With the path of Sufism, the way of the heart behind us, where does the devotee fit in?
Maneesha, the devotee fits in everywhere. Of course the context becomes different.
In Sufism, the devotee is devoted to God to such an extent that al-Hillaj Mansoor started shouting, “I am God!” The devotee disappears into God. But God is a hypothesis, so the devotee in Sufism is only living in a very great hallucination. It is his mind’s projection.
But the devotee in Zen has no hypothesis, he is not devoted to any God or to any fiction. His devotion is to a living human master. It is not a fiction, it is a real being-to-being contact.
So don’t think that the devotee has no place in Zen. In fact, in Zen the devotee has a more authentic and real meaning. In Sufism it is only imagination, great imagination. It will bring many flowers, will make the person very blissful, but it is just like a person who is intoxicated.
It is not a coincidence that in Sufism they have wine, and saki – the woman who brings the wine – and God conceived of as a woman. The man who gets deeply involved in Sufi imagination almost looks mad, but you can see he is very joyful; he dances and sings, his whole energy is now being dominated by his imagination.
But if a person, by drinking alcohol or by taking marijuana, dances and sings, do you think it has any significance in the ultimate sense? It is just chemical. Soon the chemical will be out of the body and with the chemical going out of the body, the person is back down to the earth, more shattered than he was ever before. Imagination is a certain release within you of something intoxicating.
That’s why I said to Coleman yesterday, “You bring a Sufi to me, and within one hour I will bring him down to the earth. Otherwise he is flying in the sky.”
There have been cases when people under LSD thought they could fly. It was so clear for them, without any doubt, that they flew out from a seventeen story building. It was not a question of courage, it was not a question of any decision; they were so certain under the impact of LSD that they were found shattered on the earth in pieces.
Sufism is a much lower state, but very simple to be intoxicated with. But the devotee on the path of Zen does not disappear, he simply takes a new context. Now it is a question of coming closer to a living master. It is not a question of coming closer to God, which is only a hypothesis. You can come close to God only in imagination, and you don’t know the powers of imagination.
It happened that Ramakrishna tried many paths. He was the first man in the history of seekers who had tried many paths to see whether they reach to the same point or not. So whatever was available around him in Bengal, he tried. There is a sect which believes that only Krishna is the male and everybody is a female. He followed that path also. It is absolutely imagination, but the story shows the power of imagination.
For six months Ramakrishna lived like a woman, and his disciples were completely shocked to see that he started walking like a woman. Not only that, but his breasts became like a woman; not only that, but he started having periods. Even doctors could not believe it. His voice changed; and when he started having regular periods, his disciples tried to hide the fact, because if others knew they would laugh. They persuaded him to change this path: “You have gone too far!” – and it took almost six months for him to be his own self again.
Imagination is not a small thing, it has tremendous power. If you follow imagination – and all the religions have been doing that – you will see Krishna and you will see Christ. But all that seeing is just your projection. You want to see Krishna, you insist on your imagination producing Krishna, and it will produce. But you are falling into a trap of your own mind.
A devotee in any other religion is devoted to God; only in Zen is his devotion towards a living master.
There is no question of imagination. Imagination has to be avoided completely if you want to know the truth.
From Rinzai: Master of the Irrational, Discourse #4
A lover knocked at the door of his beloved. A voice cried, “Who is there?” The person outside said, “It is I.” He heard in reply, “This house has no place for two, ‘I’ and ‘Thou’.”
The closed door remained closed. The lover retreated into a forest. There he made penance, observed fasts, and offered prayers. After many years, he returned and again knocked on the closed door. Again the voice asked, “Who is there?”
This time the doors were thrown open, for his reply was, “It is thou.”
This reply, “It is thou”, is the essence of all religion. On the endlessly flowing river of life, “I” is the only bubble. “I” alienates the individual from existence. The bubble of “I” thinks itself distinct from the river, whereas in reality the bubble has no separate existence. It has no separate center, no separate life. It is the ocean. The ocean is its life. Its very existence is in and through the ocean. Even the idea of its being separate from the ocean is ignorance. Look into the bubble, and you find the ocean. Look into the ‘I’, and you find Brahman.
Where ‘I’ does not exist, ‘Thou’ too is absent. There is only ‘being’. Only existence, pure is-ness is there. To awaken into this pure existence is nirvana.
A great Sufi mystic, Jalaluddin Rumi, used to live with his one hundred disciples in a monastery. Few travelers came. The monastery was far away from any town, far away even from any roads, but people became interested – curious people can go anywhere: they go to the moon. Curious people are curious people, they can go anywhere. They became curious and they went there. It was far away from towns, off the road, but they took all the troubles of the journey and they reached the desert. The doors were not closed – because Rumi had never thought that anybody would come so far away – so they could watch what was happening inside. Exactly this scene, Gramya, that you see here….
Somebody was laughing loudly, madly, somebody was dancing, somebody was singing, somebody was standing on his head, people were doing a thousand and one things – and Jalaluddin Rumi was sitting just in the middle of it all, silent, with closed eyes. So they thought ‘What is going on? Have these people gone mad? What are these lunatics doing here? And what is this man doing? He is simply sitting, with closed eyes. He should stop these people – it is dangerous; they may go beyond the limit.’ And somebody was raving like a maniac, and somebody was hitting the wall, and everything was going on.
They became very afraid. They became so afraid that they went away. But after one year curiosity took possession of them again and they thought ’We should go and see what is happening now. Things must have gone worse. Either they must have killed that Jalaluddin Rumi by now, because he was just sitting in the middle of it, or they must have committed suicide… murders must have happened!’ So they went again. They could not believe it: they were all sitting silently. Only Jalaluddin Rumi was dancing. ‘So what has happened then? Things have completely changed.’ They thought ‘It seems this man has taken the madness of all, so that they have become silent and he is dancing.’ But this was a worse situation because they thought at least he had been sane, now he also was insane. But they took pity on the man. They thought ‘It is natural – just to be amidst these mad people for so long, he must have gone out of his mind.’
They went away. But after one year curiosity again took possession of them and they thought ‘We must go and see what is happening now.’ So they went there. There was nobody, only Jalaluddin Rumi was sitting alone – the whole group had disappeared. Now it was too much. What happened? They became too curious. They went to Jalaluddin Rumi and they said ‘We want to ask what happened? Where are those nuts? What happened to them? And what are you doing sitting here alone?’
And Jalaluddin Rumi said ‘The work is done. Now they have gone into the wider world to find other nuts – to help them. The work is complete.’
Then they asked ‘Why were you dancing last year when we came?’
He said ‘I was dancing because I was so happy that my disciples had achieved. It was dangerous, it was very arduous, to release their madness accumulated down the centuries, but they were really capable people. I was happy, that’s why I was dancing. Now they have gone to find other mad people. Now they will make a hundred monasteries all around the earth.’
I have always loved to remember a Sufi master, Junnaid. He was the master of al-Hillaj Mansoor. He had a habit: after each prayer – and Mohammedans pray five times a day – after each prayer he would say to the sky, “Your compassion is great. How beautifully you take care of us, and we don’t deserve it. I don’t even have words to show my gratefulness, but I hope you will understand the unexpressed gratitude of my heart.”
They were on a pilgrimage, and it happened that for three days they passed through villages where orthodox Mohammedans would not allow them even to stay in the villages; there was no question of giving them food or water. For three days without food, without water, without sleep, tired, utterly frustrated… The disciples could not believe that this man Junnaid, their master, still goes on saying the same things. Before, it was okay – but still he goes on saying, “You are great, you are compassionate, and I don’t have words to express my gratitude.”
On the third evening when he had finished his prayer, his disciples said, “Now it is time for an explanation. For three days we have been hungry, we have not had water, we are thirsty; we have not slept, we have been insulted continually, no place has been given to us, no shelter. At least today you should not say, ‘You are great, you are compassionate.’ For what are you showing your gratitude?”
Junnaid laughed. He said, “My trust in existence is unconditional. It is not that I am grateful because existence provides this and that and that. I am – that’s enough. Existence accepts me – that’s enough. And I don’t deserve to be; I have not earned it. Moreover, these three days have been of tremendous beauty because I had an opportunity to watch whether anger would arise in me, and it didn’t arise; whether I would start to feel that God had forsaken me, and the idea did not arise. There has been no difference in my attitude towards existence. My gratitude has not changed, and it has filled me with more gratitude than ever. It was a fire test, and I have come out of it unburned. What more do you want? I will trust existence in my life and I will trust existence in my death. It is my love affair.
Dinkar, to be in the mind, to be identified with the mind, is unawareness. To think that “I am the mind,” is unawareness.
To know that mind is only a mechanism just as the body is, to know that the mind is separate…. The night comes, the morning comes: you don’t get identified with the night. You don’t say, “I am night,” you don’t say, “I am morning.” The night comes, the morning comes, the day comes, again the night comes; the wheel goes on moving, but you remain alert that you are not these things. The same is the case with the mind.
Anger comes, but you forget — you become anger. Greed comes, you forget — you become greed. Hate comes, you forget — you become hate. This is unawareness.
Awareness is watching that the mind is full of greed, full of anger, full of hate or full of lust, but you are simply a watcher. Then you can see greed arising, becoming a great, dark cloud, then dispersing — and you remain untouched. How long can it remain? Your anger is momentary, your greed is momentary, your lust is momentary. Just watch a little and you will be surprised: it comes and it goes. And you are remaining there unaffected, cool, calm.
A great king asked a Sufi mystic to give him something in writing — a sutra, a small maxim which would help him in every possible situation, good, bad, which would help him in success, in failure, in life, in death.
The Sufi gave him his ring and told him, “There is a message. Whenever you are really in need, in a real emergency, just open the ring, take up the diamond, and inside you will find the message — but not out of curiosity, only when there is real danger which you cannot face on your own and you need me, you can see the message.”
Many times the king became curious what is in there, but he resisted his temptation: he had given his promise, his word. He was a man of his word.
After ten years he was attacked and defeated. He ran away into the forest, into the mountains, and the enemy was following him. He could hear the horses coming closer and closer — it was death coming closer. They would kill him! But he was going as fast as he could on his horse. Tired he was, tired was his horse; wounded he was, wounded was his horse. And then suddenly he came to a cul-de-sac. The way ended; there was an abyss. And there was no possibility of turning back because the enemy was closing in, at every moment coming closer. He could not take the jump into the abyss; that was sure death. Except for waiting there was nothing to do.
