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JUST LIKE THAT

Chapter 9: When Shibli is absent

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Sufism              Just Like That

 

SHIBLI WENT TO VISIT ANOTHER GREAT SAGE, JUNNAID. THE WIFE OF JUNNAID WAS ABOUT TO CONCEAL HERSELF MODESTLY BEHIND A SCREEN.
JUNNAID SAID: STAY WHERE YOU ARE -- SHIBLI IS ABSENT. AT THAT MOMENT SHIBLI BEGAN TO WEEP. JUNNAID SAID TO HIS WIFE: YOU MUST NOW BE ABSENT, FOR SHIBLI HAS RETURNED.

Why does man go on missing that which is always present, that which is everywhere present, that which has always been, is, and will be, within and without? Why does man go on missing that? It should be the easiest thing to be realized. But something functions as a barrier.
Why can't you see it? Why are your eyes closed? You cannot see it because you are too full of yourself, too much filled with the 'I'.
Just a few days ago a man came to see me and he said, "I am a humble man. I am just like the dust on your feet. I have been trying for almost twenty years to achieve higher consciousness, but I have been a failure. Why can't I attain?"
And on and on he went. Every sentence started with I. If the grammar allowed, every sentence would have ended with I. And if everything was allowed, every sentence would have consisted only of I's. "I etcetera, I etcetera, I etcetera," it went on and on.
You are filled too much. There is no room, no space for God to enter in you. You are too crowded. A thousand I's milling inside -- they don't leave any space for anything to enter in you. That's why you go on missing that which is always present.
This is the arithmetic of spirituality: If YOU are present, you will miss the divine. If YOU are absent, only the divine is, nothing else exists. God may be absent if you are present. God will be present if you are absent.
So the whole effort of a seeker is how to be not present, how to become an absence. Absence is meditation. That space where you exist but not as an I, not focused in the ego, unfocused, not centered anywhere... you exist without a center, an empty house, a temple, not even the worshipper inside -- suddenly, God is there! God has always been there, not even for a single moment was he absent. But you were too much present. Your presence is the barrier.
Self-consciousness is the barrier. Self-unconsciousness is the gate. And remember, self-unconsciousness means unself-consciousness. Self-unconsciousness is the highest form of consciousness. It is unself-consciousness: consciousness exists, but there is nobody in it. The self has disappeared, melted away, has been absorbed. You are and yet you are not.
It looks paradoxical, but the whole existence is paradoxical. When you are not, it can be said that for the first time you are, because now you are divine. Now you don't exist separately. Now you exist as an organic part -- not even like a mechanical part, because a mechanical part, howsoever joined, still remains separate. It functions with the whole but it is still a part. An organic unity -- you are not even a mechanical part. You have become the whole, and the whole has become you.
I have heard: Once a great Sufi saint, Hassan, had a dream. For years he was seeking and seeking, and suddenly that night in the dream he found God himself standing in front of him, and in his hand God was holding an onion. Hassan was surprised: Why an onion? And God said to him, "Now you choose. Now you have become able to choose. Would you like a slice of onion or the whole onion? The alternatives are open, and whatsoever you want you can have -- you choose."
Hassan started meditating in his dream. He was at a loss to choose. He could have chosen the part if the ego was there; he could have chosen the part because the ego always chooses the part. It cannot choose the whole because in the whole is fear. It will have to disappear. Or, he could have chosen the whole, because ego is greedy; not knowing that in the whole it will have to disappear, it may choose the whole.
But he opened his eyes in the dream and said to God, "It is difficult. I cannot choose because if I choose the part there will always be conflict. If I choose the part there will always be fear and death. The part has to die, it cannot live forever; only the whole can live. If I choose the part I am choosing struggle, conflict, disharmony; I am choosing limitation, bondage, because I am choosing the finite. No, I cannot choose the part."
God laughed and said, "Then why don't you choose the whole?"
Hassan said, "I cannot choose the whole because a whole without the parts won't be much alive."
God blessed Hassan and said, "You did well. It is right."
