Then said Almitra, speak to us of love.
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.
And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
though his voice may shatter your dreams as the North wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire,
that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
into the season less world where you shall laugh,
but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
The people who have realized the meaning of life have only spoken to those who can understand love, because love is the meaning of life. Very few people have realized that love is your very flame. It is not food that keeps you alive, it is love – which keeps you not only alive but gives you a life of beauty, truth, silence, and millions of other priceless things.
The world can be divided in two parts: the world where everything has a price and the world where price is meaningless. Where prices are no longer relevant, values arise. Prices are for things, for dead things.
Life does not recognize that which is dead. But such a simple truth, man goes on missing. He even tries to purchase love; otherwise there would not have been prostitutes. And it is not only a question of prostitutes. What are your marriages? – a permanent institution of prostitution.
Remember, only when you enter into the world of values – where no money, no power, no respectability is of any help – are you entering into authentic life. And the flavor of that life is love.
Because man is so much accustomed to purchasing everything, he forgets that the very effort to purchase something that cannot be purchased is a murder. A husband demands love from his wife because he has purchased her, and the same is true about the wife. But they are unaware that they are assassinating each other. They do not know: the moment price enters into love, love dies.
Love is very delicate, very sacred. In all of our relationships, we are trying to reduce the other person to a thing. A wife is a thing. If you have any intelligence, let her remain just a woman. A husband is no more alive. Allow him to remain in freedom because only in freedom can love flower.
But man, in his utter stupidity, has destroyed everything that is valuable. You even try to purchase God. How deep is your blindness? People who can afford it – remember the word “afford” – have temples in their houses. Statues can be purchased but whatever you do with those statues is sheer nonsense; a purchased statue can never become a living God. And not only do they purchase the statue, they also purchase a priest to do the worship.
I have seen priests running from one house to another house because they have to worship in at least ten or twelve temples; only then they can feed themselves. And the people who are purchasing even prayer, worship, think they are doing great virtuous acts. These are the sinners!
Your life will not have any flowers if it does not have something which is priceless. Do you have something in your life which is priceless?
People are selling even their lives. What are your soldiers? – And their number must be millions all around the earth. They have sold themselves. Their only function is to kill and be killed. But as far as I can see, that is not important; they have killed themselves the day they sold themselves. They may be still breathing, but just to breathe is not life. Trees breathe, vegetables breathe. Cabbages and cauliflowers breathe, but they are not alive and they know nothing of love. They have prices attached to them. Perhaps cabbages are cheaper, cauliflowers a little costly – because cauliflowers are nothing but cabbages with university degrees. But don’t do this to any human being.
And if you cannot purchase a thing you cannot possess it either. In your deep sleep, you even possess your children without ever becoming aware that the very possession – “This is my child” – is a murder. Children come through you, but they belong to the universe. You are just a passage.
But you make every effort that your child should have your family name, your religion, your political ideology. He should be just an obedient object.
When I was a student in the university, the government of India passed a resolution that unless you participate in the training for the army, your postgraduate degree could not be given to you. It was compulsory. I approached the vice-chancellor and I said, “I would love to remain without any postgraduate degree. I am not willing to participate in a training which is nothing but a very psychological process of destroying your consciousness, your life, and reducing you to just a number.”
In the army, when somebody dies, on the notice board it is declared, “Number Sixteen has fallen.” When you read this, that “Number Sixteen has fallen,” nothing happens to your heart because Number Sixteen has no wife, no children, no old mother, no old father to be taken care of. Numbers don’t produce children. This is a strategy. But if you see a name, you will suddenly feel sad. What will happen to the children, to the wife, to the old mother, to the old father who is just living to see his son coming back home? But he does not know that his son exists no more. He has become Number Sixteen. Number Sixteen can be replaced and will be replaced. Somebody else will become Number Sixteen.
You cannot replace a living human being… but a dead number? But it is not only the soldiers; if you look at yourself, in many ways you have allowed the crowd around you to make you a number. Even the people who say that they love you simply want to possess you, to exploit you. You are an object of their longings, of their desires.
Love is not available in the marketplace. For love, you will have to understand that existence is not a dead existence. It is full of light, overflowing with love but to experience that love, you have to be attuned with the world of values.
