Chapter 1: Seven Valleys
And each valley has its own allurements. It is very, very possible that you may get attached to something and you will not be able to leave the valley. You have to leave it if you want to enter the second valley. And after each valley there is a peak, a great mountain peak. After each valley there is jubilation and the jubilation goes on becoming more and more intense. And then finally, in the seventh valley, you attain to the cosmic orgasm - you disperse. Then only God is.
Listen to these seven valleys and try to understand them. And don’t think Al-Ghazzali is talking about something philosophical. Sufis are not interested in philosophy at all. They are very practical people. If they say something they mean it. If they say something, it is said for the seeker. It is not said for the curious ones, not for intellectuals, but for those who are on the path, those who are really working hard to have a glimpse of the truth. It is for the seekers.
The first valley.. The first valley is called the valley of knowledge.
Naturally, knowledge has to be the first because man starts by knowing. No other animal has knowledge; only man knows, only man collects knowledge. Only man writes, reads, talks. Only man has language, scriptures, theories. So knowledge has to be the first valley.
The negative part of the valley is that you can become knowledgeable, you can get hooked on knowledge. You can forget the real purpose of knowing and you can become attached to knowledge itself. Then you will be accumulating more and more knowledge and you can go on for lives together accumulating knowledge. You will become a great scholar, a pundit, but you will not become a knower.
The way of the knower is utterly different from the way of knowledge.
There are two things when knowledge happens: the content of knowledge - you know something - and the consciousness, the mirror, you who knows. If you become too attached to the content of knowledge rather than to the capacity of knowing, you will be lost in the valley. That part which can make you entangled, hooked, attached, I call negative.
If you become knowledgeable then you are lost; you cannot cross the first valley. And the more knowledge you have, the more confused you will become - because there is no way to decide what is true. Everything that you hear, if rightly put before you, logically placed before you, will look right. There is no other way for you to decide; there is no criterion. That’s why it goes on happening. You go to one master and you hear him, and he looks right. Then you go to another master and you hear him, and he looks right. You read one book and it looks right; you read another book - maybe just the opposite - and that too has its logic, and it looks right. There is no way to decide what is right. And if you go on accumulating you will go on accumulating contradictions - opposite statements. And there are millions of standpoints and sooner or later you will become just a crowd of many philosophies and systems. That is not going to help. That will become the greatest hindrance.