The Mystery of Music

Osho on Sufi Woman Mystic Rabiya al-Adabia

Rabiya was the sufi mystic and one of the rare enlightened women. Osho says She is a Sufi; her name is Rabiya al-Adabiya. Al-Adabiya means ‘from the village of Adabiya’. Rabiya is her name, al-Adabiya is her address. That’s how the Sufis named her: Rabiya al-Adabiya. The village became a very Mecca when Rabiya was still alive. Travelers from all over the world, seekers from everywhere, came searching for Rabiya’s hut. She was really a ferocious mystic; with a hammer in her hand she could have broken anybody’s skull. She actually broke many many skulls and brought out the hidden essence.

Osho has also said I have told you about the Sufi mystic woman, Rabiya al-Adabiya. She is a rare woman, in the sense that very few women have reached to that height. She belongs to the category of Buddhas. Naturally, she was thought to be a little outlandish, a little eccentric, a little insane.

Osho has talked about many incidents during Rabiya’s life such as this one, “Hassan was a Sufi seeker; Rabiya was a Sufi master. Every day Rabiya used to pass through the marketplace, and she would see Hassan kneeling down in front of the mosque and praying to God with raised hands: “My Lord, how long have I to ask you? Open thy doors so that I can enter!” Rabiya had heard this prayer thousands of times. One day she came up to Hassan, shook him out of his prayer and shouted at him, “Stop all this nonsense. The doors are always open! Why don’t you enter?”… Hassan was shocked, bewildered. But it was the right moment, because when a person like Rabiya says something to somebody it is always at the right moment — when the person is ready to understand. He understood, he followed Rabiya. He touched her feet and thanked her, and told her, “You are right. I was just being a fool! I wasted my life!”

Osho Says…..


Truth is an experience of thoughtlessness. Truth is an experience of wordlessness. You come to experience truth only in utter silence. It is utter silence, hence it is impossible to reduce it to sound, to word, to thought. Its intrinsic nature is without thought. To express truth in words would be like expressing the sky through the clouds. The sky is not expressed through the clouds. The sky, covered with clouds, disappears, you cannot see it. The more clouds are there the less the sky is available; the less clouds are there the more sky is available; no clouds, and the whole sky is available. You cannot express the sky through the clouds, they are the hindrances. So are thoughts: truth is your consciousness, thoughts are clouds in the sky of consciousness. You cannot express through thoughts. Your thoughts can, at the most, indicate, like fingers pointing to the moon. But remember, fingers are not the moon; don’t start worshipping the fingers.

That’s what has happened in the world. Somebody is worshipping one finger, somebody else some other finger — Christians, Mohammedans, Hindus, Buddhists. What are Buddhists doing? — worshipping Buddha. This is just a finger pointing to the moon. Where is the moon? They are sucking the finger and have completely forgotten the moon. That’s why I say to you: Don’t start biting MY finger! Don’t become too interested in what is said. That which is said is only pointing a finger to that which cannot be said. So all words are, at the most, arrows. That’s why they can be misunderstood, easily misunderstood: fingers you are acquainted with, the moon you have never seen. And when I show the moon with the finger it is more possible to become interested in the finger than to look away from the finger and see the moon. To see the moon you will have to look away from the finger. You will have to become completely oblivious to the finger.

“To tell the truth,” said Oscar Wilde, “you have to wear a mask.” All words are masks; all theories, dogmas, philosophies are masks. All religions, all theologies are masks. He’s right! To tell the truth, you have to wear a mask. You cannot tell it straight, there is no way. To bring the word in simply means: now you cannot be straight, a medium has come in. Now the expression is through the medium; the medium will bring its own distortions into it. If you have a colored glass before your eyes, you will see the world in the same color. Now words will become like glasses on your eyes: they will color your world. That’s why different people look at the world in different ways — because they have been conditioned differently.

A Hindu looks at the world differently from the Christian. A Hindu can worship the tree and the Christian will think, “What nonsense! Worshipping a tree?” The Christian will think, “This man has to be brought to his senses, converted. This man is a pagan. Make efforts to bring him to the true religion. This man is primitive” — because the Christian has a different upbringing, a different conditioning. Ask the Hindu: he has a different mind. He says, “The whole existence is divine. The tree is also divine. And the question is not what you are worshipping, the question is that you are worshipping. What you worship makes no difference.” And the Hindu will say, “You go on worshipping a dead cross — it is made of wood — and I am worshipping an alive tree, and you think I am foolish? Who is foolish? The tree is alive and life is flowing, and the tree is green and the tree is in blossom. God is still flowing in it as green juice. Your cross is dead. It is better to worship the tree, the Hindu will say, than to worship the cross.”

