Many things have happened in your world during the past fourteen months that were very controversial and looked strange for a spiritual group.
Just reading the facts and figures set forth in the 156-page, two-part article in recent issues of The New Yorker could make most people angry.
Though some sannyasins left, I notice that many of us, including myself, were undisturbed in our inner beings. With no regrets, many of us jumped into the new way, the new adventure.
Family, friends, strangers, are either curious about this or suspect we’re brainwashed dummies, or irresponsible. Is there any way to explain this inner trust that happens to a disciple with a master? Is it possible for any of us to explain anything beyond these facts and figures – the love, the fun, the mystery of spiritual transformation that we are so fortunate to participate in with you? Should I even bother, or just concentrate on you and the inner journey and ignore the curious and the skeptics?
It would have been very easy if life were only facts and figures – easy but boring; easy but flat; easy but not worth living. And the mind is concerned only with facts and figures. It is a great blessing of existence that the mind is not all, that there is much more to life, which cannot be confined to facts, explanations, theories. Something mysterious remains always unexplained, and that is the most valuable, the most significant part of life. It is impossible to explain love, trust, beauty, grace, gratitude, silence. All that is meaningful seems to be beyond the mind, and all that is meaningless seems to be the boundary of the mind.
I am reminded of a great Sufi master, Junnaid. One day one of his disciples who had managed somehow to trust in Junnaid, who had with effort remained non-skeptical, had gone hunting in the forest. And he saw Junnaid sitting by the side of a beautiful lake with a beautiful woman. He saw from far away, and from far away everything is beautiful, and particularly a Mohammedan woman. No Mohammedan woman is ugly; her face is veiled. It is a great strategy of ugly women against the beautiful; in this way the beautiful are lost.
All his repressed suspicions and doubts arose, surfaced – and it was not only that Junnaid was sitting with the woman; the woman was pouring wine from a flask into a cup for Junnaid. All his trust was shattered, all his love was finished: “There is a limit to everything. This is going too far. This man is a fraud!”
And if he had returned without going to Junnaid to say something, he would have remained with the idea that the man was a fraud. He had all the facts, he had seen with his own eyes, he was a witness. He needed no other evidence, no other proof. No argument would have convinced him that he could have been wrong.
But Junnaid shouted loudly, “Don’t go back! Come close, because when you come close many facts prove to be fictions. The closer you come, the more fictitious they are. Just come close.”
A little bit afraid, but he came.
Junnaid lifted the veil from the woman’s face. She was Junnaid’s mother, an old woman. And he said, “What about the beautiful woman you had seen? – and you had seen her with your own eyes. Could you have imagined an old woman, my own mother? It was beyond your imagination. And take this flask and look closely, taste it; it is pure water, not wine. Just the flask is of the wine. But you were thinking with absolute certainty that this man is a fraud: women and wine in privacy, in the forest; and in public he has another face, of a great master.”
The disciple fell at his feet and said, “Please forgive me.”