Sufism depends absolutely on the concept of the Master. Without the
Master there is no Sufism. Sufism does not believe in the books, it believes in the living Master. One has to come to somebody who has come to know by himself. The books may contain great wisdom, but there is no way to decode it. If you decode it, you will decode it according to your mind. That will falsify the book.
Islam is known as the religion of the book – the Koran. Hinduism is also known as the religion of the book – the Veda. And so is the case with Christianity. The word ‘bible’ simply means the book.
But Sufism insists that the book cannot help you. No hook can help you. Sufis of course have a book, which they call The BOOK OF THE Books, hut it is empty. Nothing is written in it – not even a single word. That is their attitude about books – that although many things will be there, for you it will remain empty, because you can read only that which you know….
You may become very learned but you will never become a man who really knows. You will know many things about God but you will never know God. And you will know many things about truth but you will never know truth. And to know ABOUT IS just meaningless. To know is the thing, not to know ABOUT. To know about means you have missed. But the books can give you a very, very strong feeling that you know; without knowing at all you can have the feeling that you know – and that will become your greatest barrier to knowing. That will become a China Wall around you; your bridges will be broken. How to bridge? How to connect7 How to attain to this connection with the divine?
The divine seems so far away; the divine seems almost impossible. The God is not obvious; the God is not close by. You look all around and the existence seems to be almost empty of God. That’s what Martin Heidegger says – ‘I have not found a single thing in the world which I can call sacred.’
From the ordinary standpoint he is right. Where can you find the sacred? The sacred is missing – not because the sacred is not there, but because you don’t know how to feel the sacred. You have not yet evolved that intuitive capacity that can feel the sacred. God is far away; the world is very close by. Matter is all around and you never come across the spirit.
Hence religion remains just a theory, it never becomes an experience.
Sufism believes that you can approach God only through a Master.
A Master is one who can become a via media, who will be just between you and the divine – a door through whom you can have a glimpse. He knows – not as knowledge but as experience. His experience has transformed him, transfigured him, transported him to another world. A Master lives in two realities together. A Master is a paradox. One of his feet is in the world, his other foot is in God. From one side he is just like you and from another side he is just the opposite of you. A Master is a paradox. Through the paradox of the Master you will be able to reach the divine; there is no other way.
So the first step for a seeker is to fall in love with a Master, to seek a Master. If you can find a Master, half the journey is over. In fact, the most arduous part is over.
To find the Master is the basic requirement of becoming a Sufi. Sufi seekers travel for thousands of miles in search of a Master, in search of the man with whom they can feel in tune, with whom they can vibrate into the unknown, with whom they can take the first step beyond the known.
So the first thing, the first and the most important thing, is to find a Master. Sufis say that the greatest blessing of life is to be with a Master. If you are not with a Master, you have missed the whole opportunity. Then you live with the non-essential; then you never come in contact with the essential. And the only way to come in contact with the essential is to be connected with someone who is in contact….
Yes, it is a touch. It is the jump of a flame from one lamp to another lamp. Once you have felt it – and it is a feeling, there is no way of describing it – once you have felt it, you have become aware of the sacred.
Then it is all over, then only it is.
So Sufis say that the greatest blessing of life is to find a Master – one who knows, one who sees, one who is. You ARE only when you are in God – before that you are just empty, before that you are a house without a
Master, before that you are just a dwelling where nobody dwells, before that you only think that you are, but you are not. You are very momentary; you are bubble-like. You don’t have any integrity, you don’t have any center; you don’t have any soul….
This is a Sufi insight. Sufis say that only the Master is. You are not. One who has seen God exists for the first time. You exist only when you confront God. You exist only when God looks into your eyes and you look into his eyes. You exist only when you are touched by God and you touch God. Before that, your existence was just an emptiness, a dark night of the soul. It was just a stumbling, a hoping, a waiting. It was very insubstantial; it was dream stuff. It had no reality in it….