The Hindu worships Krishna — dancing, playing on his flute — and the Christian cannot believe it because the world is in suffering: “And how can this man be so cruel that he is playing on his flute? The world needs to be redeemed and he is dancing with girls! What is he doing? What kind of religion is this?” He has a conditioning that the man of God has to die for the world so that the world can be redeemed. The man of God has to become a sacrifice. He has to be a martyr; not a singer, not a musician, not a dancer, but a martyr. A Hindu has a different conditioning: he thinks if Jesus is crucified then he must have been suffering from bad karma from his past life — otherwise why should he be crucified? Crucifixion is not a good thing: it means he must have committed some bad things in his past life, because ‘as you sow, so you reap’. “He cannot be the man of God. If he is the man of God then crucifixion is simply impossible.” They have a different vision and different conditioning: the man of God has to sing the song of God, the celestial song, Bhagavad-Gita. He has to dance and sing in praise of God. The world need not be redeemed, the world has only to be enlightened, helped — to laugh, to love, to be.

Now it depends, it is according to your conditioning. Once you drop all conditionings you will be able to understand all kinds of minds very easily, and you will be able to see their benefits and their harms. You will be able to see what is beautiful in a certain conditioning and what is ugly. Yes, the Hindu has something beautiful to say: “God is there and we have to praise God.” Right! But the world is suffering too, and something has to be done for the world, for its sufferings. And the Christian is not absolutely wrong: just the flute won’t do. It has not done much for India. India is terribly poor, starving. Life is ugly. People are somehow pulling, dragging themselves. It has not been helped by the flute, something more is needed. Just dancing won’t do: schools will be needed and hospitals will be needed and food will be needed.

Christianity is not all wrong, but again it makes only a half-statement. When the food is there, when the house is there, when the medicine is there, when the education is there, then what? Then just crucify yourself? What else is left? Where is the flute?

The West is suffering from affluence: all is there, but nobody knows what to do now. They have worked for three hundred years, hard work, to make everything right. Now everything is right: the house is ready, food is available, technology has provided for all needs. Now what to do — except commit suicide? Life seems meaningless because the flute is missing. In the East man has lived with a half-vision: God is beautiful, and life is beautiful; but then he has been avoiding the ugly part of it and not trying to transform it at all. The East has lived in a very unrevolutionary way, an ANTI-revolutionary way. It has lived a very reactionary life, orthodox, conventional, conformist. Revolution is something Western, revolution is something Christian. The world has to be transformed as much as the consciousness has to be transformed.

But when you put ALL conditionings aside you will be able to see that the world needs a totally different kind of vision. It needs a TOTAL vision — neither Christian nor Hindu nor Mohammedan. It needs a total vision. All these are aspects of that total vision: Mohammed is one door, Christ is another, Krishna is still another, and Buddha too. All are different doors to the same temple, and all the doors are needed; only then will the temple be rich. And even if all the doors are accepted, then too truth has not been told in its fullness, because it is infinite. You can put Buddha, Christ, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu, Mahavir, Mohammed together, still truth has not been told in its totality. It can never be told. It is infinite. All words are small. All human efforts are limited. And then, it cannot be told straight. It can be communicated straight, but it cannot be told straight — and that is the difference between a thinker and a meditator. The thinker goes roundabout because he has to go through thought. He searches for the sky through the clouds and gets lost in the clouds, may never reach the sky. The thinker gets lost in thoughts. The meditator starts by dropping thoughts. He starts by dropping thinking itself, and a moment comes when there is no thought: then there is immediacy. Then there is nothing between you and that which is. Then there is nothing at all — you are bridged with reality. But that is an experience. Whenever you would like to tell that experience to somebody else you will have to use words, out of necessity, and words cannot contain it.

For certain purposes you can say the truth straight — for certain purposes. ‘The cat sat on the mat’: either the cat did it, he did sit there, or he did not. But there are other kinds of truths which you cannot catch hold of so easily. This is a fact, not a truth. So remember the difference: if some truth can be said through language, then it is a fact — ‘the cat sat on the mat’. Now there is an objective way of knowing whether this is true or not. If it is true it is a fact. If it is untrue it is not a fact, it is a fiction. But there are other kinds of truth which cannot be said so easily. You cannot catch hold of them. Language is riddled with all kinds of ambiguity. If anyone says God, love or freedom, you need to know exactly what he means when he is saying it. These are big words — God: now a Hindu means something, a Mohammedan means something else, a Christian means something else. There are three hundred religions in the world, so there are three hundred meanings to the word ‘God’. Even those three hundred meanings don’t exhaust it because new religions are being created every day, and they will go on being created. There can be as many religions as there are people in the world. Each man can have his own religion.

