Osho on Sufi Msytic Al-Hillaj Mansoor
Born in 858 CE in the Farz town of Persia, Al-Hillaj Mansoor was a Persian mystic, poet and a teacher of Sufism. He is best known for his saying: “I am the Truth” (Ana’l-Ḥaqq). Al-Ḥallāj was attracted to an ascetic way of life at an early age. Not satisfied with merely having learned the Qurʾān (the Islāmic scripture) by heart, he was motivated to understand its deeper and inner meanings. During his adolescence (c. 874–894), at a time when Islamic mysticism was in its formative period, he began to withdraw from the world and to seek the company of individuals who were able to instruct him in the Ṣūfī way.
His best known written work is the Book of al-Tawasin (كتاب الطواسين),in which he used line diagrams and symbols to help him convey mystical experiences that he could not express in words. Among other Sufis, Al-Hallaj was an anomaly. Many Sufi masters felt that it was inappropriate to share mysticism with the masses, yet Al-Hallaj openly did so in his writings and through his teachings. This was exacerbated by occasions when he would fall into trances which he attributed to being in the presence of God. The milieu in which al-Ḥallāj preached and wrote was filled with social, economic, political, and religious tensions—all factors that contributed to his later arrest. His thought and activity had been provocative and had been interpreted in various ways, some of which left him highly suspect in the eyes of civil and religious authorities. Not long before his arrest al-Ḥallāj is said to have uttered the statement “Anā al-ḥaqq” (“I am the Truth”—i.e., God), which provided cause for the accusation that he had claimed to be divine. Such a statement was highly inappropriate in the view of most Muslims. After his arrest in Sūs and a lengthy period of confinement (c. 911–922) in Baghdad, al-Ḥallāj was eventually crucified and brutally tortured to death. A large crowd witnessed his execution. He is remembered to have endured gruesome torture calmly and courageously and to have uttered words of forgiveness for his accusers
Osho, when he mentions about Mansoor, says “Mansoor they murdered, butchered, and now Sufis go on claiming that he is one of the greatest Sufis. When he was being killed, even these Sufis were standing in the crowd and watching. And nobody even protested — not even a very famous Sufi, Junaid, who was present in the crowd and who knew perfectly well that Mansoor was innocent, that Mansoor’s declaration “I am God!” was not against God. Mansoor’s declaration that “I am God!” was not a sin. In fact, Mansoor was no more there — God had declared himself through him. Junaid knew it, but still was afraid of the crowd, kept quiet. And when people were throwing stones and mud to humiliate and to insult the dying man, he also threw a roseflower — for two reasons. Must have been a very diplomatic mind: so people knew that he was also throwing something, that he was not in favour of Mansoor, and Mansoor would know that he had not thrown a stone or mud — he had thrown a roseflower. But the story is tremendously beautiful… When he was being hit by stones and his whole body was oozing blood, he was laughing, he was in a state of celebration, because he was being sacrificed in the name of God. It was a moment to celebrate! But when he was hit by the rose flower, he wept — the story says Mansoor wept. Somebody standing nearby asked him, “What is the matter with you? Stones are being thrown at you; all over the body you have been wounded, blood is flowing from everywhere, and you kept laughing and smiling. And a rose flower hit you, and you wept?”Mansoor said, “Yes, because the man who has thrown the rose flower knows that I am innocent. Still he is not courageous enough to say so. The others who are throwing stones at me are ignorant — I am praying for them, I am praying to God, ‘Forgive them because they know not what they are doing.’ But I cannot pray for this man who has thrown the rose, that’s why I am crying and weeping. What should I do now? I cannot say to God, ‘Forgive this man because he knows not what he is doing’ — he knows perfectly well what he is doing, and he knows perfectly well that I am absolutely innocent.” Now, Sufis go on claiming that Mansoor was one of the greatest enlightened people of the world, now they worship him. The ways of man are very strange. This world is really very flat as far as spirituality is concerned. And the so-called spirituality is very boring too. And the so-called spirituality is more or less rubbish — rubbish that has gathered down the ages: theories, thoughts, systems, but not a single iota of experience.”
What is God?