A Master is one who is REALLY there. He has presence. He has a kind of radiance. And you can find it and you can observe it…
When a man has presence he is showering energy. He has too much energy. He is overflowing with energy. Whenever you come close to such a man you are blessed. Suddenly you feel the shower. You are close by a waterfall. You feel cool, you feel tranquil; you feel vital. You feel a kind of power and also a kind of poetry arising in you – all together. You would like to be with this man again and again. Just to be in the vicinity of this man is life-enhancing.
The man of presence spreads his energy all around. He is reaching people and he has something to give. He is a giver. He is an emperor. That’s why in the East we have called sannyasins ‘swami’. ‘Swami’ means a Master – one who has something to give…..
The Master is a man of presence. He has utter authenticity; a substantial being, he has soul. This soul has to be created – you are just a dwelling. You have to provoke the guest to come; you have to invite the guest to come. The house is ready but the guest has not come yet.
Sufis say, ‘How are you going to learn the ways of being present unless you are in the presence of a man who is present?’ That’s what a Master is.
A Master is not a teacher; a Master is a magnetic force, a magnetic field of positive energy, of presence.
Sufis say that whenever you come to the Master you have BARAKA; YOU have grace. That is the meaning of the Hindu SATSANGA – being in the presence of the Master to receive his grace. He is giving, and you are not obliged when you receive his grace, because even if you had not been there he would have given. Even if nobody had been there he would have given – that is just natural. As rivers flow, as a flower opens and the fragrance is released, so is it the natural thing with a Master. He has bloomed and the fragrances are released to the winds. Whether somebody will receive them or not, that is not the point. If somebody can receive them, he will be blessed; if nobody receives them, then too the Master will go on showering. He does not shower especially for you – he cannot help it, he has to shower. Just as light goes on showering from a lamp, and fragrance from a flower, so is the case with a Master.
Sufis are right. They say that a Master is one who knows, one who sees, one who is. That has to be remembered: one who is. To come into the presence of one who is, is the first step on the path. Before that, all is futile; before that, all is frustrating. The fulfillment starts only when you have become connected with one who is fulfilled. And this relationship between a Master and a disciple is a love affair; it is not a rational thing. It is more of feeling than of thinking.
So those who think too much may go on missing. Only those who feel can connect. Remember, this shift has to happen: from thinking you have to go to feeling. Feeling is closer, closer to something in you that is called intuition. Thinking is the farthest point from intuition. Thinking is a kind of tuition. What you have been taught by others; that is tuition. Something that has not been taught to you and blooms in you, that is intuition. Nobody has taught you – no school, no university, no college. Nobody has said anything about it to you. It explodes in you – that is intuition. You need not go anywhere; you only need to go inside yourself. Feeling is closer to intuition.
I don’t expect the impossible. I don’t say just be intuitive – that you cannot do. Just now if you can do one thing – move from thinking to feeling – it will be enough. Then from feeling to intuition it is very easy. But to move from thinking to intuition is very difficult. They don’t meet; they are polarities.
Feeling is just in the middle. From feeling, thinking and intuition are at the same distance. If you go this way you reach thinking; if you go that way you reach intuition.
In feeling both meet and merge. Something of thinking remains in feeling and something of intuition too. Then you can choose.
To find a Master means to have a change in your mind – you have to become more feeling. If you go to a Master with all kinds of thoughts, those thoughts will not allow you to be there. The thoughts will not function as bridges; they will function as walls….
The first step, Sufis say, is to come into the presence of one who is present. Before that, all is frustration; before that, there is no life. Only after that is there life. Life starts only when you are connected with a Master. Before that, it was only a dream, a mirage. Before that, it was only thoughts and thoughts and thoughts, a desert land. Only feelings bloom; thoughts never bloom. Thoughts are very unproductive, uncreative, because they are borrowed. They are never original. Not a single reality can be created by thought; not a single reality can be discovered by thought. Thought is very impotent.
