hold this magical key always within me. My mentor once said, “One who doesn’t enter the darkness cannot realize the light in himself. It should be dark around you before you turn the light on. Would you ever turn the light on when it is already bright?”
It was now time to walk towards my own darkness, and it was up to me to turn the light on. I could only do it myself. To be honest, I felt I was without God at the beginning. I was alone for five years. I was supposed to filter the knowledge, because knowledge was a source of energy for my mind. I must admit how crucial it was to be able to filter the knowledge. I started to write during this period. The knowledge was filtered and came to light as I wrote. While going through this process, I started to find the answers.

And the Answer is…

Mom, you know what? I can now answer the question I asked you earlier. For God to be a woman, he needs to be a Goddess, meaning he needs feminine energy. My feminine God represents the new pure consciousness. I always felt something missing when I thought about God in the past, but now, the male God is in balance with the rising Goddess. The energies of the God and Goddess are uniting now. In my own rising journey, I let my feminine side rise while balancing it with my male side. I give freedom to my creativity. I am “me.”

Esra Erdogan