Once Upon a Time



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Sufism is not speculation -- it is utterly practical. It is not a philosophy -- it is very down-to-earth. Its roots are in the earth. It is not abstract, wholly thinking -- it means business. It wants to transform people, not just to stuff their minds with futile, impotent ideas. And all ideas as such are impotent. They pretend much, but when  you go deep into them, you will always find them empty of all reality. They promise, but they never deliver the goods. They cheat.

Philosophers have been the greatest cheats in the world.  They create beautiful mansions in the air. They are artists in creating dreams. And those who become enchanted with those dreams are very unfortunate, because their lives will be wasted. And by the time they become aware that they have been chasing dreams, it will be too late.

And there are a few people who never become aware of it. Their whole lives they remain engrossed in ideas, and they die engrossed in the ideas. They never come face to face with reality. And it is only reality that liberates.

Truth liberates, not ideas. And truth is not an idea: truth is a experience.

Sufism is not an 'I'm' as such. It is a practical methodology It is alchemy. If you understand its ways, it is going to transmute you from lower metal to higher metal. It can take you to another reality. It can open doors to the ultimate. It is not interested in giving you great ideas. Its basic emphasis is how to give you a little more awareness. Even an ounce of awareness is far more valuable than the whole Himalayas of philosophy. An inch of becoming more conscious is far better than traveling thousands of miles in your dreams.

Philosophy is a very articulate dream -- non-pictorial, conceptual, but still it is a dream, a very sophisticated dream. Unsophisticated people dream in pictures; sophisticated people dream in concepts -- but the quality remains the same.

The dream is that which prevents you from knowing the reality. All dreaming has to stop, has to cease. When your eyes are no more full of dreams, you will be able to see that which is. And that liberates, that uplifts, that transmutes!

A few things about the Sufi approach:

First, that it is more scientific than philosophic -- scientific in the sense that the criterion of truth has to be a practical result. If your religion is true, it will nourish you, it will strengthen you, it will expand you. The truth is not in the proofs -- only you can be the proof.

Vivekananda asked Ramakrishna, "What proofs are there of God's existence?"

And Ramakrishna said, "I am."

A strange answer. Vivekananda had not expected that answer. You also would not have expected it, because when somebody is asking for a proof of God, then there are traditional, philosophical proofs. One expects those proofs. Vivekananda must have been thinking Ramakrishna would say, "Everything needs a creator. The world is, therefore there must be a creator. We may be able to see him or not, but the creator must be there because the world is."

But no, Ramakrishna didn't say anything like that. He was not a philosopher: he was a Sufi. He said, "I am! Look at me. feel me! Go into me! I can take you into that reality that you are calling God. What name you give to it is irrelevant. I have been to those heights -- I can lead the way for you too. Are you ready to come with me?"

Vivekananda was not prepared. He had come to argue. But this is not an argument. This is going to be risky, to follow this madman. One can never be certain where he will lead you.

Vivekananda hesitated. And Ramakrishna said, "Before you ask a question, you should be ready to receive the answer! Are you a coward or something? Why did you ask in the first place?" And Ramakrishna jumped -- he was that kind of madman, like Zusya -- and he touched Vivekananda with his feet on his chest, and Vivekananda fell into a kind of trance.

When after one hour he woke up, he was a transformed man. He bowed down, touched the feet of Ramakrishna, and said, "Excuse me, I am sorry. It was so childish of me to ask such a question. It is not a question -- it is an adventure. And thank you! You have given me a taste of something of which I was not aware at all."

This is the way of the Sufi. He creates a situation. The situation is his lab. In that situation he slowly slowly persuades you, seduces you, really, to go into the beyond. Yes, it is a seduction -- because who will be ready to go into the beyond? The mind wants to cling to the known; the known is familiar. With the known we are skillful, efficient; vie can tackle it. To go into the unknown is certainly risky. And we will be like children. All our expertise will be left behind. All our knowledge will be of no use there. Who wants to go into the unknown? But God is not only unknown but unknowable. God is available only to those who gather courage and go into the unknown.

The Sufi Master helps you to gather courage. The Sufi Master, by THIS example, by his being, by his presence, creates the longing for the impossible. Stirs your heart. Gives a new life release to your breathing. Pulsates you with a new passion for God. But this is not philosophy. He does not solve a question at all. Yes, he helps you to dissolve all questions, but he never solves a question.

So the first thing to be understood is: Sufism is practical, very very down-to-earth. Sufism likes people like Zorba the Greek, because they are the people who can become Zorba the Buddha -- only they are the people who can become. The people who have become very very clever in playing with words, philosophizing, abstraction, rationalizations, explanations, they are not the people to go into that journey. They are cowards. All their philosophization is nothing but an escape from the truth. To escape from the truth they create theories about truth, and then they cling to those theories believing that this is what truth is all about.

