What is the Way?
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!”
A MASTER WHO LIVED AS A HERMIT ON A MOUNTAIN WAS ASKED BY A MONK — a seeker — ‘WHAT IS THE WAY?’ ‘WHAT A FINE MOUNTAIN THIS IS,’ THE MASTER SAID IN REPLY.
Looks absurd — because the man is asking about the Way and the master is saying something about the mountain. Looks absolutely irrational, outlandish, because the man has not asked anything about the mountain. Remember, this is my situation. You ask about A, I talk about B; you ask about the Way, and I talk about the mountain. If you love me, only then can you feel; if you simply listen to me, I am absurd — because I am not talking relevantly. If I talk relevantly I cannot help you; that is the problem. If I say something which seems relevant to you it will not be of much help, because YOU are the problem; and if I talk relevantly that means I adjust to you. Even if to you I look relevant, it means something has gone wrong. I have to be irrelevant by the nature of the phenomenon itself. I will look absurd, irrational. And this gap between the question and the answer can only be bridged if you have trust. Otherwise it cannot be bridged — how to bridge it? The gap between the seeker and the master, the disciple and the master, the gap between the question and the answer — because you question about the Way and the answer is given about the mountain — how to bridge it? Hence trust becomes very very significant; not knowledge, not logic, not argumentative capacity — no, but a deep trust which can bridge the irrelevant answer, which can see through the irrelevance deeply and can catch a glimpse of the relevancy.
‘WHAT A FINE MOUNTAIN THIS IS,’ THE MASTER SAID IN REPLY.’I AM NOT ASKING YOU ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN,’ SAID THE MONK, ‘BUT THE WAY.’
He sticks to his question. If you stick you will miss — because YOU are wrong, your question cannot be right; that’s impossible! How can you ask a right question? If you can ask a right question the right answer is not very far away, it is hidden there. If you can ask a right question you are already right! And with a mind which is already right, how can the answer remain hidden? No, whatsoever you ask, whatsoever you say, carries YOU…But this has to be so. Your mind moves in whatsoever you do, you ask, you think — it colors everything. You cannot ask a right question.
If you can ask a right question there is no need to ask, because the right is the thing, not the question and not the answer. If YOU are right, you ask the right question — suddenly the right answer is there. If you can ask a right question you simply have no need to go anywhere; just close your eyes and ask the right question and you will find the right answer there. The problem is not with the right answer, the problem is not with the Way; the problem is the mountain, the problem is the mind, the problem is YOU.
‘WHAT A FINE MOUNTAIN THIS IS,’ THE MASTER SAID IN REPLY. ‘I AM NOT ASKING YOU ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN,’ SAID THE MONK, ‘BUT THE WAY.’ THE MASTER REPLIED, ‘SO LONG AS YOU CANNOT GO BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN, MY SON, YOU CANNOT REACH THE WAY.’
Many things to be understood — to be felt, rather.
THE MASTER REPLIED, ‘SO LONG AS YOU CANNOT GO BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN, MY SON, YOU CANNOT REACH THE WAY.’
Why suddenly ‘my son’? Up to now the master has not used a single loving word; why suddenly ‘my son’? Because now the trust will be needed, and you cannot create trust in a person just by saying something, even if it is the absolute truth. A trust can be created only if the master is loving, because only love creates trust. On the side of the disciple a trust, SHRADDHA, is needed, a deep faith is needed. But the faith arises only when the master says ‘my son.’ Now the thing is moving differently. It is not an intellectual relationship, it is becoming one of the heart. Now the master is becoming more a father than a master; now the master is moving towards the heart. He is making a heart relationship now. If you ask head-oriented questions and the master goes on answering them, it may be a dialogue on the face of it, but it cannot be a dialogue. You can crisscross but you cannot meet that way. When people talk, listen to them: they crisscross each other but they never meet. This is not a dialogue! They both remain rooted in themselves, they never make any effort to reach the other. ‘My son’ is an effort on the part of the master to reach the monk. He is preparing the way for the disciple to trust. But then again a problem arises because the disciple can think, ‘This is too much! I have not come here in search of love, I have come here in search of knowledge.’ But a master cannot give you knowledge. He can give you wisdom, and wisdom comes only through the vehicle of love. Hence suddenly the master says,
‘MY SON, SO LONG AS YOU CANNOT GO BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN YOU CANNOT REACH THE WAY.’
