The Wisdom of Sands Vol 1 01

First Discourse from the series of 9 discourses - The Wisdom of Sands Vol 1 by Osho.
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The Tale of the Sands.

A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one, but it found as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared.

It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross this desert, and yet there was no way. Now a hidden voice, coming from the desert itself, whispered, “The wind crosses the desert, and so can the stream.”

The stream objected that it was dashing itself against the sand, and only getting absorbed; that the wind could fly and this was why it could cross a desert.

“By hurtling in your own accustomed way you cannot get across. You will either disappear or become a marsh. You must allow the wind to carry you over to your destination.”
“But how could this happen?”
“By allowing yourself to be absorbed in the wind.”

This idea was not acceptable to the stream. After all, it had never been absorbed before. It did not want to lose its individuality. And once having lost it, how was it to know that it could ever be regained?

“The wind,” said the sand, “performs this function. It takes up water, carries it over the desert, and then lets it fall again. Falling as rain, the water again becomes a river.”
“How can I know that this is true?”

“It is so, and if you do not believe it, you cannot become more than a quagmire, and even that could take many, many years; and it certainly is not the same as a stream.”

“But can I not remain the same stream that I am today?”

“You cannot in either case remain so,” the whisper said. “Your essential part is carried away and forms a stream again. You are called what you are even today because you do not know which part of you is the essential one.”

When he heard this, certain echoes began to arise in the thoughts of the stream. Dimly, he remembered a state in which he – or some part of him, was it? – had been held in the arms of a wind. He also remembered – or did he? – that this was the real thing, not necessarily the obvious thing, to do.

And the stream raised his vapor into the welcoming arms of the wind, which gently and easily bore it upward and along, letting it fall softly as soon as they reached the roof of a mountain, many, many miles away.

And because he had had his doubts, the stream was able to remember and record more strongly in his mind the details of the experience.
He reflected, “Yes, now I have learned my true identity.”

The stream was learning. But the sands whispered, “We know, because we see it happen day after day: and because we, the sands, extend from the riverside all the way to the mountain.”