Hence, there are Hindus and Mohammedans and Christians and Jains, but not Sufis. A Sufi has nothing to do with Hinduism or Mohammedanism, or Christianity. A Sufi can happen anywhere! in any religion, or in no religion. A Sufi is a wanderer, a Sufi is universal. A Sufi belongs to the whole world and the whole world belongs to the Sufi. All is his, and he uses all situations to transcend.

The Sufi agrees perfectly with the Buddha as far as the definition of truth is concerned. Buddha is reported to have said to his disciples: Truth is that which works. A very pragmatic definition of truth. Never surpassed. Even modern science cannot give a better definition of truth than Buddha has given: Truth is that which works. If it doesn't work, it is not true. The lie is that which doesn't work, it cannot work. It cannot work because it goes against the universal law. Truth works because it is in harmony with the universal law.

Remember it: always go on judging your beliefs, your concepts, your prejudices -- let this be the touchstone. Believe only in that which works. And then it is no more belief: it is trust, because you have seen its work. You know it corresponds with Tao; you know it is in tune with the ultimate law of life, with Dhamma.

This should be the one and only criterion for all those who follow on the path.

Philosophy is abstract, woolly and utterly meaningless. It cry Ares great clouds around you, and gives you a feeling as if you are coming closer to knowing something. But that never happens. One can be surrounded by very colorful clouds -- nothing is going to happen. In fact, philosophy hinders. The more clouds you have around you of thoughts, ideas, ideologies, the less is the possibility of having clarity to see.

Drop all philosophies. Let your eyes be empty, empty of all. Those empty eyes become full of truth.

Philosophy only creates words, generates words and words and words. One word generates another word... it is a kind of unconscious association.

Watch sometimes sitting silently: utter one word, and wait, and you will see it is bringing other words. That's how psychoanalysis works: free association. Lie down on the couch of a psychoanalyst and he says, "Free associate -- let anything come." One word comes, and you are surprised: it is hooked with other words, it brings other words. And then you are even more surprised: words are not separate, they are chained with each other. There is a certain system . Words exist in bunches. Just one word... and it provokes a series, and it goes on and on and on.

One word creates another. This is what Buddha calls SANTAAN. Just as parents give birth to a child, words give birth to another word, a continuum. It goes on ad infinitum. People are not lost in ignorance: people are lost in the jungles of words. Sufism is very much against being wordy.  It happens: if you go to a Sufi Master, you will have to be with him for years. And only when you have been with him for years sitting silently, watching, or doing whatsoever he tells you to do.... No questions are raised, no doubts solved, no discussions allowed, no argumentation appreciated. If the Master says, "Go and fetch up water from the well," you go and fetch up water from the well. You don't ask why. Even sometimes the Master may ask something absurd.

A famous Sufi story:

A seeker came to a Master and he said, "I have been to many Masters and they all have failed me. Nobody was a true Master. I have come with great hope to you. This is my last resort -- be my shelter. And I know you have it! I can see you have it. It is radiating."

The Master said, "Yes, I have it. And I know those people you have been with -- they also have it. The problem is not whether I have it or not: the problem is whether you will be able to take it!"

The disciple said, "I am ready. Whatsoever you say I will do."

The Master said, "Then come on with me, I am going to the well to fetch water. Remember one thing: never ask a question. Questions are not allowed. Watch! but never ask a question."

The disciple said, "This is not difficult." But from the very beginning he started feeling very uneasy -- because the Master was carrying a bucket with no bottom! to the well, to fetch water. But he kept quiet. It was difficult, it was REALLY hard, but he kept quiet. He avoided looking at the bucket... with no bottom? and, you are going to fetch water?

A thousand and one times in those few moments that passed between the house and the well, the idea arose in him to ask, "What are you doing? Have you gone mad?" But the question was not allowed. But how long can you go on this way?

The Master started drawing water from the well. And, of course, the bucket had no bottom so when it would go into the well, it would fill; and when he would start pulling it up, all the water would fall out -- and only the empty bucket cam up. Just think about the disciple... and he is standing there and seeing this whole nonsense. He became suspicious of this man: "Either he is mad or a fool. And what am I getting into with this man? My old Masters were at least better."

But questions were not allowed, so he somehow repressed the temptation. Once it happened, the bucket came up empty, and the second time and the third time -- and the fourth time he forgot all about it and he said, "What are you doing?! This is no way to draw water from a well. Your bucket has no bottom."

And the Master said, "You have broken the rule. You were not supposed to ask anything -- you were only supposed to watch. Get lost! I have nothing to do with you."

The disciple thought, meditated over it the whole night, and felt, "There must have been something mysterious in it -- I missed. I should have waited."