One thing more he said:
‘WHAT A FINE MOUNTAIN THIS IS.’
To an enlightened person even madness is beautiful. To an unenlightened person even enlightenment is not beautiful. The whole attitude changes. He says, ‘What a fine mountain.’ To an enlightened person even your neurosis is a beautiful thing, he accepts that also; it has to be transcended, but not destroyed. One has to go beyond it, but it also is beautiful while it lasts. One has to reach somewhere else, but the goal is not the thing — the thing is: each moment, living the goal here and now. For an enlightened person everything is beautiful and for an unenlightened person everything is ugly.
For an unenlightened person there are two categories: less ugly, more ugly. No beauty exists. Whenever you say to a person, ‘You are beautiful,’ in fact you are saying, ‘You are less ugly.’ Watch when you say it again and then find out what you really mean. Do you really mean beautiful? — because that is impossible for your mind; your mind cannot see beauty, you are not so perceptive. At the most you can manage to say that this person is less ugly than others — and less ugly can become more ugly any moment, with just a change of mood…
When you are enlightened the valuation becomes positive. Then everything is beautiful; even your mountain, your neurosis is beautiful — even a madman is something beautiful. God may have gone a little astray and sinned, but it is God. So nothing can be wrong for an enlightened person. Everything is right — less right, more right. The difference between the devil and God is nothing, the difference is only of less and more. God and the devil are not two poles, enemies.
Hindus have beautiful words; no other country has been so understanding about words. Sanskrit is really something which exists nowhere else — very perceptive people! The English word devil comes from the same root as DEVA; deva means god. Devil and god come from the same root: DEV. Dev means light; from the same dev comes the devil; and from the same dev comes deva, DEVATA, the divine. The words divine and devil come from the same Sanskrit root dev. It is one phenomenon. Your seeing may be different, your standpoint may be different, but it is one phenomenon. An enlightened person will say even to the devil: ‘How beautiful! How divine! How wonderful!’
It happened: one Mohammedan mystic woman, Rabiya al-Adabia, changed many lines in her Koran. Wherever it is said, ‘Hate the devil,’ she crossed it out. Then once another mystic, Hassan, was staying with Rabiya, and on the journey he had forgotten his own copy of the Koran somewhere, and in the morning, for morning prayers, he needed it. So he asked for Rabiya’s copy; Rabiya gave it to him. He was a little surprised in the beginning because the Koran had collected so much dust — that meant it was not used every day. It was not used at all it seemed; for many months it had not been used — but he thought it would be impolite to say something so he opened the Koran and started his morning prayer. Then he was surprised even more, even shocked, because NOBODY can correct the Koran, and there were many corrections. Wherever it is said, ‘Hate the devil,’ Rabiya had simply crossed it out completely, rejected it.
He couldn’t pray, he was disturbed so much: this Rabiya had gone heretic, she had become an atheist, or what?… because it is impossible for a Mohammedan to conceive that you can correct the Koran. It is God’s word, nobody can correct it. That’s why they say that now no more prophets will be coming, because if a prophet comes again and he says something which is not in the Koran, it will create trouble. So the doors have been closed after Mohammed — he is the last prophet. And they are very clever. They say there have been many other prophets in the past: he is not the first, but he is the last. And now no more messages will be coming from God — he has given the final one with Mohammed. So how dare this woman Rabiya! She is correcting the Koran? He couldn’t pray, he was so much disturbed. He finished somehow, went to Rabiya.
Rabiya was an enlightened woman. Very few women have become enlightened in the whole world; Rabiya is one of them. Looking at Hassan she said, ‘It seems you couldn’t do your prayer. It seems the dust on the Koran disturbed you. So, you are still attached to things like dust? And it seems my corrections in the Koran must have shocked you very much.’
