THE RIDDLE OF BALKH “THE ELEVATED CANDLE”
By Laurence Galian
each has a secret way
to be with the Mystery,
none to be judged.
“All roads lead to Balkh,” uttered Gurdjieff, referring to
the Sufic origin of all systems. Yesai Narai writes, “Balkh is the town often associated with Padmasambhava, and Rabia and Rumi as
well. Although Padmasambhava is usually thought to be Indian, it is possible that he is from the Afghanistan region also associated with
Balk is the homeland of Baha
ad-Din Naqshband, the greatest of the Khwjaghan Masters. Baha al-Din Walad of Balkh
(d. 1230 CE), meaning "the splendor/glory of religion from Balkh" is the designation of the father of Jalal al-Din Balki, more commonly
known as Jalal al-Rumi, famed author of the ‘Persian Qur'an/Bible’, the Mathnawi.
Balkh, Bokhara and also in the Hindu Kush a new “inner circle”
of initiates was established. These great initiates were known as the Khwajagan (Persian for "Masters"). The first visible leader who appeared (during this cycle) was Yusuf Hamadani (1048-1140). This society
is known for its remarkable telepathic powers. The Khwajaghan still exist today in order to transmit to segments of society
a spiritual force known as baraka.
J.G. Bennet wrote a book entitled “The Masters of Wisdom,” which includes some very detailed information
about the Khwajagan. Bennett received his information about the Khwajagan from Hasan Shushud (the teacher of the famous Rumi
translator Dr. Nevit O. Ergin) so it is accurate.
Dr. Nevit O. Ergin's Sufism is from the Khawajahgaan, also spelled Khwajagan. He is the Khawajah e Khawajahgaan. That tradition has a name in the current age. Today it is known as Itlak Yolu. Most of the Khwajagan’s public history can be gathered from J.G. Bennett’s book “Masters
of Wisdom: An Esoteric History of the Spiritual Unfolding of Life on this Planet”, as well as the great work “Rashahat
Ain al-Hayat” (Beads of Dew from the Source of Life: Histories of the Khwajagan: The Masters of Wisdom) by Mawlana Ali
ibn Husain Safi, translated by Muhtar Holland.
Balkh was referred to as the “Mother of Cities” and the “Elevated
Candle” (Sham-i-Bala) and it was in Balkh that the great Prophet Zoroaster was born.
It is said he is also interred there, according to the Persian poet Firdousi. For many years, Balkh was the central
hub of the Zoroastrian religion.
Farsi is a language spoken
in Iran and Greater Khorasan. Greater
Khorasan consisted of: Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and cities of Balkh, Samarqand and Bukhara. Of some interest is the fact that the
ancestral homeland of Sayyid Idries Shah, namely the town of Paghman in Afghanistan, is less than two hundred miles
from this very same area identified with Padmasambhava, Rabia and Rumi!
Jalaluddin Balkhi (more commonly
known as Jalaluddin Rumi) was born to a Tajik family in Balkh in 1207. Tajik is synonymous to Persian, it refers to eastern Iranian people who
live in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and the rest of central Asia. Balkh was the most prominent cities then in the Persian province of Khorasan, and it is now in northern Afghanistan.
Sayyid Idries Shah's traceable paternity places him within an obscure Afghan clan from Paghman,
a resort fifty miles from Kabul. His great-great-grandfather Muhammad
Shah was awarded the title 'Jan Fishan Khan' (The Zealot) in 1840. The specific Sufic link claimed by Sayyid Idries Shah first
appears in the person of his grandfather Amjed Ali Shah, the self-styled 'Nawab of Sardhana' and 'Naqshbundi Pugmani.' The
Naqshabandiyya were an important central Asian Sunni tariqat, associated with the
name of Baha ad-Din Naqshband (CE 1318–1389).
Rabe'a Balkhi (Persians also called her Rabi'ah bint Kaab Quzdari or Ghozdary (in Persian),
or just as Rabe'ah was most likely the first poetess in the history of Persian Poetry. She was born and died in Balkh.
Sufis often name a saint by adding on to their first name the name of the town in which the saint was born. Therefore, Rabe’a
Balkhi means “Rabe’a of Balkh”. And so Balkh was a nexus point, a world navel, in which
the marvelous happened, and from which the marvelous became what we know as Sufism, Zoroastrianism and Tibetan Buddhism. They
were all cooked in the oven of Balkh.
Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra,
Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the
one uncreated Creator of all (God). As demonstrated by Zoroastrian creed and articles of faith, the two terms are effectively
synonymous. In a declaration of the creed - the Fravarānē - the adherent states: "I profess myself a devotee of
Mazda, a follower of Zarathustra." (Yasna 12.2, 12.8)
Zoroastrianism was once the dominant religion of much of Greater Iran. As of 2007, the faith has dwindled to very small
numbers; many sources suggest that it is practiced by fewer than 200,000 people worldwide.
Padmasambhava reawakened a particular fusion of Manichaeism and
Buddhism in the 8th century in Tibet. This revived synthesis became known as Vajrayana or Thunderbolt. The
highest vehicle of Buddhism, also known as the Third Vehicle, is Vajrayana.
Padmasambhava, was the great founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The Sanskrit meaning of the name Padmasambhava
is “lotus-born.” In the 8th century, Padmasambhava brought Tantric Buddhism to the spiritual country of Tibet. Within Himalayan caves, lakes,
forests, and fields, Padmasambhava secreted treasures, specifically religious treasures called termas. He did this so that the future spiritual treasure finders or tertöns would
find them and interpret their meaning for a different world. One of those treasures, according to Tibetan tradition, the famous Tibetan Book of the Dead, or “Bardo Thodol,”
is one of those treasures that was discovered by the Tibetan tertön Karma Lingpa.
Padmasambhava is regarded as the second
Buddha in Bhutan and Tibet by followers of the Nyingma school, where he is better known as Guru Rinpoche
("Precious Master"). He has also been called Arunagiri
Babaji. Like Khezr, Guru Rinpoche appears to each individual human being in a unique way, in the form that fits in with their
spiritual world-view. Therefore, in one sense, Guru Rinpoche has as many biographies as there are people on Earth. Some have
speculated that not only are these two myths of Khezr and Guru Rinpoche similar, they are in fact, one being.
It is believed by some that the Prophet Mani was the source of the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Others are of the opinion that Padmasambhava is the source of the Buddhist Dzogchen teachings
in Tibet. In either case, it is evident that Dzogchen was introduced to Tibet by way of Central Asia. The Dzogchen teachings
are the heart of the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism, with which they are primarily associated.
There is also a tradition
that Dzogchen, and Padmasambhava, come from a place called Oddiyana in Shamballa. Texts from the archeological site in Dunhuang identify Oddiyana as Shamis en Balkh in modern day Balkh, Afghanistan where many ruins, Buddhist stupas and monasteries exist.
"According to Kuznetsov, Bön was introduced to Tibet
in the fifth century BCE, when there occurred a mass migration of Iranians from Sogdhiana in north-east Iran
to the northern parts of Tibet," writes June Campbell in "Traveller in Space".
“Bön was existent in Padmasambhava's time when he organized
the Tibetan people and although Nyingma is said in later terma treasure times to
have originated with Padmasambhava, it is more likely that such goes farther back to at least the time of the influx of Manichaeanism
into the area. The similarities of Bön to Nyingma, once thought to have been borrowed after Padmasambhava's time, is now seen
by the most astute scholars to be signs of their mutual antiquity in the pre-Padmasambhava landscape of central Asia,”
writes Abba Yesai Nasrai.
He continues, “Manichaean elements are especially discernible
in Buddhist schools such as the pure land sect and continued to influence the unique development of Vajrayana Buddhism in
The reader may well ask, “What is the relationship of Sufism to Buddhism,” or for
that matter to the Bön religion or to Dzogchen. The author asks that the reader notices that we are tracing the path of the
True Light, and the Living Waters of Life. Of course, the True Light may be found shining in many places on the planet Earth,
but it requires careful discrimination and a spiritually refined nature to recognize the True Light of Life when it appears.
The Waters of Life will at sometimes flow through one form of spirituality and sometimes through
another form, at times moving back and forth. The reason for this is that spiritual movements oftentimes becomes so codified,
so ossified with dogma, so encrusted with cultural accretions, that the flow of the Waters of Life are choked off. Then the
Waters of Life appear in some other place and time. Therefore, we must carefully wend our way through various times and places,
in order to discover that presently the Waters of Life may be clearly found, and drunk from, in what is known as Western Sufism.
It is not simply a matter of saying which religion or path is best. The matter lies in discovering where the Waters of Life
are flowing at this particular moment in time.