If you choose the part there will always be conflict, struggle to survive -- because the part is always on the verge of dying, it is always near death. In fact it is already dead. If you choose the whole against the part you again choose a dead thing. A whole without parts won't be alive. It will be monotonous. It will have no inner tension in it to make it alive. It won't throb. It cannot dance, it cannot walk. It will be like a dead rock, with no music coming out of it. Music needs tension, a throbbing, expectant tension.
With the part and the whole there is continuously a tension -- and that tension is the very life. Between the part and the whole the river of life flows as between two banks. Between the part and the whole, God exists, as the subtlest, delicatemost tension. Between the duality, the oneness exists. The duality is like two banks and the oneness is the river between the two. It doesn't belong to either, and it belongs to both; hence the paradox.
A part is always going separate and coming nearer together again. A part is moving away from the whole and still is rooted in the whole -- just like a plant moving towards the sky, away from the earth, and still rooted in the earth; trying to be a bird, but rooted, trying to reach the sky, but rooted in the earth. Only then the tree can exist. It is a subtle tension between the earth and the sky.
A part is continuously marrying the whole and continuously divorcing it. And there is the whole beauty of it: moving away and coming nearer, falling in love and fighting -- and this goes on simultaneously. The oneness is not against duality; in fact the oneness is between the duality, and hence it is so alive.
God is not a dead concept. If God is simply one, the whole, it will be a dead concept. That's why the Hegelian absolute is a dead concept -- it is the god of the philosophers.
Soren Kierkegaard, one of the great Danish philosophers, has said a very beautiful thing. He said, "My God, I pray to you, but you are not the god of the philosophers. I don't pray to the god of the philosophers," says Kierkegaard. "I pray to the god of Abraham, Jacob and Jesus. The god of philosophers is dead. The god of Abraham, Jesus, Jacob, is totally different."
The god of the lover, the god of the poet, the god of the devotee, is different. The god of the lover is alive. It has all the contradictions in it, and still the harmony exists.
God is harmony in contradiction. God is relaxation in tension. God is one in the many. God is formless in the form, nameless in all names.
Hindus have a very beautiful scripture. The name of the scripture is Vishnu Sahastra Nam, one thousand names of God. Hindus continuously say that God has no name, and then they write a book in which they compile simply the names, nothing else. The whole scripture consists only of one thousand names of God. Almost all the names have been compiled. God is nameless, and yet all names belong to him, because to whom can they belong? Your name is also God's name; otherwise is not possible, because to whom will it belong?
Only God exists. So the sinner is God, and the saint is also God. In fact, between the sinner and the saint, remember, BETWEEN the sinner and the saint exists the harmony. Without sinners, God will be impoverished, infinitely impoverished. Without saints, God will not be so rich. Sinners alone, and the whole harmony will be lost; saints alone, and you cannot find more boring a phenomenon, more monotonous. There will be no music.
The whole music throbs between tense notes, contradicting and yet not contradicting, going apart, and still coming together. If you understand this, then Hassan's dream is really tremendous. God said, "Hassan, you did well. Had you chosen one, you would have missed an opportunity. I will give you both. I will give you the part in the whole, and the whole in the part."
The whole exists in the part. The part exists in the whole. In fact part and whole are not two things. You cannot draw a dividing boundary. The part melts into the whole and the whole melts into the part.
But you have become too much of the part; you have chosen, you have become a self. And you have completely forgotten the no-self. You have become too much of a presence, and you don't have absence; hence, you have lost the music. You have become a discord. The same notes can become a disharmony -- only a new arrangement is needed.
Everything you have; you don't lack anything. I have not come across a single man in my thousands of lives who lacks anything. Maybe a little mismanagement, but you are not lacking anything. Maybe things are not in their right places, but you are not lacking anything. Maybe you have put A in the place of B, and C in the place of D, but the whole alphabet exists in you. It may not be in order, maybe there is a disorder, but you lack nothing.
And the clue exists within you. The clue is: Become as much absent as you are present. Exist in a deep contradiction. You may have never thought about it. You have been trying to exist very consistently. You are trying to be consistent, never in contradiction. Then, either you choose the part -- as you have chosen, as many have chosen -- and then there is conflict, continuously, because the part feels it is against the whole. If you choose it, if you get identified with the part... that is what I mean when I say 'I', the ego: it is an identification with the part.