Then what is the meaning of the word ‘God’? It becomes vaguer and vaguer and vaguer. It becomes a chaos. You cannot pinpoint anything about it, and if you try to pinpoint you destroy its beauty — because you destroy its unlimitedness. If you fix it, you have killed it. A butterfly on the wing is one thing, and a butterfly killed and pinned down in an album is a totally different thing. It is not the same butterfly. Where is the life? The moment you pin the butterfly down in an album, it is just a corpse. When Buddha says, “God”, it is a butterfly on the wing. You catch hold of the word, you pin it down in a book; you think you know, you think you have understood. All that you have got is just a corpse, the life has flown away. The life is an experience! Words cannot carry the experience. When I say something… unsaid, when it is throbbing in my heart, it is alive. The moment it has left my lips it is no more the same thing: life is left behind. It goes on throbbing there in my heart, and only the word, dead, corpse-like, moves into the air. Just a sound, a ripple, reaches to you. It is not the same thing as it was unsaid.

And then more complexities arise: the moment the sound reaches your mind you start giving your meaning to it — and your meaning may be just the opposite of my meaning because it will depend on your experience. If you meditate, then maybe your meaning will come closer and closer to me.

If you have come to a point where you can stop all thinking and get in tune so deeply with yourself that there is absolute silence, then you will come closest to the meaning of what has been said to you. In fact, then there will be no need to even say it. I can just look into your eyes and you will understand. I can just sit by your side and hold your hand and you will understand. Then understanding is a transfer, a transmission beyond words, beyond scriptures. The higher up you go, the thicker grows the mystery.

The lower kinds of facts can be relayed through words because we have all experienced them. When I say ‘a tree’ you understand exactly what I mean, but when I say ‘nirvana’ you only hear the word, you don’t understand what I mean — because as far as the tree is concerned, it is a common experience, my experience, your experience. If I say ‘a rock’, immediately it is understood, it is a mundane fact. But when I say ‘love’, it is a little more difficult; and when I say ‘nirvana’, even more difficult — because the higher the truth, the fewer are those who will be able to understand it.

Jesus was misunderstood. Out of misunderstanding he was killed. He was talking of the Kingdom of God, and the Roman rulers became suspicious. They started thinking that he was a politician and he wanted to rule the world, he wanted to create his own kingdom. He was talking continuously and saying to people, “I have come to establish the Kingdom of God.” He was saying something, the politicians were interpreting something else. He was not talking of the kingdom of this world, he was talking of the kingdom of the other world, the invisible. He was not concerned with politics at all. It has always happened: the higher you go, the more dumb you feel. And whatsoever you say, you can IMMEDIATELY see it has been misunderstood. Lao Tzu has said, “If I say something and people understand it, then I know it was not worth saying. If I say something and people don’t understand, then I know that there must have been some truth in it.”

We must learn to live with this, this mystery of higher truths. Music is one way of doing it, far better than language. Because music has no words it cannot tell anything, truth, untruth; so it can’t tell no-truth or lies. It says nothing, it simply shows — and that is the beauty of music. You don’t think whether music is true or untrue; that is irrelevant. You simply listen to it. You become overwhelmed by it, you are possessed by it. You fall in tune with it. You are transported to some other realm, to some other vision of reality. You are not in the mundane world. Music takes you to the higher peaks of life and existence. It simply takes your hand and leads you, very politely, very lovingly, into the mysterious. Music was born as part of religion: music was born in temples, music was born in the mystery schools, in the esoteric schools of seekers of truth. It was born as an effort to convey something which cannot be conveyed through words. Music can bear witness to the mystery, and that is all. If you love a Master, you start hearing his music, the music of his being. Even through his words you start hearing the wordless message, you start hearing… listening to the gaps between the words. You start reading between the lines. Slowly slowly words become transparent; then they don’t hide, they reveal. But for that, trust and love are needed. For that, disciplehood is needed.

Just the other night a new Sannyasin was here, Kavio, a beautiful man with great potential. He has come here with his beloved; she’s also a beautiful woman. She wants to look into my eyes, and she is not a Sannyasin yet. Kavio asked me about it, and I had to say that unless she is a Sannyasin, even if she looks into my eyes she will not be able to see anything. To be a Sannyasin means to be ready to receive. I will be giving, but she will not be able to receive — because she is not ready to pay anything to receive it. She should take the jump into Sannyas.

Sannyas means surrender; surrender creates receptivity. Surrender means you become vulnerable, open, you don’t defend. Surrender means now you put your arms away, now you drop your armor. Now even if the Master wants to kill you, you will be happy to be killed by the Master.

I have heard…

One day Hassan of Busra and Malik, son of Dinar, and Sakik of Bulk, came to see Rabiya el-Adawiya when she was ill.