He went back the next day, and asked to be forgiven. The Master said, "I can forgive, but you will not be able. You could not resist a small thing. You could not control yourself for such a small thing. If it was absurd that was my problem, not your problem. How were you concerned with it? It was only a device. If in such a small thing you cannot remain non-argumentative... there are greater things which I am going to reveal to you, it will be impossible for you to remain non-argumentative. And Sufis don't believe in argumentation. I am not interested at all in your questions and answering them. I have it! I can give it to you. But you will have to prepare yourself. And this is your preparation: become non-questioning, remain in a state of no doubt."

Sufis create such situations. These situations help the disciple to mature. Once the maturity is there, the transmission becomes possible. The Master has it, the disciple can also have it -- but there are a few things that have to be dropped.

SO THE FIRST THING ABOUT SUFISM IS: it is all alchemy -- the science of the inner soul. It is an experimentation in consciousness. Only the result decides whether what you were doing was right or wrong. There is no other way of deciding it.

Philosophies go on moving in circles -- they never lead you anywhere. Sufism is tired of philosophies. In fact, ALL great mystics are tired of philosophies. It is because of the mire of the philosophies and the confusion of the philosophies that people are debarred from knowing that which is their birthright. God is not lost through your sins: God is lost through your so-called knowledge.

Sufism is experimentation for a certain experience. It is not a path of belief but of knowing, experiencing. It is existential. Experience of what? Experience of oneself. It is not speculation for speculation's sake. It has a methodology which yields the most sublime experience of all -- call it God, Nirvana, moksha, liberation, or what you will, it is the most sublime experience of them all. It is the greatest experience in life. And without this experience, nobody ever feels any contentment, cannot feel. We are MEANT to attain to this experience. This is our potential: it has to become actual. This is our seed: it has to bloom in all its color and fragrance. And unless the seed has become the tower we will remain uneasy, uncomfortable, hankering for something, not knowing exactly what. Searching, groping....

Man remains groping and searching. And the search ends only with God and never otherwise. What is God? The experience of your own innermost core. God is not there! God is here inside your heart, pulsating, breathing, aware. God is very close by.

Ramana Maharshi says: self-knowledge is an easy thing the easiest thing there is. Because it is so close! It is already there, it has always been there. Just a look, just a turning-in, and you are no more a beggar, and you have attained to emperor hood, and you are enthroned, and you are crowned, and you are a king. Just a look within.... But this is what Sufis say. Ramana is a Sufi.

I am using the world 'Sufi' in the widest meaning of the word. Buddha is a Sufi, Jesus is a Sufi, Ramana is a Sufi. By 'Sufi', I mean one who is fed up with philosophies and has started searching for the real, who is no more satisfied with synthetic food and who searches for the real nourishment.

Ramana says: Self-knowledge is as easy a thing as any -- the easiest thing there is. But just in contrast to it, listen to this sentence from Immanuel Kant, a great philosopher: Metaphysics is a call to reason to undertake anew the most difficult of all tasks, namely that of self-knowledge.

Philosophy makes it difficult, very difficult, almost impossible -- because philosophy moves farther and farther away from it. To know about the self is not to know it, to know about God is not to know God -- how can the 'about' be it? About and about... you go in circles. It becomes impossible.

The more you become clever, cunning, calculating, about the about, the farther and farther you are led astray. It is not a question of knowing about the self: it is simply a question of KNOWING it, being aware; not a question of thinking about it, but of centering in it. witting silently in it, and it is revealed.

Ramana is right, he has to be right -- he knows. Immanuel Kant is not right, he cannot be right -- he never came across it. Although he tried hard, he worked hard -- he had one of the keenest intellects ever. His acumen cannot be doubted. His logic is perfect. But as far as his insight is concerned, he is blind.

It is like a blind man thinking about light -- it is bound to be impossible. How can a blind man think about light?

Buddha says that it happened:

In a great king's court, the scholars of the court started debating about God. And the king was no ordinary king -- he was REALLY a king, the king of the inner world. His outer kingdom was just accidental; it had happened accidentally to him.

One great king was dying. He had no son. Before his death, he made a will that "Tomorrow morning, whosoever enters into the town, the first man, let him become the king." And this was just a coincidence -- this sannyasin was the first to enter through the gates, so he was made the king. That was accidental. Before that he had already become the king of the inner kingdom.

In his court, they were discussing God. And the king started laughing, and he said, "Listen. Collect all the blind men of the town." And all the blind men were collected, and the king said, "Have you all seen elephants?"

And they said, "Yes."

And then a great argument ensued. One blind man said, "An elephant is like this," another said, "The elephant is like this..." and their statements were very contradictory. Because one blind man had touched only the trunk, and another blind man had touched only the ear, and the third one had touched only the leg, and so on and so forth. Their descriptions were different, as different as they could be.

