Sufis The People of Path Vol 1 01

First Discourse from the series of 16 discourses - Sufis The People of Path Vol 1 by Osho.
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Uwais was asked, “How do you feel?”
He said, “Like one who has arisen in the morning and does not know whether he will be dead in the evening.”
The other man said, “But this is the situation of all men.”
Uwais said, “Yes, but how many of them feel it?”
Once a learned Mohammedan came to me and asked, “You are not a Mohammedan, so why do you speak on Sufism?”
I told him, “I am not a Mohammedan obviously, but I am a Sufi all the same.”
A Sufi need not be a Mohammedan. A Sufi can exist anywhere, in any form – because Sufism is the essential core of all religions. It has nothing to do with Islam in particular. Sufism can exist without Islam; Islam cannot exist without Sufism. Without Sufism, Islam is a corpse. Only with Sufism does it become alive.
Whenever a religion is alive it is because of Sufism. Sufism simply means a love affair with God, with the ultimate; a love affair with the whole. It means that one is ready to dissolve into the whole, that one is ready to invite the whole to come into one’s heart. It knows no formality. It is not confined by any dogma, doctrine, creed or church. Christ is a Sufi, so is Mohammed. Krishna is a Sufi, so is Buddha. This is the first thing I would like you to remember: that Sufism is the innermost core – as Zen is, as Hasidism is. These are only different names of the same ultimate relationship with God.
The relationship is dangerous. It is dangerous because the closer you come to God, the more and more you evaporate. And when you have come really close, you are no more. It is dangerous because it is suicidal, but the suicide is beautiful. To die into God is the only way to really live. Until you die, until you die voluntarily into love, you live an existence that is simply mediocre; you vegetate, you don’t have any meaning. No poetry arises in your heart, no dance, no celebration; you simply grope in the darkness. You live at the minimum, you don’t overflow with ecstasy.
That overflow happens only when you are not. You are the hindrance. Sufism is the art of removing the hindrance between you and you, between the self and the self – between the part and the whole.
A few things about this word sufi. An ancient Persian dictionary has this for the entry “Sufi” – the definition given by this dictionary goes in rhyme: Sufi Chist – Sufi, Sufist. Who is a Sufi? A Sufi is a Sufi. This is a beautiful definition. The phenomenon is indefinable: a Sufi is a Sufi. It says nothing and yet it says so much. It says that the Sufi cannot be defined; there is no other word to define it, there is no other synonym, there is no possibility of defining it linguistically, it is an indefinable phenomenon. You can live it and you can know it, but it is not possible through the mind or through the intellect. You can become a Sufi – that is the only way to know what it is. You can taste the reality yourself, it is available. You need not go into a dictionary, you can go into existence.
I have heard…

A small boy was playing in the garden. He was a very small boy and was very frightened of the large bulldog that occupied the yard next to his home.
One day, feeling rather adventurous, the little boy climbed the fence and the huge bulldog rushed up to him and licked his face. The boy began to scream and his mother arrived on the scene almost immediately.
“Did he bite you, darling?”
“No,” whimpered the little boy, “but he tasted me.”

