Swami Chaitanya Keerti
What is Sufism? It is a love affair and godliness—the ultimate source of all humans and other beings. This existence pulsates with godliness. A Sufi feels this pulsation in his heart. He may not do traditional worship but remains thrilled with this pulsation. He sings. He dances. He embraces humans, hugs trees and bows to the sky, the stars. This is his actual prayer.
You must have heard about the beautiful Sufi legend of Majnu and Laila. It is not an ordinary love story. The word Majnu means mad, mad for god. And Laila is the symbol of god. Sufis think of god as the beloved; Laila means the beloved. Everybody is a Majnu, and god is the beloved. And one has to open one’s heart, the eye of the heart.
There is a famous story about Majnu. He decided one day that, seeing Laila, he had seen all that was worth seeing, so what was the use of keeping his eyes open anymore? He decided that whenever Laila would come he would open his eyes, otherwise he would remain blind because there was nothing else worth seeing. For months Laila could not come – the parents were against, the society was against – and Majnu waited and waited under the tree where they used to meet, with closed eyes. Days passed, weeks and months passed, and he would not open his eyes. And the story says God took compassion on him. He came to Majnu and said, “Poor Majnu, open your eyes. I am God himself. You have seen everything in the world, but you have not seen me. Look who is standing before you.”
Majnu is reported to have said, “Get lost. I have decided only to see Laila, nothing else is worth seeing. You may be God, but I am not concerned. Just get lost, don’t disturb me.” Shocked, God said, “What are you saying? I have never come to anyone on my own. Seekers and devotees pray and search and practice – then too it is very, very difficult to see me – and I have come on my own; you have not even asked for me. I am coming just as a gift, and you are rejecting?” And Majnu said, “If you really want to be seen by me, come as Laila because I cannot see anything else. Even if I open my eyes I cannot see anything else. I look at a tree and Laila is there. I look at the stars and Laila is there. Laila is in my heart and she has possessed my whole heart, so whatever I see, I see through my heart. I am sorry, but there is no possibility because there is no space left in my heart for anything else. I am sorry. Excuse me, but go away. Don’t disturb me.”
Osho explains: This is ishq. Even God… Yes, even God can be renounced. When you love, when you really love, there are no conditions. It is unconditional. You love for the sheer joy of it. And love is absolute – it knows no wavering, it knows no hesitation.
Sufism is a great experiment in human consciousness: how to transform human consciousness into ishq. It is alchemy.
And this is what I am doing here with you. You may be aware, you may not be aware of it, but this whole experiment is to create in you as much love energy as possible. Man can be transformed into pure love energy. Just as there is atomic energy discovered by physics, and a small atom can explode into tremendous power, each cell of your heart can explode into tremendous love. That love is called ishq. Sufism is the path of love.
Once a learned Mohammedan asked Osho: “You are not Mohammedan. Why do you speak on Sufism?” Osho said, “I’m not a Mohammedan but I’m a Sufi all the same. A Sufi need not be Mohammedan. A Sufi can exist anywhere, in any form because Sufism is the core of all religions. Sufism can exist without Islam. It means a love affair with god. One is ready to dissolve into the whole. It is not confined by dogma or creed. Sufis have a special word—silsila. What Hindus call parampara, they call silsila.”
One does not have to go anywhere to look for Laila—one has to simply activate one’s heart and find her there, in all her beauty. One has to stop seeking outside. Dil ke aaine mein hai tasveere yaar, jab zara gardan jhukai dekh li (One has to turn inward, the beloved is right there!)
In Beyond Psychology, Osho tells a Sufi story. A young man seeking truth finds an old man beneath a tree. The young man knew that he had to leave on a pilgrimage—but to where? Seeing the old man, he thought, “He must know the road.” So he asked. The old man instructed, “Follow this road till you come to a tree”—he described the tree in detail, leaves, fruit, everything—“and you will find an old man like me but 30 years older. He will be your guide.”
The traveller was happy. He thanked the man and rushed on. For 30 years, he wandered but the tree and old man never came. He was tired, and older himself. Finally, he decided, “It is better to go home. God knows when the guide meets me, what guidance it will be!” He turned back. He passed the same old tree and was shocked! It was the same man, only 30 years older. The young man said, “My god! Why did you waste may 30 years?”
The older man said, “Did I waste your 30 years, or did you waste mine? Then you were not ripe enough to be guided. You didn’t look at the tree, though I described it in detail. I described your guide. You were in a hurry that you did not look at me carefully. So it is me who has been actually waiting for you knowing one day you will come.”