A disciple came to Maruf Karkhi and said: “I have been talking to people about you. Jews claim that you are a Jew; Christians revere you as one of their own saints; Muslims insist that you are the greatest of all Muslims.”
Maruf answered: “This is what humanity says in Baghdad. When I was in Jerusalem, Jews said that I was a Christian, Muslims that I was a Jew, and Christians that I was a Muslim.”
“What must we think of you then?” said the man.
Maruf said: “Some do not understand me, and revere me. Others do not either, so they revile me. That is what I have come to say. You should think of me as one who has said this.”
A religious man is always misunderstood. If he is not misunderstood, he will not be a religious man.
Humanity lives in a non-religious attitude towards life – sectarian, but not religious. So a religious man is a stranger. And whatsoever you say about him will be wrong, because you are wrong. And remember: whatsoever you say about him – I am not saying that if you say something in his favor that will be right, no; whether you are in favor of him or against him, it makes no difference – whatsoever you say will be wrong about him until you yourself have become a religious consciousness. Before that your reverence is false, your condemnation is false. You may think of him as a sage, and you have misunderstood. You may think of him as a sinner, and again you have misunderstood.
So the first thing to remember is: unless you are right, whatsoever you do, say, be, is going to be wrong. And a religious man is such a tremendous phenomenon, such a strange phenomenon, that you have no language to talk about him. All your words are futile in concern with him. Your whole language is useless, meaningless, because a religious man is religious because he has gone beyond the dualities, and the whole of language exists within dualities.
If you say he is good you are wrong because he is bad also. If you say he is bad you are wrong again because he is good also. And now the trouble arises because you cannot conceive how a good man can be bad also. You can comprehend only a part of the whole, because the other part is by necessity the opposite. It has to be so.
A religious man is a miniature God. Just like God he is paradoxical and contradictory. Just like God he is summer and winter, day and night, life and death. Just like God he is divine and devil both. Then the mind staggers.
The mind is very efficient if you are working in polarities. If you say yes the mind can understand. If you say no the mind can understand. But if you say yes and no both then it goes beyond mind. Unless you have gone beyond mind you cannot have the feeling of what a religious consciousness is.