GPS for the Soul: Wisdom of the Master - Book Review & Excerpt

I just finished reading this beautifully written spiritual memoir by Dana Hayne, titled: GPS for the Soul: Wisdom of the Master.

Published by Balboa Press, I obtained the Kindle Edition and couldn't put it down until I finished it. And I was not surprised when I came to read on Amazon that many other readers had the exactly same effect of the book on them.

I must confess, I have a special affinity for the Sufi Sheikh Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and when I discovered the author of this book wrote this memoir based on her time and cherished memory with this great spiritual being I was already hooked. Dana met this mystic from Sri Lanka in 1973 and spent some remarkable thirteen years with him until his veiling from the world.

In the book the author takes the reader on a enjoyable journey with wit and wisdom as she explores topics such as the first years of marriage, miracles, addictions, fairy food, SIDS deaths, transplants, world peace and more under the tutelage of this master - His Holiness M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.

The author hopes that by sharing these vignettes from those years that others who are seeking that inner guide will be touched by the principles taught by His Holiness and be inspired to study the universal wisdom he left behind.

Bawa has remarkable ability to appear in people's dream and in this book we also get confirmation of that. It was Bawa who appeared in dreams of Coleman Barks and blessed his works of Rumi's translations. (click here to read about it)

The book give vignettes about time spent in Bawa's presence, his spontaneous songs that he would often break into, cooking, miracles, the author struggles in her journey and much more. Some time the incidents are so funny it couldn't stop laughing out loud. The book gives a rare glimpse also into living in a spiritual community in the experimental time of 70s. Its a story of finding one's spiritual guide and spiritual father.

A reader commented rightfully: This book points the way to make real progress on one's spiritual path. Engagingly written, the author eloquently takes us from her challenging young life, through an even darker time from which she emerged longing for guidance to Truth. In her case, she found this guidance in the wisdom of a Sufi Master, Bawa Muhayadeen. The book, however, is not about bringing the reader to any particular teacher. It is about the journey from Longing for Peace to living in Peace, following the unique way Truth is revealed to each one.

Here is how the author's first encounter with Bawa, may God saturate his soul with the highest grace:

"One early predawn morning, my new friend Dotty and I bundled into her battered but trustworthy rusty blue Mustang convertible and dropped down the New York State Thruway to the City of Brotherly Love for me to meet this holy man from Sri Lanka. On arrival, the two of us were ushered into the second-floor kitchen of the fellowship meeting house to wait—for what, I didn’t know...

 “Come darling!” she said, “Quickly! Put your tea down. We have to go see him. Now!”

Swooping the tail of her brilliantly colored royal-blue and gold sari over her head like a scarf, Najma took me by the hand and dragged me into Bawa’s room. She walked right up to the bed where he sat cross-legged, and she started rattling away to him in what I assumed was Tamil, his native language. I stood there bashful and uncertain, watching, not understanding. As she chortled, I watched.

Oh, indeed, this being in front of me was beautiful! There was no other word for him. His eyes! Vast, creamy pools that reflected the light of universes; the twinkle of constellations stared at me. Those eyes seemed like they could enfold you with the tenderness of the divine mother if your soul cried from its depths—or skewer you like a hawk should you get out of line. Unable to hold his gaze, I looked down and surreptitiously studied his form while Najma continued to babble to him. His limbs were long-muscled, thin, and supple like a reed, and he had long fingers and toes, narrow hips, and broad shoulders. His skin, a deep, nutty brown, stretched without wrinkle over high, high cheekbones above a mirthful, impish mouth with full lips and proverbial, pearly white teeth. What a curious combination of opposites was this being in front of me. On one hand, he appeared birdlike—light-boned, airy, and ethereal—but on the other, he appeared to have the coiled, contracted, ignition-ready energy of a runner awaiting the starting gun. His physical presence seemed incredibly exhilarating yet simultaneously profoundly still and peaceful. It was as though he possessed a deep, palpable silence, even when immensely active.

Suddenly, Najma and Bawa had stopped talking, and I found myself no longer the observer but the observed—for Bawa had turned his attention from Najma to me. From his perch, he beamed at me with the most beatific, penetrating gaze, such that I felt transparent—like glass, and like he could see through me. Standing there under the force of that unimaginable, unconditional love, I knew he could see all the dirt—all the questionable pieces I tried to hide from others so they might love me. But despite seeing all this dirt, he did love me. And for a moment, I felt adored. I felt pure and innocent. For a moment, I felt the bliss of being complete in all my God-given loveliness.

Unfortunately, this bliss was short-lived and I was brought back to the moment when Bawa addressed me in a high-pitched, singsong voice, which Najma translated.

“So, pullé [child], why did you take these drugs?”

What? What was he asking? Take the drugs? Well, gee! I didn’t know. How would I know? I’d never even thought about why. I just wanted to be in, and it seemed like drugs were part of the admission package.

“And pullé, your brother. Why did you give these drugs to your brother?”

Holy shit! My brother! How did he know I had a brother? Why was he asking me about him? How did he know that I had turned him on to drugs? By now my cheeks were burning with embarrassment. What was going on? In thirty seconds, I had gone from bliss to bummed!

Compassionately, Bawa broke our gaze. He motioned me forward, put his hand on my head, and recited what felt and sounded like prayers or a blessing. Then he placed an apple in my two hands, and he gently suggested that I not do that drug thing anymore."

