Review of Teachings of a Perfect Master
A review of The Teachings of a Perfect Master
Three books by Henry Bayman precede The Teachings of a Perfect Master. If one were to describe Bayman's third book, The Black Pearl, as the apex of a triangle with its predecessors (The Station of no Station and The Secret of Islam: Love and Law In the Religion of Ethics) as the other two points or corners of the triangle, then this latest book could be described as “A Universal and Inclusive Garden”...
Imagine being shown a garden of the utmost and breathtaking beauty, a garden abundant with every kind of flower, the air scented with beautiful fragrances coupled with the song of birds perched upon various kinds of trees. Within this garden there are three main sections, all interconnected and inseparable: for example, The Common Species Section (The Wisdom Base - the main entrance where everything starts), The Saffron Section (The Inward Path: Sufism), and The Rose Section (Descent of the Light: Who's Who in Islam). The gardener informs you with knowledge concerning the garden: its origin, the kinds of flowers, plants, trees and how to plant, grow and maintain everything within the garden. The whole experience evokes a profound sense of peace, security and familiarity... an innate familiarity. At the end of this tour, the gardener tells you, in a nutshell, that everything and all that you have beheld is you... in potential. And that the garden is yours, if you want it! If you decide to accept it you are obviously charged with the responsibility of maintaining it... That is The Teachings of a Perfect Master, An Islamic Saint for the Third Millennium.
Henry Bayman was in contact with Master Ahmet Kayhan for 15 years, and this unique and special book spans his taped transcripts and notes of more than a decade. The book opens with a four-page Preface followed by a 35-page Prologue including biographical details of the remarkable Ahmet Kayhan. The remainder and bulk of the book is divided into three main sections:
Chapter I - The Wisdom Base; Chapter II - The Inward Path:Sufism; and Chapter III - Descent of the Light (Who's Who in Islam). Each chapter begins with its own introduction and is then divided into section headings, each comprising a copious garden of teachings, discussions and stories.
“Never mind Paradise”
May sorrows depart and blessings remain. The great ones worked a lot, they were left a soul and a body, at that point they said: 'His chastisement is nice, and so is his bounty.' Concerning that, Yunus Emre has a saying. May God bestow Paradise on us all. That is, to escape the devil's side and to attain heaven. But now, at that point, Yunus says: 'That Paradise, those palaces and kiosks underneath which rivers flow, that food and drink, those houris and servants, all those pleasures - give them,' he says, 'to whoever wants them.' Aha. That's what we're all after. Look what he says at the end: 'I need you and you alone, what business have I with all those pleasures?'
Chapter II, The Inward Path: Sufism, takes us into the depths of a vast ocean of pearls... enthralling Sufi storytelling and teachings conveyed with great clarity and intimacy. Here we have a bountiful range of profound themes such as: The chicks and the ducklings / The secret of the fragrance / The fish in the sea and so on. It includes the following story entitled “The Flying Frog”:
There was a frog, it was jumping this way and that. It saw some pigeons arrive. They bathed and cleansed themselves. 'This is my home,' it said, 'I can't fly like these birds.' It asked the birds, they said, 'We have wings.
'Let me fly, too.' it said. 'You don't have wings,' they replied. 'Let me give you an idea,' it said. 'How?' 'I'll hold on to a piece of wood with my mouth, two of you take hold of the ends of a stick with your beaks, and you can take me for a ride.' They took it, one of them said, 'Better not speak or say anything.' The frog looked down, it was pleased.
Then they came upon another flock of birds. 'What's this?' they asked. 'Well, we're taking this frog sightseeing.' 'Why,' they said, 'what a wonderful idea this is! Who thought of it?'
As soon as the frog said ' I!'...
The third and final chapter, Descent of the Light (Who's Who in Islam), provides us with stories about the Prophets, the Caliphs, the Scholars, the Saints and the Chain. The following is the author's introduction to The Chain:
The 'Golden Chain,' or Chain of Transmission, is the spiritual 'family tree' through which masters pass on their knowledge and spiritual stations to students. In this chapter, the Master's own chain of transmission is introduced.