It depends on you. Your God will be your God, my God will be my God. There are as many Gods as there are possibilities of looking at God. It is natural. We cannot go beyond our plane; we can only be aware of God through our eyes, through our minds. God will be just a reflection in our small mirror. That’s why there are so many concepts about God. It is like the moon in the sky on a full moon night. There are millions of rivers and reservoirs and oceans and small streams and small puddles on the road — they will all reflect God, they will all reflect the moon. A small puddle will reflect the moon in its own way and the big ocean will reflect it in its own way.
Then there is great controversy. Hindus say something, Mohammedans say something else, Christians say something else again — and so on, so forth. The controversy is foolish. The conflict is meaningless.
God is reflected in millions of ways, in millions of mirrors. Each mirror reflects in its own way. This is one of the fundamentals to be understood. Not understanding this fundamental there is naturally antagonism between religions, because they all think, ‘If our standpoint is right then the other has to be wrong.’ Their rightness depends on the other’s wrongness. This is stupid. God is infinite, and you can look at him through many ways, through many windows. And naturally you can look at him only through yourself — you will be the window. Your God will reflect God as much as it will reflect you; you will both be there.
When Mansoor says something, he is saying something about himself. This tremendously beautiful statement — ‘THEN THE UNION… THEN THE FUSION’ — is much more about al-Hillaj Mansoor than about God. This is Mansoor’s God. This is Mansoor’s unique experience.
Mansoor was murdered, crucified, like Jesus. Mohammedans could not understand him. This happens always. You cannot understand any point higher than your own. It becomes a danger to you. If you accept it, then you accept that there is some possibility which is higher than you. That hurts the ego, that humiliates. You would like to destroy a Mansoor or a Christ or a Socrates just for a single reason: that you cannot conceive, you cannot concede, that there is a possibility of some higher standpoint than yours. You seem to believe that you are the last thing in existence; that you are the paradigm, that you are the climax, that there is no beyond. This is the attitude of the stupid and the irreligious mind.
The religious mind is always open. The religious mind is never confined by its own limitations. It keeps remembering that there is no end to growth; one can go on growing.
It is said in the Bible that God created man in his own image. This is a human statement; it says nothing about God. It simply says something about man. It is man writing about himself. Naturally man thinks in terms which are anthropomorphic. Man thinks in terms of man being the centre of existence. God created man in his own image. He has to… at least in human scriptures he has to follow the human mind and the human ego. Just the contrary is the case. Man has created God in his own image. Man’s God is a human God. You can see. You can go into the temples and you can see the images of God. They are made in the form of human beings — a little better, more beautiful but still a modification, a decoration of the human body. They have human eyes with a little more compassion, just a little more is added. The ideal human being, that’s what our Gods are.
When Nietzsche declared that God was dead, he was in fact not saying anything against God himself, he was simply saying that the God that we have followed up to now is no Longer applicable because man has grown up. The God that we have been following up to now was a childish, juvenile God. Humanity was juvenile. Somebody worshipping a stone as God is saying a very, very primitive thing. His statement is very primitive, pagan. Somebody worshipping an idol is a little better, but still limited. All forms are limited. Somebody worshipping a tree… a little more alive because the tree has a kind of vitality. God is vital, the tree participates in god so it is vital. God is green and fresh and so is the tree; and God blooms and the tree blooms, there is an at-oneness. But a tree is a tree. It may be a faraway reflection of the divine, but to worship the tree as God is ignorant. Somebody worshipping a river may be right in his own way — because the river also expresses the divine, everything expresses him — but everything expresses him in a limited way. He is all. So no single thing can express him in his totality. How can a single thing express him in his totality? If you worship the tree, what about the river? If you worship the river, what about the sun? If you worship the sun, what about the moon? You are worshipping only one thing — and because it is limited and one, it cannot represent all.
When Nietzsche said ‘God is dead’, he was saying that all formulations of God up to now have become irrelevant. Man has gone beyond them; man has become more mature. Man needs new Gods every time. As man becomes more mature he needs a more mature God. Look in the Old Testament. God is ferocious, very jealous. God declares, ‘I am a very jealous God. If you worship somebody else I will be your enemy. I will torture you in hell. I will throw you into fire.’ This seems to be a very primitive God; seems to be conceived of by a Genghis Khan — not very cultured, not very sophisticated yet. The Hindu God is far more sophisticated. Krishna with his flute is far more cultured. But Buddha reaches to the very peak because he drops the idea of God. He talks about godliness. The very word ‘God’ makes God like a thing: defined, clear-cut, solid, concrete, like a rock. Buddha drops the very idea. He says, ‘There is godliness but there is no God. There is divineness. Existence is full of divineness, BHAGWATA, but there is no God like a person sitting there on a golden throne controlling, managing, creating. No, there is no God as a person. The whole existence is full of divinity, that is true. It is overflowing with godliness.’
