Essence of Sufism: La Ilaha Ill Allah
LA ILLAHA ILL ALLAH — There is no god but God. This is the fundamental essence of the way of the Sufis. This is the seed. Out of this seed has grown the Bodhi Tree of Sufism. In this small proclamation, all that is valuable in all the religions is contained: God is and only God is.
This statement makes God synonymous with existence. God is the very ‘isness’ of all that is. God is not separate from his creation. The creator is in his creation; there is no duality, there is no distance, so whatsoever you come across is God. The trees and the rivers and the mountains, all are manifestations of God. You and the people you love, and the people you hate, all are manifestations of God. This small statement can transform your whole life. It can change the very gestalt of your vision. The moment one recognizes that all is one, love arises on its own accord. And love is Sufism. Sufism is not concerned with knowledge. Its whole concern is love, intense, passionate love: how to fall in love with the whole, how to be in tune with the whole, how to bridge the distance between the creation and the creator.
The so-called, organized religions of the world teach a kind of duality that the creator is separate from the creation, that the creator is higher than the creation, that there is something wrong with creation, it has to be renounced. Sufis don’t renounce, they rejoice. And that’s what I am teaching you here: Rejoice. My sannyas is a way of rejoicing, not a way of renunciation. Rumi has said:
‘If you are not one with the Beloved,
And if you are in Union,
This assembly is a Sufi assembly. You are my Sufis, the Sufis of the new age. I am introducing you to the world of love. I am initiating you into the ways of love. Sufis talk about two kinds of love. One they call muhabbah; it means the ordinary love, lukewarm, momentary, partial. One moment it is there, another moment it is gone. It has no depth, no intensity. You call it passion, but it is not passionate. It is not such a flame which can burn you. You don’t become aflame with it; it remains something under your control. You don’t become possessed by it, you don’t lose yourself in it. You remain in control. The other kind of love, the real love, the authentic love, Sufis call it ishq; ishq means love with total intensity. One is lost in it, one is possessed by it. One goes mad in it.
I have heard, the great Sufi Master Ruzbihan was once on the roof of his khaniqah while in a state of WAJD….The khaniqah is the place where Sufis meet; it is a temple of love. It is a temple of madness, of utter rejoicing. This is a khaniqah. No other god than love is worshiped, no other prayer than love is preached. In a khaniqah, only those who are becoming aflame with love are invited, who are on the verge of madness? Ruzbihan was on the roof of his khaniqah while in a state of wajd. Wajd is a moment when you are not and God is, a moment of absolute harmony. A window opens, and you can see the whole sky, you are no more confined within the walls of your body and mind. For a moment, a lightning happens and all darkness disappears. Wajd is a momentary samadhi, a glimpse, a satori. It comes and goes. Slowly, slowly, it establishes itself. But even to know God for a moment is of immense beauty and benediction. Even to know for a single moment that you are not separate from existence, that there is no ego, that all is one — La illaha ill Allah — even to know this just as a passing experience, just like a breeze that comes and is gone — by the time you become aware of it, it is no more there, but it has been there, it has refreshed you, rejuvenated, resurrected you…
Ruzbihan was on the roof of his khaniqah in a state of wajd — in a state of oneness with existence… It happened that a group of young people was passing by in the alley below, playing musical instruments and singing…They were singing:
“O heart, in the neighborhood of the Beloved there is no wailing,
nor are the roof, door, or windows of her house guarded.
If you are ready to lose your soul,
get up and come now, for the field is empty.”
They were completely unaware of Ruzbihan. They were just singing. They were even unaware of what they were singing, what they were saying. It is a Sufi provocation; it is a Sufi song. The moment Ruzbihan heard it — “If you are ready to lose your soul, get up and come now, for the field is empty” — and he was in a state of wajd, of unity, oneness, unio mystica — his ecstasy was such that he was not there in that ecstasy at all; when Ruzbihan heard this, something possessed him, something from the beyond, and he flung himself from the roof… whirling and turning in the air, to the ground below. On witnessing this, the group of young people cast away their instruments, left their former ways, entered the khaniqah, and became Sufis.