If you are not ready to take a bite into Sufism you can at least taste it, and that’s what I will be making available to you – a little taste. Once you have tasted even a drop of the nectar called Sufism you will become thirsty for more. For the first time you will start feeling a great appetite for God.
These talks cannot explain to you what Sufism is, because I am not a philosopher. I am not a theologian either. And I am not really talking on Sufism, I will be talking Sufism. If you are ready, if you are ready to go into this adventure, then you will attain a taste of it. It is something that will start happening in your heart. It is something like a bud opening. You will start feeling a certain sensation in the heart – as if something is becoming alert, awake there; as if the heart has been asleep for long and now…the first glimmer of the morning – and there you will have the taste.
Sufism is a special kind of magic, a rare kind of magic. It can be transferred only from person to person, not from a book. It cannot be transferred by scriptures. It is also just like Zen – a transmission beyond words. The Sufis have a special word for it – they call it silsila. What Hindus call parampara, they call silsila. Silsila means a transfer from one heart to another heart, from one person to another person. It is a very, very personal religion.
You cannot have it without being related to an enlightened master – there is no other way. You can read all the literature that exists on Sufism and you will be lost in a jungle of words. Unless you find a guide, unless you fall in love with a guide, you will not have the taste.
I am ready to take you on this faraway journey if you are also courageous, adventurous. I hope you are, because only courageous people become attracted toward me. This place is not for cowards; this place is not for those so-called religious people; this place is not for so-called God-fearing people. This place is for those whom I call God-loving people. And they have a totally different quality. A God-fearing person never moves into the deeper realms of religion, he cannot because of his fear.
The word God-fearing is so absurd. If you are afraid of God then where are you going to be loving? Whom are you going to love? If you cannot even love God, then love will not be possible for you at all. If you are related through fear even with God, then this can’t be a relationship.
But we have been taught to be afraid of God. In fact, we have only been taught to be afraid of everything. Our whole life is a trembling, a fear, a cowardice – fear of hell, fear of God, fear of punishment. We are good, virtuous, because we are afraid. What kind of virtue is it that is based on fear? And how can you love God if your basic approach is through fear? Out of fear love never arises – that is an impossibility. And out of love fear never arises.
When you love a person all fear disappears. And when you are afraid all love disappears. You can hate the person if you are afraid of him, but you cannot love him. Down the centuries man has been taught to be afraid of God and the ultimate result is that Nietzsche had to declare that God is dead. That is the ultimate result of the fear-oriented mind. How long can you tolerate this God? How long can you remain afraid? One day or other you will have to kill him. That’s what Nietzsche did. When he said, “God is dead,” he also said, “Now man is free.” God is dead and now man is free. Otherwise how can you be free with God if he is only a source of fear? Fear cannot give you freedom.
People who come to me are God-loving people. When I say God-loving, I mean they are in search, they want to know. And they want to know authentically, they don’t want to have borrowed knowledge about it. They want to have a taste. They want to encounter, they want to face God, they want to look into his eyes. But before you can become capable of looking into the eyes of God you will have to become capable of looking into the eyes of a master. From there you take off. The journey begins.
I will make myself available to you. Sufism is just an excuse. I will not be talking about Sufism, I will be talking Sufism itself. The word Sufism is also beautiful. It has many orientations and all are beautiful. And I would not like to emphasize any one orientation, as it has been done again and again. A few people choose one orientation, a few people choose another, but my understanding is that all those orientations are beautiful and have something special to say. I accept them all.
One old Sufi master, Abul Hasam, has said, “Sufism was once a reality without a name and now Sufism is a name without reality.” For many centuries Sufism existed without a name. It existed as reality. That’s why I say Jesus was a Sufi, so was Mohammed, so was Mahavira and so was Krishna. Anyone who has come to know God is a Sufi. Why do I say so? Try to understand the word sufi and it will become clear to you.
The word sufi is a new coinage – a German coinage, out of German scholarship – not more than one hundred and fifty years old. In Arabic the word is tasawwuf. But both come from a root suf, which means wool.
It seems very strange. Why should wool become the symbol of Sufism? The scholars go on saying that it is because Sufis used to wear woolen robes. That’s true. But why? Nobody has answered it. Why should they be wearing woolen robes? Mohammed says in the Koran that even Moses was wearing a woolen robe when he encountered God. When God spoke to him he was entirely in a woolen robe. But why?
There is a deep symbolism in it. The symbolism is that wool is the garb of the animals and a Sufi has to become as innocent as an animal. The Sufi has to attain a primal innocence. He has to drop all kinds of civilization, he has to drop all kinds of cultures, he has to drop all conditionings, he has to become again an animal. Then the symbol becomes tremendously significant.
When man becomes animal he does not fall back, he goes higher. When man becomes animal, he is not just an animal. That is not possible. You cannot fall back. When a man becomes an animal he becomes a saint. He remains conscious, but his consciousness is no longer burdened by any conditioning. He is no longer a Hindu and no longer a Mohammedan and no longer a Christian. He is in tune with existence as deeply as any animal. He has dropped all kinds of philosophies, he carries no conceptualizations in his mind, his mind is without any content. He is, but he is no longer in the mind. To be without the mind – that is the meaning of the woolen robe. To be like innocent animals, not to know what is good and what is bad – and then the highest good arises, the summum bonum.
When you know this is good and that is bad, and you choose good against bad, you remain divided. When you choose, there is repression. When you say, “I will do this. This has to be done. This should be done,” this becomes an “ought.” Then naturally you have to repress – you have to repress that which you have condemned as bad and the repressed part remains inside you and goes on poisoning your system. Sooner or later it will assert, sooner or later it will take revenge. When it explodes, you will go mad.
Hence all civilized people are always on the verge of madness. This earth is a big madhouse. A few have already become mad, a few are potentially ready. The difference between you and the mad people is not of quality, it is only of quantity, only of degree. Maybe they have gone beyond a hundred degrees and you are just lingering somewhere – at ninety-eight, ninety-nine – but any moment any situation can push you beyond the boundary. Don’t you see it? Can’t you observe your mind? Can’t you see the madness that goes on and on inside? It is continuously there. You avoid it; you get occupied in a thousand and one things just to avoid it. You don’t look at it, you want to forget about it. It is too scary, too frightening. But it is there – and whether you avoid it or not it is growing. It is continuously accumulating momentum. It can come to a peak at any time, any small thing can trigger it. When you choose, you have to repress.
The animal does not choose. Whatever is, is. The animal simply accepts it; its acceptance is total. It knows no choice.
So does a Sufi. A Sufi knows no choice. He is choicelessly aware. Whatever happens he accepts it as a gift, as a God-given thing. Who is he to choose. He does not trust in his mind, he trusts in the universal mind. That’s why when you come across a Sufi you will see such animal innocence in his eyes, in his being; such freedom, such joy as only animals know – or trees or rocks or stars.
Idries Shah has condemned the definition of sufi from suf – wool – on exactly the same grounds as I am approving of it. He says that Sufis are so alert about symbols how can they choose wool as a symbol? The wool represents the animal, and Idries Shah says Sufis cannot choose the animal as a symbol. They are the people of God – why should they choose the animal? He seems very logical, and he may appeal to many people.
But on exactly the same grounds I approve the definition. To me, to be an animal means to be innocent – not to know morality, not to know immorality. To be an animal is not a condemnation. A saint is more like the animals than like you, than like the so-called human beings.
The human beings are not natural beings, they are very unnatural, artificial, plastic. Their whole life is a life of deception. If you touch somebody’s face you will never touch his face, you touch only his mask. And remember, your hand is also not true. It has a glove on it. Even lovers don’t touch each other; even in love you are not innocent; even in love you are not without masks. But when you want to love God you have to be without masks. You have to drop all deceptions. You have to be authentically whatever you are, to be choicelessly whatever you are. In that primal innocence God descends.
So the reasons Idries Shah finds to condemn the definition that sufi cannot come from suf are exactly the reasons I approve it.
I have heard…