Suddenly he remembered the ring. He opened the ring, removed the diamond. Inside there was a piece of paper; on the piece of paper just a simple, single sentence: “This too will pass away.” And suddenly a great calmness descended on him: “This too will pass away.”
And it happened exactly like that. He was hearing those noises coming closer; by and by he started hearing them going farther away. They had taken a wrong turn. He had passed a crossroad, they must have moved on some other road. Then he gathered his armies, fought the enemies again, won back his kingdom. He was received with great joy, garlanded, flowers showered, the whole capitol decorated for his welcome.
Suddenly he felt great ego arising in him. Again he remembered the message, “This too will pass away,” and the ego disappeared. And all those garlands and all that welcome became just a child’s play. In failure it helped, in success it helped.
That became his meditation, that became his mantra. So whatsoever would come he would repeat deep down—not verbally, but the feeling would be there in his heart—“This too will pass away.”
If you can remember it, then whatsoever comes into your mind you remain simply a witness: “This too will pass away.” That witnessing is awareness—but we are identified. We become greed, we become anger, we become lust. Whatsoever comes in front of our consciousness, we become identified with it. It is as foolish as when it happens to very small children.
Have you tried it? Just put a mirror before a very small child. He will look in the mirror very surprised, with wide open eyes he will look: “Who is this fellow?” He will try to catch hold, but he cannot catch hold of the person. And then, if the child is intelligent, he will try to go to the back of the mirror: “Maybe the child is hiding behind the mirror.” He is not yet aware that it is only a mirror; there is no reality.
Mind is only a mirror: it reflects the clouds of the world, it reflects all that happens around in the world. Somebody insults and there is anger—It is a reflection. Somebody beautiful passes by and it reflects—it is lust. And you immediately become identified with it.
Keep a little distance… and slowly, slowly, you will find that the distance goes on growing. One day the mind is so far, far away, it does not affect you at all. This is coming home, this is Buddhahood. Aes Dhammo Sanantano: this is the inexhaustible law of life. If you can be a witness you will be able to pass through a great transformation: you will know your real self.
The old maid sat stroking the head of her pet tomcat and worrying about what she had missed all her life, when all at once, a fairy appeared with her wand and told the old maid she was ready to give her any three wishes she might make. The fairy asked that she not get excited but take her time and decide on her wants carefully.
Her first wish was that she might have a beautiful body. The wand was waved and her wish granted. When she examined the result in the mirror, her second wish was immediate: that she be given clothing to drape this wonderful figure. Her wish was again fulfilled with racks of beautiful clothes made to fit perfectly.
When asked for the third wish, she said she wanted a man.
Said the fairy, “You have a beautiful cat there. How about making a man out of him for you?”
That was entirely agreeable, and the tomcat became a man. The old maid was very happy. When asked if she were entirely satisfied, she said she was. Then the fairy asked the man if he were entirely satisfied. “Yes,” said he, “but she won’t be.”
“She forgot about that trip to the veterinarian!”
You go on doing things, unaware of what you are doing. You go on asking for things, unaware what you are asking for. If all your desires are fulfilled you will be the most miserable man in the world; it is good that they are not fulfilled.
The really religious person never asks anything from God. He says, “Thy will be done, thy kingdom come. Because what can I ask out of my unawareness? Whatsoever I ask is going to be wrong.” He asks only one thing: “Thy will be done.”
Be meditative, be prayerful. Remember these two sutras: “This too will pass away”—that will help you to meditate—and the second sutra, “Thy will be done”; that will help you to be prayerful. And when meditation and prayer meet, you are at the highest peak of consciousness possible.
From Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, V.6, Discourse #4
You spoke the other morning about rising through the different levels of consciousness and bringing light to their respective counterparts in the unconscious. Are special techniques needed for this, or will watchfulness of the mind, the body, and the emotions simply bring us through these different levels?
The watchfulness of body, mind and heart is more than enough. No other special techniques are needed, although there are techniques. But as I see them, they are not necessary; on the contrary, they complicate the whole phenomenon. And spiritual growth is not a technological phenomenon, so any technique can become a hindrance. You can start clinging to the technique. That has happened to millions of people.
Searching for spiritual growth they come across a teacher who gives them a technique. The technique helps them to become more silent, more calm, more quiet, to have a great well-being, but then the technique becomes absolutely essential. They cannot leave the technique. If they leave the technique, all those experiences start disappearing. Even if the technique has been practiced for years, just within three days all the experiences will disappear. The techniques don’t really give you spiritual growth, but they create an hallucination which looks spiritual because you don’t know what spiritual growth is.
It happened that one Sufi master was brought to me. He was master of thousands of
Mohammedans, and once a year he used to come to the city. A few of the Mohammedans of his group had become interested in me and they wanted a meeting. They highly appreciated that their master sees God everywhere, in everything, and he is always joyful: “We have been with him for twenty years and we have never seen him in any other state except ecstasy.”
I told them, “It will be good that he becomes a guest in my house. For three days you leave him with me. I will take care of your master.” He was an old man, a very good man.
I asked him, “Have you used any technique for this constant ecstasy, or has it come on its own without any technique?”
He said, “I have certainly used a technique. The technique is to remember, looking at everything, that there is God in it. In the beginning it looked ridiculous, but slowly slowly the mind became accustomed: now I see God everywhere in everything.”
Then I said, “You do one thing… How long have you been practicing it?”
“Forty years” – he must have been nearabout seventy.
I asked, “Can you trust your experience of ecstasy?”
He said, “Absolutely.”
Then I said, “Do one thing: for three days you stop the technique… no more remembering that God is in everything. For three days look at things as they are; don’t impose your idea of God. A table is a table, a chair is a chair, a tree is a tree, a man is a man.”
He asked, “But what is the purpose of it?”
I said, “I will tell you after three days.”
But not even three days were needed; after only one day he was angry at me, ferociously angry that, “You have destroyed my forty years’ discipline. You are a dangerous man. I have been told that you are a master, and rather than helping me… Now I see in a chair nothing but a chair, in a man nothing but a man; God has disappeared, and with the disappearance of God my ecstasy that I am surrounded by an ocean of God has also disappeared.”
I said, “This was the specific purpose. I wanted you to understand that your technique has produced a hallucination; otherwise forty years’ discipline cannot disappear in one day. You had to continue the technique, so it would continue to create the illusion. Now it is up to you: if you want to live your remaining life in an hallucinatory ecstasy, it is up to you. But if you want to wake up, then no technique is needed.”
And remember, witnessing is not a technique, it is your nature. Watching is not a technique, because you are not imposing anything, so there is no possibility of creating an illusion; you are simply watching. Even if God comes in front of you, you are not supposed to fall on the ground and touch his feet: you have simply to watch. Watching is not a technique.
A technique creates something; watching simply reveals that which is. It does not create anything; on the contrary, it may destroy a few illusions that were hanging around because you were not watchful enough, so you had never noticed that they were illusory phenomena.
An illusion can be created so easily that mind always enjoys techniques. Who is going to use the technique? The mind will be the master of the technique.
Watchfulness is beyond mind. Mind cannot watch. That is the only thing in existence that mind cannot do. That’s why mind cannot pollute it, mind cannot lead it astray. […]
There have been many people – many so-called great saints, prophets, messiahs – who have lived in hallucination, who never knew about the simple natural process of watchfulness.
It is better that you don’t get involved with any technique. Watchfulness is so pure; don’t pollute it with anything else. And it is so entire, so complete, that it needs no other support. But mind always wants some technique, because mind can control the technique. Mind is a technician; technology is its field. But watchfulness is beyond its control. It is beyond it, it is above it, and in fact it is the death of the mind.
If watchfulness grows in you, mind will die.
And all these people, like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi teaching transcendental meditation, are giving techniques which mind feels perfectly good with. The mind can use it. But there is not going to be any growth. The technique is not bad, but it simply gives you an illusory feeling of well-being – as if you are evolving… and you are standing where you have been; there is no evolution, no growth.
All these people are exploiting humanity by giving techniques – and this is the worst exploitation because it stops evolution.
I am against all techniques.
I am for a simple, natural process, which you already have, which once in a while you use.
When you are angry, how do you become aware that you are angry? If there was only anger and nobody watching it, you could not become aware of the anger. Anger itself cannot become aware.
So you are aware when you are angry, when you are not angry, when you are feeling good, when you are not feeling good. But you have not used this watchfulness consistently, scientifically, deeply, totally in every phase of the mind. And to me this word contains the very essence of meditation.
I feel very grateful for your enlightenment, your wisdom, your daring experiments, your life.
Rumi said, “I want burning, burning….” What is that burning? Shams said, “I am fire.” Do you have any word on Shams? From Shams? What do the burning and the fire have to do with my own enlightenment?
Coleman, you have asked a very dangerous question! – Because burning has nothing to do with your enlightenment. On the path of enlightenment there is no question of burning. But because you are in love with Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi… I also love the man. But you have to understand that Sufism still depends on a hypothetical God. It is not free from the hypothesis of God. And particularly Sufism has the concept of God as a woman. Love is their method – love God as totally as possible. Now you are loving an impossible hypothesis, and totality is asked. You will feel the same kind of burning, in a more intensive way, as lovers feel on a smaller scale.
Lovers feel a certain burning in their hearts. A deep longing and desire to meet with the beloved creates that burning. To love God is bound to create a very great fire in you. You will be on fire because you have chosen as your love object something impossible; your object of love is hypothetical. You will have to weep and cry, and you will have to pray, and you will have to fast, and your mind has to continuously repeat and remember the beloved.
The mind has the capacity to imagine anything and also has the capacity to hypnotize itself. After long repetition you can even see God, just the way you imagined. It is a by-product of your mind. It will make you very happy, you will dance with joy.
I have been with Sufis and I have loved those people. But they are still one step away from being a buddha. Even though their poetry is beautiful – it has to be, because it is coming out of their love – their experience is a hallucination created by their own mind. In Sufism, mind is stretched to the point that you become almost mad for the beloved. Those days of separation from the beloved create the sensation of burning.
On the path of dhyan, or Zen, there is no burning at all because there is no hypothesis, no God. And it is not a question of love. A man of Zen is very loving, but he has not practiced love; it has come as a by-product of his realization. He has simply realized his own buddhahood. There is no question of another, a God somewhere else in heaven. He has simply reached his own center of life, and being there he explodes into love, into compassion. His love comes after his enlightenment; it is not a method for enlightenment.