The Master's spiritual pedigree is in the line of the Samini Branch of the Naqshbandi Order and can be traced back to the Prophet Himself. Although this was the case, the Master was beyond all orders and sects, as he welcomed everyone with loving and open arms. Illustrious names in the Chain of Transmission include: Abdul Qadir Gilani, Bahauddin Naqshband, Khalid Baghdadi, Ibrahim Hakki of Erzurum, Ali Sebti, Mahmud Samini, Othman Badruddin, Musa Kazim Efendi and Hajji Ahmet Kaya Efendi. Apart from biographical accounts and details concerning Who's Who in Islam, this invaluable section also recounts teachings and stories about various topics including spacefolding and other miraculous events.
Among the Prophets and Saints discussed in chapter III, special place is accorded to Ibn ʿArabi. Ten Sufi stories, The Seal of the Saints, The fast that lasted three months, The scholar and the ass, The pot that exploded, Love of this world, Fire don't burn, The baby who spoke, The Adams before Adam, Generosity and The secret of Ibn ʿArabi are more than intriguing, to say the least. The stories spanning from Ibn ʿArabi's youth to his last days relate how the Greatest Shaykh set out on his path. We learn that he always spoke from the Qur'an, even though not everyone was able to understand his derivations. He foretold scientific and technological developments hundreds of years before they actually took place. The final story (The secret of Ibn ʿArabi) tells us how the great Saint performed two miraculous deeds at once: seeing buried gold by clairvoyant vision and engraving on stone with his bare finger as if it were putty.
The author ends the book with a profound and heart-moving Epilogue - Once upon a dream. It recounts the passing away of the Master, and tries to portray the deep loss that the author and people who knew Ahmet Kayhan suffered at the time. It also recounts the author's words to the brethren who came to offer their condolences concerning how fortunate they all were to have encountered the Master and the duty to explain the Master's radiant way to the rest of the world. Despite its poignancy, the account is one of love, hope, self-realization and acknowledgement of the universal responsibility charged upon all those who were fortunate enough to have encountered the Master... to try one's upmost to live the Master's wonderful path and to explain to others why it is so wonderful ... “to maintain this Universal and Inclusive Garden”.
The Master had stated during his life: 'When I depart, I shall leave behind a thousand Ahmet Kayhans, ten thousand Ahmet Kayhans.' It was up to his followers to turn these words into reality, by adopting the Master's radiant way and explaining it to others why it was so wonderful.
I have to say that the authenticity of the Master's teachings is more than evident, principally because throughout the book both the exterior and the interior forms of Islam (Islam and Sufism) are present and presented as a "whole" and not something separate... one cannot obtain Nectar without growing and taking care of a Rose! This "wholeness", in my opinion, can be traced right back to the life of the Prophet, when Sufism was a reality without a name! The gentle tone of the Master's words flower with humility par excellence and feel as though they have been woven with the fabric of pure faith, firmly rooted in the very heart of Love. Its timeless themes are uplifting, inspiring and full of hope... and are accessible to everybody.
I consider myself very fortunate to have met Master Ahmet Kayhan a few times. I don't speak Turkish, so what was said to me or to others present was translated. Over the years, apart from making phone calls from England to Turkey, I was given many English language leaflets and papers written by the Master, which have been very beneficial. However, I have to confess that this present book is a wish come true for me. It is the crème de la crème and I don't think that one could wish for anything better in the absence of the physical presence of Master Ahmet Kayhan... along with the three books that precede this present one.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Henry Bayman for all his dedication, hard work, time and love in putting Master Ahmet Kayhan's teachings into this Power/Lighthouse of a book. To put it quite simply, Henry Bayman has done a more than marvellous job. Thank you very much indeed!
Jamil Ahmad, July 2012.