The Catholic priest was trying to get a Jew converted to his faith.
He said, “All you have to do is say three times, ‘I was a Jew, now I’m a Catholic. I was a Jew, now I’m a Catholic. I was a Jew, now I’m a Catholic.’”
He said it, but the priest thought he had better check up on his convert one Friday at his home.
The Jew was frying chicken. “Now, you know you can’t eat that chicken on Friday.”
“Oh, yes, I can,” he replied. “I dipped it in a pan three times and said, ‘Once I was a chicken, now I am a fish.’”

That’s how we go on living. All of our religions are just like that – all just verbal. They do not penetrate your being. And you know that whatever you say, you do exactly the opposite. You think one thing, you say another, and you do something else. You are a trinity, you are not one. And all those three people are going in three different directions. You are a crowd – hence the misery.
The animal is one – hence the blissfulness of the animal. The animal has nothing whatever to be happy about. He does not have a big palace to live in and he does not have a TV and radio and all of that. He has nothing, and yet in him you will find great peace, silence, joy, celebration. Why? One thing is there: the animal is not a chooser.
The Sufi is not a chooser. Choose and you deceive; choose and you start becoming false; choose and you become plastic.

A man was going to attend a Halloween party dressed in the costume of the Devil. On his way it began to rain so he darted into a church where a revival meeting was in progress. At the sight of his devil’s costume, people began to scatter through the doors and windows.
One lady got her coat sleeve caught on the arm of one of the seats and as the man came closer she pleaded, “Satan, I’ve been a member of this church for twenty years, but I’ve really been on your side all the time.”

But that’s the situation of all ladies and of all gentlemen – they pay lip service to God, but basically they are surrendered to the Devil. The Devil is deeper because the Devil has been repressed. Whenever something is repressed it goes deeper in your being; you become just a hypocrite.
By asserting the symbol of the animal Sufis declare, “We are simple people. We don’t know what is good and what is bad. We know only God, and whatever happens is his gift. We accept it. We are not doers on our own accord.” This is the first meaning of the word sufi.
There is another possibility: the word sufi can be derived from sufa – purity, cleanliness, purification. That too is good. When you live a life of choicelessness a natural purity comes. But remember, this purity has nothing of morality in it. It does not mean pure in the sense of being good; it means pure in the sense of being divine, not in the sense of being good. Pure simply means pure of all ideas, both good and bad. Purity means transcendence. One has no idea at all, no prejudices. One trusts life so utterly that one need not have any ideas, one can live without ideas. When ideas are there in the mind they create impurity, they create wounds. When you are too full of ideas, you are too full of dirt. All ideas are dirty. Yes, even the idea of God is a dirty idea because ideas are dirty.
For a Sufi, God is not an idea, it is his lived reality. It is not sitting somewhere on a throne high in the heavens, no – it is herenow, it is all over the place, it is everywhere. God is just a name for the totality of existence.
Purity means a contentless mind – so please don’t be misguided by the word purity. It does not mean a man who has a good character. It does not mean a man who behaves according to the Ten Commandments. It does not mean a man who is respected by the society as a good man.
A Sufi has never been respected by the society. A Sufi lives such a rebellious life that the society has almost always been murdering Sufis, crucifying them – because the Sufi makes you aware of your falsity. He becomes a constant sermon against your artificiality, against your ugliness, against your inhumanity to human beings, against your masks, against all that you are and represent. A Sufi becomes a constant pain in the neck to the so-called society and to the so-called respectable people.
I have heard…