But for Sufis, love is the method. Because love is the method, it remains part of the mind.
The effort on the path of Zen is to go beyond mind, to attain no-mind, to be utterly empty of all thoughts, love included. Zen is the path of emptiness – no God, no love, nothing is to be allowed; just a pure nothingness in which you also disappear.
Who is there to feel the burning? Who is there to feel the fire?
So although I love Sufis… I don’t want, Coleman, to hurt your feelings, but I would certainly say that you will have one day to change from Sufis to Zen. Sufis are still living in imagination; they have not known the state of no-mind. And because they have not known the state of no-mind, however beautiful their personalities may become, they are still just close to enlightenment, but not enlightened. Remember, even to be very close is not to be enlightened.
And the reason is clear: Sufism is a branch, an offshoot of Mohammedanism. It carries almost all that is good in Mohammedanism. But Mohammedanism is the lowest kind of religion. Mohammedanism, Judaism, Christianity – all are hypothetical.
There have been only two religions which are not hypothetical, Buddhism and Taoism. Zen is a crossbreed of these two, and the crossbreed is always better than both the parents. It is the meeting of Buddha and Lao Tzu; out of this meeting is born Zen. It is not Buddhism, it is not Taoism; it has its own individuality. It carries everything beautiful that comes from Buddha and everything great that comes from Lao Tzu. It is the highest peak that man has ever reached.
Hinduism is a mess: thirty-three million gods! – What do you expect? Hinduism has remained a philosophical, controversial, hypothetical religion. It has not been able to reach the heights of Buddha. Buddha was born a Hindu but revolted against this mess, searched alone rather than believing. That is one of the most important things to remember. Any religion that begins with belief is going to give you an auto-hypnotic experience.
Only Taoism and Buddhism don’t start with a belief. Their whole effort is that you should enter yourself without any concept of what you are going to find there. Just being open, available, without any prejudice, without any philosophy and scripture – just go in, open-hearted, and when you reach to the point where mind is silent, not a single thought moving…
According to Tao and Buddha, even God is a thought. When there is no thought, you reach the highest Everest of consciousness. At that point you know that every living being has the potentiality of being a god.
Buddha is reported to have said, “The moment I became enlightened, I was surprised: the whole of existence is enlightened; only people don’t understand. They are carrying their enlightenment within themselves and they don’t look at it.”
Buddha has reported his past lives’ experiences. When he was not an enlightened man but was just a seeker, he heard about a man who had become enlightened, so he went to see him. He had no idea of what enlightenment is, and he had not come with any prejudice for or against. But as he came close to the man, he found himself bowing down and touching the man’s feet. He was surprised! He had not decided to do it – in spite of himself he was touching the man’s feet. That was one surprise. And as he stood up, the second surprise was even bigger: the enlightened man touched his feet. He said, “What are you doing? You are enlightened, it is perfectly right for me to touch your feet. But why are you touching my feet?”
And that man laughed. He said, “Sometime before, I was unenlightened. Now I am enlightened.
You are unenlightened now. Someday you will become enlightened. So it is only a question of time. As far as I am concerned, you may not know it but I can see your hidden treasure.”
So everybody is a buddha, either aware of it or unaware of it. No hypothesis comes into the path of Zen.
What Rumi is saying – “I want burning, burning…” – is the mind focused on a hypothetical beloved, and the burning desire to meet him, to melt in him. But it is an objective god – it may be woman or man, it does not matter.
In Bengal, in India, there is a small sect which believes that only Krishna is male and everybody else is female. Because everybody is female and there is a great burning to meet the lover, the god, they sleep with a statue of Krishna in their bed.
But these are all mind games. Except for Gautam Buddha and Lao Tzu, and the people who became enlightened from their lineages, the whole of humanity is living in hypotheses. I appreciate the poetry of Rumi, I appreciate the beauty of many Sufi mystics, but I cannot say that they are enlightened. They are still groping, and their groping will stop only when they drop this hypothesis of God.
The search has to be inwards, not outwards. Any search that is outwards is going to change your personality. It can make it more beautiful, more loving, but it is just imagination.
It happened that one Sufi master who was very much loved… his disciples used to come to me and say, “When our master comes, we want you both to meet.”
I said, “On one condition: your master should be my guest for just three days, and you have not to come for three days.”
So the master came, as he used to come every year for a month or two to that place. He was a lovely man, very fragrant, very radiant, very joyful. He used to dance and sing and play on instruments. When he came to my house, I closed the door and told the disciples, “Now you disappear, and for three days leave him with me.”
The master said, “What do you want?”
I said, “You put your instruments away, and for three days don’t think about your beloved God.”
He said, “What is the purpose of this?”
I said, “The purpose will be known after three days. Just for three days be normal. You are abnormal.”
He said, “You are a strange fellow! I am abnormal?”
I said, “Just drop this idea of a hypothetical God. Have you seen God?”
He said, “I see God everywhere.”
I said, “When did it start happening?”
He said, “It took twenty years for me to see God in everyone. Finally, I started seeing.”
I said, “That’s why I am saying that for three days; don’t do anything you have been doing. For these three days take a holiday from your practice of seeing God in everyone.”
Just in one day it was finished! The next day he was very angry with me. He said, “Just let me go. You have destroyed my twenty years’ effort. For just one night I followed your idea, and now in the morning I don’t see any God anywhere.”
I said, “A God that you have been seeing for twenty years disappears within a single night – what is it worth? Can’t you see that it is a hypothesis that you have imposed? And twenty years are not needed for such programming – such programming can be done within hours.”
A person can be hypnotized just for seven days continually and told he will see God everywhere, in everyone, and he will be very joyful, very loving. Within seven days the person can be programmed just like a computer, and he will start seeing God. But this is not the way of truth.
Coleman, it is perfectly good: enjoy Rumi’s beautiful poems, enjoy beautiful Sufi stories. I have enjoyed them. But I warn you, don’t get lost into them. They are just a game of the mind, a strategy of self-hypnosis.
I said that you have asked a dangerous question. I don’t want to hurt your feelings and your love, but I have to say the truth even if it hurts. One day you will feel grateful to me.
Sufism is nothing. You can find good poetry anywhere. And if you want, bring any Sufi to me and I will take away all his experience within one hour. These are abnormal people, hypnotizing themselves.
The real thing is to come to a point of de-hypnotizing yourself, because every society has already hypnotized you. A Hindu thinks Krishna is a god, and never bothers that Krishna stole sixteen thousand women from different people. He was married only to one woman. But sixteen thousand women – any beautiful woman, and his soldiers would catch hold of her; he just had to make a sign that they should take her to the palace.
Krishna behaved with women like they were cattle, and he never thought that they have children, they have husbands, they have their old parents, or their husband’s parents, and he is destroying their whole family life. And what is he going to do with sixteen thousand women? He is not a bull. Even a bull will be tired. Sixteen thousand – it is a record. Still, no Hindu will question the point.
Rama is God to the Hindus, and nobody questions that he killed one poor untouchable, a young man, just because he heard somebody reciting the Vedas. The Hindu society has maintained the caste system for five thousand years, and the untouchable, the sudra, the last, is not allowed to read any religious scripture. He is not allowed to be educated either. Untouchables are not allowed to live in the city; they have to live outside the city. They do all the dirty work of the city and they live the poorest life in the world. Their whole dignity and manhood is taken away.
And this young man had not read anything, he simply heard some brahmin reciting the Rigveda. Just hiding behind the trees out of curiosity, he was caught hold of, and when he was brought to Rama because he had committed this great crime, Rama told his people, “Melt some lead and pour it into both his ears, because he has heard the Veda, which is prohibited.”
The man certainly died. When you pour burning lead into the ears, you cannot expect the man to remain alive. He fell dead then and there. And no Hindu questions it. Even people like Mahatma Gandhi just go on repeating the name of Rama; he is a god. And this is the situation all over the world, with every religion. I have looked in all nooks and corners, and except Zen I don’t find any religious phenomenon which is absolutely pure and which has not committed a single crime against humanity. It has only contributed more beauty and more grace and more love and more meditativeness.
So it is perfectly good, Coleman; enjoy the poetry, but don’t think that these poetries are coming out of enlightenment. They have not even heard the word enlightenment. No word exists in Persian, in Urdu, in Arabic, equivalent to enlightenment. They have “God realization,” realization of the beloved – but the beloved is separate from you.
The whole point is that even if you find a god which is separate from you, millions of others must have found him before. You will be in a crowd. And what are you going to do when you meet God? – say, “Hello, how are you”? There is nothing much in just meeting – you will look embarrassed and God will look embarrassed: Now what to do with this Professor Coleman? ”It was very good… you were doing good translations, but why have you come here?”
Now don’t do any such thing, creating any embarrassment for God. There exists no God. What exists is godliness, and that godliness surrounds you. We are all in the same ocean.
An ancient story is: A young, very philosophical-minded fish asked other fish, “We have heard so much about the ocean; where is it? I want to meet the ocean.”
Everybody shrugged their shoulders; they said, “We have also heard about the ocean, but we don’t know where it is.”
An old fish took the boy aside and told him, “There is no other ocean anywhere. We are in it. We are born in it, we live in it, we die in it. This is the ocean.”
And I say unto you, the same is true with us. We are born in godliness, we live in godliness, we die in godliness. Just one thing has to be remembered: either you can pass through this tremendous experience of life asleep, or fully awakened.
Meditation is the only way to make you aware. And once you are fully aware, all around is the ocean of godliness. The very life, the very consciousness is divine. It expresses in all the forms – in the roses and in the lotuses and in the birds and in the trees. Wherever life is, it is nothing but godliness. We are living in the ocean of godliness. So don’t search anywhere. Just look within, because that is the closest point you can find.
Sufism is beautiful but is not the ultimate answer, and you should not stop at Sufism. It is a good training to begin with. End up with Zen.
And it is a great, surprising thing, that from the peaks of Zen you will be able to understand Sufism more than you can understand by living in the Sufi circles. Some distance is needed, and Zen gives you the distance. From that distance you can witness all the religions. What are they doing? – playing games, beautiful games, but games are games after all.
You are asking, “What do the burning and the fire have to do with my own enlightenment?” Nothing at all. You are enlightened in this very moment; just enter silently into your own being. Find the center of your being and you have found the center of the whole universe. We are separate on the periphery but we are one at the center. I call this the buddha experience.
Unless you become a buddha – and remember, it is the poverty of language that I have to say “Unless you become….” You already are. So I have to say, unless you recognize, unless you remember what you have forgotten….
