Erfan concerns the process of discovery, particularly discovering one’s true Self. However, this cannot be done through the five physical senses. In order to understand this better, let us turn to the nature of the true Self. For instance, when I look at myself in a mirror, does that mean that I have discovered myself? In a way yes, however, I have merely discovered my physical self, not my true Self. When we close our eyes, do we lose the connection to our true Self. Of course not! When we sleep, our five senses take a break from actively working and in that sense we are disconnected from the outside world. However, the awareness of oneself does not cease to exist. When we dream for example, we are aware that it is we who are dreaming and not somebody else. Therefore, we are not disconnected from our Self as a result of the reduced activity of the five senses. The five senses are not part of the essence of our true Self. Yet, what is this Self? The force that causes human beings to discover the outer world and connect to it is called Self. With Self we are referring to the essence, which is at the core of discovering the outer world. As such, even the body is part of our Self. Yet, the Self who knows everything and who would like to have awareness of everything is the part of the Self that cannot be experienced through the five physical senses. Instead, the use of suprasensorial perception becomes necessary on the path of self-discovery and this is what is referred to as Erfan or Gnosticism. Through this process of discovering our True Self, we can also discover God. “Discover yourself so that you can discover your God”. Indeed, there is nothing closer to your Self than you. When we want to discover the Self through contemplation, meditation, we realise that we cannot discover the Self by the logic of the mind or the five physical senses. We therefore need a direct method. A technique that already the mystics have used in order to discover their Self.
But what does this technique consist of and what does it require?
The first step to discover the Self requires the learning of a specific method as every type of knowledge requires a method of learning. For example, subjects such as astronomy, chemistry or astrology all include a specific way of conducting research, a learning method, and necessitate the guidance of a teacher from whom these specific techniques of learning and conducting research can be learned. The same principle applies to Erfan. At the core of the teachings that the students, who want to know their Self and God, receive from their Master are methods and techniques that employ the suprasensorial way of knowing. This is what we refer to as Sufism. When students reach out to a Master in order to receive the teachings of Sufism, the Master introduces them first of all to a method that will allow them to strengthen their heightened awareness. He or she will then discuss with them ways of practicing and strengthen their heightened awareness. For example, the Master tells the students that no one is closer to their true Self than they are and that we as humans have merely become distant and alienated from our Self. The Master therefore teaches the students to remember their true Self and to become one with this Self again. In order to remember one’s Self a mantra can be repeated that is specific to the student. As one picks up this method the ignorance between oneself and one’s true essence becomes less. It is like a mirror that has been covered with rust. When the mirror becomes gradually polished, the rust will disappear and it will be able to reflect the light that shines on it. For this reason, these methods, that the Master teaches the students, are not meant to limit the students or become an obstacle in their daily life by preventing them from, for instance, pursuing their academic education or staying committed to their social life, work and family responsibilities. To the contrary, the methods, that the Sufi Master teaches, run parallel to everything that the students do during their twenty-four hours of daily activity. Practicing these techniques will lead the students to remember the true Self, the Self that has been forgotten. As in the picture of the mirror and the rust. The rust is the dark layer, covering the mirror and once it has become polished, the mirror can reflect the light.