Chapter 7: Raw, Cooked, Burnt
The Sufi lives in the moment, blooms in the moment like a roseflower, simple yet rich. The poverty is not imposed; he is poor in spirit. And what does it mean to be poor in spirit? It simply means there is no ego, that’s all; not that he is attached to poverty. Beware of that. There are people who are attached to wealth and there are people who are attached to poverty. But it is the same attachment.
I have heard:
The story is told of a dervish who went to visit a great Sufi master. Seeing his affluence, the dervish thought to himself, “How can Sufism and such prosperity go hand in hand?” After staying a few days with the master, he decided to leave. The master said, “Let me accompany you on your journey!”
After they had gone a short distance, the dervish noticed that he had forgotten his kashkul, the begging bowl. So he asked the master for permission to return and get it.
The master replied, “I departed from all my possessions, but you can’t even leave behind your begging bowl. Thus, we must part company from here.”
The Sufi is not attached to wealth or to poverty; he is simply not attached to anything. And when you are not attached to anything, you need not renounce. Renunciation is the other side of attachment. Those who understand the foolishness of attachment don’t renounce; they live in the world but yet they are not of the world. To willfully insist upon being in poverty is still an attachment - remember it. And to willfully insist upon anything is again an ego trip.
The Sufi lives simply, the Sufi lives without any will of his own. If it happens to be a palace, he is happy; if it happens to be a hut, he is happy. If it happens to be that he is a king, it is okay. If it happens to be that he is a beggar, that too is perfectly okay. He has no preference. He simply lives the moment, whatsoever existence makes available to him. He does not change anything.
This has to be understood, because for centuries religions have been teaching you renunciation. For centuries religions have lived with a great inclination towards escapism. The Sufi has a totally different approach, far healthier, far more whole, far more human, far more natural. Because whenever you escape from something it is out of fear, and out of fear there is no transformation ever.
When something drops on its own accord - not that you drop it, but simply that it has become nonessential, unimportant - then there is freedom. Freedom is never out of fear, freedom is out of great awareness. The Sufi lives in the world, mindful of godliness. He lives in the world, but he remembers godliness. He moves in the marketplace, but his heart is throbbing with a certain remembrance. The zikr continues. He does not become forgetful in the world; that is his work.