A man who had spent many years trying to puzzle out meanings, went to see a Sufi and told him about his search.
The Sufi said, “Go away and ponder this – IHMN.”
The man went away. When he came back, the Sufi was dead.
“Now I shall never know the truth!” moaned the puzzler.
At that moment the Sufi’s chief disciple appeared.
”If,” he said, “you are worrying about the secret meaning of IHMN, I will tell you. It is the initials of the Persian phrase ‘In Huruf Maani Nadarad’ – which means, ‘These letters have no meaning.’”
“But why should I have been given such a task?” cried the puzzling man.
“Because, when a donkey comes to you, you give him cabbages. That is his nutrition, no matter what he calls it. Donkeys probably think that they are doing something far more significant than eating cabbages.”
Religion is not a philosophical enterprise; it has nothing to do with mind. Religion has no problems to be solved. It is not a question of thinking, it is a question of living. It is a question of going deeper into your being. It is not a question of intellectual thought process but existential deepening in your own self. Religion has no question-marks as philosophy has.
Philosophy is questioning, religion is a quest the difference is great. If you think, you go on moving on the periphery. Thought has no profundity, thought is always superficial. It is like waves on the surface of the ocean. Waves cannot exist in the depth of the ocean, they can only exist on the surface.
Thinking is like waves on the surface of consciousness, and the question is to know the depth. You can go on chasing the waves, you will not attain to anything. Your life will be a sheer wastage.
But why does man go on thinking? When it is a question of getting into one’s own being, why does he keep clinging to the surface? It is out of fear; depth needs courage. You will have to dive deep. Who knows what there is in the depth? You may disappear, you may not be able to come back again, you may melt. And the depth is dark, very dark. On the surface there is light, and on the surface there are many people just like you; you are not lonely. In the depth you will be alone. The deeper you go the more alone you will be. At the very center of your being there is just aloneness and nothing else. There you cannot take your friends, crowds, people. Unless one is ready to go on this lonely pilgrimage, one continues thinking.
Thinking is a substitute, a substitute for something which is totally different – deepening. Thinking needs talents, deepening needs only courage. In the world of thinking you can prove your ego very easily. If you are articulate, a little logical, cunning, clever, calculating, you can become a great man.
But in the depth no talent is needed; all that is needed is immense courage to be alone.
That’s what meditation is all about. Meditation is just the diametrical opposite of thinking. Meditation is not thinking at all, it is a state of no-thought.
Philosophy is a substitute for religion. Those who go into philosophy are lost to religion, and those who want to go into religion, they have to drop all kinds of philosophizing.