You are vast, as vast as the universe, and you are trying to get into a small hole. For a mouse, okay, but for you -- too narrow. Misery follows. You feel in bondage. You feel from everywhere walled in, imprisoned. You become angry, you get irritated. You start fighting, you start being destructive, because life seems to be a narrowing, a continuous narrowing.
A child is born -- and the narrowing starts. A child is born and he comes through a very narrow passage, from the mother's womb. From the very first moment of life narrowing has started, and then the whole life, until death releases you -- for entry into another hole -- you feel yourself being narrowed continuously, you don't feel the expansion. And the further ahead you look, the more the hole seems to be like a tunnel. Have you ever stood in front of a tunnel and looked in? The far end looks very small.
Once I was traveling with a villager in a bullock cart, and we had to enter a tunnel to pass over a river. The villager refused completely. He said, "It is okay from this end, we can enter, but look at that end: how can we get out?" He had never been in a tunnel, and I tried and tried... but he said, "Whatsoever you say, I can see the hole here is big enough -- we can enter, but then it goes on narrowing. What will happen at the other end? You will kill my bullocks! And it may be difficult even to come back if once we are caught."
Death looks like the other end. The passage of the mother's womb is the beginning, and then life goes on narrowing, and then one day somebody simply disappears. That means the whole process has become so narrow you cannot find the man again.
The whole process of narrowing, why is it so? -- because you get identified, and when you start getting identified with the part, then it is a natural process that you will be getting identified with smaller and smaller parts. In the end only a very small thing, the narrowest thing in the world, the ego, is left. To be too much present, to be too much in the I, to be too much the I, is an identification with the part.
Hassan did well. He said, "I cannot choose the part, because that is the foolishness I have been doing all along. Now I cannot choose the part." But he must have been a very perceptive man, because it ordinarily happens that if you have been too much identified with the part, you are too prone to choose the whole. Simple logic. One moves to the other extreme.
Many have done that also. Then they try destroying their egos. The monks in the monasteries, the traditional sannyasins in India, you go to them, they have been trying to kill the ego, to destroy the part. But they don't know: if the part is destroyed, the very path to the whole is destroyed.
It is a delicate affair. Life is very very subtle and mysterious.
You should not get identified with the part, that's right, but you should not destroy it, because then the very base is destroyed.
That's why monks live a very monotonous life -- that is my definition of a monk: one who lives a monotonous life. He may not be living in a monastery, but he lives in monotony. Monotony is his monastery. He lives a life of a single note, he has no other notes. He cannot create a harmony, because he is afraid of the conflict. He is trying to destroy the part. If you destroy the part, in the destruction of the part the very possibility to move to the whole is lost.
But fortunately nobody can destroy the part, you can only think that you have destroyed it: it always remains hidden in you. At the most you can suppress it, that's all. You cannot destroy it.
Destruction is not possible in this world. You can neither create anything nor can you destroy anything, because destruction means something was there and now it has become nothing. Something cannot become nothing, there is no way to reduce something to nothing. And there is no way to create anything, because creation means to bring something out of nothing. There is no way. Something can change into something else, but there is no creation and no destruction.
You cannot destroy the part, because in fact the part never belonged to you -- who are you to destroy it? The part belongs to the whole, how can you destroy it? You never created it. Can you create the ego? If you cannot create the ego, how can you destroy it? Don't be stupid.
All that you can do is to create a gestalt or to destroy a gestalt. This German word is beautiful. Out of this word a whole attitude towards life has arisen --  gestalt psychology. It is meaningful, tremendously meaningful. There is no way to translate this word into English or into any other language. Gestalt means: the relationship between the figure and the ground.
Gestalts change. For example, I am talking to you. Then everything else that is going on around -- the airplane, the constant singing of the birds, chirping, the movement of the wind in the trees, the traffic noise -- everything has become the background, the field. You are listening to me, attentive to me -- my words have become the focus. You are focused on my words, on me. That has become the figure.
But if I stop, suddenly the gestalt disappears. You start listening to the birds, to the noise around. The gestalt has disappeared. Gestalt means: when you pay attention to something it becomes important, and everything else becomes just the background. It does not disappear, it is there; the chirping of the birds is there even while I am talking. Even while you are listening, it is there, it has just gone a little back, stepped a little back to the boundary. It has become the very background. You are concentrated towards me. This has become the gestalt.