Sometime the powerful moments with Bawa in the beautiful sharing by the author brings tears to my eyes. Here is one of the most favorite part from the book, the chapter is called Miracles: 

In the early days, I witnessed many miraculous events around this unassuming, little man... I recall the time, my five-year-old son was sick with one of those mysterious and worrisome childhood ailments. I had nursed him through the night as best I could, holding his feverish little body. I watched helplessly as every few minutes it contracted rhythmically in spasms, which were not unlike labor pains and caused his little person to scream and thrash around. The pediatrician was of little help...

By morning in response to my son's cries of, "Take me to Bawa!" I found myself, screwed tight with exhaustion and worry, standing in front of the sheikh. I stood behind my towhead tot, as he looked up, trusting and expectant to this bearded wise man, who had managed to capture his respect and his heart by nicknaming him Superman and sneaking him Hershey's kisses. I watched as Bawa solemnly placed his hand lightly on top of my son's head and invoked the grace and mercy of God, "Bismillahirahmanirrahim." and then grinned and announced, "Superman, go outside and play!"

With the ceremony concluded, my little man was delighted and all too happy to skip right out of the room. I, on the other hand, was a little stunned and could not move. This had all happened so quickly. My mind argued against the miracle just happened. What do you mean, Go outside and play? Mentally I cried, No, no, no! Bawa, you don't understand ! Its not that simple. He is sick! I mean really sick! I mean I've been up with him all night. You can't just make it better that easily. Oh, those laser eyes skewered me big time. I felt myself shrivel under Bawa's gaze of contempt, which seemed to scream, "You doubting Thomas!" For my son, the cure was complete, and he tugged my hand, pulling me in the direction of the door. My mind continued to argue the reality of what it had just witnessed. Dazed, I let innocence and faith lead me out of the room, "Come on, Mommy! Let's go play!" (end of quote)

The book is filled with such fascinating encounter with the mystic and I don't think in modern time we any longer have enough people who can bear witness to such illuminating souls. Its a gift to humanity that Dana Hayne has done in writing this memoir. The multi-dimensional facet of this tremendous character who was at the same time a spiritual leader, a community organizer, a social worker, a farmer, a peacemaker, a meticulous cook, a loving father to many children, a mystic, a super dedicated devotee of God, a spy of the heart and so many other attributes are to be discovered in the book.

The style of the book is such that the author described some of his experience living with the master, followed by sharing some of the wisdom teachings of Bawa, how she evolved through various challenges, incidents, encounters with and around the teacher. Time to time, some of her sharing took the form of a poem.

I highly recommend the book to all who wish to understand and taste what it means to sit near a true mystic and spiritual master.

Review from Amazon

I read this book in less then one day. It grabbed me right from the start. Dana shares with us her experience searching for truth in the purpose of life. At a young age, she found what she was looking for under the wisdom of a spiritual teacher from Sri Lanka, living with him communally on the outskirts of Philadelphia. She shares with real honesty all that she learned from this master including her own human mistakes and challenges. I personally took away many of the lessons that I can use to improve my own experience here on earth and be a more kind and loving friend, sister, daughter, person. Thank you Dana for sharing your Journey with those of us not fortunate enough to have lived through such a unique, special time.

~ A. Hillman, Amazon Reader

Driven by a desire for meaning and purpose, the author leaves behind the familiar and embarks on an adventure that takes her far from her home in Virginia to the Caribbean, to Israel, and finally and improbably, to a row house in Philadelphia—where she meets an authentic spiritual teacher from Sri Lanka.

The author captures the brilliance and great humor of her Sufi teacher, Bawa Muhyiyaddeen in the many exchanges they have over an eleven year period. She gives us a first hand glimpse into how a true teacher works with a seeker to help her understand the psychological and emotional defenses that have been grafted onto her original nature. With honesty and humility she conveys how difficult childhood issues can be dissolved and resolved through love, compassion and a deep well of trust. We see how the teacher painstakingly directs the seeker towards the kind of spiritual path that a person can walk on with certainty and security, relying on her own inner wisdom—the GPS for the soul.

~ Sally Green, Amazon

About the Author

Dana Hayne is a retired labor and delivery and maternity nurse. She received a bachelor of science in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, graduating magna cum laude. She lived and studied alongside His Holiness Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a spiritual teacher from Sri Lanka, for thirteen years
until his passing in 1986.

She continues to assist individuals in their healing journey as a medical tour guide to the Casa de Dominacio Healing Center in Brazil for the spiritual healer, John of God. She also volunteers with the chaplaincy and hospice services in her community hospital. Dana lives with Rodger, her husband of more than forty years, in the suburbs of Philadelphia where they enjoy their two sons and three grandchildren.

She can be reached at her Facebook Profile here.

You may get the Book, GPS for the Soul from AMAZON.

# Related Reading:

* One Through Love: Jalaluddin Rumi, Alive In Translation

Interview with American Sufi Artist Michael Green

# Drink from Bawa:

* You may find some video clips of the Master Bawa Muhaiyaddeen here on Youtube



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Technology of the Heart: GPS for the Soul: Wisdom of the Master - Book Review & Excerpt
GPS for the Soul: Wisdom of the Master - Book Review & Excerpt
Book Review and Excerpts of Dana Hayne's GPS for the Soul: Wisdom of the Master
Technology of the Heart
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