Every child in its innocence knows, and every child goes astray because of so much knowledge being poured in by the parents, by the priests, by the teachers. Soon the child’s innocence is completely covered with all kinds of bullshit.
The whole effort of meditation is to cut through all the dust that society has poured upon you and just to find that small buddha-nature you were born with. The day you find the buddha-nature you were born with, the circle is complete. You have again become innocent.
Socrates in his last days said, “When I was young I thought I knew much. As I became older I started thinking I knew everything. But as I became still older and my consciousness became sharper, I suddenly realized I don’t know anything.”
It is a beautiful story that in Greece there is – used to be, now it is ruins – the temple of Delphi. And the oracle of the temple of Delphi declared that Socrates was the wisest man in the whole world. The people who had known Socrates rushed to tell him, “The oracle has declared you the wisest man in the world!”
Socrates said, “The oracle for the first time is wrong. I know nothing.”
The people were very much in a puzzle. They went back to Delphi and told the oracle, “You say he is the wisest man and he says he knows nothing.”
The oracle said, “That’s why he is the wisest man in the world. He has again become a child. He has come back home.”
Maneesha has also asked a question:
Our Beloved Master, You have been speaking on the empty heart of Zen. Last night we spent an evening listening to Rumi’s expression of the Sufi heart.
Could you talk of the difference between the two?
The reality is that what the Sufis call the heart is just part of their mind. The mind has many capacities: thinking, feeling, imagination, dreaming, self-hypnosis – these are all qualities of the mind. In fact, there is no heart as such; everything is being done by the mind.
We have lived with this traditional division, that imagination and feeling and emotions and sentiments are of the heart. But your heart is just a pumping system. Everything that you think or imagine or feel is confined into the mind. Your mind has seven hundred centers and they control everything.
When Zen says empty heart it simply means empty mind. To Zen, heart or mind are synonymous. The emphasis is on emptiness. A mind that is empty becomes the door to the divine that is all around – but first it has to be empty.
Sufism is a beautiful imagination. Zen has nothing to do with imagination. Everything has to be emptied out. The name of Rumi is beautiful in a sense: not in Persian but in English, ‘roomy’ means empty. The room either can be full of furniture or it can be without furniture, simply a room. That empty room contains the whole space, the whole existence.
From Rinzai: Master of the Irrational, Discourse #2
Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt One Step Away. In an interview that Coleman Barks did with Michael Toms of New Dimensions Radio on December 12, 2010, Coleman Barks spoke of asking Osho the above question. Here is the excerpt.
Coleman Barks wrote the following introduction to Osho’s book, Just Like That (Penguin Books India), which is from a series of discourses Osho gave on Sufi stories:
It seems important to me that Osho be known to an audience wider than his beautiful community, and that this book in particular find new readers.
I am very grateful for his amazing talking, his daring experiments with community and transformation, his enlightenment and his jokes! (Did you get the satire of American consumerism with the ninety seven Rolls Royces? Some people missed that.)
The humor always bubbles close, no matter what’s being discussed. The lack of a 13th floor in American hotels, the responsibilities of being awake, a dog jumping in a river, Gurdjieff’s non-identification, the prodigal son, meditation, the aggression of science, Shibli and his three teachers—there’s great generosity of detail here, and his joy is primary.
It’s all one thing, really, these morning talks. Reading them, you’ll taste a fresh spring water from those days. The catalyst for each is part of a Sufi story, brilliantly interpreted. But don’t come with your intellectual acumen drawn. Or do—He will meet you however you approach. This is a profound form of play. Osho improvises the jazz discourses of the century. Better than Gurdjieff. What am I doing in the front of this book? I got asked because of my work on Rumi, and also perhaps because I visited the commune in Pune in October 1988 and felt very at home there. Maybe I’m what he called in the early 80’s a shravakar.
Here’s a Sufi story that he doesn’t discuss in this book:
Ibn Khafif Shirazi once said, ‘I heard that there were two great masters in Egypt so I hurried to reach their presence. When I arrived I saw two magnificent teachers meditating. I greeted them three times, but they did not answer. I meditated with them for four days. Each day I would beg them to talk with me, since I had come such a long way.
Finally the younger one opened his eyes. “Ibn Khafif, life is short. Use the portion that’s left to deepen yourself. Don’t waste time greeting people!” I asked him to give me some advice. “Stay in the presence of those who remind you of your lord, who not only speak wisdom, but are that.” Then he went back into meditation.’
I feel like that man, Ibn Khafif. At Osho’s level of being, introductions are unnecessary and serve mostly as puffery for the introducer. Let the music begin.
La illaha ill Allah – there is no God but God. There is no goal but the goal. And the goal is not separate from the source; the source and the goal are the same phenomenon. This is one of the most fundamental things to be understood: to reach the goal one has to reach the source. The alpha is the omega.
If you go on trying to reach the goal you will remain in an eternal wandering and you will never come home. If you start searching for the source you will not only find the source, but you will have also found the goal. When the source is found the circle is complete.
God is not where we are going; God is from where we are coming. And our eyes are fixed on distant stars. We go on looking ahead. We are oriented towards the distant and faraway, and all those goals that we create are our own mind projections. The real goal is from where we are coming. It is in our very nature, it is in our very being, it is the very ground of our existence. Hui Hai once went to visit the great Master Ma Tzu. The Master asked him, “Why do you come here?” Hui Hai replied, “I come seeking enlightenment.”
The Master said, “Why should you leave your home to wander about and neglect your own precious treasure? There is nothing I can give you. Why do you seek enlightenment from me?
The visitor pressed him for the truth, “But what is my treasure?”
The Master answered, “It is he who has just asked the question. It contains everything and lacks nothing. There is no need to seek it outside yourself.”
Seeking presupposes that it is far away. Seeking has taken it for granted that it is not now-here, that it is not in you, that it is not you. Seeking has already supposed that it is different, separate from you and somewhere else, and it has to be sought to be found.
This presupposition creates the misery for the seeker. The seeker lives in misery and frustration because the seeker has started on a wrong journey. The seeker is never going to find God, because God is not the sought but the seeker himself.
The only religious question worth asking is “Who am I?” That means diving deep within your own consciousness, coming closer and closer to your center. And when you have reached, penetrated the center like an arrow, one is surprised that nothing was ever lacking, nothing was ever missed, that you had not left your home, that you were already there, but your eyes were wandering far away. Only your eyes were wandering far away; you were rooted in your home. But your mind, your dreams, your eyes, your ideas, they had left you, and they were roaming all over the world.
Ma Tzu is right. He says, “Why do you come here? What is the point of coming here? Why did you leave your home?”
These statements are not ordinary statements; they are very symbolic. The home does not mean just the ordinary home. He means God. Ma Tzu is saying, “Why have you left your source? Why this unnecessary wandering? All that you need is already provided for. You have the treasure within you. Why do you come here?”
Hui Hai replied, “I come seeking enlightenment.”
Now, that is the fundamental error of all seekers. Enlightenment cannot be sought, and if you seek it you will never find it. Enlightenment is when there is no seeking. Enlightenment is when there is no desiring, not even the desire for enlightenment. Enlightenment is when you are still, calm, quiet, and there is no mind, no desire, nowhere to go, when you are suddenly here and now. That very moment is enlightenment: light explodes in you – you become light.
Hui Hai said, “I come seeking enlightenment.” And everybody is seeking, in different names. You may call it bliss, you may call it God, you may call it enlightenment, you may call it truth, love, beauty; it doesn’t matter what you call it. But everybody is seeking something. All are seekers in the world; the world is full of seekers.
And remember, the man who is seeking money and power is not different from the seeker who is running after God. It is the same seeking. The object of the seeking makes no difference in the nature of seeking; the quality of the seeking is the same.
What is that quality? It is tension between that which you are and that which you would like to be. A wants to be B – this is seeking. The poor want to be rich; the unenlightened want to be enlightened; the ugly person wants to become beautiful; the unknown person wants to become famous. It is the same seeking. Seeking means discontentment with that which you are.
Then what is non-seeking? Non-seeking is: A is perfectly happy in being A and has no desire to be B.
Contentment is the beginning of enlightenment. Contentment is the seed which becomes enlightenment. The seeker is discontented, tense, worried. Continuously he is going to face frustration because whatsoever he is going to do is doomed to fail.
Remember it, because there are religions, priests, pedagogues who go on teaching people, “Don’t seek worldly things; seek other-worldly things.” They only change the object of seeking. They say, “Don’t seek money, seek meditation.” And it appears on the surface as if they are transforming your being. They are not. They are only giving you a new toy to play with. But the old seeking will continue; you will remain the same old person with the same old rotten mind, with the same old wandering, tensions, frustrations, worries. Nothing is going to change by that. That is not conversion.
Then what is conversion? Conversion is when you understand the nature of seeking, when you see the point that it is seeking that is debarring you from getting, that it is seeking that is the wall, that it is seeking that keeps you separate from the sought, that it is seeking itself that has to be dropped and nothing else. Seeking is worldly; non-seeking is other-worldly. When the seeker becomes a non-seeker he becomes religious.
But how to become a non-seeker? One can become a non-seeker only if this understanding arises: that rather than going for some goal, the first and most necessary thing to know is “Who am I? From where do I come? What is my source?” If the wave looks for its source, it will find the ocean. And if man looks for his source, he will find God.
We are waves in the ocean of God. If a leaf of a tree starts looking for its source it will find the roots of the tree. It will find the earth; it will find its very source. We are leaves of the tree of God, waves of the ocean of God.
But if the leaf starts looking outwards… and there is the beautiful moon hanging so close by, and it looks so enchanting, and the leaf becomes troubled, starts dreaming. And certainly the wave dreams of the moon. When the moon is full, the waves start rising high, higher and higher; a great longing arises to reach the moon.
You will be surprised to know, scientists have found that it is not only the waves that rise when the full moon is in the sky. Even the earth – almost six inches whenever the moon is full – even the earth starts rising six inches. It also tries hard to reach the moon. When the full moon is there, the earth forgets all its solidity, becomes a little liquid, behaves as if it is made of rubber, tries to reach the moon. And man is made eighty percent of water and twenty percent of earth. That’s why the full moon has so much hypnotic power on man – eighty percent ocean in him, twenty percent earth in him, and both start rising towards the moon.
The fact has been known down the ages that the moon drives people crazy. Hence the word “lunatic”; it means struck by the moon. Lunatic comes from the word luna, the moon. The moon is so close by, it attracts.