Gestalts go on changing. A child has a different gestalt of the world. If you give him a flower and a one hundred rupee note, he will take the flower.
I used to know a beggar in my town who was always sitting under a tree near the river. And it had become a joke, not only in the town but all around in the surrounding towns, that people would offer him one anna or a one rupee note, and he would always choose the one anna, he would never choose the one rupee note. Even if you offered a hundred rupee note and one anna, and gave him the choice -- "Whatsoever you want between the two you can take" -- he would take the one anna piece. It had been going on for years.
Once I asked that old man, "You must know the difference by now, and you don't seem so foolish -- why don't you choose the hundred rupee note if somebody is offering it?"
He said, "Then the whole game will be lost. Then they won't give me even one anna. They enjoy my foolishness, but I am not so foolish. Don't tell me that I should choose the hundred rupee note. I can choose it, but only once; then nobody is going to play the game. They enjoy my foolishness and my emotions. I am not so foolish as they think. For twenty years I have been living on the game. I always choose the smallest coin they offer, and they enjoy and they laugh at my foolishness. But I am not a foolish man."
A child will choose the flower. He is not foolish, his gestalt is different. A hundred rupee note doesn't mean anything, he has not yet come to the world of the market where a hundred rupee note means something. But if you offer him a plain paper or a hundred rupee note, he may choose the hundred rupee note, not because it is a hundred rupee note, but because it is painted, colored. He has a different gestalt.
A young man has a different gestalt, an old man has a different gestalt. That's why there is the gap between generations -- they have different gestalts, and gestalts go on changing. They not only change over the years, every moment they go on changing. This morning you were so loving, and now you are so angry, your gestalt was different. When you were loving anger disappeared into the background, love came into focus. Now you are angry, love has gone to the background and anger has come into focus.
But nothing disappears, remember. Everything remains, always remains. Only gestalts change. Something comes up, something goes down; something surfaces, something goes to the bottom. But nothing disappears, nothing CAN disappear. Everything is everlasting and eternally everlasting. Everything always is. That's what Hindus call NAMA RUPA. This Hindi word, nama rupa, can give a little feeling and nuance of gestalt. Hindus say only name and form change; otherwise reality remains the same.
So don't try to kill the ego -- you cannot. If you try to kill the ego you will become a very very humble man, but remember, "very very" is important. You cannot be an ordinary humble man but very very humble -- and that will be the hiding place of your ego. Then you will claim that you are the humblest man on earth.
I was reading an anecdote: Three monks belonging to three Christian monasteries met at a crossroad. Of course they started bragging. One said, "You will have to concede that our monastery has produced the greatest saints. Your monasteries are nothing in that matter. Look at our legendary past -- how many saints we have produced!"
The second said, "You are right. But you will have to concede that all the great theologians have come from our monastery -- the great philosophers, the great knowers, systematizers. You cannot boast even a single theologian of the caliber that we have produced in thousands."
Both looked at the third, and they said, "We feel sorry for you because you have nothing to claim."
The third said, "No, we have not produced great saints, that's right. And we have not produced great thinkers, theologians, that too is right. But as far as humility is concerned we are the top." Concerning humility we are the top! What type of humility is this, when you are the top?
The gestalt has changed. The ego has gone to the bottom, but starts functioning from there. Now you are humble, but at the top. A humble man has to be last, how can he be at the top? But a humble man always claims that he is at the top. The ego is not dead, cannot be dead. It has only gone to the deeper layers of the unconscious and functions from there and controls from there. Humility on the surface and ego deep down, controlling humility. Humbleness is controlled by the ego.
Look at people who say and think that they are humble, look in their eyes: you will not find any humbleness there, but a very subtle pride. Pious egoists they are, holy egoists they are. And when ego becomes holy it becomes more poisonous. Poison in itself is bad, but when poison becomes holy then it is very dangerous.
You cannot kill the ego. If you try to kill it, two things will happen. One, your life will become monotonous, it will lose the tension of the opposites. It will lose the music. That's why monks are so monotonous.
