ZIKR – Remembrance of God
Osho on Sufism
The Sufi is not an escapist, that is not his climate. He is utterly against escapism. He believes in celebrating the world, celebrating existence, celebrating life. It is the very fundamental of Sufism that the creator can be reached only through the creation. You need not renounce his creation to get to him; in fact if you renounce his creation you will never get to him. Renouncing his creation, indirectly you have renounced the creator himself. But renunciation still happens. It is not that the Sufi renounces the world, but that he attains to God — and the moment God is attained, the world disappears. Then there is nothing to renounce: then only God is.
The Sufi does not escape from the world, but a moment comes when the world disappears and dissolves. The Sufi lives in the world and he finds that there is no world, only God is.
The Sufi is not an ascetic. He does not believe in inflicting pain on himself, he is not pathological. The Sufi lives life in an utterly normal way, with no perversions, with no obsessions. Although, slowly slowly, the quality of his life goes on changing, it is not that he tries to change it.
His whole effort consists in remembering God, not in changing himself. Let it sink deep in you; if you miss this point you will miss the whole point of Sufism. The Sufi concentrates on only one thing, remembrance of God — ZIKR. As that remembrance deepens, his obsession with the world lessens. As he comes closer and closer to the ultimate reality, the ordinary reality is no longer attractive; it starts receding back. Because when you find the real gold, how can you go on carrying the unreal gold?
When you have found the real diamonds you will automatically drop the stones, colored stones, that you have been carrying all along. The escapist says, “Renounce your colored stones so that you can get to the real diamonds.” The Sufi says just the contrary: he says, “Get to the real diamonds, and that which is not real will drop out of your life of its own accord.”
To know the real is enough, the unreal is renounced in that very knowing.
And because the unreal is renounced in that very knowing, it leaves no scars and wounds on you. The ascetic suffers from great wounds. He is not ripe yet otherwise the fruit would have fallen without leaving any scar on the body of the tree. If the fruit is unripe and you pluck it, it hurts the tree, it hurts the fruit; both will remain wounded. Have you not seen the beauty of a ripe fruit fallen of its own accord? Silently, spontaneously. The tree may not even become aware that the fruit has disappeared, the fruit may not become aware that the tree is no more there. Sufism is the simplest way possible. The Sufi lives a simple life. But the simplicity is not cultivated, because a cultivated simplicity is no longer simplicity; it is already complex. When you cultivate something, there is motivation, there is desire, there is longing; you are hankering for something. By cultivating something, you are trying to become something. Becoming is desire. And how can desire be simple? So cultivation is never simple. A practiced sannyas, a practiced simplicity, can never have beauty. In the first place it is not simplicity at all. You can go and see so many saints in this country, or in other countries: their simplicity is cultivated, calculated, motivated. They are desirous of God, they are greedy for God, hence they are ready to pay the price.
The Sufi says: God is available, it is already available. All that you need is an uncomplicated mind, all that you need is a state of no-motivation. All that you need is to fall into the silence of this moment, no trying to achieve something tomorrow. And what is your afterlife? It is the prolonged shadow of the tomorrow. So those who are thinking to attain to heaven or to nirvana after death are very greedy people. They are not religious at all. Sufism does not believe in any fairy-tales of the other world, of heaven and hell. And it is not that heaven does not exist, but that is not the concern of the Sufi. The Sufi lives totally in the moment. His simplicity comes out of his understanding, not out of cultivation; he does not practice it. Seeing life, he becomes aware of the austerity of a roseflower, how simple it is, and the beauty of its austerity. He becomes austere like a roseflower: it is not poor, the roseflower is simple and rich. What more richness can there be? The roseflower is simple and in utter luxury — what more luxury can there be? The Sufi lives in the moment, blooms in the moment like a roseflower, simple yet rich. The poverty is not imposed; he is poor in spirit. And what does it mean to be poor in spirit? It simply means there is no ego, that’s all; not that he is attached to poverty. Beware of that. There are people who are attached to wealth and there are people who are attached to poverty. But it is the same attachment.