It happened that Abu Yasid, a Sufi mystic, was praying – these are parables, remember, they are not historical facts – and God spoke to Abu Yasid and said, “Yasid, now you have become one of my chosen people. Should I declare it to the world?”
Abu Yasid laughed. He said, “Yes, you can – if you want me to be crucified, declare. You declared about al-Hillaj and what happened? They crucified him. Whenever you declare that somebody has attained, people crucify him immediately. They don’t love you and they cannot tolerate your people, so if you want me to be crucified, declare.”
And it is said that God never declared about Abu Yasid. He kept quiet.

This has been the case.

Somebody asked al-Hillaj Mansoor, the greatest mystic ever, “What is the ultimate in Sufi experience?”
Al-Hillaj said, “Tomorrow, tomorrow you will see what the ultimate in Sufi experience is.”
Nobody knew what was going to happen the next day. The man asked, “Why not today?”
Al-Hillaj said, “Just wait. It is going to happen tomorrow – the ultimate.”
The next day he was crucified. And when he was crucified he shouted loudly for his friend who had asked the question. He said, “Where are you hiding in the crowd? Now come on and see the ultimate in Sufism. This is what it is.”

If you start living in God you become intolerable to the so-called society. The society lives in hypocrisy, it cannot tolerate truth. Truth has to be crucified. It can love the Church, but it cannot love Christ. It can love the Vatican pope, but it cannot love Jesus. When Jesus is gone then it is good – you can go on worshipping him. When Mansoor is gone you can go on talking about him. But when he is there he is a fire. Only those who are ready to be consumed by the fire will be ready to fall in love with Mansoor.
Sufa means purity; purity in the sense that there is no content in the mind anymore. The mind has disappeared. There is no-mind, no thinking, no thought. It is a state of satori, samadhi.
There is another possibility and that too is beautiful. And I accept all these possibilities. The third possibility is from another word, sufia, which means: chosen as a friend by God.
Sufis say that you cannot search for God unless he has already chosen you. How can you search for God if he has not already searched for you? All initiative is from the side of God. He is searching for you, he is desiring you, he goes on groping for you: “Where are you?” When he chooses somebody only then do you start choosing him. You may not know it – because when he chooses, how can you know?
The same is true about a master. You think that you choose a master? Nonsense, just nonsense! It is always the master who chooses you. The very idea that you choose the master is egoistic. How can you choose the master? How will you know in the first place who the master is? How will you decide? What criteria have you got? You cannot choose a master, the master chooses you.
You have come to me from faraway lands – many more are coming, they are on the way. Soon this place is going to become really crowded because I have chosen many who are not yet even alert about it. But they have started moving. They think they are searching for a master; they think they are seekers. And it is natural. It can be forgiven. But they have been chosen by somebody.
And so is the ultimate case with God. God chooses first, then you start feeling a hunger for him. And it is only Sufis who have said this. No other tradition has said so clearly that man cannot choose God, it is God who chooses man. It is a blessing. Even to feel a thirst for God is a great blessing. You should feel happy that you have been chosen, that God has already called you. The first call is always heard in the deep unconscious so you cannot figure out what it is, from where it is coming. You feel it as if it is coming from you. It is not coming from you.
Man cannot take the initiative. How can man take the initiative? Man is so impotent, man is so helpless. Man cannot start the journey on his own unless he is pulled, unless some magnetic force starts pulling him toward some unknown goal.
You can choose only that which you know. How can you choose God? You can take the initiative for other things, the worldly things, because you know them. You can have an idea of how to purchase a beautiful house, or how to have this woman as your wife or this man as your husband, or how to have more money, more power, more prestige – you can choose these things. How can you choose God? You have not even had a glimpse, not even in your dreams. How can you choose something so utterly unknown to you?
But you are not unknown to God. He can choose you. Whenever he chooses, a great desire arises in you to find him. That is an indication that he has chosen you. You have become a Sufi – chosen as a friend by God. That is also beautiful.
The fourth possibility is from the Greek word sufiya. Sufiya means wisdom. Wisdom is not synonymous with knowledge – knowledge is through scriptures, through others, borrowed. Wisdom arises in your own being; you are a light unto yourself. Wisdom means that you know, not that you believe. Knowledge is belief. Somebody says, “God is” and you believe. You believe the man, hence you believe that he must be saying the truth. Jesus says, “God is” and you believe; I say, “God is” and you believe – then it is knowledge. You love me, you trust me, you start believing – but it is knowledge.
A man becomes a Sufi only when he has known. When he himself has known, when he himself has touched the reality, when he himself has seen the face of God, then he becomes a Sufi. He has become wise. He is no longer just knowledgeable, now it is his own experience.
The English term philosophy comes from the same root, sufiya, but it has gone astray. Sufi also comes from the same root, sufiya, but it has not gone astray. Philosophy became just speculation – thinking and thinking and thinking, never arriving at any conclusion. And if you don’t arrive at any conclusion your life is not going to be transformed. Just by thinking, nobody is transformed; only when you arrive at some conclusions through experience do you grow. Philosophy is a game with words and logic – a beautiful game. If you like it you can play it, but you remain the same. It never changes you.
