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Chapter 7: On the Softest Substance

Years passed and the grove became almost a sacred spot. Luxuriant growth happened to the oak trees, suddenly they became as if young again, with new foliage, and the whole grove was filled with beauty - but there was sadness in the heart of the Sufi. But he waited, and he did whatsoever could be done: continuously filled with prayer, meditation. Eighteen years passed, but he was as far away from nirvana as ever. Of course he was now peaceful and silent - but yet not blissful. Something had dissolved but nothing had descended; something had left, he was empty, and emptiness of course is silent - but he was not filled. The emptiness had remained emptiness and now there was nothing more to do.

One dark night, in the middle of the night, suddenly a suspicion arose in his mind, a doubt came - because eighteen years is a very long time and he had put all his effort, all his being into it, he had not held anything back, so if it had not happened now then it seemed it would never ever happen.

A doubt arose. He started thinking: Is it possible that this oak grove is not allowing my prayers to go out as it is not allowing rains and sun to come in? The foliage is so thick, maybe my prayers reach only to the underside of the leaves and they don’t go beyond, so God has not heard me. As the sun can never penetrate this grove, maybe my prayers have not penetrated the outer cosmos. This grove has been an exploiter, a bloodsucker. He became so afraid of the grove that he simply escaped from it in the middle of the dark night.

But at that very moment, miles away from the grove, on the road a beggar was passing, going from one town to another. Suddenly, from out of the blue, a deep urge came into him to go into the forest. He resisted the urge, it was dangerous, the forest was filled with wild animals and there was no point in going into it because he had to reach the other village by the morning, and half the journey was yet incomplete. For what should he go into the forest?

But it was as if something had started pulling him, he was helpless, he could not do anything. He started running into the forest as if mad and sometimes he would think: What am I doing? But it was as if the body was moving on its own, he was no more the master. He wanted to escape, it was absolutely dangerous, he was afraid, trembling - but helpless. But when he reached near the grove, then he understood.

A subtle call was coming from the grove: Come to me! It was not audible to the outer ears, but something in him could hear it. And the grove was unbelievable! The whole forest was filled with darkness but the grove was glowing with a subtle blue light. It was almost as if it was of the other world, as if a buddha was sitting underneath it, as if somebody had become enlightened underneath it, and the light of enlightenment and the peace and bliss of nirvana was spreading all around. He felt subtle ripples all around the grove - a magnetic field. Now the fear disappeared.

He entered the grove, and just by entering, he was transformed, he became totally a new person. He could not believe himself: he was just an ordinary man, neither particularly good nor particularly bad, just an ordinary plain man - deep in the confusions of ordinary life, deep in the troubles of ordinary life. Neither a theist nor an atheist, in fact, he had never thought about God in particular, he had never taken any decision about religion, he had been really indifferent to it. Life had so many problems and he was very much in it.

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