What is the path of devotion and does it have a place in your vision of the rebel?
Rafia, devotion is not a path. You don’t have to travel it. Devotion is a way of merging and melting into existence. It is not a pilgrimage; it is simply losing all the boundaries that divide you from existence – it is a love affair.
Love is not a path. Love is a merger with an individual, a deep intimacy of two hearts – so deep that the two hearts start dancing in the same harmony. Although the hearts are two, the harmony is one, the music is one, the dance is one.
What love is between individuals, devotion is between one rebel and the whole existence. He dances in the waves of the ocean, he dances in the dancing trees in the sun, he dances with the stars. His heart responds to the fragrance of the flowers, to the song of the birds, to the silences of the night.
Devotion is not a path. Devotion is the death of the personality. That which is mortal in you, you drop of your own accord; only the immortal remains, the eternal remains, the deathless remains. And naturally the deathless cannot be separate from existence – which is deathless, which is always ongoing, knows no beginning, no end.
Devotion is the highest form of love.
It is possible you may love one person, and love becomes so deep that slowly, slowly the very quality of love changes into devotion. Then that person becomes only a window for you to take a jump into existence. That is the situation of the master, as far as the rebel is concerned.
For my people I am not a savior, I am not a messiah. I am just a door, a bridge to pass on into the infinite.
India has a very strange city – perhaps there is no other city like it in the world – Fateh-pur Sikri. It was made by the great emperor Akbar. He wanted to make a special city for his capital. The whole city had to be totally fresh, a piece of art; and he was going to shift the whole capital from Delhi [Agra] to Fateh-pur Sikri. He was a very demanding man, and it had to be not an ordinary city; every house had to be a palace.
For forty years continuously the city was being built – it is surrounded by a beautiful lake – but it was never inhabited. This is the only city in the whole world which has such beautiful palaces, but nobody ever lived there because Akbar died before he could complete the project. The project was too big – to make a whole capital, absolutely fresh and new, out of a special stone; and all the houses, all the roads in a certain pattern with a certain meaning…. Thousands of artists from all over the world were called to work – stone-cutters, masons, architects.
Akbar had perhaps the greatest empire in the whole world in those days. Under Akbar, India was the greatest land; there was immense money available, but Akbar spent everything.
He wanted the capital to be complete before his death. But seeing that it seemed to be impossible, that the capital would take at least forty years more to be absolutely complete, he decided, “At least while I am alive, half of the capital – particularly the offices of the government and the special people – should move.”
A beautiful bridge was made across the lake to join it with the main road; the city was almost a small island inside the lake. Akbar asked his wise people to find a beautiful sentence to be engraved on the main gate of the bridge, to welcome any visitor to the city.
They searched and searched in all the scriptures, in all the literature of the world. It is strange that, although they were Mohammedans, they could find a sentence which was absolutely suitable only in the sayings of Jesus, as if it was being said specially to be engraved on the capital of Fateh-pur Sikri. The sentence is, “It is only a bridge. Remember, don’t make your house on it – it is a place to pass on.” It is a statement about life. Life is a bridge. Don’t make your house on it – it is a place to pass on.
Akbar loved the sentence. It is engraved on Fateh-pur Sikri’s main gate. But before any move could happen, he died. His son had been against the idea from the very beginning, for the simple reason that the whole treasury had been destroyed. Nothing else had been done, only a dead capital had been made – and Delhi [Agra] was doing perfectly well. There was no need, and in fact he had no money left to continue the project for forty more years, so the project was dropped; nobody ever moved. It became a monument, a great memory of the dream of a great king. But to me the most important thing is the sentence on the bridge.
That’s what a master is, for a rebel. That’s what love is, for a rebel. For a rebel, love and the master are synonymous. When his love becomes so deep with the master that he cannot think of himself as separate in any way, love has transformed itself into a new height. That height has been known as devotion.
Devotion is not a path. Devotion is only a love affair, purified to its ultimate state. Then whomsoever you love becomes a door, a bridge to the universal organic unity, the experience of your small identity dissolving in the ocean just like a dewdrop slipping from a lotus leaf.
From The Rebel, Chapter 20
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