And the king said to his scholars, the court scholars and pundits, "Listen: these blind people cannot agree on what an elephant is. And they all have seen something of the elephant! What about you? At least they have seen something -- one has touched the leg, another has touched the trunk... and you have not even seen a PART of God and you are arguing. You are more blind than these blind people! And whatsoever you are saying is all nonsense. You can quote scriptures -- that is not going to help. Unless you have seen, nothing is going to help."

Sufis believe in seeing. Seeing is easy: thinking is difficult. If you have ears, you know what music is; but if you don't have any ears, how are you going to think about music? in what way? It is impossible! There is no way to communicate to you what music is. If you have eyes, you know the colors, and the beauty of a rainbow. But if you don't have any eyes, even the greatest of poets cannot give you an inkling of what a rainbow is; it is impossible.

Sufis don't believe in thinking: they believe in seeing.

You must have heard the famous saying: Seeing is believing. That's just what Sufis say. They say: Seeing is believing.

A famous Sufi saying is: He who knows others is learned -- he who knows himself is wise. To be learned is easy; to be wise takes guts, courage. Why? Why in the world does one need to be courageous to know oneself? There are reasons.

The first reason is: there is a fear that if you go in, you may not find anybody there... and in a way that fear IS right. You are not going to find anybody there. That apprehension is right.

If Naresh goes in, he will not find Naresh there. If Astha goes in, she will not find Astha there. If Sudha goes, she will not find Sudha there. If Viyogi goes, Viyogi will not find Viyogi there. Something is to be found there, but that is indefinable, unname-able. And that something is not your possession: that something is as much yours as everybody else's.

You will find something, but that will be the universal center -- you will not find any individual there, you will not find any ego there. Hence the fear. You will disappear: in self-knowledge you are going to disappear utterly. Hence people talk about it, ask about it, read books about it, but never go in. An unconscious fear prevents their path.

And the modern man particularly is even more afraid. Modern man is often driven to despair because he is afraid that the self does not exist at all, or that the self is a *Capekan machine, Skinnerian robot, a Kafkan cockroach, an Ionescoan rhinoceros, or a Sartrean useless passion. All these fears have exploded on the modern mind.

Who knows? When you go in, you may find the Kafkan cockroach. There is a parable of Kafka:

One morning he wakes up and he finds that he is a cockroach Must be dreaming, must have awakened in a dream. And not only that: the cockroach is upside-down -- just legs, and he can see those legs moving in the air, and he cannot put himself right, and he is on his back. And you can think... the misery of the man, the agony, and the nausea. And he tries hard, but there seems to be no way to get up. A big cockroach, filling the whole bed.

The modern man is even more afraid: Who knows what you are going to stumble upon inside you self? Nightmares, monsters... who knows what is there?Why open Pandora's box? Keep it tightly closed and sit upon it. That's what everybody is doing. And, in a way, the fear IS right -- but only in a way.

In the beginning you will find cockroaches and rhinoceroses and reptiles and all kinds of horrible things you will find -- because THESE are the things that you have been repressing in yourself, these are the things that you have not allowed. Anger you have re-pressed, jealousy you have repressed, possessiveness you have repressed, hatred you have repressed. Violence, murderousness, you have repressed. ALL these things are there! This is the cockroach inside you. Violence has become one leg, and possessiveness has become another leg, and jealousy has become another leg....

When you go in, you will have to face these. Of course, this is not the whole story. If you CAN FACE the cockroach, if you can go deeper and deeper without any fear and watching all that is happening, and remembering that "I am just a watcher, a witness to it all. I cannot be the cockroach because I can see.... " Whatsoever you can see you are not.

Make it a key, a constant remembrance: whatsoever you see, you are not. Anger you see? then you are not anger. Hunger you see? then you are not hunger. Sexuality you see? then you are not sexuality. You are the one who witnesses all this. Remember the witness, and slowly slowly all cockroaches disappear, and all rhinoceroses disappear -- and all that is ugly disappears.

Witnessing is such a phenomenon that it dissolves all that is ugly. Slowly slowly, only the witness is left. But that witness is not going to be you: that witness is God. That witness cannot be confined as I -- it is pure amness.

Just the other day, I had told you that there were two inscriptions engraved on the temple of Apollo at Delphi: "Know Thyself" and "Nothing in Excess." These admonitions were not unrelated. Man was advised to know himself, yet in his knowing he was to avoid extremes. What are the extremes?

Two are the extremes: the hell and the heaven, the ugly cockroaches and the beautiful butterflies. You have to remain a witness to both. You are neither the cockroach nor the butterfly with psychedelic colors -- you are neither. Neither this nor that -- NETI NETI. You are just the watcher, the mirror that reflects the cockroach, that reflects the butterfly.

According to the priests at Delphi, one extreme was the attempt to go beyond his finitude, to act as though he was infinite. That happens. If you go in, either you start feeling that you are something like a creature from hell, or you start feeling that you are an angel, a creature from heaven. But in both the ways you have again created an ego. Avoid the extreme, because the ego can exist only with the extreme. It dies in the middle. The golden mean is the grave of the ego.

