The Idealized Image

Course Description

In this course, Shaykh Burhanuddin offers insights into the basis of the Ego, its role and functions, and ways we can go beyond it. He introduces the traditional Sufi hierarchy of self-realization – Nafs (Lower Self/Ego), which consists of seven stages and provides practices we can leverage to progress along the Nafs. He continues with a range of exercises to stabilize different areas of our lives, improve our conscious awareness, and build an understanding of how the Lower Self/Ego functions, getting us to a point where we are finally ready to go beyond personality toward awakening. In addition, Shaykh Burhanuddin provides an in-depth look into how our relationship with our Body, Mind, Heart Center, and Soul affects day-to-day activities and teaches exercises to create a more harmonious flow in our daily life. In this course, we start to look at the first principles of interacting with the Divine Source in the traditional view of Sufism.

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Course Lessons

1. What You Seek Seeks You

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin introduces the topic of ego and demonstrates a range of ways it runs unconscious habits that create suffering. He dives into the relationship between desire and common unconscious will and explores the mechanics of how the ego is sabotaging our attempts to attain a higher state in different areas of our lives through struggle and effort. Shaykh Burhanuddin points out ways we tend to suffer along our life journey by engaging with the story the ego tells us and presents practical exercises to recognize the situations in our lives in which the ego gets involved and consciously slow down to break the spell of it.

2. Thoughts and Consciousness

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin talks about thoughts and consciousness in the Sufi tradition and explores the difference between these two phenomena. He explains how Sufism views thoughts, mind-consciousness, and heart-consciousness and talks about ways we can raise our consciousness and improve our functioning in day-to-day activities. The main effort in this area includes working with narrative thoughts and directing them to the heart center. Shaykh teaches the practice of Rakhim, a simple daily exercise we can leverage to improve the communication between the heart center and the mind. Moreover, it will allow us to tap into the heart consciousness, which will integrate compassion and love into our decision-making and problem-solving processes as well as help to cease narrative thoughts.

3. Soul in the Sufi Tradition

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin talks about the Soul in relation to consciousness and the physical body. He provides insights into the traditional way Sufism views Soul and its different levels (Higher Soul and Lower Self/Ego). Shaykh Burhanuddin introduces the traditional Sufi-system of the hierarchy of self-realization – Nafs (Lower Self/Ego), which consists of seven stages. He covers in detail the first two stages of Nafs and concludes with a simple exercise to improve the relationship between our Lower Self and Higher Soul, progressing through the Nafs stages.

4. Multi-player Mode

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin continues the topic of Nafs and deep dives into the first stage Nafs-i-ammara. He describes how we tend to operate in the Nafs-i-ammara stage and its connection to the multi-player mode, which was covered in the previous course (Foundational Pillars). In this stage, we tend to offer ourselves to existence through suffering, expecting attention and love in response.  As Shaykh Burhanuddin explains, responsibility and effort must shift to the following stages of Nafs, which correspond to the beginning of the single-player mode. He follows with a description of the second stage – Nafs-i-lawwama and its connection to struggling effort and the third stage – Nafs-i-mulhama and its relationship to playful effort. Shaykh concludes with a practice of gratitude we can use to shift from multi-player mode to single-player mode and progress through the stages of Nafs.

5. Single-player Mode

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin describes the remaining stages of Nafs, their connection to the single-player mode, and building the muscle of self-awareness as a tool to progress through the Nafs. He starts with the stage of Nafs-i-mulhama in which one leverages self-observation to learn about conscious and unconscious manifestations of Lower Self or Ego. As Shaykh explains, the self-observation in the Sufi tradition is conducted not through thinking but through perceiving with an intention to allow everything in yourself to be seen. He continues the lesson with a description of Nafs-i-mutmainna – satisfied self, Nafs-i-mardiyya – pacified self, and Nafs-i- kamila – complete self and explains practices and tools Sufism uses to help one progress through those stages.

6. No-player Mode

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin covers the topic of no-player mode, the final process of self-transcendence post Nafs-i- kamila. As he explains, progressing through the multi-player and single-player modes, we stabilize different life areas and understand how the Lower Self/Ego functions. This gets us to a point where we are finally ready for the self-transcendence process to go beyond personality toward enlightenment which Shaykh calls no-player mode. Shaykh Burhanuddin describes the no-player mode and explains the process of reaching this mode from the view of the Sufi tradition.

7. Five Master Mirrors

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin introduces the topic of the five master mirrors, a tool we can leverage to learn about our Lower Self/Ego and its functioning. As he explains, the Sufi tradition sees existence as a mirror universe that communicates with us, reflecting the Lower Self/Ego (who we are) at the five different levels. He dives into each of the five mirrors in detail and gives us pointers to become aware of and understand those reflections to improve our life situations and progress along the journey of self-realization and self-transcendence.

8. Roles

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin continues expanding on ways our Lower Self/Ego functions. He explain how we tend to take the form of the idealized image we want to be or want to be seen as, and the expression of this idealized image – the roles we take in our lives. As he explains, even though the roles are important for us to function in the world, issues begin when we are not aware of taking the roles, shifting between them unconsciously, and differentiating the role from the Self. Here, Shaykh provides tools we can use to be conscious of the different roles we take and leverage them to benefit our practice.

9. Heart Center

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin talks about the heart center – the central organ in the Sufi tradition that directs our practice, aids the work with Lower Self/Ego, and serves as a door to the Divine Source. Shaykh here focuses on the role of the heart center and its relationship to the mind, body, and emotions. As he explains, the heart center directs many of the processes in our mind and body that affect our functioning in the world; thus, it is critical to connect with it. Shaykh provides simple practice exercises for beginners to work with the heart center and create a connection between the heart center and the mind.

10. Rhythm of Daily Life

In this lesson, Shaykh Burhanuddin explains the five different phases of the day in the view of the Sufis. He teaches us how to structure our daily life according to these phases to bring structure and maximize the benefits of our practice and daily life activities.

Shaykh Burhanuddin

Shaykh Burhanuddin

Shaykh is a contemporary mystic of ancient tradition, called onto the Sufi path at a young age. In his teaching, Shaykh combines methods from his Sufi Tradition with contemporary knowledge of psychology. He received direct transmission from the Naqshbandi Sufi Order and is the author of three books, a musician, and the founder of the Dervish Orchestra.

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