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Chapter 1: A Rare Kind of Magic

So does a Sufi. A Sufi knows no choice. He is choicelessly aware. Whatsoever happens he accepts it as a gift, as a God-given thing. Who is he to choose. He does not trust in his mind, he trusts in the universal mind. That’s why when you come across a Sufi you will see such animal innocence in his eyes, in his being; such freedom such joy as only animals know - or trees or rocks or stars.

Idries Shah has condemned the definition of sufi from suf - wool - on exactly the same grounds as I am approving of it. He says that Sufis are so alert about symbols how can they choose wool as a symbol? The wool represents the animal, and Idries Shah says Sufis cannot choose the animal as a symbol. They are the people of God - why should they choose the animal? He seems very logical, and he may appeal to many people.

But on exactly the same grounds I approve the definition. To me, to be an animal means to be innocent - not to know morality, not to know immorality. To be an animal is not a condemnation. A saint is more like animals than like you, than like the so-called human beings.

The human beings are not natural beings, they are very unnatural, artificial, plastic. Their whole life is a life of deception. If you touch somebody’s face you will never touch his face, you touch only his mask. And remember, your hand is also not true. It has a glove on it. Even lovers don’t touch each other; even in love you are not innocent; even in love you are not without masks. But when you want to love God you have to be without masks. You have to drop all deceptions. You have to be authentically whatsoever you are, to be choicelessly whatsoever you are. In that primal innocence God descends.

So the reasons Idries Shah finds to condemn the definition that sufi comes from suf are exactly the reasons I approve it.

I have heard:

The Catholic priest was trying to get a Jew converted to his faith.

He said, “All you have to do is say three times, ‘I was a Jew, now I’m a Catholic. I was a Jew, now I’m a Catholic. I was a Jew, now I’m a Catholic.’”

He said it, but the priest thought he had better check up on his convert one Friday at his home.

The Jew was frying chicken. “Now, you know you can’t eat that chicken on Friday.”

“Oh, yes, I can,” he replied. “I dipped it in a pan three times and said, ‘Once I was a chicken, now I am a fish.’”

That’s how we go on living. Our religion is just like that - all just verbal. It does not penetrate into your being. And you know that whatsoever you say, you do exactly the opposite of it. You think one thing, you say another, and you do something else. You are a trinity, you are not one. And all those three persons are going in three different directions. You are a crowd - hence the misery.

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