And there are many “moons” in life – you are surrounded by many attractive goals. There is power, there is money, there is prestige, respectability, fame. And there are a thousand and one things. One is constantly pulled in this direction and that.
Life provides you with many goals, and there is only one goal: that goal is God.
But to call God the goal is very paradoxical because he is also the origin. And only the origin, the source, can be the goal because ultimately, when you have reached back home and the circle of your life is complete and perfect, there is fulfillment.
Ma Tzu is right. He says, “Why should you leave your home to wander about and neglect your own precious treasure? There is nothing I can give you. ”
No Master can give you anything. Truth has never been given. It is not a thing to be given or taken.
And you don’t need it in the first place from anywhere else because you already have it there within you. You are it. The Master only makes you aware that the treasure is within you, the kingdom of God is within you. He provokes you, he shakes you and shocks you, so that you can become aware of who you are. The Master cannot give it to you. It is not a thing in the first place, and in the second place you don’t need it. And the given truth will be borrowed, and the given can be taken away. The truth has to arise in you; only then it cannot be taken away.
Ma Tzu is really a great Master. He says, “There is nothing I can give you. Why do you seek enlightenment from me?” The visitor pressed him for the truth. ”But what is my treasure?”
The Master answered, “It is he who has just asked the question.” Meditate over it. A tremendously significant statement: “It is he who has just asked the question.” It is your consciousness that is your treasure. Diving deep into your consciousness you will touch the source, the rock bottom of your being.
And it is there where God is found, and enlightenment, and freedom, and love, and beauty, and bliss, and all that you have always wanted and was never happening. All suddenly happens simultaneously. The experience of the source is a multidimensional experience. Ma Tzu says, “It contains everything and lacks nothing” – your consciousness – “There is no need to seek it outside yourself.”
Hui Hai later on became a Master in his own right and a great Master too. This was the beginning – this was the seduction from Ma Tzu. Listening to this, when Ma Tzu said, “It is the one who has just asked the question,” a great trembling arose in Hui Hai, a great energy started moving. The frozenness disappeared, he melted. He bowed down to Ma Tzu, and in that very moment he had his first satori.
This is what I am trying to do here – provoking you, seducing you into that which you already are, but you have forgotten about it. I am only reminding you of it.
Sufis say there are two things the whole of religion consists of. One is faqr: nobodiness, nothingness, egolessness, humbleness. In faqr, all those things are implied. The basic point is that you are not separate from existence. To think yourself separate from existence causes the phenomenon of the ego. And the ego gives you the idea that “I am somebody”, and then, “somebody special”. And then you have to prove, then you have to compete, then you have to be ambitious and succeed. Then you have to leave your footprints on the sands of time; you have to leave your name in history. And then all kinds of desires start arising in you.
But the root of all desires is in the acceptance of a false idea that “I am.” When a person drops that idea, he is a fakir, he has attained to faqr. This is the real meaning of fakir. It does not mean just a beggar; it does not mean just poverty. The real poverty consists of egolessness. That’s what Jesus means when he says, “Unless you are poor in spirit you will not attain to my kingdom of God”… poor in spirit.
It is very easy to renounce your wealth and become poor outwardly; it is very easy. But rather than helping you to become inwardly poor it may hinder, because the person who renounces becomes very egoistic. He starts thinking, “Look, I have renounced so much. I am no ordinary mortal. I am a great sage, a saint, a mahatma – I have renounced all. ”
And deep down in him he starts comparing himself with those who have not renounced. He becomes “holier-than-thou”. He starts pretending that he is on a high pedestal, that everybody else is condemned, that everybody else is going to hell except him – because he has renounced the world, the joys of the world, the things of the world. Rather than becoming inwardly poor he has become inwardly very rich. The ego is strengthened. The ego has become stronger; it is more solid than before. It is almost a rock.
That’s why I don’t say to my sannyasins: renounce the world. I say renounce the ego! Let the world be as it is. Who are you to renounce it? In the very idea of renouncing, you accept one thing, that it belongs to you. How can you renounce something which does not belong to you? See the simple point: nothing belongs to you.
You come into this world without a thing and you go from this world without a thing. You come empty-handed and you go empty-handed. Nothing belongs to you, so how can you renounce?
Renunciation is possible only if possession is possible. Possession is just an illusion; you don’t possess anything. How can you possess anything? Death will come and will separate you from all your possessions, and you will not be able to take a single thing with you.
The first illusion is of possession and the second illusion is of renunciation. And both are based in the same ego. First the ego tries to possess as much as it can – the more it possesses, the more it is. Then comes a point when you have possessed so much that it loses all interest, it becomes boring.
That’s why rich people look so bored; you will not find poor people so bored. Rich people are always bored, utterly bored. The richer they get, the more bored they are. From where comes the boredom? Their boredom is coming from their possessions. They have everything that they ever hoped for, dreamed of; now what else is there to do? All their hopes are fulfilled and nothing is fulfilled in their being. A great boredom starts settling. They have enjoyed all that the world can give, and all those joys have proved superficial, momentary. And they have done those things so many times, they have repeated all those things so many times, that now there seems to be nothing new. They are constantly hankering for some new amusement, some new entertainment. They are utterly bored.
The poor person is not so bored. He still has many things to hope for. Tomorrow he is going to have a better house, the day after tomorrow a better car, and so on, so forth. He can hope; his eyes are full of hope. There are surprises still waiting for him in the future. For the rich man there is no future; for the poor man the whole future is there, he is excited.
For the rich man all is past, there is no future. In the future there is only death and nothing else; nothing else is going to happen to him. He has the biggest house, the most beautiful woman or man, all kinds of gadgets that technology can supply. What else is there? The future seems bleak – only death, somen, here, nothing else. In the dark night of the future only death is lurking. The rich man becomes bored – he is bored to death. He’s afraid, he is in a panic. He cannot hope, and to be in a hopeless state is the most miserable state to be in.
Then he starts renouncing. That brings excitement again; the future becomes hopeful again. Now he thinks, “I will renounce all that I have. I will become the humblest person in the world, the most poor. I will become a great sage, and the world will know how much I have renounced – nobody has renounced that much before. I will be the greatest saint in the world.” Again there is hope. The ego has taken another life, another incarnation: now he starts renouncing, he goes on renouncing. Just as there is no end to possessions, there seems to be no end to renunciation. He goes on renouncing – clothes, food, house everything – companionship, friendship, relationship, people. He escapes to the Himalayan cave or goes deep into the forest or escapes into a monastery. He goes on renouncing, but one day again the end comes. He has renounced all and nothing is gained. He is bored again. Go into the monasteries and you will see the same boredom on the monks’ faces as you will see on the rich people’s faces. There is not any difference.
I don’t tell my sannyasins to renounce the world. Through renunciation the ego survives again, and survives in a more subtle way, becomes more poisonous, because now it can pretend to be holy. To be poor in spirit means to see the point that “I am not” – “God is, I am not. The whole is, the part is not. The ocean is, the wave is not.” This is inner poverty; this is faqr. Then you can be in the monastery or in the marketplace, it makes no difference. You know you are not, so whatsoever is-God’s will: if he wants you to be in the monastery you are in the monastery, if he wants you to be in the marketplace you are in the marketplace. ”Thy will be done” – that is FAQR. ”I have no will of my own, your will is all. I have no destination of my own; wherever you are going, I am simply coming with you. I will be your shadow; I will not be a separate entity in my own right.”
And the second thing that Sufis say is a fundamental of religion is zikr, remembrance of God. God has not to be achieved; God has not to be discovered; God has not to be invented either. God has only to be remembered. We have only forgotten him. All that is needed is an awakening. That is called zikr.
The story of Hazrat Babajan as related in Lord Meher by Bhau Kalchari
“It is I who have created all! I am the source of everything in creation.” Upon hearing these ecstatic declarations, an angry mob of fanatic Baluchi soldiers buried the old woman alive. Over ten years later, when some of these same soldiers happened to be in Poona, to their utter amazement they saw the same old woman, Hazrat Babajan, giving her blessing to a group of devotees. Realizing their terrible mistake, the soldiers approached Babajan and begged for her forgiveness, placing their heads at her feet in reverence.
Babajan’s nature was regal. It angered her if anyone addressed her as “Mother.” The old woman would vehemently protest, “Do not call me ‘Mother,’ you fool. I am not a woman, I am a man!” For after attaining the highest spiritual state possible for a human being, the state of a Qutub, or a Perfect Master, Prakruti became subservient to her. Thus this woman, known as Hazrat Babajan, became a Perfect Man.
Hazrat Babajan’s given name was Gool Rukh. The girl was born to a royal Muslim family of Baluchistan in northern India between 1790 and 1800. The girl’s name truly befitted her; Gool Rukh means “like a rose” or “with cheeks like roses.” Her physical appearance was beautiful, and her inner spirit was like a rose whose fragrance and beauty never faded. Gool Rukh retained this delicate beauty throughout her life, and as Babajan, people were attracted to her wherever she went.
Gool Rukh was raised as a rich, noble princess; no material expense was spared in giving her the training and education appropriate to her royal position. The girl was bright and intelligent, and as a child learned the whole Koran by heart, becoming known as a Hafiz-e-Koran at a young age. She also became fluent in several languages, including Arabic, Persian, Pashtu, Urdu and even English.
Spiritually inclined from childhood, Gool Rukh spent much of her time in solitude reciting the prayers she learned from the Koran, or in silent meditation. When her childhood companions came to her house to play, they were disappointed to find that she preferred a quiet room to their games and they sorely missed her. As the girl grew into a young woman her spiritual inclinations increased, and Gool Rukh spent more and more time alone. Her physical beauty also increased and seeing her was such a pleasure that people remarked that Gool Rukh’s husband
ESCAPE FROM BALUCHISTAN
would be a lucky man indeed. When Gool Rukh matured to a marriageable age, her parents broached the topic, but were astonished at her staunch refusal to marry. For a Pathan princess to remain single was unheard of – especially one as lovely as she was. The young woman’s parents then tried to force her into wedlock, not knowing she had already chosen her Beloved – God Himself. The maiden had fallen in love with the One who had captured her heart long, long ago. No prince or handsome groom could take this One’s place. Gool Rukh’s heart was intoxicated in divine rapture, and she wept in divine love to become united with her Beloved.
