As fresh as a Dewdrop

Osho on Sufi Mystic Moinuddin Chishti

Born in 1143, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was a Persian Sunni Muslim preacher and sayyid, ascetic, religious scholar, philosopher, and mystic from Sistan who eventually ended up settling in the Indian subcontinent in the early 13th-century, where he promulgated the famous Chishtiyya order  of Sunni mysticism. This particular tariqa  (order) became the dominant Muslim spiritual group in medieval India and many of the most beloved and venerated Indian Sunni saints were Chisti  in their affiliation, including Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusrow.

As such, Chishtī’s legacy rests primarily on his having been “one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Islamic mysticism.” Additionally Chishtī is also notable, according to John Esposito, for having been one of the first major Islamic mystics to formally allow his followers to incorporate the “use of music” in their devotions, liturgies, and hymns to God, which he did in order to make the foreign Arab faith more relatable to the indigenous peoples who had recently entered the religion.

Osho talks about Sufi masters and says,The Sufi Master helps you to gather courage. The Sufi Master, by THIS example, by his being, by his presence, creates the longing for the impossible. Stirs your heart. Gives a new life release to your breathing. Pulsates you with a new passion for God. But this is not philosophy. He does not solve a question at all. Yes, he helps you to dissolve all questions, but he never solves a question. So the first thing to be understood is: Sufism is practical, very very down-to-earth. Sufism likes people like Zorba the Greek, because they are the people who can become Zorba the Buddha — only they are the people who can become.”

The first thing to be understood is that complex things can be understood, simple things cannot. A simple thing is alone. This Joshu story is very simple. It is so simple it escapes you: you try to grip it, you try to grab it — it escapes. It is so simple that your mind cannot work on it. Try to feel the story. I will not say try to understand because you cannot understand it — try to feel the story. Many things are hidden if you try to feel them; if you try to understand it nothing is there — the whole anecdote is absurd.

Joshu saw one monk and asked, “Have I seen you before?”

The man said, “No sir, there is no possibility. I have come for the first time, I am a stranger — you could not have seen me before.

Joshu said, “Okay, then have a cup of tea.”Then he asked another monk, “Have I seen you before?”

The monk said, “Yes sir, you must have seen me. I have always been here; I am not a stranger.”

The monk must have been a disciple of Joshu’s, and Joshu said, “Okay, then have a cup of tea.”

The manager of the monastery was puzzled: with two different persons responding in different ways, two different answers were needed. But Joshu responded in the same way — to the stranger and to the friend, to one who has come for the first time and to one who has been here always. To the unknown and to the known Joshu responded in the same way. He made no distinction, none at all. He didn’t say, “You are a stranger. Welcome! Have a cup of tea.” He didn’t say to the other, “You have always been here, so there is no need for a cup of tea.” Nor did he say, “You have always been here so there is no need to respond.”

Familiarity creates boredom; you never receive the familiar. You never look at your wife. She has been with you for many, many years and you have completely forgotten that she exists. What is the face of your wife? Have you looked at her recently? You may have completely forgotten her face. If you close your eyes and meditate and remember, you may remember the face you looked on for the first time. But your wife has been a flux, a river, constantly changing. The face has changed; now she has become old. The river has been flowing and flowing, new bends have been reached; the body has changed. Have you looked at her recently? Your wife is so familiar there is no need to look. We look at something which is unfamiliar; we look at something which strikes us as strange. They say familiarity breeds contempt: it breeds boredom.

I have heard one anecdote: two businessmen, very rich, were relaxing on Miami Beach. They were lying down, taking a sunbath. One said, “I can never understand what people see in Elizabeth Taylor, the actress. I don’t understand what people see, why they become so mad. What is there? You take her eyes away, you take her hair away, you take her lips away, you take her figure away, and what is left, what have you got?”

The other man grunted, became sad and replied, “My wife — that’s what’s left.”

That is what has become of your wife, of your husband — nothing is left. Because of familiarity, everything has disappeared. Your husband is a ghost; your wife is a ghost with no figure, with no lips, with no eyes — just an ugly phenomenon. This has not always been so. You fell in love with this woman once. That moment is there no longer; now you don’t look at her at all. Husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. I have stayed with many families and watched husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. They have created many games to avoid looking; they are always uneasy when they are left alone. A guest is always welcome; both can look at the guest and avoid each other.

Joshu seems to be absolutely different, behaving in the same way with a stranger and a friend. The monk said, “I have always been here sir, you know me well.”