And that is why it is said that the way in which the stream of life is to continue on its journey is written in the sands.
We enter today the world of Sufism. It is a world, but not a worldview. It is a transcendence, but not a philosophy of transcendence. It does not preach any theories; it simply gives you practical hints. Sufism is not speculative. It is utterly realistic, pragmatic, practical. It is down-to-earth, it is not abstract. Hence it has no worldview. And also, because it is not a system, it does not systematize knowledge.
A system is a complete explanation of existence. Sufism is not a system; it has no explanation for existence. It is a way into the mysteries of existence. It does not explain anything; it simply points to the mysterious, it leads you into the mysterious. Sufism does not demystify existence. All systems do that: their whole work consists in making the unknown known, destroying the mystery, destroying the wonder. Sufism leads you from one wonder to another, deeper into the wonderland.
It is not a system because it never gives any complete explanation about anything. It gives only very, very small hints, flashes of insight. It does not spin and weave philosophies; it spins and weaves stories, anecdotes, metaphors, parables, poetry. It is not metaphysics; it is metaphor. It is a finger pointing to the moon. You cannot understand the moon by analyzing the finger, but if you follow the direction with sympathy, if you fall en rapport, then you will come to see the moon. The finger is not the moon, the finger cannot be the moon, yet the finger can point the way.
The Sufi stories are not philosophical, they are just gentle hints, whisperings. Sufism does not shout, it only whispers. Naturally, only those who are ready to listen with sympathy – not only with sympathy, but empathy – only those who are ready to open their hearts in trust and in surrender can understand what Sufism is.
Only those who are capable of love can understand what Sufism is, what its message is. It is not a logical analysis; neither is it as illogical as Zen. Sufism says to be logical is one extreme, to be illogical is another. Sufism is just somewhere in the middle: neither logic nor illogic. It does not lean to the left or to the right. It is not absurd. It is not logical like Socrates and it is not absurd like Bodhidharma. It says Bodhidharma and Socrates only look different, but their approaches are the same.
In fact, Bodhidharma is more logical than Socrates; that’s why he stumbles into illogic. If you go on following the line of logic, sooner or later you come to a point where you see logic is finished but the journey continues. Bodhidharma is a Socrates who has gone the whole way and has come to that borderland where logic stops but life continues. Bodhidharma looks different, but the approach is Socratic; it is intellectual. Zen is very much against intellect, but to be against intellect is still to be intellectual. Zen is anti-philosophy, but to be anti-philosophical is to be philosophical: that is your philosophy. Sufism avoids the extremes. It follows the middle, the exact middle, the Golden Mean.
In Zen the key word is mindfulness. In Sufism the key word is heartfulness. Remember this; it will make it clear where they differ. Zen is against mind, but goes beyond mind through the mind. Sufism is not against the mind; Sufism is completely indifferent to the mind. Sufism is focused on the heart. It simply does not bother about the mind. It believes in heartfulness. Yes, a certain kind of awakening comes to the Sufi too. If we call the Zen awakening “satori,” mind wakefulness, then we will have to coin a word for the Sufi awakening: “heart wakefulness.” The path of the Sufi is the path of the lover, the path of Zen is the path of the warrior, the samurai – and because of this, a basic difference in approach.
Both use stories. Zen uses stories and Sufism also uses stories, but their stories have a different flavor, a different tone. The Zen story is absurd: it is a riddle, and a riddle that cannot be solved. You can try, but you will never be able to solve it. That insolubility is built-in; it is intrinsic to the Zen story. It has to be absurd because it is a device to destroy your mind, to shock your mind. It is a sword to kill your mind. It drives you almost mad because there seems to be no solution coming and you have to go on meditating on the story. It is a meditation device. Many solutions are given by the mind, but all solutions are rejected by the master. The disciple goes on, day in, day out, with new solutions, and the master goes on shouting at the disciple, “This is nonsense! Go and search again!” Sometimes months, sometimes years pass, and then a moment comes to the disciple when he sees that there is no solution. And remember, if you simply think there is no solution then you have missed the point. You have to come to a realization that there is no solution. In that state of no-solution, no-conclusion, a transcendence happens, a leap, a quantum leap: you have gone beyond the mind through the mind. The Zen story functions like a sword to cut the knot of the mind.
The Sufi story is not a riddle; it is a parable. It is not a shock, it is not a sword, it is persuasion. It is seduction, it is the way of the lover, it is very gentle and soft and feminine. Zen is very masculine, Sufism is feminine. The Zen story drives you mad; through creating a maddening state in the mind, it helps you to go beyond it. It drives you crazy. The Sufi story intoxicates you slowly, slowly but inevitably.
The Sufi story has a poetry in it, a rhythm. The Sufi story has to be contemplated, not meditated upon. The Zen story has to be meditated upon. The Sufi story has to be imbibed, sipped like tea, enjoyed in a relaxed mood. The Zen story has to be penetrated with a very, very concentrated mind, in a very tense attitude, in intensity. You have to focus all your energies on the story. You have to forget the whole world; only that small absurd story exists. And you know it cannot be solved, and yet you have to put your whole energy into it. And all the time you know that it is absurd, it is not going to lead you anywhere. But the master says, “Focus! Concentrate! Pay attention! Look into the riddle of the story!”
The Sufi story has to be listened to just like a story. Sufis are great storytellers. They will sip tea or coffee, they will sit together in a cozy place, warm. The story will start, and the master will tell the story. And the story only gives glimpses, hints, but very potential, very penetrating. All that is needed on the part of the disciple is to listen, not attentively but sympathetically, with an open heart – not with any tension. The story has to be enjoyed. It reveals its mysteries when you are enjoying it.