As the months passed, her parents became even more insistent and made plans to celebrate her wedding on a certain date to a certain prince. Gool Rukh was informed that she had no choice; all arrangements had been finalized. Although she loved her parents, their plans were unbearable to her. Her longing to find her true Beloved overcame all obstacles and hardships, and she escaped from home and Baluchistan – never to be found by her parents.
Gool Rukh journeyed to the northeast, first to Peshawar and then to Rawalpindi. For a young maiden of eighteen years to run away from home and travel alone across the mountainous regions of India was an incredible undertaking. But Beloved God was watching over her, so on the rough mountain roads she was neither recognized nor captured. While travelling, the young maiden wore the traditional Muslim veil – but how long could her Beloved keep his loved one veiled? The Beloved was starting the necessary preparations to remove the veil of duality and transform her into the All-Existing One.
Gool Rukh’s heart was burning with the fire of divine love, suffering the terrible pangs of separation from God, and the state of fiery restlessness made her oblivious to hunger, thirst and sleep. The young princess had now become homeless in this world. Day and night she roamed the streets of Rawalpindi absorbed in divine madness for Beloved God. A wayfarer now, this constant restlessness was her only rest. Who knows how many lifetimes of severe penance and austerities had created this spiritual longing in her? It is said that she had been the famous Rabia Al-Adawiya of Basra, Iraq, in a previous incarnation – the woman saint who was exceptional in her beauty and grace –
QUTUB MAULA SHAH
but Gool Rukh was destined for that which is greater than sainthood. People saw what appeared to be a madwoman wandering the streets and alleyways, but her only wish was to gaze upon the Beloved’s face and her heart would cry out, “Come my Beloved to meet me! Come soon or I shall die!”
Years passed like this, but Gool Rukh’s tears of longing never stopped; the divine madness had become a divine intoxication which would always give her more tears. It was only after tears had broken her heart that Gool Rukh met a Hindu Sadguru (his name is not recorded) whose destiny was to guide her perfectly. Under this Sadguru’s guidance she climbed a mountain in the wilderness and lived in a secluded cave. For a year and a half she remained in the mountainous regions of what is now Pakistan, undergoing rigorous spiritual austerity.
The Sadguru beckoned her to go. She then left this region and journeyed on foot into the Punjab of India. The flames of separation were now consuming Gool Rukh, and her heart cried out, “Come oh Beloved, come! I am going. I am gone! I cannot wait!” Except for the pink cheeks of rose, the princess was unrecognizable after almost twenty years of austerity. Gool Rukh was thirty-seven years old when she was completely ready to die the final death. Not even a sanskaric speck of worldly attachment was left to prevent her from finally departing. The Beloved, too, was anxiously waiting to embrace her, then to absorb her.
IN MULTAN, she met a Mohammedan Qutub, known as Maula Shah, whose divine grace made Gool Rukh disappear forever, allowing the Beloved to unite with her soul. Gool Rukh died the final spiritual death; she became God-Realized and nothing remained but God. Her soul cried out in all-consuming bliss, “I alone am. There is no one besides me. I am God! – Anal Haq!” The illusion of the universe faded away before her eyes as she became the Creator.
Time, too, disappeared. But Gool Rukh was not destined to escape Prakruti, although she had temporarily lost all consciousness of the universe and herself. In her state of majzoobiyat, she was aware of being God-Conscious, but unconscious of creation and her body and mind. The goal, “Anal Haq!,” had been achieved. But Prakruti knew that this woman, who had become God-Conscious, could not remain in this state of divine absorption indefinitely. This woman, now spiritually perfect, had to know
MECCA & MEDINA
and control illusion as illusion, in order to play the supremely magnificent role for which she alone was destined – to summon the Awakener to earth – to unveil the formlessness of God.
From India, in her God-Realized state, Gool Rukh now in her late thirties, journeyed back to the northern regions, drawn again to Rawalpindi to her previous Hindu Master. The Hindus called her a “Brahmi-bhoot” – she was aware of being God but was unconscious of herself and the external world. The goal had been achieved but the master’s consciousness to lead others to the goal was not perfected in her. In her perfect bliss, she alone existed. Gool Rukh had become perfect, One with God, but had no consciousness of the illusory existence of Prakruti in Infinite Existence. The female majzoob was God-Conscious but felt no sanskaric consciousness with the cosmic illusion. In this state of majzoobiyat, there is no existence of duality or manyness; the divine “I” or “Ego” alone is. Gool Rukh had become a perfect majzoob of the seventh plane – God unto herself. She had no awareness that the whole creation was hidden like a shadow in the light of her Godhood.
After several years, with the help of her Hindu Master, Gool Rukh regained consciousness of the universe, of duality, and was transformed into a Perfect Master. Along with her divine consciousness of the Unlimited Ocean of Reality, she began seeing every drop as a drop and was empowered to turn each into the Ocean Itself.
UPON BECOMING ONE of the five Perfect Masters on earth, she left Rawalpindi and embarked on several long journeys through the Middle Eastern countries– Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and others. It is said that she traveled to Mecca disguised as a man, by way of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and doubling back into Arabia. At the Kaaba in Mecca, she offered the customary Mohammedan prayers five times a day, always sitting at one selected spot. While in Mecca, she would often gather food for the poor, and personally nursed pilgrims who had fallen ill. She also spent long hours gathering fodder for abandoned cattle.
From Mecca, Gool Rukh journeyed to the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina, where she again adopted the same routine, offering prayers and caring for her fellow pilgrims. Leaving Arabia, she wandered overland to Baghdad, and from Iraq back to the Punjab. In India, she traveled south to Nasik
GOOL RUKH IS MURDERED
and established herself in Panchvati, an area known by Hindus to be sanctified by Lord Ram. To the local people, her spiritual “manliness” was apparent. The power of her glance overshadowed her feminine body and attire. From Nasik, Gool Rukh went further south to Bombay, where she stayed for several months. After finishing her spiritual work there, she returned to the Punjab and spent several years wandering throughout northern India.
During this period, while in Rawalpindi she was in a glorious spiritually intoxicated state of ecstasy and declared in the presence of a group of Mohammedans that she had divine authority. “It is I who created the universe! I am the creator of everything!” Such wild declarations caused a group of Baluchi soldiers to become furious fanatics. The soldiers had no idea that she whom they considered insane was actually conscious of being God. They attacked her and held her by force while some dug a pit. Then they buried her alive.
These soldiers were extremely proud of themselves, for they considered her utterances blasphemy against holy Islam. By killing this madwoman they believed they would be spiritually rewarded; they had safeguarded Islam’s sacred truth. Having saved their Mohammedan religion from her blasphemy, these fanatics left her grave, reveling in their wicked deed. The soldiers had carved a special niche for themselves in Paradise by killing this kafir – infidel or heretic. In spite of being left to die in a nameless grave, Gool Rukh did not die. It is not known how she survived this ordeal, but around 1900 she managed to return safely to Bombay, over a thousand miles south, where she lived on the sidewalk of a street called Chuna Bhatti near Sion, Bombay.
When these same soldiers saw Babajan alive in Poona years later, however, their pride and ill-formed conceptions were completely shattered. Then they understood that it was not Babajan who was the unbeliever, but they themselves. They were overcome with repentance for their horrible deed and fell at her feet seeking forgiveness. Some of these same soldiers became her devotees and served as bodyguards. Gradually, Gool Rukh’s fame spread and many believed her to be a Qutub. The Mohammedans began referring to her as Hazrat, meaning Your Highness, and began worshiping her as a person who was One with God – Babajan.
VOYAGE TO ARABIA
Babajan was seen in Bombay again around 1901. She wandered particularly about the district known as Pydhonie. Occasionally she would meet with the saint Maulana Saheb of Bandra, and with saint Abdul Rehman of Dongri. It was glorious to see how happy the ancient woman was in their company, and she would lovingly address them as her children. These two saints became part of her circle of disciples and later she was to bestow God-Realization upon both of them; in fact, Abdul Rehman became a Qutub by her grace.
IN APRIL 1903, Babajan sailed from Bombay on the ship S.S. Hyderi on her second pilgrimage to Mecca. Although every moment Babajan was absorbed in her blissful state, aboard ship she acted quite normal. She would openly converse with the other passengers, reciting couplets from the Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi and expound in simple terms about the deep mysteries of the Absolute. All were attracted to the old woman, now well over one hundred years old, including the crew, with whom she spoke in English.
One unusual incident occurred during this voyage. It started raining heavily and a terrible storm arose. All were terrified and people panicked, convinced the ship would sink. Babajan appeared on the deck unmindful of the danger. In an unusually loud voice, she shouted to one of the passengers named Nooma Pankhawala, “Wrap a kerchief around your throat to form a bag and approach every passenger – including the children and Europeans – and collect one paisa from each. Then have them beseech God with this prayer, saying, ‘O God! Save our ship from this storm. On reaching Medina, in the name of your Beloved Prophet, we will offer food to the poor.'” Immediately, the man, Nooma, collected one paisa (penny) from each person and all fervently repeated what Babajan had commanded. Gradually the storm subsided and miraculously they escaped what appeared to be certain death.
Upon arriving in Mecca, word of the miraculous rescue spread and a great multitude gathered to be personally blessed by Babajan. At the Kaaba, Babajan assumed the role of an ordinary pilgrim, performing prayers five times a day at the shrine, but after a few days she journeyed north to Medina. There in the name of Muhammad, the Prophet of the All-Merciful, she distributed grain to the poor.
AJMER & POONA
About 1904, Babajan returned to Bombay and soon afterward proceeded to Ajmer in northern India to pay homage at the tomb of the Sufi Qutub-e-Irshad, Mu’inuddin Chishti, who established Islam in India. From Ajmer she returned to Bombay and then soon after traveled east to Poona.
When she first lived in Poona, Babajan would not remain in any fixed place. She would wander in the Cantonment area or roam about the city and frequent even the filthy slums. Although her clothes were ragged and soiled, her beauty and the glow of her face attracted many people to her. She had been a princess; now her true majesty was unmistakable – it was that of an emperor.
After a while, Babajan was never found alone, but always surrounded by a crowd. Her physical needs were practically nil and she seldom ate. She was fond of tea, however, and her followers would bring cup after cup for her, which she would offer as prasad. If someone happened to bring flowers, she would abuse the person for wasting money, criticizing, “Why didn’t you spend your money wisely on something like sweets or tea which all can enjoy? What good are these flowers?”