What happened to that group of young people? For the first time, they saw ecstasy, wajd, love, madness for God. For the first time, they came across a man who could risk his very life. This is ishq.
Ishq means you are ready to lose your life for your love. Ishq means love has become a higher value than life itself. Hence the people who are in love are thought to be mad by people who have not known love, are thought to be blind by people who have not seen through the eyes of love.
The intellectual condemns the ways of love; he is afraid. Love is dangerous. To go through the heart is risky because the heart is non-calculative, illogical. Just remember this man, this madman Ruzbihan, jumping from the roof of the khaniqah just because a few people were singing a song and they said, “If you are ready to lose your soul, get up and come now, for the field is empty” — and he jumped, without hesitating for a single moment. This is madness. The calculative mind is going to condemn it. But he was not hurt. He was so drunk, he was not even aware of what was happening. Nothing was happening to him, because he was not there: as if God jumped through him. He was possessed by God, he was utterly drunk.
Seeing him coming from the roof, turning, whirling in the air… They had seen many dervishes, whirling dervishes, but not a man like this. And when he came onto the ground, he was so innocent, he was so silent, his joy was such, seeing him, just seeing him, was enough for them to renounce their old ways. They threw down their instruments, entered the khaniqah, and became Sufis. That’s how you have become Sufis with me. You have also jumped from your roofs. To become a sannyasin is a quantum leap: it is a non-calculated step. It is only for the mad ones. But God is only for the mad ones. Those who calculate remain part of the marketplace. Calculation keeps you in the world. One needs to be in such love that one is ready to risk all. That love is called ishq. You have all known muhabbah, the so-called ordinary love, which is just an emotion, a sentiment, superficial. One day you are in love, another day you are in hate. One day you love the person and you are ready to die for the person, and another day you are ready to kill the same person. One moment you are so nice, so beautiful, another moment you are so nasty, so ugly to the same person. This is not ishq, ishq has depth. This is only circumference. This is just a mask; this is part of your personality. Ishq, passionate love for God, is not of the personality. It is of the essence. It comes from jour center; from the very ground of your being it arises and possesses you. It is not within your control; on the contrary, you are in its control. Yes, you are drunk and you are mad.
Sufis have found ways and methods of how to create ishq. That is the whole sufi alchemy: how to create ishq in you, how to create such passion that you can ride on the wave of it and reach to the ultimate. It is said about Majnu… The story of Majnu and Laila is a sufi story, a great love story. No other love story can be compared with it. There are many in the world, almost every country has its own love stories, but nothing compared to Laila and Majnu because it has a sufi message in it. It is not just an ordinary story of muhabbah, it is the story of ishq. It is said that Majnu decided one day that, seeing Laila, he had seen all that was worth seeing, so what was the use of keeping his eyes open anymore? He decided that whenever Laila would come he would open his eyes; otherwise he would remain blind because there was nothing else worth seeing. For months Laila could not come — the parents were against, the society was against — and Majnu waited and waited under the tree where they used to meet, with closed eyes. Days passed, weeks and months passed, and he would not open his eyes.
And the story says God took compassion on him. He came to Majnu and said, “Poor Majnu, open your eyes. I am God himself. You have seen everything in the world, but you have not seen me. Look who is standing before you. “
Majnu is reported to have said, “Get lost. I have decided only to see Laila; nothing else is worth seeing. You may be God, but I am not concerned. Just get lost, don’t disturb me.”
Shocked, God said, “What are you saying? I have never come to anyone on my own. Seekers and devotees pray and search and practice — then too it is very, very difficult to see me — and I have come on my own and you have not even asked for me. I am coming just as a gift, and you are rejecting?”
And Majnu said, “If you really want to be seen by me, come as Laila, because I cannot see anything else. Even if I open my eyes I cannot see anything else. I look at a tree, and Laila is there. I look at the stars, and Laila is there. Laila is in my heart and she has possessed my whole heart, and whatsoever I see I see through my heart. I am sorry, but there is no possibility, because there is no space left in my heart for anything else. I am sorry. Excuse me, but go away. Don’t disturb me.”
This is ishq. Even God… yes, even God can be renounced. When you love, when you really love, there are no conditions. It is unconditional. You love for the sheer joy of it. And love is absolute — it knows no wavering, it knows no hesitation.