Once it was asked of a great American actor -- somebody interviewed him and asked him, "Can you say what has been the greatest disappointment in your life?" The interviewer must have been thinking that in the life of an actor there are many failures: when people don't respond, don't clap, then whatsoever the actor is doing goes flat.
The actor said, "The greatest disappointment in my life, you ask? Yes, it happened.... I was a child, a small kid, and I was passing down a road, and near the road I saw a big tent. I thought there must be a circus going on, but I had no money, so I tried to enter the tent from somewhere other than the main entrance, and somehow I sneaked in. And when I entered, it was not a circus but a priest was giving a sermon -- and that was the greatest disappointment in my life."
Priests, monks, are so monotonous, so deadly monotonous, with no music, with no harmony, because they have been trying to walk with one leg, or to fly with one wing. They have been trying to improve upon God himself. Even God cannot be without the two, and they have been trying that. Of course, they can hop on one leg a little -- that is what their sermons are. Or they can try to fly on one wing -- just an ugly effort, and they fall to the ground. Or they can go on producing the same note on their VEENA....
I have heard, Mulla Nasruddin's wife was very very irritated one night and she said to Mulla, "Enough is enough -- now you stop! Why do you go on playing the same note on your veena continuously for hours together? I have seen many people playing but they never do this. They change, they change notes, they move their hands. You go on playing on the same spot!"
Nasruddin said, "Stop! You don't know, I have been playing for twenty years. The others have to move their hands because they have not yet found the right spot. I have found it, so why bother? I go on playing the same note."
That is the note of the monks, the priests, the religious people. They are so sad, so serious, so somber and solemn -- dead graves, no music of life arises out of them. They have killed religion everywhere. They have captured all the temples and all the churches.
And temples are meant to be places of celebration. Temples are meant to be places of thanksgiving. Temples are meant to be places where one learns how to love and how to live, and how to pray and how to be blissful. They have turned all those places into very serious, deathlike places. They are more like cemeteries than temples. And in those temples only a dead god is worshipped.
God is alive, near in the trees, in the clouds, in the birds chirping! God IS life, and life depends on duality. Of course it is not only duality, it is a deep harmony between the two, between the many. It is one manifesting as many.
Don't try to kill the ego; otherwise you will suppress it, and you will miss the whole point of being alive here. You will miss the whole opportunity.
Then what to do? Just change the gestalt. Don't be identified with the part -- because you are also the whole. And don't be identified with the whole -- because you are also the part.
To cut it short: Don't be identified at all.
You are both and neither, and that is transcendence. Then suddenly you are absent, and everything is present. Nothing is lost. But when you lose identification the feeling of 'I' is lost. You remain, you remain more than ever, you are more than ever, your being is infinitely rich. Without identification, the I disappears. But the I is getting identified either with the part -- that is the I of the worldly man -- or getting identified with the whole; that is the I of the so-called religious man.
Real, authentic religion is born when you are not identified at all. You move in the part and you move in the whole also. You are both: part in the whole, whole in the part, a harmony in discord, a continuous marriage and a continuous divorce, a continuum of coming together and falling apart. Then there is flow, then there is movement -- and then there is grace.
Now this small anecdote.
SHIBLI WENT TO VISIT ANOTHER GREAT SAGE, JUNNAID.
This must have happened before Shibli became an enlightened man himself. Junnaid was already a perfect master, but Shibli was still on the path, still moving towards the perfect illumination of being. He was not a beginner, that's right, he was already an adept. But the journey had not ended yet -- far advanced on the path, but the journey not yet complete.
SHIBLI WENT TO VISIT ANOTHER GREAT SAGE, JUNNAID. THE WIFE OF JUNNAID WAS ABOUT TO CONCEAL HERSELF MODESTLY BEHIND A SCREEN.
As is the custom with Mohammedans, the wife tried to conceal herself behind a screen as she should do for ordinary mortals.
JUNNAID SAID: STAY WHERE YOU ARE -- SHIBLI IS ABSENT.
There is no need to hide yourself, because nobody has come. When I say nobody has come, I mean two things. One, NOBODY has come, he who is a nobody; and second, nobody has come -- Shibli has come but there is nobody like Shibli in him.
STAY WHERE YOU ARE -- SHIBLI IS ABSENT.