That’s why science had to get a divorce from philosophy. The day science was divorced from philosophy it started growing. It became experimental, it became objective. Science does not depend on thinking anymore, it depends on experimentation. That is one possibility of getting a divorce from philosophy.
Another possibility of getting the divorce is Sufism. Science moves toward the object and becomes experimentation, Sufism moves toward the subject and becomes experience. But both are concerned about reality – science for the reality that is outside and Sufism for the reality that is inside. Both have divorced philosophy.
Science depends on experiment because with the object, experiment is possible; Sufism depends on experience because you can only experience the inner consciousness, you cannot experiment upon it. It is not an object, it is your subjectivity.
And the last possibility is from the Hebrew root ain sof, which means the absolutely infinite, the search for the absolutely infinite, the search beyond the relative, the search for the unbounded, the eternal, the timeless.
Yes, that’s exactly what Sufism is. Sufism is all these things and more. To indicate that “more” I will repeat the definition in the Persian dictionary: Sufi Chist – Sufi, Sufist. Who is a Sufi? A Sufi is a Sufi. Nothing more can be said about it. But you can enter the temple of Sufism and you can taste it.
Before we enter this small story of today, a few more things will be helpful to understand. They will become a background.
The Koran says there are three basic qualities that have to be in the heart of the seeker. The first is khushu. Khushu means humility, humbleness. The second is karamat. Karamat means charity, sharing, the joy of giving. And the third is sijd. Sijd means truthfulness, authenticity; not to pretend, but to be whatever you are. These three are the three pillars of Sufism.
Humility does not mean the ordinary so-called humbleness. The ordinary humble person is not egoless. He carries a new kind of ego – of being humble. He thinks he is humble, “Nobody is as humble as I am. I am the topmost in humility.” But he goes on comparing. The ego has not changed, the ego has only taken a new posture, a new gesture, more subtle.
First the ego was very gross. When you go on bragging about your money, it is very gross. One day you renounce your money and then you start bragging that you have renounced all. This is very subtle, but the bragging continues. First you say, “I am somebody.” In a thousand and one ways you try to prove that you are somebody. Then one day seeing the futility of it you drop the whole trip, you turn back, you take another gesture – you stand on your head and you start saying, “I am nobody.” But “I am” continues. The claim was for somebody, now it is for nobody. The claim was there, the claim is still there. Now it has taken a subtle form.
Humility, khushu, means a man who has understood all the ways of the ego. And by understanding all the ways of the ego, the ego has disappeared. There is no claim, not even of being humble. When there is no claim, there is humility, there is khushu.
This is one of the most essential qualities for those who want to move toward God – because if you are too much, you will not be moving. You have to be liquid, you have to melt; you cannot remain frozen in your ego. Only when you melt will you start moving. And when you start moving where else can you move? All movement is toward God. Only those who are ossified are not reaching toward God – otherwise, if you are moving, you are moving toward God. There is no other movement.
The second is charity – karamat. Charity does not mean that you give and you feel very good that you have given, that you give and you oblige the person to whom you have given. Then it is not karamat, then it is not charity. Charity is when you give and you feel obliged that the other has taken it; when you give with no idea that you are obliging anybody in any way; when you give because you have too much – what else can you do? It is not that the other needs.
Charity is when you give out of your affluence, when you give out of your abundance. It is not that the other is needy and you are helping him; the other is not the question at all. You give because you have – what else can you do? The flower has bloomed and the fragrance spreads to the winds – what else can the flower do? The lamp has been lighted and it shares its light, it spreads its light. The cloud is full of water and it showers – what else can it do?
When you give out of your abundance, only then is there charity. And then you don’t bother who is worthy of receiving it. That is not the point at all.
You must have read the beautiful parable of Jesus. Jesus is incomparable as far as parables go.

A rich man called a few laborers to work in his garden. By the afternoon it was felt that there were not enough and that the work would not be completed by the evening, so a few more laborers were called. But by the evening it was felt that even those were not enough so a few more laborers were called.
At sunset the rich man gave them money for all that they had done. But he gave equally to all of them: those who had come in the morning received the same, and those who had come in the afternoon they also received the same, and those who had come just when the sun was setting they also received the same.
Naturally, the laborers who had come in the morning were angry. They protested and they said, “This is unjust. We came in the morning, we did the whole day’s work and we received the same reward. These people have just come and they have not done a thing and they are also receiving the same reward. This is unjust.”
The master laughed and he said, “Whatever you have received is not enough for the work you have done?”
They said, “It is enough. But what about these people who have not done anything and who have also received the same reward?”
The master said, “I give to them out of my abundance. Can’t I give my money? It is my money. You have been rewarded for whatever you have done. Can’t I throw my money away? What protest is there? Why should you be worried?”