If Babajan happened to look at someone who was passing by, the person would stand transfixed, gazing at her divine face. Restaurant owners and fruit vendors would beg her to visit, and offer her whatever she wanted. If Babajan happened to comply, they would consider themselves fortunate in God’s eyes.
When Babajan went to the Poona Cantonment area, she frequently visited the house of a Muslim named Shaikh Imam, a watchmaker. Seeing her ragged clothes, the Shaikh’s mother wished to bathe and dress Babajan in new clothes, but she always refused. One day, however, Babajan agreed, and with the utmost difficulty and patience, the Shaikh’s mother gently bathed her old body and attired her in a new clean robe and undergarments especially stitched for her. This was the last bath Babajan was to have for as long as she lived. But despite this, her body was always fragrant. It was free from the impurities of the world, as if it were always bathed in the wine of love that flowed from her intoxicated lips and eyes.
Having no permanent place to stay in Poona, Babajan would rest alongside any street at night. Once she stayed near the Muslim shrine of Wakadia Bagh and from there went to sit for
some time near another Muslim shrine Panch Pir at Dighi. There were many ant colonies near Panch Pir’s shrine, and the ants would swarm over Babajan, biting her and causing large welts on her body, yet she remained quietly seated as if nothing was happening.
One day a man named Kasam V. Rafai went to Dighi, and upon seeing Babajan covered with ants, tears ran down his cheeks. Kasam, with Babajan’s permission, attempted to remove all the ants, but he was not successful. Somehow he persuaded Babajan to come to his house where, with much difficulty, he removed hundreds of the tiny insects – one by one. Throughout this painful ordeal, Babajan barely indicated any discomfort.
After temporarily staying at several different places throughout the city of Poona, Babajan took up residence under a neem tree near Bukhari Shah’s mosque in Rasta Peth. (The mosque was next door to the home of a devotee named Sardar Raste.) Larger crowds began to congregate there and Babajan was hampered by the limited space around her. Her devoted followers implored her to change her seat but Babajan sternly replied, “One devil is here and unless and until I get rid of him, it is not possible for me to move an inch.”
Opposite her chosen site was a large banyan tree and when the municipality chopped down the tree to expand the road, Babajan suddenly decided to move. For two weeks she was seen near a deserted tomb in the Swar Gate locality, and from there she shifted to the area called Char Bawdi, meaning Four Wells, on Malcolm Tank Road, where she sat beneath a neem tree. This spot proved to be her final site, where she remained for many years until the ancient woman discarded her form.
When Babajan first moved to Char Bawdi, there was just a dirt road infested with hordes of mosquitoes; plague germs were even suspected there. During the day the area was desolate and deserted, but at night it sprang to life with thieves and the city’s most dangerous criminals who met there.
In Char Bawdi, Babajan remained seated under the neem tree – a rock of absolute Godhood in the shifting dust of pitiful ignorance moving about her. After months of exposure to nature’s elements, she grudgingly allowed her devotees to build a shelter of gunny sacks above her. Here she stayed throughout all seasons – alleviating humanity’s suffering by allowing anyone
NEEM TREE COURT
to come to her – to sip the wine of her continual presence. Several years later, there was a marvelous change in the locality. Large modern buildings were constructed, tea shops and restaurants appeared and electricity was brought to the homes in the area. Due to the establishment of Babajan’s seat under the neem tree, Four Wells became a charming area in which to live and raise a family.
NO ONE can escape the light of illumination when one nears its source. Even when veiled, one feels the effect of this light; its flame burns away the veil. Such was the light of Babajan – in her and around her. The Court of Babajan was on the street. Qawaalis (Persian and Urdu devotional songs) were sung before her, crowds came and bowed to her as an emperor, the fragrance of flowers wafted on all sides, the sweet burning of incense purified the air. Those who received her darshan and were blessed by her thanked God for their rare good fortune.
On one occasion in 1919, Babajan forewarned the large group gathered around her, “All should leave immediately for your homes. Go!” Her wishes were respected but no one understood why she was so insistent on sending them away. Shortly thereafter, however, a tornado with heavy rains swept through Poona, causing terrible damage throughout the city. Babajan’s devotees begged her to come to their homes for shelter, but she refused to move from under the tree and sent them away. Although she saw to the safety of others, she herself withstood the rigors of the furious storm.
Gradually the ancient woman’s fame spread and Muslims, Hindus and Zoroastrians from different places came for her darshan. Char Bawdi became a holy place of pilgrimage and Babajan poured wine unto the sincere. After meeting the old holy lady, a person’s heart was content and grateful. Day after day the number of devotees increased and Babajan was worshiped and revered by thousands throughout India.
The British military authorities were annoyed at finding the road near Babajan blocked with traffic and surging crowds each day. The authorities were helpless, however, to do anything about it, because they knew that if Babajan was forcibly removed, there would be an uproar which would not easily subside. It became apparent that a strong, permanent shelter needed to be erected for the old woman. Initial funds were provided by the
EMPEROR & FAKIR
British military, but when the new shelter was finished, Babajan obstinately refused to shift, since it had been constructed a few feet away from her original seat. So the structure was extended at additional cost to the city authorities to cover her seat under the neem tree, but again she refused to sit under it. When her devotees pleaded with her, at last she consented, muttering her bitter complaints that it was not quite right.
Babajan’s nature was majestic. She was an emperor in a fakir’s rags. Although between 120 and 130 years old, Babajan’s wrinkled face was still like a blossoming rose, and the expression in her brown-blue eyes would draw anyone to look at her more closely. It is said that her gaze had driven some mad – mad for God! She was somewhat stooped and short in height, but her gait was of one intoxicated. Her skin was white, her wrinkles were deep, as if carved, her crown of soft hair was pure white and curls fell at her shoulders. Her voice was uncommonly sweet and pleasing to the ear. She did not beg, although she lived as a simple fakir; she possessed only what she wore, but her simplicity held invaluable and untold treasure. Seated in the street, she had become like dust; no one knew that she had been raised as a princess and had renounced her royal heritage. Her renunciation showed that by her life of utter purity she had gained priceless divine wealth. Inside her was hidden everything. It was this divine inheritance – Qutubiyat, Perfect Mastery – that she consecrated to the world.
Whether in winter or summer, Babajan would dress in loose white cotton pants with a long white tunic. A shawl always lay across her shoulders, and besides these humble garments, she wore no other protection against the elements. Her head was always bare and her hair was never washed, combed or oiled. When she walked down the streets, her stride was swift like that of a young girl’s. While she listened to devotional music, her body would rock to the rhythm of its melody. Babajan’s physical condition changed frequently. One day she would have a high fever and the next, without taking any medication, she would be fine.
She would address everyone, whether young or old, man or woman, as “child” or “baba.” If any person called her “Mai” (Mother), she would grimace and rebuke them, “I am a man, not a woman.” This strange declaration of hers was faithful to the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said, “A lover of the world
is a woman, a lover of Paradise is a eunuch, and a lover of God is a man.” People would, therefore, affectionately call her “Amma Saheb,” meaning Mother and Sir at the same time.
MIRACLES were associated with Babajan. She was a physician in her own unusual manner. If someone sick approached her for relief, she would utter, “This child is suffering due to pills.” Pills really meant that the person suffered from the sanskaras of his or her actions. Babajan would take hold of the painful part of the person’s body and would mysteriously call to an imaginary soul. She would then shake the afflicted part two or three times and tell the cause – the sanskaras – to go. This method of treatment inevitably cured the sufferer of his or her complaint. One day a Zoroastrian child who had completely lost his sight was brought to Babajan. She took the child in her arms, mumbled some incantation and then blew her breath upon the child’s eyes. Immediately, the child regained his vision and jumped out of her lap joyfully crying, “I can see! I can see!”
Babajan lived as a poor, homeless fakir on the street, but out of reverence, her devotees would bring her expensive cloth or jewelry as gifts. Babajan was indifferent toward such material offerings but thieves would slyly snatch the cloth or jewelry away; some would even steal from her while she watched. Babajan never tried to stop them. Once Babajan was seemingly sleeping under her tree covered by a fine shawl. A thief sneaked up and, seeing the shawl, was tempted to steal it. But as a corner of the shawl was under Babajan’s body, to pull it out was risky. The thief was wondering how to manage it when at that moment Babajan turned over. Taking advantage of her changed position, the thief grabbed the shawl and ran away. In this way Babajan helped the thief, who was never caught, fulfill his desire.
On another occasion, a devotee from Bombay brought Babajan two expensive gold bangles and after bowing to her put them on her wrist. The man told her that through her past blessing some worldly desire of his had been fulfilled, and as a token of appreciation he had brought the bangles for her. The man had no idea of her indifference to them. One night soon after, a robber crept up behind Babajan and roughly forced the bangles off, causing her wrist to bleed. The robber attempted a speedy escape, but people nearby witnessing this incident shouted for help. Hearing their cries, a policeman came and inquired about the uproar.
PERFECT MASTER’S WAYS
But what did Babajan do? The old woman startled the crowd gathered by raising a stick and exclaiming, “Arrest those people who are shouting. It is they who are disturbing me. Take them away.”
Babajan was seldom seen eating. A man was appointed as her mujawar, whose duty it was to look after her personal needs and serve her. He was a good-humored person, and whenever he would ask Babajan to eat, he would jokingly say, “Amma Saheb, the jodna (patch on a cloth) is ready now.” This referred to Babajan’s constant protests that eating was like patching a torn cloth – meaning that ingesting food was similar to patching this cloth of a body to preserve it.
Babajan would constantly mutter seemingly incoherent phrases such as, “Vermin are troubling me incessantly. I brush them away but they gather again.” She would then vigorously brush her body as if removing dust or cobwebs.
Perfect Masters, such as Babajan, have their own inner way of working. For example, one night, in the town of Talegaon about twenty miles from Poona, a play was being staged in a local theater. There was a large crowd and the theater was packed to capacity. Seating was sold out and the management locked the doors to prevent people from entering. During the play a fire broke out and the audience panicked, since the doors were locked. Simultaneously in Poona, Babajan was observed to be behaving quite strangely. She began restlessly pacing back and forth quite excitedly and angrily shouted, “Fire! Fire! The doors are locked and people are going to burn. You damn fire! Extinguish!” The people around her could not understand what was happening. But in Talegaon, as the people there later related, suddenly the doors of the theater flew open and the panicked crowd rushed out, averting a horrible tragedy.