Nothing has happened, as if Junnaid is sitting with his wife and nobody has entered. What do you do when a breeze enters the room and passes by? You don't hide behind a screen. Or if a sunray penetrates, you don't hide. "No need to hide," said Junnaid. "Shibli is coming, but he is deeply absent inside."
At that moment when Shibli entered, he was not identified with himself; a nonidentifiable being without any gestalt coming in like a breeze comes in -- unobtrusively. Not even giving a feeling: What is happening? As if a drunk man comes in, drifts in, rather, because there is nobody who is coming in. It may be better to say, Shibli DRIFTED into the room of Junnaid. The wife started hiding herself.
Said Junnaid: STAY WHERE YOU ARE -- SHIBLI IS ABSENT. AT THAT MOMENT SHIBLI BEGAN TO WEEP.
The identification entered immediately. A gestalt formed; he is no more the same. Just this being said, that Shibli is absent, must have brought the ego back. So much appreciation from the mouth of a great sage like Junnaid. Even a look from Junnaid would have gratified you tremendously. And a man like Junnaid said, "Stay -- Shibli is absent."
This is the highest appreciation that can be given for people who are on the path. This is the greatest achievement -- when a man is absent. Nothing more is there then, because when you are absent, God is present. In fact Junnaid said, "Don't be worried. Shibli is not coming, God is entering." It is the same. To say that Shibli is absent is to say that God is present. And where can you hide from God? And what is the need to hide from him? -- because God is nothing but your purest being.
Immediately the gestalt came in.
AT THAT MOMENT SHIBLI BEGAN TO WEEP.
Why did he begin to weep? Immediately, when he was appreciated by Junnaid, the ego came back. Immediately he felt: Yes, I am absent -- and the I was there. God disappeared.
He was moving dazed, filled with the grace of the divine. An aura was surrounding him -- not HIS aura, but the aura of the very center of existence. He was filled with unknown bliss. He was like a flower, with a divine fragrance. Suddenly, in a single moment, or even in a particle of a single moment, in a split second, a gestalt formed.
The gestalt takes no time to form. Just a look and the gestalt forms. It is constantly being created and being destroyed. That is the only thing you can create and destroy, you can do nothing else. It is just like waves coming high and falling down.
At the peak was Shibli, at the peak of absence. The moment he heard Junnaid saying, "Shibli is absent," and, "Shibli has not come, nobody has entered. It is God, look. Where are you hiding?" -- hearing this, the ego entered, jumped back in. A gestalt formed: "So I have achieved? So I have entered? So Junnaid has certified, recognized me?" Everything is lost.
Junnaid played a trick. In fact, the wife was not the concern. He tried a trick on Shibli and helped him to see what was happening to him.
From the peak Shibli has fallen into the abyss. Just a second before he was the divine; now he is just a worm on the earth, an ordinary mortal, fallen from immortality. Just a moment before he was in the garden of Eden, and just a moment afterwards he is thrown out, expelled. The peak has gone far away. Even to dream about it will be difficult now.
The valley and the darkness... the fall. This is the fall all religions talk about. It is not something that happened in the past. It happens to every individual and it happens many times. The fall is not something that happened to Adam and Eve. It happens to every Adam and every Eve. And the snake in the parable is nothing but the ego, that rises, persuades you. Why has the symbol of a snake been chosen? -- because a snake seems to be the most cunning animal in the world, very clever and cunning. Ego IS cunning and clever. The snake persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. This is not something which happened in the past, somewhere one day, and then the doors of the garden of Eden were closed. No, it happens to every man. Whenever you are at a peak, you are again in the garden -- and immediately, if the ego arises, you have fallen back.
It happened in that moment to Shibli. He was floating in a different world; altogether different was the quality of his being, a different dimension. He was not part of this world; he was floating high like clouds, and suddenly he has fallen. A cloud has fallen into the dust -- a sudden fall. The ego has arisen.
Junnaid did well. And he has not even uttered a single word to Shibli -- he was talking to his wife -- but he created a situation. This is how Sufis work. They create situations very deliberately.
AT THAT MOMENT SHIBLI BEGAN TO WEEP.