And Jesus used to say, ‘“This man is the man of charity. He gives out of his abundance.” This is what Sufis call karamat.
And the third is truthfulness. It does not mean saying the truth, it means being the truth. Saying is only halfway; being is the true thing. You can say the truth a few times when it doesn’t harm you – that’s what people go on doing. When truth is not going to harm them they become truthful. And sometimes, if truth is going to harm others, they persist in being very, very truthful. But when the truth is not going to help you then you drop it, then it is no longer meaningful.
That’s why people say, “Honesty is the best policy.” But the man who says, “Honesty is the best policy” is not an honest man, remember. Policy? – the very word is dishonest. Truth cannot be a policy and honesty cannot be a policy. They can only be your very heart – not policies. Policies can be used and dropped. Policies are political. When honesty pays, you are honest – that’s what it means. “Honesty is the best policy.” When it does not pay, you become dishonest. You have no relationship with honesty. You use it. That’s what it means when you say “policy.”
Sijd – the Sufi word means to be truthful, to be true. It is not only a question of policy. Whatever happens, whatever the result, not thinking of the result at all but just to be whatever is true. To risk all for truth – that’s what sijd is. It is to risk everything for truth. Because if truth is saved, all is saved, and if truth is lost, all is lost.
Now this small story.
Uwais was asked, “How do you feel?”
Uwais is a Sufi master.
He said, “Like one who has arisen in the morning and does not know whether he will be dead in the evening.”
The other man said, “But this is the situation of all men.”
Uwais said, “Yes, but how many of them feel it?”
Now many things have to be understood. First, when Uwais said: “Like one who has arisen in the morning and does not know whether he will be dead in the evening,” he is saying many things. It is a very pregnant statement. You will have to go deep into it.
First he is saying that a Sufi lives moment by moment; he does not bother about what is going to happen in the next moment. He has no plan for the next moment. A Sufi has no future. This moment is all. He lives in it, he lives totally in it because there is nowhere else to go.
You cannot live totally in the moment if you have a future – a part of your being will be flowing toward the future, naturally. If you have a past you cannot live in the present, part of your mind will be flowing toward the past. You will become fragmented. The major part of your being will remain hanging somewhere in the past and the remaining greater part will have already moved somewhere into the future. Nothing will be left for the present. And the present is so small, so atomic, that you can miss it very easily. People are missing it. People have pasts and people have futures, people don’t have any present.
The Sufi lives in the present. To live in the present, the basic need is to withdraw yourself from the past, to withdraw yourself from the future. Then there comes a concentration of energies, then this small moment becomes luminous, you pour your total energy into it – then there is joy and benediction. If you are miserable, it is only because you live in the past and in the future. A miserable man has a past and a future, a man who lives in bliss has only the moment, this moment. He lives in the now.
Ashley Montagu has coined a new word – it will be very, very helpful to understand. He says that this newness, this constantly being new in the moment, this constantly dropping out of the past and not jumping into the future is a great art. He calls that art, neoteny. Neo means new, teny means stretched out, extended.
A man can live his whole life in newness, a man can live his whole life like a child, a man can have the quality of a child extended all over his life – the art is to live in the moment. The person who lives in the moment never grows old. He matures, but he never grows old. He really grows. Growing old is not really growing. Growing old is only dying slowly; growing old is only slowly committing suicide. The man who lives in the moment never becomes old in the sense that people become old. He never becomes knowledgeable. He is always innocent, curious, thrilled, full of wonder. Every moment brings a new surprise. He is ready to explore new dimensions of life. He is always on an adventure. He is an explorer. He is never fed up with life. He is never bored.

In a church, the priest declared that after the services there would be a meeting of the Board. Everybody left. Only the Board members were there. But a stranger was also sitting there just in the front row.
The priest was a little puzzled. He said, “Sir, have you not understood? I said there would be a meeting of the Board.”
The stranger said, “Yes. And who is more bored than me? You tell me.”

