There are exercises in which dervishes are trained into dissolution – for example fana fish-sheikh, when a student strives toward disappearance into his sheikh. As a rule, disappearance concerns only the dervish’s personal will, which strives for elimination of his own desires, and acceptances of the desires of the sheikh. Logically, if the sheikh is a conduit of the Will of God, then the dervish, too, strives for the fulfillment of the desires of God, which, of course, can become the strongest practice advancing a person along the Way. The danger exists that in his zeal, the student may come to deify the teacher, but not a single true sheikh will ever permit that. All serve only God; all are equal before Him, that is all. For the dervish, such a fana is a good preparation for later coming to acceptance of the Will of God, that is, to enter into the stage of external baqa. No particular participation of the sheikh in this practice is envisaged, because it amounts to the dervish following his instructions as unquestioningly and as accurately as possible, and that is essentially all there is. Let us say outright, in any serious study, you will not advance far without performing this practice.
If the sheikh himself is at the stage of internal fana or has already passed it, then he himself may attract dervishes to fulfill another version of the practice of fana fish-sheikh. In this case, you cannot get by without the active participation of the sheikh, because he shares with his students the state of his being, becoming for them simultaneously both a conduit of higher energies, and a gateway to an accelerated change of being. Dervishes perform special practices aimed at strengthening the energy connection with the sheikh and dissolution into him, and the sheikh, for his part, helps them in this. Such a form of the practice of fana fish-sheikh is far more difficult to perform and cannot be carried out without direct participation of the sheikh himself in it. Only the teacher may select those who are ready for its performance, because the student himself does not always soberly evaluate his own state. And performance of this practice by a person who is not ready for it may push him off the Way and push him away from the sheikh, causing a lot of harm and little use. Preparedness – as in everything on the Way – here also plays a decisive role.
The performance of the practice of fana fish-sheikh has a limitation in time, as in fact does the performance of any other practice. Following the will of the sheikh is completed at the moment of the beginning of following the Will of the Lord. Disappearance into the sheikh is completed by the dervish receiving the sheikh’s transmission of experience. Essentially, a transmission is completed then, like that which ends the stage of internal fana for the Sufi, and the stage of being in God begins. As is known, the stage of internal baqa is characterized by the fact that the Sufi mystically receives certain attributes of God and enters into the final stages of possible transformation for himself. Thus, the dervish also receives the transmission of experience from the sheikh, and it can be said that this is the moment of receiving the attributes which, in the final result, will change his entire being.