Seeing that he had fallen he began to weep. Adam must have wept, wept bitterly, when he was being expelled from the garden of Eden. What else could he have done? Tears must have been flowing down... his whole heart in a turmoil.
It is the greatest misery that happens -- when one comes out of bliss into the darker realms of suffering. Up to now he was innocent. Now, suddenly, all innocence is lost. The child has suddenly become old. In a single moment the flower of innocence is dead.
SHIBLI BEGAN TO WEEP.
Why is he weeping? He is weeping for his own fall. He became aware of what Junnaid had done: not even uttering a single word to him, he had penetrated him so deeply. He provoked his ego. Shibli started weeping. Again he is present and God is missed. No more is he a child, no more in ecstasy. The samadhi has disappeared.
JUNNAID SAID TO HIS WIFE: YOU MUST NOW BE ABSENT, FOR SHIBLI HAS RETURNED.
Don't come out. Now there comes an ordinary man, just an ordinary man, filled with lust and greed and sex, filled with anger, jealousy, ego. Here comes an ordinary mortal. Now you hide yourself,  don't come out.
You are both; that's why this can happen. You are both the peak and the valley; that's why this can happen. You are the expelled Adam, and the father who expelled him. You are both; that's why it can happen. Otherwise, how is it possible to come from the peak to the valley so suddenly and so immediately in a single moment? How is it possible if you are not both?
Both these extremes are yours: the devil and the divine. You will weep when you get identified with the devil, because you cannot be blissful with the devil. With the part you will weep. With the whole, if you get identified, you may feel happier, but that identification also cannot last forever -- a Junnaid can bring it immediately back. A man who knows the art can throw you back. No, don't get identified.
Where did Shibli miss? What was the point of his misfortune? He was getting identified with the idea of his liberation, freedom, enlightenment. He had forgotten completely that the ego existed; it had just moved into the background, but it was there. And you can be a victim again. Just a slight provocation and the gestalt will change: the figure will become the background and the background will become the figure. A small change, just a slight change. This man Junnaid must have been the greatest gestalt psychologist.
I have been doing it every day. Just a slight device and you are suffering no more; you are flowing high, moving in the skies, no gravitation. You have become weightless, you are not walking on the earth. Just another sentence, and you fall -- and you fall so fast, as if no time is needed, and you are back in hell.
You have been moving between heaven and hell continuously. And wherever you are you get identified, that is the problem. You have suffered. You have seen the downs, the blues, but you get identified; you say, "I am suffering." You become one with the valley and the darkness.
And then, someday suddenly, a woman laughs at you, smiles, and you are high and the doors of heaven are open. Again you get identified. You are in love, not walking on the earth. In fact not walking, flying -- no gravitation exists for you. You have completely forgotten the valley, the darkness, that existed just a minute before. It has moved into the background -- the gestalt changed. And the woman is not laughing now. She has turned her face away. She is looking at somebody else. And the doors of the garden are closed, you are expelled, weeping bitterly, weeping and crying. The valley, the darkness -- you are again identified with it.
Pain comes, pleasure comes -- but you go on missing the thing. You should not get identified, you should remain transcendental.
In the valley, yes, but you are not the valley. At the peak, yes, but you are not the peak. The peak is the situation around you. You are in it, but not of it. In the world? Okay, move in the world -- but you are in the world, the world is not in you. Go to the Himalayas -- nothing wrong with it -- but you are in the Himalayas, the Himalayas are not in you. Remain transcendental. Pain and pleasure, suffering and bliss, day and night, summer and winter -- remain unidentified. Disidentification, remaining unidentified, is the way of transcendence. Then you remain always far away: in, and yet away. Then life becomes a beautiful game. Hindus call it LEELA, a game, a play.
Then you neither suffer nor do you become blissful. You simply move through all the shades and nuances -- and millions are the shades and millions are the nuances. God has taken thousands of names and thousands of forms. Everywhere is his mark. If you are transcendental, even in the valley you are in him. Then you never lose contact with him, because God means: that which transcends duality yet lives in it, yet surrounds it, yet enjoys it. God is the greatest paradox, the mystery.