The Perfect Masters’ ways are unique as well as curious; the boundlessness of their spiritual work is outside the limits of rational human understanding. One example of this is the following incident. Although Babajan had an aversion to presents of jewelry, she kept tight, gaudy rings on her fingers which she would never remove. One ring was so tight that her finger began to swell and a deep wound developed. Maggots crawled in and out of the wound. When the worms would fall off, Babajan would pick them up and placing them back on the wound utter, “My children, feed and be at ease.” Naturally, people tried to take her
BABAJAN & TAJUDDIN BABA
to a doctor, but she always refused, not even agreeing to let a doctor come to her to treat the infection, and consequently, gangrene set in, the finger wasted away and fell off. The wound healed on her hand, but seeing her condition, the ancient woman’s devotees would shed tears and she would scold them saying, “Why do you weep? I enjoy the suffering.”
Babajan was generous toward the ailing and destitute. If a hungry man came to her, she would hand him her own food; in winter if a shivering man approached her, she would give her shawl to him. But once an exception was observed in her generosity. It was bitterly cold one night and an old man, shaking pitiably, came to her. He had a severe cold and high fever and prayed to Babajan to cure him by her nazar – gaze. Babajan, however, became furious and angrily snatched away the thin blanket wrapped around his shoulders which was his sole scanty protection against the cold. After this, Babajan ignored him and the old man quietly sat down to spend the bitter night beside her. However, by morning he was feeling unusually strong and looked healthy, and happily left fully recovered.
Babajan would usually speak in Pashtu or Persian and frequently utter the names of the Persian poets Khwaja Shamsuddin Muhammad Hafiz-e Shirazi and Amir Khushru. She would often quote these couplets:
“Despite millions of learned pundits
and thousands of wise men,
Only God understands
His own way of working!”
“Wonderful is Your creation, O God!
Wonderful is Your game!
You poured jasmine oil
on the head of a shrew!”
Sometimes she mentioned different saints or masters and would remark particularly about Tajuddin Baba, “Taj is my Khalifa – Supreme Ruler or Successor… . What Taj gives he gets from me.” On August 17th, 1925, at midnight, Babajan suddenly exclaimed, “My poor fakir Taj has gone.” No one could understand what she meant, but the next morning when the newspapers carried the story of Tajuddin Baba’s demise in Nagpur, people grasped the significance of her utterance.
BABAJAN’S BELOVED SON
IN MAY 1913, her flame also kissed the Light of the Age, Merwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba), whom Babajan always called, “My beloved son.” To unveil Merwan was her mission; it was for her “beloved son” that Babajan had traveled to Poona from the Punjab so many years before. Her seat under the neem tree was just a few streets away from his home. Often she would see him pass by, walking with his friends; but she waited many years before she embraced him. People would see her weeping, and when they inquired why, she would reply, “I weep out of love for my son.” This statement was astonishing because it was inconceivable for this old woman fakir to have given birth to a child.
With tears in her intoxicating eyes, she would utter, “One day my son will come… He will come and shake the world!” No one had any idea what her words meant.
Babajan’s physical presence on earth lasted between 130 to 141 years. On September 18th, 1931, one of Babajan’s fingers was operated on at Sassoon Hospital, but afterward the ancient woman did not appear to be recovering, and a few days before she dropped her body, Babajan muttered, “It is time . . . time for me to leave now. The work is over … I must close the shop.”
One of her devotees pleaded, “Do not say such things Babajan. We need you with us.”
With a quizzical gaze she replied in cryptic fashion, “Nobody, nobody wants my wares. Nobody can afford the price. I have turned my goods over to the Proprietor.”
On September 21st, 1931, at 4:27 in the afternoon, Hazrat Babajan dropped her body. People were speechless when they learned that this ancient woman had died. Tears flowed throughout Poona, gloom hung over the city as if clouds had become her shawl. Thousands of people joined the funeral procession for her last journey through the streets of Poona. Babajan was buried under the same neem tree where she sat for so many years and people still come to her tomb every day.
Although Babajan, the Rose Cheeks of Beloved God, is sleeping in her tomb, her devotees and lovers know that she is always awake in their hearts.
O Babajan! Our loving and full-hearted homage to you.
Your kiss awakened the Awakener and gave him bliss.
A while ago you said something about silence which startled me. In my sleepiness I’d simply thought of it as just an absence—an absence of noises. But you were saying it had positive qualities, a positive sound. And in my meditations, I’ve noticed the distinction between a silence in my body and a silence in my mind. I can have the first, without the second. Beloved Master, please talk to me about silence.
Anand Somen, silence usually is understood to be something negative, something empty, an absence of sound, of noises. This misunderstanding is prevalent because very few people have ever experienced silence. All that they have experienced in the name of silence is noiselessness. But silence is a totally different phenomenon. It is utterly positive. It is existential, it is not empty. It is overflowing with a music that you have never heard before, with a fragrance that is unfamiliar to you, with a light that can only be seen by the inner eyes. It is not something fictitious; it is a reality, and a reality which is already present in everyone—just we never look in. All our senses are extrovert. Our eyes open outside, our ears open outside, our hands move outside, our legs… all our senses are meant to explore the outside world.
But there is a sixth sense also, which is asleep because we have never used it. And no society, no culture, no educational system helps people to make the sixth sense active.
That sixth sense, in the East, is called “the third eye.” It looks inwards. And just as there is a way of looking in, so there is a way of hearing in, so there is a way of smelling in. Just as there are five senses moving outward, there are five counter-senses moving inward. In all, man has ten senses, but the first sense that starts the inner journey is the third eye, and then other senses start opening up.
Your inner world has its own taste, has its own fragrance, has its own light. And it is utterly silent, immensely silent, eternally silent. There has never been any noise, and there will never be any noise. No word can reach there, but you can reach. The mind cannot reach there, but you can reach because you are not the mind. The function of the mind is again to be a bridge between you and the objective world, and the function of the heart is to be a bridge between you and yourself.
The silence that I have been talking about is the silence of the heart. It is a song in itself, without words and without sounds. It is only out of this silence that the flowers of love grow. It is this silence that becomes the Garden of Eden. Meditation, and only meditation, is the key to open the doors of your own being.
You are asking, “A while ago you said something about silence which startled me in my sleepiness. I had simply thought of it as just an absence—an absence of noises. But you were saying it had positive qualities, a positive sound. And in my meditations, I have noticed a distinction between a silence in my body and a silence in my mind.”
Your experiences are true. The body knows its own silence—that is its own well-being, its own overflowing health, its own joy. The mind also knows its silence, when all thoughts disappear and the sky is without any clouds, just a pure space. But the silence I am talking about is far deeper.
I am talking about the silence of your being.
These silences that you are talking about can be disturbed. Sickness can disturb the silence of your body, and death is certainly going to disturb it. A single thought can disturb the silence of your mind, the way a small pebble thrown into the silent lake is enough to create thousands of ripples, and the lake is no longer silent. The silence of the body and the mind are very fragile and very superficial, but in themselves they are good. To experience them is helpful, because it indicates that there may be even deeper silences of the heart.
And the day you experience the silence of the heart, it will be again an arrow of longing, moving you even deeper.
Your very center of being is the center of a cyclone. Whatever happens around it does not affect it; it is eternal silence. Days come and go, years come and go, ages come and pass, lives come and go, but the eternal silence of your being remains exactly the same – the same soundless music, the same fragrance of godliness, the same transcendence from all that is mortal, from all that is momentary.
It is not your silence.
You are it.
It is not something in your possession; you are possessed by it, and that’s the greatness of it. Even you are not there, because even your presence will be a disturbance. The silence is so profound that there is nobody, not even you. And this silence brings truth, and love, and thousands of other blessings to you. This is the search, this is the longing of all the hearts, of all those who have a little intelligence.
But remember, don’t get lost in the silence of the body, or the silence of the mind, or even the silence of the heart. Beyond these three is the fourth. We, in the East, have called it simply “the fourth,” turiya. We have not given it any name. Instead of a name we have given it a number, because it comes after three silences — of the body, of the mind, of the heart—and beyond it, there is nothing else to be found.
So, don’t misunderstand. Most of the people… for example, there are people who are practicing yoga exercises. Yoga exercises give a silence of the body, and they are stuck there. Their whole life, they practice, but they know only the most superficial silence. Then there are people who are doing concentrations like transcendental meditation, of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It can give you a silence which will be only of the mind. Just by repeating a name or a mantra… the very repetition creates in its wake, a silence in the mind. But it is not meditation, and it is not transcendental.
And there are Sufis who know the third, which is the deepest of the three. But still it is not the goal, the target; your arrow is still falling short. It is very deep because Sufis know the heart more than anybody else. For centuries they have been working on the heart, just as yogis have been working on the body, and people of concentration and contemplation have been working on the mind.
The Sufis know the immense beauty of love. They radiate love, but still the home has not been reached. You have to remember the fourth. Unless you reach the fourth, continue the journey.
People misunderstand very easily. Just a little bit of experience and they think they have arrived. And mind is very clever to rationalize.
There is a Sufi story about Mulla Nasruddin. The Mulla hears a commotion in the street outside his house in the middle of the night. His wife tells him to go down, and after many arguments he puts a blanket on his shoulders and goes down to the street. There were many people in the street and a lot of noise, and in the crowd somebody steals his blanket.
The Mulla goes home naked, and his wife asks him, “What was that all about?” The Mulla says, “It seems to be about my blanket, because as they got the blanket they all disappeared. They were just waiting for the blanket. And I was telling you `Don’t force me to go there.’ Now I have lost my blanket and I have come naked. It was none of our business.”
He has found a rationalization, and it looks logical, that as they got his blanket they all disappeared. And the poor Mulla thinking that perhaps that was the whole problem….
“Their argument and their noise just in front of my house in the middle of the night, and my foolish wife persuaded me finally to lose my blanket!”
Mind is continuously rationalizing, and sometimes it may appear that what it is saying is right, because it gives arguments for it. But one has to beware of one’s own mind, because in this world nobody can cheat you more than your own mind. Your greatest enemy is within you, just as your greatest friend is also within you.
The greatest enemy is just your first encounter, and your greatest friend is going to be your last encounter—so don’t be prevented by any experience of the body or the mind or the heart. Remember always one of the famous statements of Gautam Buddha. He used to conclude his sermons every day with the same two words, charaiveti, charaiveti.” Those two simple words—just one word repeated twice—means “Don’t stop; go on, go on.”
Never stop until the road ends, until there is nowhere else to go—charaiveti, charaiveti.