A few more things before we start enjoying the story: I said to you that Sufism is not a worldview. It is a vision, not a worldview. A worldview means you remain the same and you start believing in a philosophy, in certain explanations about reality. You remain the same, you are not changed at all. The worldview adds some knowledge to you, you become more knowledgeable.
A vision transforms you. A vision is possible only when you are transformed, when you are taken to other altitudes, other heights, other depths of life.
Sufism is a vision. In fact, to call it “Sufism” is not right because it is not an “ism” at all. Sufis don’t call it “Sufism”; it is the name given by the outsiders. They call their vision tasawwuf a love vision, a loving approach toward reality. It is falling in love with existence. The person who thinks about existence is a little bit antagonistic because he creates a problem out of existence, as if existence is challenging him and he has to decipher it. He has to decode the mystery, he has to destroy the mystery. He fights.
Sufis say we and existence are one. There is no need to fight. Persuade, coo, invite, love, befriend, and existence itself starts revealing its mysteries. There is no need to rape it. The philosophic approach, the scientific approach, the intellectual approach, is a rape. It is forcing existence to reveal its heart, it is undressing existence by force and violence. The violence may be of scientific methods or of logical methods – it doesn’t matter – but the violence is there. The philosopher has taken a standpoint as if nature is not ready to reveal its mysteries; it has to be forced. It is a violent approach.
Sufism says there is no need. Existence is waiting for you to come close so that it can reveal its heart. Existence is waiting for you to fall in love with it. If you are deeply in love with existence, it starts opening, it starts revealing its secrets. It has been waiting long for you to come close. There is no need to force it, there is no need to rape. You can fall in love.
A worldview is an aggressive stance; a vision is a love stance. I said to you that Sufism is not a system, because all systems create bondage, they create prisons around you. Sufism is freedom. It does not create any system around you, it does not tell you to believe in a certain system. Yes, it talks about trust, but not of belief.
Trust is a totally different thing. Belief is belief in a theory, in a philosophy, in a worldview: you believe in Islam, you believe in Hinduism, you believe in Christianity. But when you trust, you trust in life. You don’t believe in life, you trust in life. You believe in philosophies. Belief is a poor substitute for trust, and remember, belief is from the head, trust is from the heart. Their qualities are different, altogether different, diametrically opposite. Never become part of a belief system: never become a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Jaina or a Buddhist. When you become part of a belief system, you are becoming a slave.
If you can find a place, a space, where belief is not imposed on you but trust is helped, find that place. That is the right place where you can really grow and grow into freedom. There is no other growth – growth in freedom is the only growth.
I said to you that Sufism is not a philosophy, but it is not anti-philosophy either. It simply takes no note of philosophies, anti-philosophies. It bypasses them, it is indifferent. It says: “Why be bothered with words while reality is available? When you can drink the water, why be worried about the theories about water? When you can go in the sun and dance with the sun rays, why be bothered about theories? Why not have an experience, an authentic experience?”
Philosophy goes round and round, it is about and about. It never penetrates the core of truth. It thinks about truth, but to think about truth is to falsify. Truth has to be encountered, not thought about. Truth has to be lived, not believed. Truth is not a conclusion: you don’t arrive at truth by a syllogistic process. Truth is there – you are truth, the trees are truth, the birds are truth, the sun, the moon. The truth is all over the place, and you close your eyes and you think about truth? All thinking will take you astray. There is no need to think. Live it. Only by living do you come to know it.
Sufism is not a way of thinking, but a way of life, a way of living – not a philosophy of life but a way of life.
I said Sufism is not speculative. Speculation means you think about things you have not known. Now this is foolish: speculation means a blind man thinking about light, a deaf man thinking about music. When you think about God, do you think you are in any way different from the blind man thinking about light? You have not seen God, you have not tasted anything divine, and you go on thinking. What will you do? Yes, the mind is very clever and it can spin and weave beautiful systems, but those systems are just irrelevant. Good or bad, logical, illogical – they are just irrelevant. They have no relevance to reality, they have no context in reality; they are mind games.
Sufism is not a mind game. That’s why it is practical, absolutely practical. If you ask a Sufi about God, he will laugh, or he will sing a song which has no reference to God, or he will tell you a story in which it is never mentioned, or he will say something which seems absolutely unrelated to the question. He is simply saying, “Don’t be foolish. Let us be practical.” You ask about God and he will talk about prayer, not about God. A true Sufi will avoid the subject of God. He will talk about prayer; prayer is practical. You ask about paradise and he will talk about your misery and how to drop it. That is practical because paradise is not somewhere else; when you have dropped your miserable ways, you are in paradise, or to be more true, you are paradise.
Sufis always talk about techniques, methods. They never talk about “what,” they only talk about “how.” In that way they are as scientific as any scientist. Sufism is a glimpse of how religion should be. It is pointless to talk about God; create the ladder that takes you to God. It is utterly a waste of time talking about paradise. Give methods so that paradise can be explored inside your being. It is an inner phenomenon, it is your inner space – and so is hell.