The Greeks used to call this extreme HYBRIS. The term to designate this extreme meant an outrage against the nature of things. Don't start thinking that you are heavenly, that you are a messenger of God, that you are specially sent to the world to deliver the latest dissemination, that you are the son of God, that you are the only messenger, the only true messenger, the only Master, the only Perfect Master... avoid this nonsense. God comes in many many ways, and his messages go on filtering into the world. Not only from Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed -- no. Even when a cuckoo calls, it is his message. And Jesus is not the only begotten son of God -- otherwise everybody else will be an orphan.

Each tree, each animal, each bird is as much a son to God as anybody else. Not that only Mohammed is the prophet -- rivers and mountains, they are all his messengers, his prophets. His message goes on showering from everywhere, from every nook and corner. So don't get into that idea; otherwise, ego has come from the back door, and it will create trouble for you again. You missed self-knowledge.

Greeks have a special word for it -- they call it HYBRIS. The other extreme was the attempt to act as though the individual were not a member of society -- to become a monk, to move into solitude. You are part of the society, you are born in society, you live in society. The social consciousness is like the ocean to you -- you are the fish in this ocean. You cannot live without it! And those who try to live without it almost always become perverted. Yes, once in a while it is good to rest for a few days in a mountain retreat -- just for a rest, but you have to come back to the world. Yes, it is good for a few hours to meditate, but then you have to go back into the world. Don't become a monk. Don't start thinking of yourself as separate, because self-knowledge cannot be attained in separation. It is attained in union.

And the closest union possible is with other people. How can you commune with trees if you cannot even commune with people? How can you commune with rocks if you cannot even commune with your beloved. It is absurd! The whole idea is absurd. A man is saying, "I am leaving my wife and my children because they are a bondage to me and I am going to the mountains to have a communion with the mountains." He is talking rubbish. To commune with the mountains will not be possible for him -- because the mountains speak a totally different language. They are far behind human consciousness. To relate with them you will have to become a mountain -- only then can you relate.

If you cannot relate with human beings, who are as evolved as you are, who belong to the same language world, who belong to the same level of life, you cannot relate with anybody else anywhere. Don't be fool yourself.

Greeks were very very particular about it, about these two extremes. One who lived outside the society was called a private being. They have a very beautiful word for that -- they used to call him IDIOT. Out of this word has come 'idiot'. IDIOT was the name of such a being -- if you go REALLY outside of the society you will become an idiot. This is my observation.

I have seen many people living for years in the mountains -- they become idiots. They HAVE to become idiots because there is no challenge, no human challenge to provoke them; no human challenge to sharpen their intelligence. They are BOUND to become idiots! Growth is NOT possible there.

They may live in a silence, but the silence is of the mountains -- it is not their achievement. Unless you can live silence in the market-place, it is not your achievement. Come back from the Himalayas and you will be suddenly shocked that you are the same person as you had gone -- maybe you are worse. You will not be able to tolerate the noise, the turmoil of the world. What kind of attainment is this? Rather than becoming more capable, more integrated, you have disintegrated, you have become weaker. You have not gained in strength.

Know thyself, but in your knowing, do not become a hybrid or an idiot! One is getting puffed up in the ego -- that "I am a soul," that "I am infinite," that "I am eternal," that "I am this and that.... " If the I persists, then you are nothing. When the I goes, yes, eternity is there -- but you cannot claim it as yours. Eternity is, God is, immortality is, but nothing that you can possess, nothing that you can keep in your safe-deposit. It has nothing to do with you! It belongs to existence at large. And you also belong to existence.

That is the first extreme to be avoided.

And the second extreme: don't become an idiot. Don't start escaping from people, because all growth is there with people, in relating with people, in accepting the challenge and responding to that challenge.

Self-knowledge is a very strange concept, and you have to understand it -- because that is the whole work of a Sufi: how to know oneself. The word itself is a contradiction in terms, because in knowledge at least two things are needed: the knower and the known. And in self-knowledge there are not two things but only one. How to call it self-knowledge? Who is the knower and who is the known? The word has to be used because we don't have any other better word for it. But it has to be used very very knowingly -- knowing that it doesn't mean exactly what it says.

Self-knowledge is a kind of knowing, but not knowledge. It is a kind of awareness, luminosity, but not knowledge. Knowledge it cannot be, because knowledge requires two.

This problem of self-knowledge has been concisely and metaphorically stated by Simone de Beauvoir. She says: "It is easy to say 'I am I'. But who am I? Where to find myself? I would have to be on the other side of every door. But when it is I who knock on the door, the other on the other side becomes silent. To know the self, the self must be on both sides of the same door. But, alas, when the self knocks on the knower side of the door, there is no one on the other side of the door to open the door. And when there is a self on the other side, the known side of the door, to open it, there is no self on the knower side of the door to knock! So what should one do?"