All that is known is known by feeling; all that is discovered, is discovered by feeling; all that is created is created by feeling.
The second step is surrender… and then there are no more steps. The whole path is covered in just two simple steps: one is coming in contact with someone who is in contact with God, and the second is to surrender to him. Sufis say that two simple steps are enough. In two steps the journey of millions of miles is finished. The first is the most arduous. Once you have come into the presence, by and by you will start surrendering. You cannot resist long. The real thing is to come in contact.
Sometimes it happens that you don’t come in contact, and you surrender. Then your surrender is false, then your surrender is from the mind, then your surrender is just pseudo. Then you are pretending that you have surrendered. but you have not surrendered. It is just a strategy – you want to exploit the man of presence. There is no way to exploit him. You want to gain something. You think, ‘Okay, if surrender is the condition, I will surrender.’ But your surrender cannot be surrender. Surrender has to happen, you cannot do it, you cannot will it. It you will it, you can take it back. If you do it, you can undo it. Surrender is a happening.
So go step by step. And there are only two steps. First be suffused with
the presence of a Master, be drunk – and then a surrender comes on its own. You start feeling that you are bowing down.
Don’t be in a hurry. Sometimes it happens that you do things in a hurry – in this age particularly, hurry is one of the problems. Everybody is in a hurry, wants to do everything fast and soon.
So if you come to a Master and you hear that surrender is needed, you are ready to surrender. You say, ‘Why not? Let us see. If something happens, good; if nothing happens, there is nothing to lose.’ But this surrender won’t help. This is not the surrender Sufis are talking about, that’s why they say it is the second step, not the first. The first is to be in the presence of the Master…
Sufis don’t believe in miracles. They think they are stupid and only stupid people are attracted towards miracles. A Master is ordinary. A Master is a normal man – a regular. A Master is so ordinary that he has no kind of ego in him. All extra-ordinariness is a kind of ego. A Master is simply nobody. His ordinariness is nobodiness. Only people who suffer from inferiority seek extraordinariness. If one has come home there is no search for extraordinariness, there is no search for speciality. To be ordinary is so extraordinarily beautiful….
The first step is to come in contact with a Master, and the second is surrender. And then, Sufis say, the whole journey is complete.
How to find a Master? Not by thought, of course. By thinking, you go on keeping yourself in the same rut. in the same old rut, in the past. By thinking, you remain old, you stop all possibilities of being new. And watch, you are constantly thinking, there is a constant chattering inside – the internal talk. Even while you are listening to me – look in for just a second – the chattering continues, there is a constant internal talk.
This internal talk divides you from reality. Once this internal talk disappears, even for a few moments, you are one – one with reality, one with the Master, one with the beloved, one with God. Whenever you want to be one with something – with your woman, with your man, with your Master, with your God, with the existence – whenever you want to be one with something, in a unison, this internal talk has to disappear. That is the only barrier.
Without dropping internal talk, you cannot find a Master. The question arises in many people’s minds: ‘How to find a Master?’ You will have to learn ways to be silent. And when you come into the presence of somebody who is present, sit silently. Collect yourself together, calm down, don’t think – because thinking is an activity – just be. It will be difficult, but if you try, then for a few moments it will happen. They will be very, very small moments, just intervals; they come and they go. But even in that interval, like a flash, something will descend on you. You will be connected, disconnected, connected, disconnected, but it will happen. And once you have touched somebody who is, for even a single moment, you will know the taste of it. Even a drop of it will give you the taste of it. And then all other tastes start disappearing; then that taste becomes your only taste. Then all desires start converging into one desire – how to be with this man and how to be totally with him? And every day it goes on growing. One day suddenly you find you are surrendered. Yes, one day you find you are surrendered. It takes you unaware, you were not planning to surrender – it has happened.
Internal talk is the way of the old self, is the way to remain hung-up with the past, is the way to remain in the ego. And you are constantly thinking, day in, day out. It is always there like an undercurrent. Once it is broken, you fall into the world of intuition.
