Uwais was asked, “How do you feel?”
He said, “Like one who has arisen in the morning and does not know whether he will be dead in the evening.”
The other man said, “But this is the situation of all men.”
Uwais said, “Yes, but how many of them feel it?”
Once a learned Mohammedan came to me and asked, “You are not a Mohammedan, then why do you speak on Sufism?”
I told him, “I am not a Mohammedan, obviously, but I am a Sufi all the same.”
A Sufi need not be a Mohammedan. A Sufi can exist anywhere, in any form – because Sufism is the essential core of all religions. It has nothing to do with Islam in particular. Sufism can exist without Islam; Islam cannot exist without Sufism. Without Sufism, Islam is a corpse. Only with Sufism does it become alive.
Whenever a religion is alive it is because of Sufism. Sufism simply means a love affair with God, with the ultimate; a love affair with the whole. It means that one is ready to dissolve into the whole, that one is ready to invite the whole to come into one’s heart. It knows no formality. It is not confined by any dogma, doctrine, creed or church. Christ is a Sufi, so is Mohammed. Krishna is a Sufi, so is Buddha. This is the first thing I would like you to remember: that Sufism is the innermost core – as Zen is, as Hasidism is. These are only different names of the same ultimate relationship with God.
The relationship is dangerous. It is dangerous because the closer you come to God, the more and more you evaporate. And when you have come really close, you are no more. It is dangerous because it is suicidal…but the suicide is beautiful. To die into God is the only way to really live. Until you die, until you die voluntarily into love, you live an existence which is simply mediocre; you vegetate, you don’t have any meaning. No poetry arises in your heart, no dance, no celebration; you simply grope in the darkness. You live at the minimum, you don’t overflow with ecstasy.
That overflow happens only when you are not. You are the hindrance. Sufism is the art of removing the hindrance between you and you, between the self and the self – between the part and the whole.
A few things about this word sufi. An ancient Persian dictionary has this for the entry "Sufi"…the definition given by this dictionary goes in rhyme: Sufi Chist – Sufi, Sufist. Who is a Sufi? A Sufi is a Sufi. This is a beautiful definition. The phenomenon is indefinable: A Sufi is a Sufi. It says nothing and yet it says it well. It says that the Sufi cannot be defined; there is no other word to define it, there is no other synonym, there is no possibility of defining it linguistically, it is an indefinable phenomenon. You can live it and you can know it; but through the mind, through the intellect, it is not possible. You can become a Sufi – that is the only way to know what it is. You can taste the reality yourself, it is available. You need not go into a dictionary, you can go into existence.
I have heard: