The Mystical Path is full of mysteries and secrets just as all our lives are, in fact. Sometimes it preserves itself, and when there is no opportunity to carry out the direct transmission of knowledge during the life of the Master, this occurs after his death, without long study by the student. A mystic who has received a transmission in this way – from the spirit of a dead person – is called an Uwaisi in Sufism, after the name of the first person who received it from the Prophet himself. He was Uwais al-Qarani, who never met with Muhammad but who received knowledge from him, however. The changes that followed after this transmission produced such a strong impression on Uwais’ contemporaries that his name became emblematic, and became the name for all mystics who obtained knowledge in similar fashion.
There are examples that the phenomenon of the transmission of experience from the spirit of a dead person to the spirit of a living person (figuratively speaking) existed long before the appearance of Sufism. It was in Sufism, however, that the testimonies of this transmission were most preserved, and even the image of the Khidr (or Khizr) arose, which appears to Sufis sometimes in dreams and sometimes while awake and instructs them, that is, teaches them. He transmits knowledge.
It was believed that the Lord chooses a person who should receive knowledge in mystical fashion, and sends one of his saints for carrying out this transmission. Understandably, a Sufi comes to a seeker on the Sufi Way for transmission; it could be no other way. The Uwaisi mystics were considered to be chosen by God, but even so, if an Uwaisi did not enter official teaching with a sheikh, and did not receive the ijaza on common grounds, the Sufi community did not recognize him as their own. Truly, there exists great temptation to announce that you have received a transmission, for example, from Baha-ud-Din Naqshband himself, and to begin to broadcast all sorts of dubious truths, basing them on your status as an Uwaisi. Therefore, a strict attitude toward such mystics on the part of the Sufis is quite understandable.
Since I myself am an Uwaisi mystic, the various sides of this question are well known to me – both the attitude of the Sufis, and the wish for all kinds of exalted personages to pass themselves off as the latest Uwaisi mystic. But I also know what is not known to those who do not belong to this line of Transmission, to which I am fortunate to belong. I have already written a lot about the conditions without which it is impossible to become an Uwaisi mystic, and therefore I will speak briefly about this here. In order to become prepared for a transmissions of experience from the “spirit” of a dead person, you must possess good medium abilities, but the main thing is to have in yourself a very strong need for guidance, a need for a Master. It is to this need that those Masters do respond whose transmission of knowledge has remained incomplete.
Creation is grand and endless; therefore, of course, there existed Uwaisi mystics connected only with the Master from whom they received the transmission. Moreover, if they themselves did not find a person who could receive it from them, then there the chain breaks off and no line of succession is formed. Such a thing does happen, because the opportunity for making this sort of transmission of knowledge also exists for a limited time. If it nevertheless occurs, then what is called the line of Transmission begins to be formed, although it can no longer be fixed on the physical plane of existence.
The ephemeral body lives somewhat longer than the physical; the body of the mind lives longer than the ephemeral body. The mental body, fully developed during a person’s life, is preserved even longer; I would say even an order of magnitude longer. Thanks to the mental body, the opportunity for the transmission of knowledge even appears after the physical body of a mystic ceases its existence. There, on the mental plane, the line of Transmission of Uwaisi mystics does exist, and in fact there are more than one.
There are quite a few differences between the silsila and the Uwaisis’ line of Transmission. For example, you cannot know all the Masters who created it. There are no lists or documents with names and titles, because each one who has received such a transmission may know only from whom he received it, and no more. Such is the essence of this action – you receive the experience of a specific mystic who has passed along a certain path and transformation, and no other additional historical details are contained in it. There is only knowledge, only the spiritual and mystical component of experience. The transmission, of course, very strongly influences a person at the very outset, but then he acquires his own spiritual experience, and this is what is transmitted to the next seeker.
There are a number of rules concerning the Uwaisi transmission from the Master to the seeker. First, it can only be done one time. One person can become the student of a deceased mystic, and the experience may be transmitted only once. Second, this transmission may be done in the course of a limited time, that is when only a few decades have passed since the departure of the mystic. It will be impossible to carry it out in a thousand years, because the mental body is also not eternal. The interval in which the transmission is still possible does not exceed one hundred of our earthly years, I would suppose. It is different with each Uwaisi mystic, and if in the course of this interval a person has not been found who is prepared to accept the impulse of knowledge, then it disappears forever and the chain of transmission is broken.