Do you understand? If you are the knower, then who is there to be known? And if you are the known, then who is there to know? This is what Beauvoir means, that you have to be on both sides of the door. For example: if you are knocking at a door, and you are the one, the only one there, if you knock on the door, there is nobody from the inside to answer the knock. If you are inside the door and ready to open it, then there is nobody to knock. And you have to be on both sides -- only then can there be some communication, some knowledge.

This is impossible. How can you be on both sides of the door? This looks like a Zen Koan -- it is. It is the basic Koan. Out of this Koan, thousands of other khans have been created. So what should one do?

Some say: "Keep on knocking!" That is the way of the will.

"Go on knocking".Jesus says: Ask and it shall be given to you. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you. Seek and ye shall find.

This is one answer: Go on knocking... persevere, be patient. Don't feel frustrated if the door is not opening. You go on knocking, you go on knocking, you go on knocking.... One day the door is bound to open. That is one answer.

The other answer is: "Stop knocking and wait!" That is the way of surrender, of the devotee, of the lover, of prayer. The first is the way of the yogi who functions through will-power. The second is the way of the surrendered devotee, who waits, trusts, prays.

But I say to you: Look... there is no door to knock upon and no one to knock on it! And lo! the door is open. It has remained open all along, from the very beginning. And there is no self to be known, and there is no self-knowledge. Knowing, of course, there is, but nothing like self-knowledge.

That's what the great mystic woman, Rabia, said to Hassan:

Hassan used to pray every day before the mosque, just sitting on the street. And he would cry and he would weep, and he would look at the sky and he would say, "God, open the door! I have been waiting long. Is it not enough? Have I to pass through more tests? Have you not tested me enough? Open the door! I am crying, I am weeping, I am shouting -- open the door!"

That was his constant prayer -- every morning, every evening, wherever he was he would go to the mosque and sit in the street and pray.

Rabia was passing one day. She hit hard on the head of Hassan, and said, "What nonsense are you talking about? The door is open! But you are so much engaged in your shouting 'Open the door! Listen to me Lord. Why are you not opening the door?' You are so much occupied with this nonsense, you can't see that the door is open! It has always been open."

I agree with Rabia... all is available. You need not struggle. You need not even surrender! because surrender is the polar opposite of struggle. You have to be just in the middle. You have to be just in a state of non-doing, neither struggling nor surrendering. And suddenly you will be able to see the door is open. You have never gone anywhere else. You have always been in. Where else can you go? Inwardness is your nature. And then all is revealed like lightning. Suddenly darkness disappears and all is light.

But there is no self to be found. KNOWING happens but it is not a self-knowledge. Hence the fear. Deep down somewhere in the unconscious, you know it perfectly well that "If I go in, I will not find myself. It is better not to go in, so one can go on believing that 'I am'!"

This I is the only barrier. This I is the only ignorance. This I is the only sin.

Now this small, beautiful story:


THE COW HAS ALWAYS SYMBOLIZED THE SACRED -- the innocent eyes of the cow, the sagely vise of the cow, has always provoked the idea of the sacred. You will be surprised to know, but this is a fact of the inner world. Darwin discovered that man has evolved out of the monkeys. And he is partly true: man's body has come out of monkeys -- but his soul not has come out of monkeys. Man is a synthesis of two different lines. The body has come from the monkeys and the soul has come from the cow. That's why the East has always thought of the cow as the mother. Now, Darwin says the monkey is the father. Both are right.

The soul has evolved on a different line. The cow is the closest as far as the soul of man is concerned, and the monkey is the closest as far as the body is concerned. And man is a synthesis between these two lines. Something of the monkey is in him, and something of the cow too. The cow has always been the symbol of the sacred.

This story says:


And the sacred is our real nourishment. We live not by bread alone. Yes, Jesus is right, man cannot live by bread alone. If man lives by bread alone, he will remain just an animal. He will remain a monkey. Some higher nourishment is needed. It comes from the sacred.

So those who start feeling starved for the higher nourishment, they seek Masters, they seek great music, they seek poetry, a esthetics . They start searching for some higher nourishment, subtle nourishment, which you cannot get in the marketplace, which cannot be sold like a commodity, which you cannot have from a supermarket, which is possible only in a sacred relationship. And that is the relationship between a Master and a disciple: some-thing not of this world.


But ordinary people are only curious. Even if they go to a Buddha, they go out of curiosity, as if that is some kind of entertainment. Even if they listen to Jesus, they are in search of some sensation -- that is not their real need.


One thing to be remembered: Aristotle says that philosophy begins in wonder -- not so in the East. In the East, nobody has ever said that philosophy begins in wonder. In the East we know philosophy begins in the awareness of suffering, not in wonder. In the anguish of man, not in wonder. In the angst of man, in the meaninglessness of man's life, and in the awareness of it, philosophy begins.