Look at people. Look at people’s eyes. They don’t have the glimmer of surprise. Look at their faces, their faces say that nothing is going to happen anymore. They are bored, utterly bored. If they are not committing suicide it is only because they are cowards. Otherwise, there is nothing to live for; there is no meaning, no significance. There seems to be no joy. Just go to any street and stand at the side and watch people. Just everybody seems to be so full of dust.
Why do people go on living? – because they are afraid to commit suicide. Otherwise, life has no joy. Or maybe they are so bored that they don’t feel that anything is going to happen even in death. They are so bored, nothing is ever going to happen. Nothing ever happens. And the reason? The reason is that they are burdened by the past.
Sufism says, “Don’t be burdened by the past and don’t be burdened by the future either. This moment is precious, why waste it in thinking about things that are no more or in thinking about things that are not yet?”
Let this moment be one of great joy, and that joy becomes a prayer, that joy becomes zikr, that joy becomes a remembrance of God. It is no use just repeating, “Allah, Allah, Allah”; it is no use just repeating, “Rama, Rama, Rama.” When you are full of joy then you remember Allah in the deepest core of your being. It is not that you repeat it verbally; your whole existence says Allah, your every cell, your every fiber of being, says Allah. It is not that you repeat it; it is not verbal, it is existential. It is there, it is constantly there. It becomes a climate inside you. You start living in that juice, in that joy.
So the first thing Uwais says is, “This is my feeling. I live moment to moment, without any plan or future. I don’t know what is going to happen this evening – maybe death.” By death he simply means that anything is possible, even death is possible. “I live in surprise, I live in wonder, I live in mystery. And the greatest mystery is death.”
There are only two mysteries: life and death. And the greatest is certainly death – because life is spread out and death is very intense. Life happens in seventy, eighty, a hundred years. Naturally it is spread out. Death happens in a single moment, it is very intense. Death is the culmination, the crescendo. Death is the greatest orgasm there is. Hence along the way, people are afraid of orgasm also because they are afraid of death. Many people don’t have orgasms. Or even if they do, it is a local orgasm, not very orgasmic – because of fear. The orgasmic moment is a death moment. And in death happens the ultimate orgasm. In that moment you utterly disappear into nothingness. It is the greatest experience.
Uwais says, “I don’t know what is going to happen – maybe death.” Death is a door to God. Those who know how to die know how to enter God. Clingers, clinging to life, never know what God is because they don’t allow death. And death comes every day; as each moment passes by something dies. If you are thirty years old you have been dying for thirty years continuously. If you gather those moments of thirty years, those dead moments that you have already lived, if you gather them, then you are burdened. Then you start growing old. Then you are carrying such a load – how can you be in a dance? That load won’t allow it.
If you can drop that load every day and you are again fresh, again innocent, again a child, then you know that death is also happening every day. Life and death are happening together. Then one day comes the ultimate death and one accepts it, welcomes it, celebrates it, disappears into it dancing. How you behave at the moment of death will show how you have lived. Your death moment will be a testament.
Uwais is saying, “I am always facing death and waiting for it. And I am thrilled by the possibility of it.” But to face death means to live courageously. People avoid death, they have even avoided the very idea of it. They think, “Everybody else dies, but I am not going to die.”
If you live in such innocence you live in ignorance. Ignorance is a great religious quality. A man of knowledge cannot become religious, but an ignorant man can easily become religious.
Uwais says: “Like one who has arisen in the morning and does not know whether he will be dead in the evening.” Nothing is certain, nothing is predictable; everything remains open. For a Sufi all is possible. Nothing is absolutely certain, everything is possible – that is what opening means; an open mind.
The other man said, “But this is the situation of all men.” Everybody is going to die but nobody knows when. The other has not understood the statement of Uwais. We understand only at our own plane.
Uwais said, “Yes. But how many of them feel it?” They are going to die. Every moment the unknown penetrates life – that’s what death is. But they don’t feel it. They are not aware of it. People live in a kind of sleep, in a kind of slumber. People are almost sleepwalkers.

The passenger in the taxi cab was more than slightly inebriated. Glancing at his watch he saw that the time was 7:00. Shortly afterwards he glanced at a clock in a jeweler’s store that registered 6:55.
“Hey, what’s the time?” he asked the cabbie.
“It’s 6:50,” the cabbie replied.
“Stop and turn around,” he demanded, “we’re going in the wrong direction!”

People are almost asleep, drunk; there is not even a ray of awareness.
It happened…

It was the first part in any play that he had managed to get in the last five years. True, it was only a small speaking part, but it was a start. The hero was to come on the scene and say, “Did you see this man get killed?” His part was simply to look the hero straight in the eyes and answer, “I did.”
For weeks he practiced with those two words: “I did, I did, I did” – studying elocution, practicing facial expressions and intonations. Then came the big day. The hero walked in, glanced at the body on the floor, looked at the actor and asked, “Did you see this man get killed?”
Looking full into the eyes of the hero, he answered clearly, “Did I?”