Sufism is not even a religion; rather, it is religiousness. It has no church, it has no book – Bible or Koran or Veda or Dhammapada. It has no book, no sacred book. It has no church. Sufism is a very, very free-floating religiousness. Anybody can be a Sufi – a Hindu, a Christian, a Mohammedan. Anywhere, one can be a Sufi. It is a practical approach to creating religiousness.
People think “How to belong to a religion?” Sufism says that is foolish, stupid. The only meaningful question can be: “How to create religiousness, how to transform one’s own energy so it becomes religious?” If you start belonging to a religion, you will have only a label. But you will not be religious, and your other world will be nothing but a projection of this world.
You can go and see the otherworldly people, and if you watch them closely and observe them, you will be surprised: their otherworldliness is nothing but a projection of this-worldliness. In their heaven they are hoping for the same pleasures, of course on a more permanent basis – more intense, more alive – but the same pleasures. In their hell they are afraid of the same pains and the same sufferings – more intense and more permanent. The difference is of quantity. The hellfire will be the same fire that is here, but maybe more intense, more fiery. It burns more, hurts more, wounds more, but it will be the same fire. And in paradise? It will be the same food – more delicious, more nourishing – but the difference is of quantity; and the quantity is not the real difference. A difference arises only when you move from a quantitative vision to a qualitative vision. When you start changing the quality of your life, that’s what religiousness is.
A true religious person cannot be Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian. He’s simply religious. Jesus is not Christian, he’s religious. I call him a Sufi. Buddha is not Buddhist; he is simply religious. I call him a Sufi. A Sufi is a person who has looked into the very essentials of religion and has discarded all that is nonessential.
I invite you into this benediction called Sufism, but you will be able to enter only if you have great sympathy. Listen with love; argumentation won’t help. Sufism makes no effort to convince you. It simply makes itself available for all those who are ready to partake of it. It is an invitation open to all and sundry, but only those who are courageous enough to be will be able to enter this nonargumentative world of Sufism. Sympathy has to be the foundation; participation has to be the base. Fall en rapport. And remember, argumentation is cowardly. All cowards argue, and all cowards can argue. It is only the courageous who take the jump into the unknown. The unknown cannot be argued about, obviously; that’s why it is called the unknown.
You can argue about the known, you can come to conclusions about the known through thinking. But how are you going to come across the unknown? Thinking can give you only the old, that which has been known and experienced. Thinking cannot give you something that has never been experienced and never known. If you remain too obsessed with thinking, you will be stuck.
The unknown does not come from your past; the unknown enters from the future. The unknown does not come from your memory – otherwise it would not be unknown. The unknown penetrates your memory, but comes from some source we know nothing of, from some unknown source. Your memory has to give way. That’s what I mean when I say listen sympathetically, get in tune. I’m not proposing a philosophical argument here.
I will be simply telling you a story. With a story, you don’t argue. With a story, you simply listen like a child. You enjoy its nuances, its turns, sudden turns. You simply start getting into its spirit, what the story wants to tell. It has much to say and the deeper your empathy grows, the deeper the story will reveal itself to you.
Trust. Let trust be your approach toward Sufism. It is available only to those who trust. And remember again, only the courageous can trust; the cowardly always shrink back from the unknown.
Now the story. It is one of the most beautiful.
A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert.
Each single word is potential, and you will have to get into the spirit of each single word.
A stream… A stream is a metaphor for life – for your life, for my life, for everybody’s life. You are not suddenly here, you are not accidentally here. You have been here for ever and ever. From eternity, your stream has been flowing and flowing, and flowing from far-off mountains which you have completely forgotten, from a source you don’t have any idea of anymore.
And you have been: …passing through every kind and description of countryside… You have been a rock and you have been a tree and you have been a bird and you have been an animal, and you have been all. All kinds of experiences have been available to you. You have passed through many, many landscapes. You have passed through all varieties, all possibilities. That’s how life goes on enriching you.
That’s how life goes on enriching you, but you go on forgetting. It is too much; it cannot be contained. The day-to-day worry is too much; it takes too much of your consciousness so you cannot remember. You have to forget the major part of your experiences because you have a very, very small attention, and that attention can contain only so much. Every day you have to forget almost ninety-nine percent of what you come to experience; that one percent is kept. After a few days even that one percent is not totally kept; part of it disappears. After a few years the whole of it is gone, only the essential fragrance remains.
If your attention grows, you will be able to contain more. Buddha has said that if your mind is unburdened of the day-to-day worries, you will be able to remember your past lives. That’s true: if your focus on the mundane is relaxed, then the light will start falling upon the past. Buddha has remembered and talked about all his past lives, thousands of lives – the life when he was an elephant and the life when he was a tree, and so on and so forth.
And they are your lives too; you are not suddenly here, you have a continuity. You are a continuum. Consciousness is a stream.
In the West, William James used these words for the first time: “stream of consciousness.” He must have heard it from some Sufi source, there is no other way – because Sufis have always been talking about stream of consciousness, stream of life. It is an ongoing, a flowing phenomenon; it is movement, it is not static. Even while you are here, you are not static. Every moment things are changing: the body is a flow, the mind is a flow, your being is a flow. You are not the same even for two consecutive moments. In the morning you were so happy, so trusting, by the afternoon you have become so doubting and untrusting, and by the evening everybody is a skeptic, cynical and sarcastic. Early in the morning everybody seems to be prayerful, innocent. As the day wears on, as you are cheated and pulled and pushed from this side and that, you start losing your innocence.