Almustafa did not answer some people. Perhaps they were not worth answering. They have lost their souls: somebody has become a governor, somebody has become a president. The presidents and the governors and the prime ministers – they don’t have any souls; otherwise it is impossible for a man like Josef Stalin to kill one million Russians. And these were not capitalists – Russia has never been so rich – these were poor people, but they wanted not to be possessed by anyone and they were rebelling against slavery. First the czars were killing them for centuries, but Stalin outdid all the czars.
But sometimes I think perhaps he killed only dead people. Adolf Hitler killed six million human beings – but perhaps it is not right to condemn him, because these six million people had lost their souls long before. Somebody had become a husband, somebody had become a wife, somebody had become a father, somebody had become a mother.
In the world of nature, a woman is just a woman – not a lady. A lady is a woman who is living a posthumous life. In nature, there are authentic men – raw, rooted in the earth – but you will not find your gentlemen. They are the hypocrites who have died long ago and are now just breathing, eating, dragging themselves from the cradle to the grave. If they were really alive, they would have known the secret that exists between birth and death.
Almustafa simply refused to answer those people – who may have been knowledgeable, who may have been rich, but their questions were phony. Their questions were American.
I must remind you: the word “phony” comes from America. It is derived from “telephone.”
When you are talking to someone on the telephone, have you observed the change? The voice is not the same, the tone is not the same, and no one knows whether on the other side there is another American or a ghost.
I have heard…. One great psychoanalyst was treating a super-rich billionaire. Although his fee was beyond the capacity of millions of people, for the super-rich it was nothing.
The rich man continued. A year passed and he would lie down on the psychoanalyst’s couch and would talk all kinds of absurd things… which are filled in your heads too; it is another thing that you keep them within, but in psychoanalysis you have to bring them out.
The psychoanalyst was getting bored but he could not get rid of the super-rich man because he was getting so much money from him. Finally, he found an American solution to it: He said to the rich man, “I have so many other patients and sometimes your session takes three hours, four hours, five hours. You have time, you have money. I have a humble suggestion to make. I will keep a tape recorder which will listen to you. My four or five hours will be saved and at night when I have time, I can listen to the tape.”
The rich man said, “Great!”
The next day when the psychoanalyst was entering his office, he saw the rich man coming out. He said, “So quick? Are you finished?”
He said, “No, I have also brought my tape recorder. My tape recorder is talking to your tape recorder. Why should I waste five hours? When tape recorders can do it, what is the need of me coming every day?”
This is how, slowly, slowly, man becomes more and more mechanical. He says things, he lives a life, but it is all like a robot.
Dale Carnegie, one of America’s most famous philosophers – he would not be recognized as a philosopher anywhere else except in America – but his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold second only to The Bible. And it is full of crap. He suggests that every husband, at least three or four times a day, should say to his wife, “Darling, I love you so much, I cannot live without you. I cannot conceive of myself without you.” Whether you mean it or not does not matter.
Do you see the phoniness? If you are in love, it is so difficult to say ”I love you,” because words fall short. And to repeat three, four times a mechanical routine… you don’t mean anything, you are just a grammaphone record. Perhaps the needle on the record is stuck: “Darling, I love you.” And the darling also answers, and deep inside both hate each other: “This is the woman who has destroyed my freedom. This is the man who has put me into a prison.”
Love is the highest value. That’s why Jesus could say, “God is love.” But his statement is two thousand years old. It needs some refinement; it needs to be made up-to-date. God is not love.
I say unto you: Love is god. And there is a vast difference between the two, although the same words are used. If God is love that simply means it is only one of the qualities of God. He may have many other qualities: he may be wise, he may be just, fair. He may be forgiveness.
But when you say “Love is god,” the statement is totally different. Then god itself becomes a quality of those who know how to love. Then there is no need to believe in God… because it is only a hypothesis. And it is up to you what to make of the hypothesis.
The Jewish God in the Old Testament says, “I am a very angry God, I’m very jealous. I am not nice! Remember, I am not your uncle! I cannot tolerate another God.” The Mohammedans have inherited the Jewish conception of God. That’s why they have been destroying statues and temples, beautiful pieces of art: because there is only one God and one holy book and one messenger, Mohammed. This is a fascist attitude, ugly, inhuman. What is the problem if there are millions of gods? The world will be far richer. Why are you stuck with one god?
Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, all such religions which believe in one god believe in dictatorship, not in democracy. What is the problem?
Gautam Buddha is perhaps the first democratic religious person, who says that every man is a potential god and finally, all are going to blossom into godhood. This has a beauty.
Almustafa did not answer those people. Instead he cried, wept, tears came to his eyes because their questions were phony. They were asking simply to show others that they were knowledgeable. You know perfectly well the distinction between a knowledgeable question and an authentic quest. When you want to exhibit your knowledge, there is no quest in your heart. You are asking to show that you are not ignorant.
In fact, before asking the question, you already know the answer – not by your own experience, but borrowed….
A great philosopher in Gautam Buddha’s time came to see him. He brought his five hundred disciples with him. Buddha never refused anybody. Even at the last moment when he was dying, he asked if anybody had a question because “Now, I am going, my ship has arrived. And I don’t want it to be said by future generations that Gautam Buddha was alive and yet he did not answer an authentic question.”
Buddha asked the philosopher, “Is it your question or a quest?”
The philosopher said, “What is the difference?”
Buddha said, “The difference is unbridgeable, of the earth and the sky. A quest is a thirst. A question is a mind game. If you have a quest, I am ready to answer. But if it is only a question, don’t waste my time.”
Almustafa did not answer those people amongst whom he had lived for twelve years and who had never asked anything. But when Almitra, the woman who had recognized him on the first day in the city of Orphalese, asked – he answered. And he answered with such beauty, with such poetry, with such truth. Perhaps nobody else has answered that way – not even a person like Krishna, who answered his disciple Arjuna’s questions after questions.
Perhaps Arjuna’s questions are authentic, but Krishna’s answers are not. He is not concerned with the quest. His whole concern is political – somehow to persuade Arjuna to participate in the war. So he goes on answering in different ways which contradict each other and finally, when he finds that his answers are not convincing to Arjuna, he resorts to the last thing which any dictator is bound to fall upon.
Finally, he says, “It is God’s will that you should participate in the war.” It is strange that God is speaking to him and not to Arjuna directly. If I had been in the place of Arjuna, I would have said, “It may be God’s will for you – fight! But as far as I am concerned, it is God’s will not to fight but to renounce this whole nonsense of destroying and killing people and move deeper into the Himalayas to meditate.”
But he became afraid. If it is God’s will, he has to fight. He forgot a simple thing – why does God always need mediators? Why can’t he speak directly?
In fact, there is no God. These mediators are the most cunning people in the world. In the name of God, they are forcing their own ideas. Because they cannot force through their arguments, their final strategy is to bring God in.
I have wondered always: Is God your real question? Anybody’s? It is philosophical, intellectual, hypothetical – but what will you do if you meet God? And what is the point of meeting God? No, that is not the real quest of man.
Almitra does not ask Almustafa, “Speak to us of God.” No, she asks:
Speak to us of love.
It has to be noted that only a woman can ask about love. Man wants to know God or to become God. These are power trips. Love is not a power trip. Love is the only experience in which you become humble, simple, innocent.
And what does Almustafa say? Meditate over it. Each single word is of immense significance:
And he raised his head and looked upon the people…
Before answering, you have to look into the hearts of people – to see whether there is any stirring, whether love is their quest. Almitra has asked a very fundamental question; the most fundamental question. But what about the people, the crowd who have gathered there?
And there fell a stillness upon them.
A great silence, because those were simple people, and as Almustafa looked around into their eyes, into their faces, there was a great silence. Those simple people really wanted to know what Almitra had asked about. Perhaps they were not articulate enough to ask the question; Almitra had become their voice. She represents their hearts. Seeing that….
And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you, follow him…
Do not doubt, do not be skeptical, because love is beckoning you towards something you have not known. Although you have the seed… but the seed has not known its own flower. When love beckons to you, you are blessed; Follow him.
Though his ways are hard and steep.
Love is not just a bed of roses.
And when his winds enfold you yield to him…
Do not resist, do not be reluctant, do not go half-hearted. Don’t be wishy-washy.
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And love certainly wounds people, but that wound is something like a surgical operation. You are carrying so much hate – that hate has to be destroyed. For a time you may feel a wound, an empty space where hate used to be.