Rabiya is one of the greatest woman mystics of the world, and these three saints came to see her because she was ill.

Hassan said, “None is sincere in his claim to the love of God unless he patiently endure the blows of his Lord.”

Rabiya said, “This smells of egoism.”

Sakik said, “None is sincere in his claim unless he give thanks for the blows of his Lord.”

Rabiya said, “This must be still bettered. Still something of egoism is there.”

Malik, son of Dinar, said, “None is sincere in his claim unless he delight in the blows of his Lord.”

Rabiya said, “Good, but still needs to be improved. A very subtle ego is still hiding there like a shadow.”

Then they all said, “Please do speak. You yourself say.”

She said, “None is sincere in his claim unless he forgets the blows in beholding his Lord.”

Let me repeat it: none is sincere in his claim unless he forgets the blows in beholding his Lord. Even when the Master hits, you feel tremendously happy. And the Master has to hit to make openings in your being; you have grown a hard crust around yourself. That was necessary for survival, otherwise you would not have survived at all. You had to protect yourself against so many dangerous situations in life. You have become afraid, frightened; you have created a China Wall around yourself. When you come to a Master you have to drop that armor. And the armor may have gone so deep that you cannot drop it. Then the Master has to hit you, the Master has to use a sledge-hammer. He has to cut many chunks of your being because they are not really part of you. They are part of the armor which has become too much identified with your being. And when those chunks are removed and cut, it is painful, it hurts — but only then can the Master pour himself into you. One has to pay for it. And by paying I mean one has to be ready to drop all defenses. That’s what sannyas is all about.

Only in a Master-disciple relationship can truth be conveyed, because only in that relationship are words not needed. I use words to persuade you to become a disciple. Words cannot convey the truth, but words can convey this approach: that there is a possibility of being in a certain love-relationship with a Master; there is a possibility of coming closer to somebody who has seen who he is. You are also that, but you have not seen it yet. Coming closer to somebody who has known, one day his vibe starts triggering a process of knowing in your being. That is the transfer. Kavio’s woman has some longing to be connected with me, to be related with me, but still wants to be related to me as an outsider, is afraid of getting involved, is afraid of being committed. But that very fear will not allow her to receive what I want to give. I am ready to give to anybody! It is not a condition from MY side that you have to be a Sannyasin, that only then will my energy be flowing towards you. This is my observation and experience: that only a Sannyasin receives it. The others are not ready to receive.

The music of silence, the music of a loving surrender, the music of the being of a Master — that is the way to relate, to convey. Music, in a sense, is absolutely silent. Sounds are there but those sounds only make the silence deeper. They help the silence, they are not against silence. That is the difference between noise and music: noise is just sound which does not lead you to silence, music is sound that becomes a door to silence. Modern music is not much of a music, it is noise; it does not lead you to silence. Classical music is real music. The definition of real music is: that sound which leads you into silence.

Music, in a sense, is absolutely silent. Even song is not pure music, because a song has words in it. It is a compromise with language, it is halfway to music. It is better than ordinary language. Poetry is better than prose, poetry is a little closer to music; and the closer the poetry is to music the more poetic it is. Hence the highest form of poetry comes very close to music. It does not have much meaning but it contains much silence; it provokes silence.

The being of a Master is the being of music, poetry, song. But they all lead to silence, and truth can only be conveyed in silence.

Have you not observed the fact that whenever you are in love you can be silent easily? You need not talk, you can just sit together with the person you love. There is nothing to say. Just to be together is more than enough, more than one can ask. Just to be together is such a contentment. There is no need to even say that “I love you”. That would be a kind of disturbance. That would be utterly superfluous, that would not say much. In love, you can be silent.

Sannyas is a love affair. And you can be silent only as the love deepens; and then the truth can be transferred. But it is a transfer of energy, of music, of love. It is not verbal, it is not a philosophy.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2

Chapter #4

Chapter title: Words cannot contain it

30 August 1978 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has also spoken on women mystics like Daya, Lalla, Meera, Mallibai, Magdalen, Rabiya, Teresa, Sahajo in the course of His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:

  1. Showering without clouds
  2. Books I have loved
  3. The Last Morning Star
  4. The Perfect Master
  5. The Razor’s Edge
  6. The Sword and The Lotus
  7. Turn On, Tune In, and Drop the Lot
  8. Come, Come, Yet Again Come
  9. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha Vol.8
  10. The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
  11. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  12. Come Follow To You Vol.1
  13. Tao: The Three Treasures Vol.2
  14. Beyond Enlightenment
  15. The Last Morning Star
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1 Comment

  • Someshwar H
    Someshwar H
    Posted July 6, 2022 6:24 pm 0Likes

    Yes Master!
    Love you!

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