You are constantly changing, a movement. And if you try to remain the same, you will create misery because then you will be fighting against your very life. The message is flow, let go. The message is don’t swim upstream. The message is go with the stream. This is your life, and don’t be afraid because this stream has been flowing down the ages, for centuries. There is no need to be afraid, and this stream will be flowing down the centuries in the future too. From one eternity to another eternity, it continues.
You are the fabric of the universe. You will not disappear. Even when you disappear many times, you remain, the essential remains. Only the nonessential goes on disappearing, but the nonessential is not you.
A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. There are two more things about this statement. The source is in the mountains, in the heights. That’s what every religion of the world has been saying: man is a descendant of God, the source is high in the mountains, man has descended from the high. That’s why Christianity was so much against the idea of Darwinian evolution – because that idea goes against all the religions.
The theory of evolution preaches that man has come not from the mountains, but from the valleys – that man has been coming, growing upward. And all the religions of the world have been teaching just the opposite: they have been saying man is a descendant, he comes from God. And there is something to be understood about it. If you come from God, only then can you go back to God, otherwise not – because the source is always the goal. The circle completes, you reach that point from where you have come.
Darwin created a very strange philosophy, a linear progression that you go on evolving and evolving. But where will that evolution end? It is like a line; it goes on and on. It begins somewhere in the dark valleys. Where will it end? It cannot end anywhere. It is a line that goes on and on. It is linear: it will always remain incomplete, it will always remain unsatisfied, it will never be fulfilled.
The religions tell a totally different story. They say man comes from God and finally reaches God again. It is a circle, it is a completion, and in completion is fulfillment.
A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. “At last…” every consciousness reaches a point of cul-de-sac, a point which Sufis call “the desert.” The desert is a point where you start feeling you are disappearing. The desert is a point where you feel you are dying. The desert is a point when you feel utterly hopeless, meaningless, a point where you start contemplating suicide, a point where you cannot figure it out – what to do, what not to do, to be or not to be. One day or other, every consciousness has to face the desert because without passing through the desert, you will never really be mature. That is part of the training of every soul. In fact when you start encountering the desert, you start thinking of religion. When things are going good, who bothers about religion? Who contemplates? Who meditates? Who prays? When things are not going good, then you start thinking that there must be something basically wrong with you.
This is a strange phenomenon – that whenever a person has all that he needs, he encounters the desert. The affluent society encounters the desert. The poor society is still far away from the desert. The affluence brings the desert very close because you have all that you were hoping for. You have the woman that you wanted, the house, the money, the prestige, the power. You have all that you had always dreamed about; now there is nothing left to dream. The desert has come. Now you suddenly feel a kind of insomnia. You cannot even sleep; the desert is all around.
How to transcend this desert? The desert of meaninglessness, the desert of anguish, the desert of absurdity.
Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one too…
Naturally. We always react from our past: it has always worked, so we think it is going to work in every situation. But one day a situation arises where your past is simply irrelevant, it doesn’t work. That is real crisis – and real opportunity too.
The Chinese word for crisis – they don’t have a word, they have pictures – the Chinese ideogram for crisis is beautiful. It consists of two small pictures, of two small ideograms: one means danger, the other means opportunity. Crisis is danger and opportunity. It will depend on you: if you go on reacting out of the past, you will be committing suicide. It is dangerous. If you have the intelligence to see that the problem is new so the answer has to be new – old answers won’t do – if you have that intelligence to see, then it is a great opportunity. Passing through the desert, you will attain great maturity and great integration. And remember, this is how it happens every time.
Just the other night a beautiful woman took sannyas. She was afraid. The fear was a very significant fear: the fear was that she could not keep one promise, the promise of marriage, so she was afraid of whether she would be able to keep this promise of sannyas or not. But a marriage is a marriage. Sannyas is not a marriage. A marriage is a bondage, sannyas is freedom. A marriage is a chain, it is law. Sannyas is liberation, it is love. But you can understand that her argument must have gone deep inside her. She wanted to become a sannyasin – a sincere woman – but she was afraid about whether she would be able to keep this promise because she had failed before. She could not keep the promise that she had given to her husband.
We always think out of the past. That is how everybody reacts – that is the meaning of reaction. That is the difference between reaction and response. A response means seeing that the situation is so new that you cannot have any answer from the past. Seeing this, you respond to the situation, you go with the situation, you don’t think of the past. If you think of the past and if you bring your past into it, you will destroy the opportunity for growth and you will go on behaving in the old pattern, the old rut. That’s what happens.