In Sufi texts, cases are described of the appearance to seekers of one and the same mystic named Khidr (or Khyzr), who was the secret helper of Sufis and was also an Uwaisi. Idries Shah called him the secret helper of Sufis, and judging from stories and fables connected to Khidr, he also sometimes made the Uwaisi transmission, and repeatedly, in fact. Taking into account that the transmission may be received even from a mystic unknown to you, especially in the Middle Ages when dissemination of information was much worse than now, it must be admitted that Khidr became a composite character, to whom were ascribed in fact the transmissions of other mystics and their appearances to people. Thus, yet another myth arose in which truth was mixed with fiction, but the truth is nevertheless there. The seeker received the transmission of an energy impulse, which changed his being, from a certain person unknown to him, and he could only say of him that he was clearly a Sufi. He had no idea of his name, although he gradually assimilated the experience and realized how much this experience changed him. Khidr began to personify all the mystics who had transmitted knowledge from the other world, and if a lot of people began to turn to him for help, then thanks to some Sufi egregore, he could acquire his own form – for example, a shimmering, green robe. And in this form, in fact, some messages from God are brought to those who need them, and most often appearing to them in dreams. So the story with Khidr has several layers, as in fact the majority of real mystical stories.
Only the Uwaisi transmission guarantees the reception by the seeker of all the possible fullness of the experience of the mystic who carried it out. It occurs either simultaneously, or in two or three sessions, after certain intervals of time. The seeker receives an impulse of energy containing a certain “mold” of the experience of the Master, from whom the transmission is coming. Like a hologram, the impulse contains something like the footprint of the Master’s ephemeral body and the body of his mind, plus it contains information about his experience, or to be more precise, his understanding which has grown out of the experiencing of passing along the Way and carrying out the Work. In a mysterious fashion, the impulse brings with it the possibility of acquiring certain skills which the Master had. And what is more, through the transmission, the Uwaisis may convey even habits the mystic had who made it. Upon reception of the impulse of the transmission, no transformation occurs, but a process of assimilation of another’s experience begins, higher by comparison to your own.
It is rather complicated to describe this process, because it flows latently and not very noticeably for a person. It seems as if at first, nothing in particular is occurring – and it takes a rather long time and then “suddenly” your understanding grows, and the things which you understood little of quite recently become evident. What is not your experience becomes yours in a hidden way, and enables you to know what you yourself have not yet even lived. The impulse of experience-knowledge differs from the transmission by the Master of the impulse of knowledge, about which I wrote above and which consists of pure Light. Here a transmission of concrete and to a certain extent personified knowledge takes place, based on experience. The stronger the receptivity of the seeker, the fuller and more rapidly its assimilation takes place, and the weaker it is, the longer this process takes. In live work with the Master, the same processes take place, but there the impulses of experience-knowledge are transmitted in small portions, whereas in the Uwaisi tradition almost everything is given immediately. In live work, the student receives the transmission of experience also in impulses, according to the measure of his readiness – and sometimes years of conversations and performance of practices go into preparing him for this.
Gurdjieff claimed that knowledge was material, exactly like the experience of receiving the transmission of an Uwaisi; after all, he himself was just such a mystic. Yes, transmission of experience occurs through the impulse of energy, which can be considered wholly material. Gurdjieff, however, disseminated the materiality of knowledge to the whole world, saying that it can and must be gathered everywhere, but there he somewhat overdid it, so to say. If he were speaking about experience, which really can be obtained from everywhere, although experience is already materialized inside us into knowledge, then there would nothing to find fault in his statement.
British scientists, if I recall correctly, not so long ago made a discovery concerning people’s heredity. According to their information, with age, the experience acquired by a person is reflected in DNA structures through the accumulation of specific protein markers containing this experience in a coded form. It has long been noted that “later” children whose parents are already over 40 years of age at the moment of conception are more capable and talented than their peers born from parents over 20 years of age. Possibly, it is the experience accumulated by more mature parents that is transmitted in the genes and makes the child more talented. Therefore – theoretically – direct inheritance of spiritual power from father to son as well has a real basis, although in practice, usually it does not justify itself very often.