Hassan said, ‘How… how could you know?’
Rabiya said, ‘I passed by when you were praying and I felt all around you much disturbance; it was not a prayerful prayer at all. It was so neurotic, the vibrations — so what is the matter? Tell me and be finished with it!’
Hassan said, ‘Now that you have started yourself, don’t think I am impolite, but I couldn’t believe a woman like you could correct the Koran!’
Rabiya said, ‘But look first at my difficulty: the moment I came to realize, the moment I came face to face with the divine, after that, in every face I can see that same face. No other face is possible. Even if the devil comes to stand before me, I see the same face. So how can I hate the devil now that I have realized the face of the divine that I have come to see? Now every face is his. I had to correct, and if ever I meet Mohammed I have to tell him frankly that these words are not good. They may be good for the ignorant because they divide; but they are not good for those who know, because they cannot divide.’
Hence the master says:
‘WHAT A FINE MOUNTAIN THIS IS.’
Everything is beautiful and divine for a man who knows.
‘I AM NOT ASKING YOU ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN,’ SAID THE MONK, ‘BUT THE WAY.’
Have you ever observed that you never ask any question about yourself, about the mountain, you always ask about the Way? People come to me and they ask, ‘What to do? How to reach God? How to become enlightened?’ They never ask, ‘What to BE?’ They never ask anything about themselves, as if they are absolutely okay — only the path is missing. What do you think? You are absolutely okay, only the path is missing? So somebody can say, ‘Go to the right and then turn to the left and you are on the path’? It’s not so simple.
The path is just in front of you. You are not missing the path at all. You have never missed it, nobody CAN miss it — but you cannot look at it because you are a mountain. It is not a question of finding the Way, it is a question of finding yourself, who you are. When you know yourself, the Way is there; when you don’t know yourself, the Way is not there.
People go on asking about the Way, and there are millions of ways proposed — but there cannot be. There is only one Way. The same Way passes before Buddha’s eyes, and the same Way passes before Lao Tzu, and the same Way before Jesus. Millions are the travelers but the Way is one, the same. That is the tao, the dhamma, the logos of Heraclitus — it is one…
But the question is not of the Way, the question is not: Which Way is true? The question is: Have you crossed the mountain? The question is: Have you gone beyond YOU? The question is: Can you look at yourself from a distance, a watcher? Then, the one Way. Mohammed and Mahavira and Krishna and Christ — they all walked on the same Way. Mohammed is different from Mahavira, Krishna is different from Christ, but they walk on the same Way — because the Way cannot be many: how can many lead to one? Only the one can lead you to the one. So
don’t ask about the Way and don’t ask about the method. Don’t ask about the medicine. First ask about the disease that you are. A deep diagnosis is needed first, and nobody can diagnose it for you. You have created it and only the creator knows all the nooks and corners. You have created it, so only you know how these complexities arise, and only YOU can solve them. A real master simply helps you to come to yourself. Once you are there, the way opens. The way cannot be given but you can be thrown upon yourself. And then the real conversion happens: not a Hindu becoming a Christian or a Christian becoming a Hindu, but an outward-moving energy becomes an inward-moving energy — that is conversion. You become an inward-looking. The whole attention moves inwards, and then you see the whole complexity — the mountain. And if you simply watch it, it starts dissolving.
In the beginning it looks like a mountain; in the end you will feel that it was just a molehill. But you never looked at it because it was at the back of you, and it became so big. When you face it, immediately it decreases, becomes a molehill, you can laugh about it. Then it is no longer a burden. You can even enjoy it and sometimes can go in it for a morning walk.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: And the Flowers Showered
Chapter title: What is the way?
3 November 1974 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:
- Showering without clouds
- Books I have loved
- The Last Morning Star
- The Perfect Master
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Sword and The Lotus
- Turn On, Tune In, and Drop the Lot
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha Vol.8
- The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Come Follow To You Vol.1
- Tao: The Three Treasures Vol.2
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Last Morning Star