Now this is a far higher concept, we drop the limitations of a person.
We make god more like a process. The ancient concept says that God created the world, he was the creator. Buddha does not agree. He says, ‘God is creativity, not a creator.’ God is one with his creativity. So whenever you are creating something you participate in God. When a painter is lost in his painting, when he is completely absorbed in his painting, he is no longer an ordinary painter. He is divine in that moment of absorption. THEN THE UNION… THEN THE FUSION. A dancer lost utterly in his dance is a human no more; hence the beauty, hence the utter beauty. Even those who are just spectators, even they start feeling something strange, incredible, fantastic, happening.
It happened that for nine years before al-Hillaj Mansoor was crucified he was confined in a jail. And he was tremendously happy because he used those nine years for constant meditation. Outside there were always disturbances, distractions — friends, followers, the society, the world, the worries. He was very happy. The day he was put into jail he thanked God from his very heart. He said, ‘You love me so much. Now you have given me complete protection from the world and there is nothing left except you and me.’ THEN THE UNION… THEN THE FUSION. Those nine years were of tremendous absorption. And after those nine years it was decided that he had to be crucified, because he had not changed a bit. On the contrary, he had gone farther in the same direction. His direction was that he started declaring, ‘I am God — AN-EL-HAQ! I am the truth, I am the reality.’
His Master, al-Junaid, tried to persuade him in many ways — ‘Don’t say these things! Keep them inside you, because the people won’t understand it and you will be getting into trouble unnecessarily!’ But it was beyond Mansoor. Whenever he was in that state — what Sufis call HAL — whenever he was in that state, he would start singing and dancing. And those utterances would simply overflow; it was not possible for him to control them. There was nobody to control; all control was lost. Junaid understood his state, but he knew the state of the people too — that sooner or later Mansoor would be thought to be anti-religious. His declaration, ‘I am God,’ was a fact, his experience was there behind it, but people didn’t understand it. They would take it as arrogance, as ego, and there would be trouble. And the trouble came. After nine years they decided that he had not changed a bit; in fact he had grown deeper into it. Now he was continuously declaring, ‘AN-EL-HAQ! I am the truth! I am God!’ So finally they decided that he had to be crucified.
When they went to take him out from his prison cell, it was very difficult — because he was in a HAL, in that mystic state. He was no longer a person, he was just pure energy. How to drag pure energy out? The people who went there were just struck dumb! What was happening in that dark cell was so fantastic! It was so luminous. Mansoor was surrounded by an aura not of this world. Mansoor was not there as a person. Sufis have TWO words for it: one is BAKA, another is FANA. BAKA means you are defined by a personality, you have a definition around you, you have a demarcation line that this is you. FANA means that you are dissolved into God and you don’t have any definition. BAKA IS like an ice cube and FANA is like the ice cube which has melted and become one with the river. This constantly happens to the mystics: they move from BAKA to FANA, from FANA to BAKA. It is almost like day and night. By and by there comes a kind of rhythm. Sometimes you will find the mystic in the state of BAKA — and when you find him in the state of BAKA you will see the most unique individuality that has ever been seen. In the state of BAKA he will be a unique individual — very original, very pure, clear-cut, he will be like a peak standing against the sky, or like a star in the dark night — so clear, so separate, so individual. That is the meaning of BAKA — individual.
You will not find these kinds of individuals in the ordinary world. There are people but not individuals, persons but not individuals. A person is one who has no individuality; he is just an anonymous part of a mass. He lives like they live, he talks like they talk, he eats like they eat, he goes to the movie that they go to, he purchases the car that they purchase, he makes a house like they make — he is continuously following ‘they’, the mass, the collectivity, the crowd. He is not himself; he is very confused. His boundary lines are very messy. They are there but they are in a mess; they are not clear-cut. If you look into him you will not find him there. You will find layers upon layers of conditioning. He will be a Mohammedan because he was born in a Mohammedan house. He will be a Hindu because he was born into a Hindu family. He will be reciting the Gita because his father used to recite it — and his father’s father. For ages they have been reciting it, so he is reciting it. It all seems accidental. He has no uniqueness in him. He is just a part. He lives like they live, he dies like they die. He lives their life, he dies their death. He never asserts himself, he is never rebellious. This is the state of the ordinary personality. This is not individuality.