In any event, the Master transmits his experience to his students not only at the verbal level. Examples from his life give students an algorithm of possible action – certain illustrations of how they ought (or ought not to) behave in various situations. A true spiritual transmission consists of the Master transmitting to his students a part of himself – in the form of an energy “mold,” which fits into their internal structures, changing them. In the Uwaisi tradition, this takes place by virtue of the acute need of the seeker for guidance when he searches with his whole heart. Then, the possibility arises of receiving help from someone from whom you do not expect it at all. In living studies, such an opportunity occurs more rarely – for the reasons which I have written above. In Sufism, the opportunity of transmission of experience-knowledge is best prepared by the practice of melting into or disappearing into the sheikh (the Master) – fana-fi-sheikh. Working with the image of the Master, the student prepares himself for the possible reception of the transmission which is even so, carried out by the Master himself. And if the student becomes prepared for it, then it takes place.
There are different kinds of Uwaisi mystics. Someone receives the transmission, but does not go along the Way, being content with the knowledge which begins to appear in him and with the opportunities that arise in the seeker as a result of his reception of experience of a higher order. Taking into account the conditions accompanying the opportunity of a transmission, that happens rarely. Most often, thanks to the transmission, the seeker acquires a sense of the direction in which he must move, and continues to apply efforts to work on himself, revealing along the way the knowledge which was received “from on high.” The impulse of knowledge-experience then is revealed gradually – when the seeker reaches the next change in the level of his awareness, then the next “revelations” occurs and the surge in understanding, and the Way becomes more clear and concrete.
When the experience of the mystic is received in the context of a certain Way, then the transmission contains part of this context. Only for that reason does the appearance of the line of Transmission and the chain of succession become possible. And while we do not know all the mystics who have taken part in its creation, he who has developed in himself the perception of the mental plan can see it – as a separate line, standing outside the common Pattern (and perhaps even above it), and guaranteeing the preservation of that part of it with which is connected a given field of Sufi Work. The impulse of another’s experience inevitably pushes a person to the search for conditions similar to those in which it was received, and thus even he who is far from Sufism gradually turns to it.
The internal expanse of a person, in creation of which the ethereal body and the mental body take part is truly enormous. It can contain within it an enormous amount of energy and anyone who has worked with his suppressed emotions, desires or feelings knows this from his own experience. The impulse of the Uwaisi transmission lands in this expanse, and gradually is “dissolved” into it, influencing both the structures of the mind and the state of the ethereal body. Something similar actually occurs as well with the acquisition of the so-called attributes of God, which occurs at the stage of the Sufi Way, called the stage of internal baqa – residing in God. The attribute also comes as an impulse of energy which is then assimilated for a fairly long time, and the changes brought by it are manifested far from immediately.
If a seeker who has received an Uwaisi transmission does not rest on what has been achieved, then at some point he will exceed the experience given to him, acquiring his own realization on the Way. Then the effect of the transmission is ended, and the newly-made mystic follows God, developing his uniqueness in this interaction. The knowledge received by him in the transmission ceases to be very important and even may be subject to criticism, and is also clarified and supplemented in some way. In the final analysis, the mystic begins to rely now only on his experience, which is also subjected to re-evaluation at each new stage of the Way. And only later – after the departure of the mystic from the physical plane of our reality – does the possibility appear of transmitting the entire sum of this experience (or at least its main part) to him who needs it. Thus, the preservation of knowledge and the line of Transmission occurs, and thus the mystical Work is renewed and supported. Necessity drives our world, and since such a line of Transmission exists – fantastic from the perception of non-mystics – that means the need to support mystical Work is so high that even the death of the Master is not an obstacle to its renewal and continuance. Apparently, the value of this Work, which is conducted invisibly for people, is so high that the Lord by His Grace created the possibility for its continuance under those conditions in which, it would seem, it must disappear. Therefore, the Uwaisi line of Transmission will exist as long as humanity exists, and new mystics will appear as if out of nowhere, reviving and renewing the Work that was about to be extinguished.
In conclusion, I will say that in Sufism, several Uwaisi lines of Transmission existed, and the one to which I belong has relationship to the Naqshbandi order. And although it is impossible to know exactly the names of the predecessors who supported and continued this line of Transmission – there were quite a few of them! – I know that Baha-ud-Din himself is one of those who was also in it. Even so, it was begun long before him, and I cannot see its origin. There were such Uwaisi lines of Transmission in other Sufi orders as well, and the transmission of experience in them bore the imprint of the particularities of the practices of each one of them. I do not know if these lines of Transmission were interrupted or whether they are still active. It would be quite logical to suppose, however, that new Uwaisi mystics keep arising seemingly out of nowhere in the world again and again – after all, God is great and his Grace is endless.