You have been a Christian, you have been a Hindu, and now you are afraid of being a sannyasin. You think it is also another church. It is not. You think it is again an organization. This is not. You think now it is again becoming part of a belief system. It is not. You are confronting something utterly new, but naturally you react out of the past. You think, “I was a Christian. Now what is the point of becoming a sannyasin?”
It happens every day. A Buddhist monk came and he said, “I am fed up with being a monk, so I don’t want to become a sannyasin.” I said, “But this is not being a monk. My sannyasins are not monks.”
The word monk means one who lives alone, in loneliness. Monastery comes from the same word monk, a person who renounces the world and lives alone. Monopoly comes from the same word, and monogamy also comes from the same word. They all mean “one” – one husband to one wife, monogamy. A monopoly means one person possesses the power of the whole thing.
My sannyasins are not monks; they are non-monks. My sannyasins are not nuns. I don’t destroy people. A nun is a ruin of a woman. A monk is a caricature of a man. I enhance their humanity, I enhance their life and their love. But naturally, when a Buddhist monk comes he thinks, when a Catholic monk comes he thinks, “What is the point?”
Just a few days ago there was a Catholic monk here. Living in a Catholic monastery for twelve, thirteen years, he escaped somehow. Now he was afraid. He said, “Now I am very much afraid. I am afraid of you, Osho, because you appeal to me so much that I fear I may become a sannyasin. And I have escaped just now, and I don’t want to get into any other system.”
Naturally, we can understand, but the natural is not necessarily true. There are situations when you are facing something so new, something that you have never faced before, but your eyes are full of the past. They interpret in the old, rotten ways.
Just as it had crossed every other barrier… It had crossed mountains, it had crossed plains, it had crossed valleys. The stream had crossed many, many things. Coming from the high mountains, from some unknown source, it had traveled long, it had been on a great pilgrimage. It had many experiences of how to cross over the hard rocks. It had always been victorious. Now all that experience will become a barrier.
…the stream tried to cross this one too – this desert – but it found as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared.
It was a new situation. Intelligence consists in seeing the fact that when a situation is new, never try the old. When the situation is new, be new, be inventive. Just drop the past. Look anew, let your consciousness respond to the new. Mirror it. And don’t be afraid of errors and mistakes because in a new situation, the only error that is unforgivable is the error of using something which was useful in some other situation – the only error which cannot be forgiven. All other errors and mistakes are perfectly good, are okay; you will learn through them.
It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross this desert, and yet there was no way.
This word conviction is used in a very strange way by Sufis. You say, “I am a convinced Christian” or “I am a convinced Hindu” – that is not the meaning, not the Sufi meaning. Sufis say conviction only means “that which arises from your innermost core, not from the outside.” For example, everybody searches for happiness – that is a conviction. It is natural. Nobody has told you to seek and search for happiness, it is intrinsic to you. Everybody is seeking and searching for it. Nobody has told you that happiness would be possible. In fact, many philosophers are saying that happiness is not possible. Freud says that happiness is not possible. Nietzsche says that happiness is impossible – it has never happened and it can’t happen. It can’t happen in the very nature of things; it is impossible. But still, who bothers about Nietzsche and Freud? People go on searching. Even Nietzsche went on searching. Even Freud went on searching; in his philosophical moments he knew it was not possible, but there were nonphilosophical moments too, when he was a human being and not a psychoanalyst, not the founder of psychoanalysis but just a human being – a father, a husband, a lover, a friend. Then he started searching for happiness, and he knew it was not possible. But that knowing remains superficial.
Conviction is that which is inbuilt. The bird making a nest in the tree is convinced of something which she has no knowledge of. She has never made a nest before, she has never given birth to any children before. This is for the first time, and she has never been to any school to learn how to make a nest either. Nobody has told her, nobody has taught her, and suddenly a conviction arises. The moment the bird is pregnant, a conviction arises from some unknown depth that a nest has to be built – not so much in the head, but in the very fibers of her being. She starts moving, arranging things. A thousand and one things have to be arranged, and by the time the children come the nest will be ready. She has no idea of the children, what type of children, no idea of the nest, but it happens. This is conviction in the Sufi sense of the word.
Sufis use words in their own way. They twist and turn the language. They make it fit into their own vision. And my feeling is that their use of the word conviction is exactly as it should be.
It was convinced, however… against all knowledge, against all experience. The stream was seeing itself disappearing into the desert, but still there was a conviction that its destiny was to cross this desert.
Is not that conviction in you too? Are you not convinced? Is there not a conviction somewhere deep down in your being that this earth is not your home, that you have to find your home; that here, somehow you are a stranger, that the love that you are living is somehow superficial – there is much more that must be your destiny – that the life that you are living is not the life that you were meant to live? This conviction is there – hence the search, hence the adventure. Hence one goes on looking here and there, in this direction and that direction. Somewhere there must be a way to find your destiny fulfilled.
Who has told you that this is not your home? Who has told you that there is more to life? Who has told you that there is a life which goes beyond death? Nobody has returned from the dead, nobody has said, “I have survived.” No Buddha, no Mahavira, no Krishna has returned from the dead, but there is a subtle conviction, an unshakable conviction, that somehow you will go on living. This body will be gone, this life will be gone, but life will continue – life with a capital L.