Intuition is hiding there just behind this layer of internal talk, so learn how to be without internal talk. That is the way to find a Master. And it will be easier for you to learn sitting by the side of the sea, looking at the roaring waves – when there is nothing much to think about, and you can just go on looking. Lying down on the grass looking at the sky, in the night looking at the stars, watching the trees – there is nothing much to think about. There is no need to think about stars. They are there, so beautifully there, you can just be with them.
Learn first to be with nature, because nature is silent. It does not respond, it knows no language. So you will be able to fall below the level of internal talk. And then start searching, then start looking for people who have a presence. When you come near a person who has a presence you will suddenly see that you are infused with energy, you are vibrating with a new rhythm. A dance has entered you. Each cell and fiber of your being is pulsating. You are very close to something immense, something incredible.
It is said of Buddha that on the day he became enlightened he started feeling a few hours before that that day something immense was just around the comer. It was driving him crazy. He could not figure out what it was, but something was there around the comer, something was going to happen. That urgency became very, very penetrating. At the last moment, just a few hours before he became enlightened…. It was almost like a pregnant woman. Her nine months are over and any moment it is going to happen, the child is going to happen. But the pregnant woman knows, she has a visible symptom – the child is there kicking inside her belly. But when you are going to be reborn into Buddhahood, into satori, samadhi, nothing is visible. And something is kicking in the belly.
Buddha was sitting underneath the tree where he became enlightened and a woman offered him some sweets in a bowl. He ate the sweets and went to the river to wash the bowl. And it was coming, it was everywhere, he could feel it. It became so urgent that he did something, which he had never done before. He put the bowl in the river and he said, to no one in particular, to existence itself, ‘If something is going to happen, give me some indication. Don’t drive me crazy.’
Buddha did not believe in any God so he could not address God. He was not talking to anybody in particular. He was simply talking to existence, or talking to himself. ‘Give me a visible indication. Let this be the indication: if this bowl starts flowing upstream then I will be satisfied that something is going to happen – because it is so heavy on me.’ And the story is beautiful. The story says that the bowl started floating upstream. Within seconds it disappeared upstream. Then Buddha was satisfied. Then he rested underneath the tree. ‘Yes, it is going to happen.’ And by the morning it had happened.
This is just a parable. Don’t take it literally. Don’t think that the bowl really started floating upstream. It simply says that to be connected with God is as absurd a phenomenon as a bowl floating upstream. It is against all the so-called laws, against the law of gravitation. It is against all the socalled laws that we are aware of. It is a new phenomenon; it is a new law functioning. Things are upside-down. What has never happened before is going to happen. The consciousness was always empty; now it is going to be fulfilled. The consciousness was always going outwards; now the consciousness is going inwards. That is the meaning of the bowl floating upstream. The consciousness was always going low, downwards; now it is rising high, upwards; that is the meaning of the bowl floating upstream. A new law penetrates.
To be connected with a Master is the beginning of a new world, a new universe. For that you will have to sacrifice the old. And to sacrifice the old, nothing else is needed – only the internal talk has to be sacrificed.
That keeps you a captive in the old reality. That is the world that has to be dropped, that is the world that has to be renounced. And that is what surrender is. When you have seen something new which you have never seen before, when you have felt the presence of a man who IS, who is a man of God, then this is what is needed: you surrender your internal talk, you bow down.
In the East this has been symbolic – the disciple puts his head at the feet of the Master. It is just symbolic; it has nothing to do with your physical head. It is simply symbolic. The head is the symbol of thinking, of mind. The disciple puts his mind at the Master’s feet and he says, ‘Now you take care.’ And the Master takes care.
In fact, when you surrender to a Master you have nothing to surrender. Never think for a single moment that you have done something great. In fact, the Master has been really compassionate that he accepted you, because now the responsibility will be his.