And Joshu said, “Then have a cup of tea.” The manager couldn’t understand. Managers are always stupid; to manage, a stupid mind is needed. And a manager can never be deeply meditative. It is difficult: he has to be mathematical, calculating; he has to see the world and arrange things accordingly. The manager became disturbed. What is this? What is happening? This looks illogical. It’s okay to offer a cup of tea to a stranger but to this disciple who has always been here? So he asked, “Why do you respond in the same way to different persons, to different questions?”

Joshu called loudly, “Manager, are you here?”

The manager said, “Yes sir, of course I am here.”

And Joshu said, “Then have a cup of tea.” This asking loudly, “Manager, are you here?” is calling his presence, his awareness. Awareness is always new, it is always a stranger, the unknown. The body becomes familiar not the soul — never. You may know the body of your wife; you will never know the unknown hidden person, never. That cannot be known, you cannot know it. It is a mystery; you cannot explain it. When Joshu called, “Manager, are you here?” suddenly the manager became aware. He forgot that he was a manager, he forgot that he was a body; he responded from his heart. He said, “Yes sir.”

This asking loudly was so sudden, it was just like a shock. And it was futile, that’s why he said, “Of course I am here. You need not ask me, the question is irrelevant.” Suddenly the past, the old, the mind, dropped. The manager was there no more — simply a consciousness was responding. Consciousness is always new, constantly new; it is always being born; it is never old. And Joshu said, “Then have a cup of tea.”      The first thing to be felt is that for Joshu, everything is new, strange, mysterious. Whether it is the known or the unknown, the familiar or the unfamiliar, it makes no difference. If you come to this garden every day, by and by you will stop looking at the trees. You will think you have already looked at them, that you know them. By and by you will stop listening to the birds; they will be singing, but you will not listen. You will have become familiar; your eyes are closed, your ears are closed. If Joshu comes to this garden — and he may have been coming every day for many, many lives — he will hear the birds, he will look at the trees. Everything, every moment, is new for him. This is what awareness means.

For awareness everything is constantly new. Nothing is old, nothing can be old. Everything is being created every moment — it is a continuous flow of creativity. Awareness never carries memory as a burden. The first thing: a meditative mind always lives in the new, in the fresh. The whole existence is newly born — as fresh as a dewdrop, as fresh as a leaf coming out in the spring. It is just like the eyes of a newborn babe: everything is fresh, clear, with no dust on it. This is the first thing to be felt. If you look at the world and feel everything is old, it shows you are not meditative. When you feel everything is old, it shows you have an old mind, a rotten mind. If your mind is fresh, the world is fresh. The world is not the question, the mirror is the question. If there is dust on the mirror the world is old; if there is no dust on the mirror how can the world be old?

If things get old you will live in boredom; everybody lives in boredom; everybody is bored to death. Look at people’s faces. They carry life as a burden — boring, with no meaning. It seems that everything is just a nightmare, a very cruel joke, that somebody is playing a trick, torturing them. Life is not a celebration, it cannot be. With a mind burdened by memory, life cannot be a celebration. Even if you laugh, your laughter carries boredom. Look at people laughing: they laugh with an effort. Their laugh may be just to be mannerly, their laugh may be just etiquette…It is a mental thing, they are making an effort; their laughter is false. It is painted, it is just on the lips, it is an exercise of the face. It is not coming from their being, from the source, it is not coming from the belly; it is a created thing. It is obvious that we are bored, and whatsoever we do will come out of this boredom and will create more boredom. You cannot celebrate. Celebration is possible only when existence is a continuous newness, and existence is always young. When nothing grows old, when nothing really dies — because everything is constantly reborn — it becomes a dance. Then it is an inner music flowing. Whether you play an instrument or not is not the point, the music is flowing.

I have heard a story. It happened in Ajmer… You must have heard about one Sufi mystic, Moinuddin Chishti, whose dargah, whose tomb, is in Ajmer. Chishti was a great mystic, one of the greatest ever born, and he was a musician. To be a musician is to be against Islam because music is prohibited. He played on the sitar and on other instruments. He was a great musician and he enjoyed it. Five times every day, when a Mohammedan is required to pray the five ritual prayers, he wouldn’t pray, he would simply play on his instrument. That was his prayer. This was absolutely anti-religious but nobody could say anything to Chishti. Many times people would come to tell him so and he would start singing, and the song would be so beautiful they would forget completely why they had come. He would start playing on his instrument and it would be so prayerful that even scholars and pundits and maulvis who had come to object, wouldn’t object. They would remember at home; when they were back at home they would remember why they had come.