People are not alert at all. They are asleep. A kind of dullness, a kind of fog surrounds your being. It is very foggy and confused. Very rarely do you become alert, very, very rarely. Rare are those moments. Gurdjieff used to say that if a man had them seven times in his life it is more than you can expect. Very rarely.
In very great danger, sometimes you become alert. Somebody comes to kill you and puts a revolver on your chest – then for a single moment the fog disappears. Death is there. Or, if you are driving at ninety, ninety-five, a hundred miles per hour and then suddenly at a turn you see that now everything is gone, for a moment the accident seems to be certain, absolutely certain – the fog disappears. Hence the appeal of danger: because only in danger do you sometimes feel that you are. Hence the appeal of war: when people go to war and move into the clutches of death, sometimes rare moments come. But otherwise, in an ordinary comfortable, convenient life, people go on snoring.

A traveler inquired the way to the post office from a drunkard. The drunkard was an old inhabitant of the town.
“Well, you go down two blocks and turn right… No, you go down two blocks and turn left… No, that ain’t right either, you go up this street one block, turn right and go one block. Truth is mister, I don’t think you can get to the post office from here at all.”

People are living in that fog. And it is not only that when you drink you become foggy – you are drinking a thousand and one kinds of alcohol every moment. Somebody is money-mad – then money is his alcohol. Somebody is power-mad – then he is drinking power and will become a drunkard. And there are different kinds of mad people. But everybody has his own particular kind of alcohol that makes him drunk.
Have you seen the eyes of a miser looking at his money? He looks at the money as if he is looking at his beloved. He touches money with such tenderness. He feels one-hundred-rupee notes with such love and care. When the money is there he forgets the whole world.
Watch a politician – power-mad. He is drunk. He need not have any other alcoholic beverages, he need not have any drugs, he is already drugged by power. He may even be against alcohol and against drugs, he may try to bring prohibition to the country, but he himself is drunk. And certainly the alcohol that is created out of power is more dangerous than any alcohol that comes out of grapes. These power maniacs are the really dangerous people of the world.
But everybody is drunk. They drink different kinds of drinks, but they are still drunk. A Sufi is one who is not drunk. That’s what Uwais means when he says: “Yes, but how many of them feel it?”
Remember, there is a difference. If the same question was asked of Bodhidharma or Rinzai they would have said, “How many of them are aware of it?” Uwais says, “How many of them feel it?” That’s the difference between two basic paths – the path of awareness, meditation, and the path of love, feeling.
Sufism is the path of love, feeling. If Bodhidharma had been asked he must have said, “How many are aware of it?” He would have used the word aware, not feel. No Zen master would use the word feel – that is the basic difference, otherwise there is no difference.
Sufism is heart-wakefulness – the arising of feeling. The Koran says: “It is not the eyes that are blind but the hearts.” By heart is meant the faculty that perceives the transcendent, the beloved. Sufis are known as those who have hearts. Says al-Hillaj Mansoor, “I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart. I asked him ‘Who art thou?’ and he answered ‘Thou.’”
The eye of the heart… Remember this: Sufism is the path of love. It is more dancing than Zen, it is more singing than Zen, it is more celebrating than Zen. That’s why the countries where Sufism has existed have created the best and the most beautiful poetry that has ever existed in the world. The Persian language became so poetic, and it has created the greatest poets of the world. The very language has become poetic, the very language has become very juicy – because God is thought of as the beloved.
That too has to be understood – the last thing today. For Zen people there is no God, your own awareness is the ultimate. Zen comes out of Gautam Buddha’s insight. Sufism comes out of Mohammed’s love affair with God.
It happened…

The year was 610 AD. Mohammed was in the cave on Mount Hira. He received his first spiritual experience and feared that he had become either mad or, as he said, a poet. He went to his wife trembling with fear saying, “Woe is me. Poet or possessed?” He had even thought of casting himself down from the high rocks to kill himself. It was such a shock, it was such a great voltage of love. For three days he was trembling constantly as if in a deep, dangerous fever.
The fear was that he thought that he had either become a poet or he had gone mad. Out of this experience of Mohammed’s starts the river of Sufism. It has always remained both poetic and possessed. He was both. He had become a poet and he had become possessed. He had gone mad and he had become a mystic.

You must have heard about the beautiful Sufi legend of Majnu and Laila. It is not an ordinary love story. The word majnu means mad, mad for God. And laila is the symbol of God. Sufis think of God as the beloved; laila means the beloved. Everybody is a Majnu, and God is the beloved. And one has to open one’s heart, the eye of the heart.
That’s why Uwais says: “Yes, but how many of them feel it?” People have become completely unfeeling, they don’t feel at all. They have bypassed their hearts. They don’t go through the heart, they have reached the head. They have avoided the heart. Hence there seems to be no benediction in life. It is only through the heart that the flowers bloom and it is only through the heart that the birds start singing, and it is only through the heart that you come to realize life not as a dry awareness, but as a celebration.
Sufism is great celebration. I invite you to celebrate it with me.
Enough for today.

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