So Western philosophy has remained a kind of entertainment. Eastern philosophy is not entertainment -- it is work, it is SADHANA. In fact there is no word in any language of the world to translate this Indian word SADHANA because nothing like that has ever existed anywhere else. SADHANA means: philosophy is not just to think but to be. One has to become it. One has to live it! It has to become your blood and bones and your marrow.

SADHANA means it is not only a kind of systematic thought but a way of life. It has to become your style of life. You have to prove it through your LIFE: whatsoever you think is right has to be lived -- that is the only proof that you think it is right. If you think that it is right and you live otherwise, you are be fooling others and you are be fooling yourself.

The Eastern approach is that life is anguish, anxiety, angst. And the awareness of it makes one search for means and methods how to go beyond it.


And, of course, because they were there only for entertainment, they could not see the whole thing.


People are always searching to impose thoughts on their children. They are always searching for examples, so they can torture their children, and they can say, "Look! Look at this cow, this wonder of the world -- be like this! Produce something!" And by 'production' they mean money, power, prestige; become a president of a country. "Look at this cow! You so have to be a wonderful man in the world. Be somebody so people come to see and applaud you."

Parents are always, constantly, telling their children, "Be like this, be like that! Look at somebody else's child how intelligent he is."

A father was saying to his child, "Look at the neighbor's child how intelligent he is! Always comes first in the class. And you are there, failing again and again,."

And the child said, "That is not my fault -- he has got smart parents."

Parents are trying somehow to create ambition in children. Ambition is a fever, it is illness. An ambitious man always remains ill inside. He suffers from a spiritual cancer. His body may be okay, but his soul dies. He sells his soul, for useless things. He collects many useless things, and destroys all that is essential in him. But parents go on doing that. They can't miss a single oppor-tunity. So they must be bringing their children to show them this cow: "Look at this cow! This is how one should be. What production! How much milk! And of what quality!"


And that's what ministers and priests are doing -- teaching people always: "Be like this! Be like that!" Nobody is ever told to be just like himself or herself. This is the calamity. Man has lived under it for thousands of years, and this has to be completely dropped; otherwise, man will never be free and never be healthy and never be holy. This is the greatest curse that has happened to man, that people go on telling you, "Be like a Buddha, be like a Mahavir, be like Mohammed, be like Kabir, be like Rumi!"

Nobody is here to be somebody else -- everybody is here only to be himself. Let it be declared to the world: that everybody is here JUST to be himself. Only then will the world be at ease and in harmony. Otherwise, all become imitators and all become pseudo and hypocrites, and split and schizophrenic. They say one thing and they live another -- they HAVE to, because their natural self cannot be destroyed by these teachings. At the most they can cultivate a facade; a false mask they can wear. They can create a personality, but their innermost being will remain the same. And to do any-thing against it is a crime -- is the greatest crime there is.

My effort here with you is to free you from this curse. You have to be just yourself... then there is great relaxation. Then tensions disappear. And then you can be authentic, sincere! And then you can be just yourself. And then you can respect yourself. And the man who respects himself, respects others. Then you can love yourself, and the man who loves himself can love others.


They were all exploiting the existence of the poor cow. There are always people around who are ready to exploit everything for their own ends. Sufism is not an idealism; it does not give you any ideal. It helps you to be natural, spontaneous. Sufism is not perfectionist -- it cannot be, because it is not neurotic.

All perfectionism drives people to neurosis. Whenever you see a neurotic, search deep in him and you will find hidden a perfectionist. And wherever you find a perfectionist, be alert. He is on the way to becoming a neurotic.

Sufis are simple people. They rejoice in simple things. They don't have great ideals, they don't have ANY ideals. They don't create a perfect idea that everybody has to be like that -- no. Everybody has to be just like himself. Only by being yourself will you become a prayer to God. Only by being yourself will you be able to offer your joy, your celebration to God. Only by being yourself will you feel grateful. And gratefulness IS prayer.

And all this was going on. Parents were teaching their children and ministers were teaching their flocks, and the government officials were making much fuss about it, and professors and schoolmasters, and everybody must have been using the oppor-tunity. Nobody misses it. It is a way to condemn others.

Whenever there is a person in bloom... people start condemning everybody! Rather than being joyous seeing the beauty of the flowering, they start condemning everybody, because now you have to be like that -- and nobody can be like that.

There are books like Thomas a Kempis' book IMITATION OF CHRIST -- ugly books. Imitation? And if you imitate Christ, will you be Christ? You will be an imitation. And howsoever perfect the imitation is, it is imitation all the same. And an imitation is an ugly phenomenon.