I have heard:
The story is told of a dervish who went to visit a great Sufi master. Seeing his affluence, the dervish thought to himself, “How can Sufism and such prosperity go hand in hand?” After staying a few days with the master, he decided to leave. The master said, “Let me accompany you on your journey!”
After they had gone a short distance, the dervish noticed that he had forgotten his KASHKUL, the begging-bowl. So he asked the master for permission to return and get it.
The master replied, “I departed from all my possessions, but you can’t even leave behind your begging-bowl. Thus, we must part company from here.”
The Sufi is not attached to wealth or to poverty; he is simply not attached to anything. And when you are not attached to anything, you need not renounce. Renunciation is the other side of attachment. Those who understand the foolishness of attachment don’t renounce. They live in the world but yet they are not of the world. To willfully insist upon being in poverty is still an attachment: remember it. And to willfully insist upon ANYTHING is again an ego trip. The Sufi lives simply, the Sufi lives without any will of his own. If it happens to be a palace, he is happy; if it happens to be a hut, he is happy. If it happens to be that he is a king, it is okay; if it happens to be that he is a beggar, that too is perfectly okay. He has no preference. He simply lives in the moment, whatsoever God makes available to him. He does not change anything.
This has to be understood, because for centuries religions have been teaching you renunciation. For centuries religions have lived with a great inclination towards escapism. The Sufi has a totally different approach, far healthier, far more whole, far more human, far more natural. Because whenever you escape from something it is out of fear, and out of fear there is never any transformation. When something drops of its own accord — not that you drop it, but simply that it has become nonessential, unimportant — then there is freedom. Freedom is never out of fear, freedom is out of great awareness.
The Sufi lives in the world, mindful of God. He lives in the world, but he remembers God. He moves in the marketplace, but his heart is throbbing with a certain remembrance. The ZIKR continues. He does not become forgetful in the world; that is his work. Escape or no escape, if you are forgetful you will miss God anywhere you are, in the marketplace or in the monastery. If you are not forgetful, if you are mindful, alert and aware, then God is everywhere — as much here as anywhere else, as much now as then. There is no question of going anywhere; one can simply relax here and fall into a kind of watchful silence. And then life is simple and uncluttered.
Yes, that is what simplicity is: not a cultivated character but a life which is uncluttered by the nonessential, by the unimportant, by the mundane, by the trivial. And again let me repeat that the Sufi does not believe in any fairy-tales, so there is no question of being motivated. He does not believe in the tomorrows. All that he knows of time is now, all that he knows of space is here. These sounds of the birds are divine for him. There is no other God separate from this existence. The dancer is in the dance, so he has no idea of a personal God sitting somewhere above the clouds. His God is an impersonal presence. Feel it now, this very moment. The presence is here, as it is everywhere else. All that is needed is your falling into a kind of attunement, your falling inwards into a kind of at-onement. Then the cawing of the crows and the cuckoo calling from far away… and all is silent. In that silence you start becoming aware of the impersonal presence that surrounds you…
The person who believes in a personal God is still immature. There is nothing like that. That personal God is nothing but your idea of a father, projected and magnified. You are childish. When you pray, if you think you are praying to a personal God you are simply being stupid. There is nobody listening to your prayer.
And yet God is. But God is not a person, God is an impersonal presence. God is this whole, the totality of all that is. Hence prayer can only be a silence. You cannot address God — prayer can only be an utter silence. If you are silent now, it is a prayerful moment. This is what prayer is all about. When everything stops: no thought moves in your head, your breathing slows down, a moment comes when there is almost no breath. In that state of silence you are connected, you are plugged into reality. You are no more separate; you are one. That oneness is prayer.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Unio Mystica, Vol 1
Chapter title: Cooked and Burnt
7 November 1978 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Sufism’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Perfect Master, Vol 1, 2
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2
- Unio Mystica, Vol 1, 2
- Until You Die
- The Wisdom of the Sands, Vol 1, 2
- The Secret
- Just Like That
- The New Dawn
- Rinzai: Master of the Irrational
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 7
- Take It Easy, Vol 2
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 12
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 2