It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross this desert, and yet there was no way. Now a hidden voice, coming from the desert itself, whispered, “The wind crosses the desert, and so can the stream.”
Now look very sympathetically into the story; it has a great message for you. It says: …the desert itself whispered… What does it mean? What does it stand for? It means if you listen to the situation, the problem that is facing you, the crisis that you are going through – if you listen silently to the crisis itself, you will find the key to open the door. In the problem is the solution, that is the meaning. In the disease is hidden the medicine, the treatment. If you can go into the problem without any ready-made answers, the problem will whisper to you, will say to you how it can be solved.
The desert is the crisis of the stream; the stream is dying in the desert. But look! – even the desert is your friend. You just have to listen.
When you are angry, listen to anger, and you will find the key to open the doors of compassion. When you are sexually overwhelmed, listen to your sexuality and you will find the door to samadhi. Listen to your greed, and you will be surprised that in the very phenomenon of greed is hidden the secret of sharing.
This is the art of being meditative, this is real meditation. Whenever you are faced with a problem, go into the problem. And you can go only if you don’t have any solutions already. Those solutions are the enemies. Now see the change. You think those solutions that you are carrying in your head as knowledge are your friends, you think: “Where will I be without those solutions?” That is not true; those solutions are the enemies. Because of those solutions, you cannot listen to the silent whisper of the problem, you cannot penetrate the mystery of the problem.
Look at it in this way: you know sex is bad because you have read it in the scriptures. You know it is sin because that’s what the priests have been saying down through the ages. Now this has become ingrained in you, this is your knowledge: sex is sin. Because of this, you will never be able to look deeply into sex with sympathy, you will never be able to go into its mystery. This idea that sex is sin will hinder you, prevent you. And you know that you already know, so there is no point in learning.
If you listen to the phenomenon of sex that knocks at your door every day, year in, year out, and goes on knocking even while you are dying… You will be surprised to know that whenever prisoners are crucified, sentenced to death, the last thing that happens to a man is ejaculation. We cannot be so certain about the woman because she has no ejaculation. She must have an orgasm, but invisible. And this is my observation of many people I have watched dying. That has been one of my hobbies from my childhood.
In my town, I never allowed anybody to die without my being there. The moment I would hear that somebody was on his deathbed, I would be there. If I could not be found for a few hours, my parents would know: “Look for some dying man – he must be there.” I would follow on the last pilgrimage and I would go with every dying person, rich, poor, beggar – even a dying dog or a cat – and I would sit and watch. And I was surprised again and again, the more perceptive I became; I saw it happen again and again that the last idea when the man dies is sexual – and so is it the case with a dog and with a cat.
Sex goes on persisting. It leaves you only when you have learned the lesson, and to learn the lesson you will have to listen to it. You will have to be very meditative with sex, not antagonistic. You will have to be very silent. Enter sex as you enter a temple. It is the holy of the holies, and that secret-most key is hidden there, the master key. Because sex is the source of life, it must have the key that can open the doors.
That is the meaning when the desert whispered: “The wind crosses the desert, and so can the stream.”
The stream objected…
…just as you object to me many times. Every day I go on receiving letters – objections, objections: “This should not be so, this should be like this” And you don’t know what you are saying. You don’t know where you are, and you go on prescribing, and you go on advising, and you go on objecting.
Just the other day I received a letter. The person has a strong desire to become a sannyasin, but he objects to sannyas “because it is a kind of slavery.” You don’t know anything about sannyas. You don’t know anything about surrender. Surrender makes you a master, not a slave. But that is a mystery to be lived, and there is no other way to understand it unless you live it. Whatever objections come, they come from your past knowledge. And that past knowledge is not valid anymore, not valid for sannyas. You have never been a sannyasin.
Now this river has never entered a desert, has never crossed a desert. For the first time a desert has arrived in the river’s life.
The stream objected that it was dashing itself against the sand, and only getting absorbed; that the wind could fly and this was why it could cross a desert.
“But how can I?” – very logical. “The wind can fly. I cannot fly. The wind can cross the desert, but how can I?”
“By hurtling in your own accustomed way you cannot get across.”
Listen. The desert says: “By hurtling in your own accustomed way you cannot get across.” You will have to drop the accustomed way, the habitual way. That’s what surrender is: dropping the habitual, dropping the past, dropping the known, dropping the learned, and facing the new with a new consciousness.
“You will either disappear or become a marsh. You must allow the wind to carry you over to your destination.”
That’s what let-go is. You must let go, you must allow existence itself to take you to your ultimate destiny. This is what surrender is all about. The desert is teaching surrender to the stream.
“But how could this happen?”
“By allowing yourself to be absorbed in the wind.”
That is death, that is dying – dying in the master, relaxing into the master. One who has disappeared, disappearing in him.
This idea was not acceptable to the stream. After all, it had never been absorbed before. It did not want to lose its individuality.
People go on coming to me and they say, “Sannyas is good, but what about our individuality? Will we not be losing our individuality?”