Sufism is a great experiment in human consciousness: how to transform human consciousness into ishq. It is alchemy.
And this is what I am doing here with you. You may be aware, you may not be aware of it, but this whole experiment is to create in you as much love energy as possible. Man can be transformed into pure love energy. Just as there is atomic energy discovered by physics, and a small atom can explode into tremendous power, each cell of your heart can explode into tremendous love. That love is called ishq.
Sufism is the path of love. Remember that it is a path, it is not a dogma. Mohammedans have a particular word for dogma: they call it shariat. Dogma, doctrine, religion, morality, philosophy, theology, all are contained in shariat. Sufism is not a shariat, it does not depend on books. Sufis are not the people of books. Sufism is a tariqat: a methodology, a technique, a science, a path, a way to truth, to haqiqat, to that which is.
Remember the difference between shariat and tariqat.
Theology thinks about God. That is the very meaning of “theology”; it consists of two words, theo and logy: logic about God, contemplation, thinking, philosophizing, speculation about God. Sufism does not think about God, because, Sufis say, how can you think about God? Thinking is utterly inadequate. You can think about the world, but you cannot think about God. You can only be in love with God, so it is not a theology, but it is a method. It is an experiment in your consciousness, an experiment to transform it from gross energy into subtle energy, from material energy into divine energy. Tariqat is the way by which the Sufi comes into harmony with the whole. And two things are basic requirements to follow this method. One is FAQR: FAQR means spiritual poverty, simplicity, egolessness. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he is exactly talking about faqr. It does not mean poverty, it means spiritual poverty. Even a king can be spiritually poor, and even a beggar may not be. If the beggar is egoistic he is not spiritually poor, and if the king is egoless he is spiritually poor. Spiritually poor means there is nobody inside, utter emptiness, a silence prevails. This poverty has nothing to do with outer poverty. Outer poverty can be easily imposed; that is not going to help. An inner poverty is needed.
If you follow faqr, if you slowly, slowly dissolve the idea of separation from existence, the ultimate result is fana. Fana means a state of non-being, what Buddha calls nirvana. You simply disappear, but your disappearance is the appearance of God. If you are in the state of fana, then suddenly, out of the blue, another state is born, that is called baka. Baka, means being. Sufism is the bridge between fana and baka.
First you have to be dissolved as an ego, then you are born as God. The dewdrop has to disappear as a dewdrop, into the ocean; this is fana. But the moment the dewdrop falls into the ocean, it becomes the ocean; that is baka. Non-being is the way to being, and love is the most adequate method to disappear.
That’s why millions of people have decided not to love. If you decide in favor of the ego you will have to remain loveless. Love and ego cannot go together. Knowledge and ego go together perfectly well, but love and ego cannot go together, not at all. They cannot keep company. They are like darkness and light: if light is there darkness cannot be. Darkness can only be if light is not there. If love is not there the ego can be; if love is there the ego cannot be. And vice versa, if ego is dropped, love arrives from all the directions. It simply starts pouring in you from everywhere. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, God also abhors a vacuum. You become a vacuum, and God rushes into you.
The first thing is faqr, and the second thing is zikr. Faqr means spiritual poverty, egolessness, simplicity, dissolving the idea of “I”. And zikr means remembrance. Disappear as a person, then presence is left; in that presence, remember God, let God resound in you — La illaha ill Allah. Let this remembrance arise in your nothingness. In that purity of non-being let there be only one music heard — La illaha ill Allah. Repeat it, sway with it, dance with it, twirl, turn, whirl, and let this music fill you.
Each cell of your body should start repeating La illaha ill Allah, La illaha ill Allah, La illaha ill Allah…And you will be surprised, it creates a kind of drunkenness. The very sound of this mantra is such, it is one of the most potential mantras ever invented by man, discovered by man. Just repeating it, and you will find that something inside you is becoming psychedelic, something in you is changing. You are becoming light, you are becoming love, you are becoming divine. And not only that you will feel it, even others will feel it.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Secret
Chapter title: La Illaha Ill Allah
11 October 1978 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Sufism’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses: