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Chapter 7: On the Softest Substance

But suddenly, entering the grove, he was caught in a whirlwind. He sat underneath the tree, and he couldn’t believe it - he had never used this posture before, he was sitting like a Sufi dervish. And then a stirring started in his being - the innermost core of his being was stirred, and a sound started arising. He couldn’t believe what was happening, it was unbelievable.

Then a sound burst upon him which he could not recognize, but by and by as things settled and the excitement was gone, he could hear the sound, the nebulous sound became clear; the formless took the form and now he could see - it was nothing but “Allah, Allah,” and he was repeating it in spite of himself. He was not doing it, he was not the doer, he could only bear witness, to be a witness. It was happening as if he was just the shore of some cosmic ocean and tidal waves were coming and splashing all over him - “Allah, Allah, Allah” - a tide of the ocean shattering on the shore; he was just the shore. Bathed, transmuted, a million times he died and was reborn in that night.

For eighteen years the dervish had remained there and nothing had happened, and in eighteen hours the beggar was a buddha - and he had not done a thing.

I love the story. Lao Tzu would have loved it, Lao Tzu would have understood it. What is the secret of this? It looks a little irrational: the man who had been praying for eighteen years attained nothing and the man who had never prayed, within eighteen hours attained everything. What is the secret key to understand this story?

Lao Tzu has a word. The word is wu wei. It means: action without action. It means: action like no-action. It means: being active and not being active together. That is the secret key. The dervish was overdoing it; he could not maintain himself in the middle. He overdid it, and overdoing is always undoing.

Life is a balance, and he couldn’t attain to a balance. In his greed to attain, in his ambition to attain, he moved to the extreme and became too active. And whenever you are too active, whenever you are only active, then things of the world may happen to you but things of the other world cannot happen. You are too excited, too feverish, you are not the right receptacle yet. The right receptacle is one who is balanced: balanced between activity and inactivity, balanced between passivity and activity, balanced in all the dualities.

The dervish was too good a man: the goodness became imbalance. He avoided the whole world, he moved to one extreme, he renounced, and then he became expectant, continuously expecting. The beautiful foliage of the tree was not a barrier - his own foliage of expectations was the barrier, the hindrance. Yes, the prayers could not reach God - but not because of the oak tree. The oak tree was absolutely innocent. His prayers could not reach God because he was covered with expectations. His prayers were beautiful but deep down the ugly worm of expectation was there. His remembrance of God was continuous, but just behind the remembrance followed a shadow of greed and desire and ambition. That destroyed the whole thing.

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