If you are just an ordinary pebble on the seashore, be that! but don't imitate the Kohinoor, because in the God's eyes there is no difference between a Kohinoor and a pebble on the shore. Both are beautiful. Both have to exist in their own way. Both have to pray in their own way! Both have to bloom in their own way. God loves variety. Just look at the world: how much variety is there! Each individual is so unique -- unrepeatable, irreplaceable. Never before has there been anybody like him. Never again will there be anybody like him. God only creates you once. Don't miss this opportunity, and don't be deceived by these people.

These people are just after you to make slaves out of you. And the best strategy to reduce people into slavery is this: tell people to become like a Buddha -- they cannot. They will start feeling guilty. They will feel, "Something is wrong with me." And once a person feels, "Something is wrong with me," he is in the hands of the priest.

And the irony is:


THE COW MUST HAVE BEEN A GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL COW. That's what philosophers go on doing. All their teachings, howsoever beautiful, are futile Nothing happens out of them. The milk is there, but it is always kicked over. There is no practical utility in it. It is absolutely useless.

But nobody was observing this small defect. And this is not a small defect! But people who are exploiting the situation will always call it a small defect.

I have heard:

A matchmaker was exulting over the virtues of a particular girl. "She is beautiful, tall, well-built, a good cook, a smart woman, with integrity," he listed.

But the client said, "But you left out one important thing, didn't you?"

"Not possible," said the matchmaker. "What could I have left out?"

"That she limps," said the young man.

"Oh!" came the answer, "But only when she walks!"

Or, another:

A matchmaker told a young man that he had the perfect girl for him. "She is a redhead!" he exclaimed with pride.

"You mean Becky, the tailor's daughter?" cried the young man. "That's her!" beamed the matchmaker.

"You're crazy! She's almost blind!"

"That bothers you? That's a blessing. Half the time she won't be seeing what you are doing."

"But she also stutters!"

"That's also a blessing. A woman who stutters will be afraid to speak, so you'll live a peaceful life."

"But she is deaf!"

"I should have such luck! With a deaf wife you can shout, you can scream as much as you want to."

"But she's twenty years older than I am!"

"Ah," retorted the matchmaker disgustedly. "I bring you a woman with such gifts, and you pick on one little fault!"

People who are out just to exploit a situation will not bother whether anything comes out of it or not. They go ON preaching to you: Become Jesus, become Buddha, become like Kabir.... And down the ages they have been saying this and nobody has been able to do it. Still they go on. It is good business. It is very bad for humanity, but it is good business for them. They want you to go on feeling more and more guilty, condemned, worthless. The more worthless you feel, the more easily you go and become their victims.

And they don't want to change the subject. They want to insist on the same old nonsense again and again. They go on changing the form of it, the language of it, the style of it, but they don't want to change the subject.

Peterson came home at three in the morning and found his wife lying awake in bed.

"Where were you until three o'clock in the morning?" she screamed.

As she spoke, Peterson opened his bedroom closet and found a naked man cringing on the floor.

"Who is this man?" Peterson demanded.

"Don't change the subject!" his wife replied.

Priest don't want to change the subject at all. That's why they are so angry with me -- I am trying to change the subject. I am trying to make things appear exactly as they are. They have exploited humanity too long, and their devices are very cunning.

It was a boiling hot day in July. Mrs. Finkelstein went into a store to buy a fan.

"What kind of fan do you want?" asked Levy, the storekeeper. "We have fans for a nickel, for a quarter, and for a dollar."

"So give me one for a nickel," said Mrs. Finkelstein.

"Okay," said Levy, as he handed her a thin Japanese paper fan.

In ten minutes, Mrs. Finkelstein was back. "Look what trash you sold me!" she shouted. "The fan broke."

"It did?" said Levy. "And how did you use it?"

"How did I use it?" replied Mrs. Finkelstein. "How do you use a fan? I held it in my hand, and I waved it back and forth in front of my face. Did you ever?"

"Oh no!" explained Levy. "With a five-cent fan, you got to hold it still in both hands, like this, and wave your head back and forth in front of it."

The priests are always right. If something is wrong, it is with you. And I want to say to you: Nothing is wrong with man -- everything is wrong with the priests. Nothing at all is wrong with man! Let it be declared and shouted from the house stops: Man Is as he should be! And if anything looks wrong, it is just because of the nonsense taught to people by the priests.

They have been teaching abstract nonsense. People need a real religion that transforms them, that nourishes them, that makes them more aware. They don't want Christianity, Hinduism, Islam. They want an authentic life and ways to live an authentic life -- not according to somebody else but according to their own nature. They need freedom and they need spontaneity.

Drop all kinds of idealism from your mind, and all kinds of perfectionist concepts from your mind. Be natural. Be ordinary... and you will know God. Because in just being ordinary you become the most extraordinary being possible.


Next: Chapter 2, There is no Self, no Other, First question


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