Individuality arises only when you become very clear-cut, when you attain an original shape of your being, when you do your thing, when you don’t care what others say, when you are ready to sacrifice your whole life for your freedom, when freedom becomes your ultimate value and nothing else matters — then you become BAKA, individual. And this is the paradox: only individuals can go into FANA, into that utter dissolution, desolation, into that utter disappearance. First you have to be, only then can you disappear. If you are not, then what is going to disappear? First you have to detach yourself from the crowd, only then can you take the jump. So this is the paradox: the man in the state of BAKA can go into the state of FANA, and only he can go.
The mass man cannot go into FANA because he does not know who he is. He has no address yet, he has no name yet, he has no identity yet. He is just a number. He can be replaced very easily, he’s replaceable. He is just a part doing a certain kind of work. He is a function. For example, he may be an engineer. If he dies, you can put another engineer there and nobody will miss him. Or he may be a doctor. If he dies, you place another doctor there and nobody will miss him. He is a replaceable part, he is a function.
But the man of BAKA is not a function; he has a totally different kind of quality in his being. He will be missed forever and ever. Once he is gone you cannot replace him. You cannot replace Jesus. You can replace the pope of the Vatican; many times you have replaced him. Each time one pope dies he is replaced. You can replace the Shankaracharya of Puri very easily, there is no problem — one dies and you put another there. But you cannot replace the original Shankaracharya. You cannot replace Jesus, you cannot replace Mohammed. Once gone they are gone forever. They exist as unique individuals — that is the state of BAKA. And they are the only people capable of going into FANA. It looks contradictory, because FANA means losing all your definition, losing all your being. But first you have to have the being to lose it. How can you lose it if you don’t have it? How can you renounce it if you don’t have it? So the paradox is only apparent. It has a very, very universal law behind it. First you have to have something in order to drop it. First gather together. IT IS THE GATHERING TOGETHER THEN THE SILENCE. First gather together, integrate, become BAKA, and then you can go into FANA…
When this man was being carried from the cell, the officers who had come to take him out could not find exactly where he was. He was there, utterly there. The whole cell was full of a radiance, a presence — very solid yet indefinable. They could not enter the cell. They stood there in awe, in wonder — ‘What to do?’ Finally they gathered courage. They tried to pull him out but they could not. Then there was only one way: his Master al-Junaid was asked to come and help because the time was passing and Mansoor had to be crucified and they could not get him out.
Al-Junaid came and he said, ‘Mansoor, now listen. A thousand and one times I have told you to surrender to God. If he wants you to be crucified, then be ordinary and be crucified. Let him do his work. Enough is enough?’ And when al-Junaid shouted, Mansoor came back out of the FANA into the BAKA. Again there was a demarcation line; he was no longer a cloud, he became concrete and solid. The boundaries appeared. The Master had come and he had to listen to his Master.
Then he was taken to the gallows. It was very difficult to kill him. One thousand wounds were made on his body — still he was alive. Then they started cutting off his limbs, but still he was alive — because on the cross he again lost the state of BAKA and went into the state of FANA. He got lost again into ecstasy, into that energy that is God.
God is energy for a man of the state of Mansoor. God is consciousness for the man of the state of Buddha. God is love for Christ. He is not a person. These three L’s have to be learned: God is love, life, light.
You have heard about the three R’s. The three R’s make you civilised. These three L’s make you religious.
Be more alive — so much so that you become one with life. Then let love arise so much that you start overflowing with love. Then you know no boundaries. Then out of you a new kind of light starts arising, a luminousness.
These three ‘L’s’ have to be learned, and those three ‘R’s’ have to be forgotten. The whole philosophy of Sufism is to approach God as cosmic energy, with no concept.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
Chapter title: Here, Now, This….
29 August 1977 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on Sufi Masters and Mystics Al-Hillaj-Mansoor, Farid, Junnaid, Rabiya Al Adabiya, Jalaladdin Rumi, Sarmad, Omar Khayyam and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Be Still and Know
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Perfect Master, Vol 1, 2
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
- And the Flowers Showered
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Revolution
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2
- The Empty Boat
- Light on the Path
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 2
- Zen: The Quantum Leap From Mind to No-Mind