You don’t have any, and you are so worried about losing it. What individuality do you have? The river is worried that it will lose its individuality. In fact, remember always: the essential can never be lost. That’s why in surrender, when you surrender, only the nonessential disappears and the essential arises in its total clarity and brilliance. It was hidden in the nonessential. The nonessential was ninety-nine percent, the garbage was ninety-nine percent, and the Kohinoor, the diamond of your being, was behind the garbage. When you surrender, only the garbage can be surrendered, only the nonessential can be surrendered. The essential is that which cannot be surrendered; there is no way to surrender it. So when the garbage is gone, for the first time you realize your essential core, your Kohinoor, your diamond.
But the stream is afraid.
It did not want to lose its individuality. And once having lost it, how was one to know that it could ever be regained?
That is your fear too. Everybody hesitates before sannyas, this way and that. How is one to be certain that by surrendering your being, you will not be lost? How will you regain it? You cannot be angry with the stream. Natural logic, your logic, everybody’s logic: “How am I going to know that the essential also will not be lost? And how will I come back again into myself?” The fear is natural.
“The wind,” said the sand, “performs this function.”
The function of the master is the function of the wind: he allows you to be absorbed in him. In that absorption the nonessential disappears and the essential is, for the first time, luminous to you. You surrender to the master and the master gives you back your inner being, your real being. He takes away only that which you are not. He takes away only that which you never had with you, and he gives you back that which you have always had with you, but were never aware of. He gives you that which you are, and he takes away that which you are not.
“The wind…performs this function. It takes up water, carries it over the desert, and then lets it fall again. Falling as rain, the water again becomes a river.”
“How can I know that this is true?”
Every seeker asks, one day or other, “How can I know that this is true? This may be just a myth, a story, a belief to exploit streams. It may be fraud, it may be deception. It may be a subtle trick to cheat, it may be a strategy. How can I know that this is true?”
The river wants to be convinced logically, the river wants proof. The river wants to have a preview of what is going to happen.
“It is so, and if you do not believe it, you cannot become more than a quagmire, and even that could take many, many years; and it certainly is not the same as a stream.”
The desert says: “It is so…” There is no way to prove it, there is no way to have a preview of it. One knows only by going into it.
People come to me and they ask, “What is sannyas?” And I am always at a loss. What to tell them? All that I can say is: become a sannyasin and know what it is. It is an experience, a taste; it is known only by tasting it. But they are logical people, rational people, and they say, “That’s okay, but what if we enter it and nothing happens, there is no taste in it, no joy in it? Some guarantee is needed, some proof is needed. And if there is no proof, at least one thing has to be certain: we can come back again to whatever we were before. Once we are dissolving ourselves, we are getting into insecurity, we are moving into something like a dark night. This is risky.”
But there is no way to know things of the beyond. The only way is to go into them, to be them. “And one thing is certain,” the desert says, “I cannot give you any proof. I can only say it is so, I have seen it happen again and again. But if you don’t trust it, you cannot become more than a quagmire. So you can choose: either you become a quagmire, or you take the risk and you disappear in the wind. Even by deciding to become a quagmire, you will never be a stream again. Either way, the stream is going to disappear. You can disappear in cowardliness and you will become a quagmire, and you can disappear into a quantum leap, in great courage. There is a possibility; if you can trust you may be again, in a different form, on a different plane.”
When the disciple disappears in the master, he disappears on a very low plane and is born on a higher plane. He dies as the gross and is born as the subtle. He dies as body and is born as spirit. He dies as a circumference and is born as a center. But the decision is yours. You can become a quagmire, but remember, that way the river is also no longer there.
“But can I not remain the same stream that I am today?”
The stream asks a very, very irrelevant question. “Are these two the only alternatives? – that either I have to become a quagmire and lose my individuality, or I have to disappear into the winds and take the risk of some unknown journey, not knowing where it is going to land me or whether I will be back again on the earth or not? Are these two the only alternatives? Is there not a third alternative?”
“But can I not remain the same stream that I am today?” That’s what you also think. But you cannot remain the same. Life is moving, and there is no way to go back, and there is no way to stop movement.
A great scientist, Eddington, said that the word rest is an empty word, because in life there is no situation which corresponds to the word rest. Everything is moving, nothing is at rest. Stars move and the earth moves and the sun moves and life moves and the tree moves – everything is movement. Never for a single moment is there any rest. Even when you are asleep and you say, “I am resting,” you are not resting. Everything is moving. After eight hours you will be eight hours older. Even in your deep sleep dreams are moving, your consciousness is moving, your body is changing, your mind is changing. All is movement, life is movement, so there is no way to remain the same.
“You cannot in either case remain so,” the whisper said. “Your essential part is carried away and forms a stream again. You are called what you are even today because you do not know which part of you is the essential one.”
To know the essential, the only way is to drop the nonessential, to discard the nonessential. To know the false as false is the only way to know what truth is.
When he heard this, certain echoes began to arise in the thoughts of the stream.
Yes, the stream could see it was true. The stream was not human –human beings are very blind. Even streams are not so blind. Human beings are very stupid and adamant and stubborn. The stream could see the point: “Yes, I cannot remain the same. I have never been the same even for two consecutive moments. Things have always been changing. That is true; I have been a constant change. Except change, everything changes. It is true.”

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