Once you understand the art of nonidentification, you have learned all that Sufis can teach you. Gurdjieff introduced Sufi essentials into the West. He was the man who brought to the West the secrets of the Sufis. His whole teaching depends on one word, and that is nonidentification. Don't get identified with anything because consciousness is always transcendental. It cannot be reduced to anything.
Seasons come and go, consciousness remains. Childhood comes and goes, youth comes and goes, health and disease; consciousness remains. That which remains always is God. That which passes is the world. That which comes and goes is not you.
You are the witness, to whom things happen but who remains a witness. Witnessing is the art of nonidentification, and nonidentification is all. Nonidentification is all there is to meditation. It is the whole meditation.
It is said that this situation created by Junnaid helped Shibli, and after a few days, just after a few days, he himself became enlightened.
Someone asked Shibli when he became enlightened, "Who have been your teachers?"
He counted many. A dog -- because the dog was thirsty and tried to jump into the river and drink to his heart's desire, but as he looked into the river he would see another dog and he was afraid. But the thirst was too much. Finally he overcame his fear and jumped into the river -- and the reflection disappeared. There was no other dog, it was just a reflection. The river was just mirroring himself.
And Shibli said, "That dog was my first teacher... because there is nobody else -- only I am, and everybody else is just mirroring my face, and I am unnecessarily afraid. Once I understood the art of jumping into the river, I jumped, and reflections disappeared and only the river was there -- the river of God, the river of existence. And since then I have never been thirsty. I live in the river."
He counted many. He said, "The second master was a thief, because I was lost in a town one night, and all the doors of all the serais were closed and I was at a loss to find some shelter for the night. Then I found a thief. In a dark street, he was trying to enter a house, and I asked him: 'Where can I stay for the night? I am tired, and I am hungry.' He said, 'You can stay at my house, but I must be frank with you because you look like a saint -- I don't know whether you are or not because I never believe in appearances -- but for me it will be bad if I don't tell you that I am a thief. And I am REALLY a thief. You may not be a real sage but I am a real thief. So if you are ready to be a guest in a thief's house, you are welcome. Come!'"
Shibli hesitated a little -- to go to a thief's house and stay there, and people would come to know and what would happen to his respectability? He was an honored man.... The thief stopped immediately and he said, "You are afraid, and a real sage is never afraid. Why are you afraid? Are you afraid that the thief can convert you to an atheist? I am not afraid of YOU. I don't care -- you cannot change me a little bit. I am a perfect thief, but you don't look a perfect sage."
And Shibli said, "He was my second teacher. I stayed in his home for one month. He was really a lovely person, and very true and authentic. Every night he would go out and by the morning he would return. I would open the door and I would ask, 'Have you been successful?' And he would say, 'Not today. But tomorrow....' He was always happy -- and for one month he was never successful. Every night he would go out and every morning he would come back emptyhanded. But he was always laughing and happy, and he was never miserable. He could live with failure, and he could hope. His hope was great."
And Shibli said, "When I was seeking God, many times the moment came to me when it seemed to be absolutely futile, the whole search nonsense. Many times I was just on the brink of stopping the whole nonsense and going to the world to enjoy and indulge a bit while life lasts. I had been doing everything that I had been told to do and there seemed to be no God appearing, not a sign. I had not even heard a footfall, not even seen a footprint. The whole thing seemed to be imaginary, a great deception. But immediately, whenever I was ready to drop the search, I would see that thief in my vision, standing at the door and saying, 'Tomorrow...' and I would again hope, and I would say, 'Okay, one day more.' That is how one day I attained. I am very much obliged to that thief. He was my second teacher."
And he said, "My last teacher was the wife of Junnaid -- because she tried to hide behind a screen. That became a situation. And Junnaid brought me down from my high flight to the earth, I crashed to the earth, shattered. Junnaid was cruel -- but he helped. And the wife was just helping the device. When I started crying, she started laughing behind the screen. I was shattered, completely shattered and destroyed. But that became the destruction of my identification. Since then I have been in the valleys, and I have been to the peaks, but I remain aloof. I can still hear -- whenever I go to the peak I can still hear the laughter of Junnaid's wife behind the screen. She is still laughing. I never get identified." Soon after this situation Shibli became an enlightened man.
What is enlightenment? It is to live in transcendence.
Enough for today.

 

 

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