And when he speaks to you believe in him…
He’s not saying believe in what he speaks, remember. He is saying when he speaks, believe in him. There is a very subtle distinction. If I am speaking to you, you can believe in what I am speaking – that will be from the head, and that is not going to help in any way because tomorrow somebody may speak against it, with better arguments, with more logic. Then you will shift.
Almustafa is saying believe in him, not what he is saying. This is a tremendously potential statement: Whenever a master speaks, do not be too much bothered about his words. If the words can only help you to believe in the authenticity of the master, they have done their work. When you believe in a person, it is from the heart. It is not an argument. When you believe in words, it is from the head. It is just an argument.
Life is not an argument, and love is not an argument. It is a meeting of two hearts, two beings – two bodies become one. That is what Almustafa is saying:
Though his voice may shatter your dreams…
It is going to shatter your dreams. It is going to shatter your sleep; it is going to shatter you.
Just believing in words will not shatter anything in you. On the contrary, you will become more
knowledgeable, your ego more decorated.
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the North wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Never before has anybody spoken, in a single sentence, the whole alchemy of man’s transformation. Love will crown you but it will also crucify you. It will crucify you as you have been, your past, and it will crown you as you should be, your future. Love is both: a crowning and a crucifixion. Because of this, millions of people miss the glory of love. The crucifixion makes them afraid… and what is the point of being crowned if you are going to be crucified?
But you are not one, you are many. The real you will be crowned and the false personalities will be crucified, and these processes are going to happen simultaneously. On the one hand, death; on the other hand, a resurrection.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for pruning.
You have grown so many ugly things in your life. They have to be pruned – and that pruning is not against your growth. In fact, those ugly things that you have gathered around yourself – jealousy, domination, continuous effort to have the upper hand – will not allow you to experience love.
When I read that sentence, I remember my gardener, Mukta. She goes on pruning my trees. I know what she’s doing is right, because unless you prune them, they will not grow. But whenever she sees me – once in a while I come out of the room and she hides her garden scissors. Mukta, from today, there is no need to hide. But only prune that which is against the growth of the tree. Don’t prune according to your ideas of how the tree should be. Let the tree be itself. Give it freedom… and if a gardener cannot love his own trees, who is going to love? Prune whenever you see that this will help to bring more foliage, more growth, more leaves, more flowers.
I am not against pruning. I had told her not to do this because there was, six years ago, a beautiful creeper on the back fence of my garden. But it was wild, and Mukta is a Greek. Just to prune it, she named it “The Monster.” This is one of the strategies of human mind. Whenever you want to destroy something, first you give it a name – that becomes the argument for you. That poor creeper was not a monster. Yes, it was wild, but to be wild is not to be a monster. I am wild… but do you think you can prune me? I have not even cut a single hair of my beard – they are the originals. You all have unoriginal beards. I have never cut a single hair of my mustache. Just a few days ago, there was a question: “Osho, everything you say reaches my heart but one question remains: how do you manage to eat?”
I can understand his question – an unpruned mustache has almost covered my lips. That’s why I never come to eat with you. I always eat alone just to protect my original hair. It is a little difficult.
Even as he ascend to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun..
You will enjoy it when love reaches to your heights with tenderness, caressing your branches dancing in the wind and in the sun and in the rain. But that is only the half of it.
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the Earth.
And you cannot choose one and avoid the other. Love is a solid phenomenon, it cannot be cut into fragments. Just as your heights need to be showered by love, your roots which are clinging to the earth have to be shaken, because every clinging is an imprisonment. Love would like to give you wings to fly – and with a clinging mind, with attachment, it is impossible to fly in the open sky. Just to cling to the earth, you have grown great roots going deep down so that nobody can shake you. It is out of fear, but fear is just the opposite pole of freedom.
Don’t cling to anything – not even to the person you love. Clinging will destroy the very love to which you were clinging. Don’t become a bondage.
I have heard….
A great freedom fighter had gone for a holiday in the hills. On the way, he stopped for a night’s rest in a small caravanserai. The owner of the serai had a beautiful parrot, and in accordance with his beauty, he had made a golden cage studded with diamonds. The owner also loved freedom, so he had taught the parrot only one word: “Freedom.” The whole day long the parrot used to call, “Freedom! Freedom!” and his voice would echo and re-echo in the valleys.
This freedom fighter thought, “This is strange. I know the owner; he’s my friend. I know his love for freedom – that’s why he has taught his parrot only one word, “Freedom.” But this is very contradictory. If he loves freedom, let the parrot be free. Even the golden cage studded with diamonds is not freedom.” So he waited. In the middle of the night the parrot again shouted, “Freedom! Freedom!” and in the silences around, the voice of the parrot echoed far and wide in the silences around.
The man came out. It was night and the owner was asleep. No one was around. He opened the door of the cage and waited… such a freedom-loving parrot, seeing the door open, will immediately fly into the sky. But instead of flying into the sky, the parrot clung hard to his golden cage.
But the freedom fighter was not a man to be defeated by a parrot. He put his hand inside the cage, pulled the parrot out… and while he was pulling the parrot out, the parrot was hitting his hand, scratching his hand and still shouting, “Freedom! Freedom!” His whole hand was full of blood, but he threw the parrot into the open sky on a full moon night. The hand was wounded, but he felt deeply contented that the parrot was free.
He went to sleep. In the morning he was awakened again by the same voice: “Freedom!” He said, “My god, he has come back!” He looked out. The door was still open and the parrot was inside.
Love will caress you. But it will also go deep down to your roots and shake them to make you free.
It is something to be remembered: most of us go on living in a contradiction. On the one hand we want freedom; on the other hand, we go on clinging to something. Freedom is a risk. In the cage, the parrot is safe, secure. In freedom, although he gains the whole existence, the whole sky, he loses the safety and the security.
But freedom is such a value; anything can be sacrificed for it. And love needs absolute freedom to grow. Only then can you make the whole sky your home. People afraid of insecurity, unsafety, choose just the word love but never experience it.
If you want to experience love, you will have to risk everything and all – all your clingings, all your future safeties. But instead of sacrificing clingings and safeties and securities, man in his deep sleep has sacrificed love and saved the security.
That is what your marriage is – love is sacrificed; security is there. Of course in marriage there is security, there is safety; there is a guarantee that tomorrow also the wife will be available to you, the husband will be taking care of you. But what about love? Then love becomes an empty word.
Be aware of empty words, and particularly words like love, which are higher than God – God is only a quality of love. Don’t go on carrying an empty container with no content in it. This is your misery, the misery of the whole humanity. Nobody loves.
Love is risky. I teach you to take all the risks, because even a single moment of love is equal to the whole eternity.
And a life without love may be immortal, but will be just a graveyard. Nothing will blossom. You will be secure – but what will you do with your security?
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
But if you are clinging to something else, how can existence, or God, or love, gather you unto himself?
He threshes you to make you naked…
…because you are covered with so many fake personalities. Your face is not your original face. There are so many masks.
He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
The word “whiteness” has to be understood – it is not a color. The whole rainbow you can have, but you will miss two colors which you have become accustomed to – black and white. And why have all the mystics condemned the black and praised the white?
White is not a color but all the colors. If you mix all the colors of the rainbow, whiteness arises. So whiteness is basically a great synthesis of all the colors of life. And if you remove all the colors, then there is blackness. Blackness is negativity, blackness is no. Blackness is death.
Whiteness is positivity, whiteness is yes, whiteness is God. Whiteness is love.
He kneads you until you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All the religions of the world had been teaching people to fast. Almustafa is talking about the feast. Against all the religions, I am in agreement with Almustafa. Life is not a fasting, it is a continuous feast – a celebration, a festival of lights.
Love transforms your life into a festival of lights.
And unless your life becomes a feast and a festival, remember: you have not done the thing you have come for on this earth.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor…
People want love but they don’t want to be prepared for all the threshing, the fire that they have to pass through. They think love is just pleasure. It is not. Love is far more: it is blissfulness, it is the ultimate benediction. But you will have to drop the fear.
The man who is full of fear will never know the sweet taste of love. And if you have not known love, you have not known anything: all your knowledge is useless, all your treasures are useless. All your respectabilities are useless.
Almustafa says rightly:
Then… Cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears..
You will never know anything in its wholeness, in its totality. You will laugh but your laughter will be superficial. You will weep but your tears will be crocodile tears. Your life will always remain just a potentiality, it will never become a reality. And you will live your life in sleep – unconscious.
From Speak to us of Love (Reflections on Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet), Chapter One
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