There is something in man which is higher than man, bigger than man, and there is no way to bury it somewhere in the finite. You can see. You can seek money and power, but each time you succeed, you will find that you have failed. Each time you succeed, the success will bring nothing but the awareness of the failure. Money is there but you are as dissatisfied as ever, or even more so. Power is there and you are as impotent as ever. Nothing makes man more aware of powerlessness than power. Nothing makes man more aware of inner poverty than riches – because of the contrast. You can see that there are riches outside but inside you are a beggar, still desiring and asking and hankering and searching.
From one side this seems to be a misfortune – the misery of man. From another side it is his greatness. Carlyle is right when he says, “The misfortune of man has its source in his greatness.” What is this greatness? This greatness is his capacity to surpass himself, to go beyond himself, to make a ladder of his life, to jump out of himself. Unless that jump has happened, you live in a wasteland; nothing will ever bloom there. You can make all the efforts possible but the desert will remain a desert; you will not come across any flowers.
Those flowers start happening only when you have started reaching somewhere close to truth. That is the quest. The quest is that man longs to become God. The quest is that man wants to become truth. “an-el-haq!” Man wants to feel it – that “I am truth.” Nothing less than that will ever
The Sufi sage, Abdulalim of Fez, refused to teach, but from time to time would advise people about the way to proceed on the path.
Go slowly and meditatively.
The first thing to be understood is the meaning of the word sage. Sufis make a great distinction between the word saint and the word sage. And there is a great distinction. They are not synonymous. Notwithstanding what your dictionaries say. they are not synonymous.
Man can ordinarily have two kinds of character. One is the negative character: the character of the criminal, the character of the anti-social, the character of the rebellious. Another is the positive character: the character of the conventional, orthodox. respectable.
The criminal will be punished, will be thrown into prison if caught. The society will try to destroy him because he is a danger to the society. He is disobedient. He is trying to assert himself and the society does not like that. The society exists by destroying individuals; the society can exist only by destroying individuals. The society has more power if there are no individuals around. If there are individuals then the power is less and less and less. If the whole society consists of individuals then there will be no power in the authorities – there will be no power in the priest or the politician. So the society tries to crush. uproot, destroy the anti-social. the immoral – the individual who wants to have his own morality, who wants to do his own thing. The society is very murderous about the negative. And naturally, on the other hand, the society respects the positive.