Chisthi’s fame spread over the world. From every part of the world, people started coming. One man, Jilani, himself a great mystic, came from Baghdad just to see Chishti. When Chishti heard that Jilani was coming he felt, “To pay respect to Jilani it will not be good to play my instrument now. Because he is such an orthodox Mohammedan, it will not be a good welcome. He may feel hurt.” So only for that day, in his whole life, he decided he would not play, he would not sing. He waited from morning and in the afternoon Jilani came. Chishti had hidden his instruments. When Jilani came and they both sat in silence, the instruments started to make music — the whole room was filled. Chishti became very puzzled over what to do. He had hidden them, and such music he had never known before. Jilani laughed and said, “Rules are not for you, you need not hide them. Rules are for ordinary people, rules are not for you — you should not hide them. How can you hide your soul? Your hands may not play, you may not sing from your throat, but your whole being is musical. And this whole room is filled with so much music, with so many vibrations that now the whole room is playing by itself.”

When your mind is fresh the whole existence becomes a melody. When you are fresh, freshness is everywhere and the whole existence responds. When you are young, not burdened by memory, everything is young and new and strange.      This Joshu is wonderful. This has to be felt deeply, then you will be able to understand. But that understanding will be more like feeling than understanding — not mental but from the heart. Many more dimensions are hidden in this story. Another dimension is that when you come to an enlightened person whatsoever you say makes no difference, his response will be the same. Your questions, your answers are not meaningful, not relevant; his response will be the same. To all the three Joshu responded in the same way because an enlightened person remains the same. No situation changes him; the situation is not relevant. You are changed by the situation, you are completely changed; you are manipulated by the situation. Meeting a person who is a stranger, you behave differently. You are more tense, trying to judge the situation: What type of man is this? Is he dangerous, not dangerous? Will he prove friendly or not? You look with fear. That’s why with strangers you feel an uneasiness…

If you see a stranger you have a different face; if you see a friend, immediately the face changes; if your servant is there you have a different face; if your master is there you have a different face. You continuously change your masks because you depend on the situation. You don’t have a soul, you are not integrated, things around you change you. That is not the case with a Joshu. With a Joshu, the case is totally different. He changes his surroundings, he is not changed by his surroundings. Whatsoever happens around him is irrelevant, his face remains the same; there is no need to change the mask.

It is reported that once a governor came to see Joshu. Of course, he was a great politician, a powerful man — a governor. He wrote on a paper, “I have come to see you,” his name, and governor of this-and-this state. He must have knowingly or unknowingly wanted to influence Joshu.

Joshu looked at the paper, threw it away and said to the man who had brought the message, “Say I don’t want to see this fellow at all. Throw him out.”

The man went and said, “Joshu has said, ‘Throw him out.’ He has thrown your paper away and said, ‘I don’t want to see this fellow.’ “

The governor understood. He wrote again on a paper just his name and, “I would like to see you.”

The paper reached Joshu and he said, “So this is the fellow! Bring him in.”

The governor came in and he asked, “But why did you behave in such a strange way? You said, ‘Throw this man out.’ “

Joshu said, “Faces are not allowed here, “Governor” is a face, a mask. I recognize you very well, but I don’t recognize masks, and if you have come with a mask you are not allowed. Now it is okay; I know you very well but I don’t know any governor. The next time you come leave the governor behind, leave it at your house; don’t bring it with you.”


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: A Bird on the Wing Chapter #4

Chapter title: Have a Cup of Tea.

13 June 1974 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on Sufi Masters and Mystics Al-Hillaj-Mansoor, Junnaid, Bayazid, Rabiya Al Adabiya, Jalaladdin Rumi, Sarmad, Omar Khayyam, Moinuddin Chishti and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Be Still and Know
  2. Come Come Yet Again Come
  3. The Perfect Master, Vol 1, 2
  4. Beyond Enlightenment
  5. The New Dawn
  6. The Sword and The Lotus
  7. Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
  8. And the Flowers Showered
  9. The Razor’s Edge
  10. The Revolution
  11. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2
  12. The Empty Boat
  13. Light on the Path
  14. Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 2
  15. Zen: The Quantum Leap From Mind to No-Mind
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