Without knowing it, life is a sheer wastage. Without knowing it, you are already dead; you were never born. Only by knowing it are you born in reality; and you attain to an eternal, immortal existence – deathless, beyond any fear, beyond any sickness, beyond any poverty, beyond any suffering. The golden key that can open the magical door of eternity is within you. But you go on carrying the key within you, and searching for it all over the place.
There is a beautiful story about one of the most significant women who has ever lived – Rabiya al-Adabiya. One evening, as the sun was just setting…she was very old, perhaps ninety years. And she was searching outside on the street for something she had lost.
A young man saw her, and just out of compassion for the old woman – he was a stranger to the village, he had no idea who she was – he just asked: “What are you searching for? Can I be of any help? You are very old, the sun has set, and it is becoming darker; it will be impossible for you to find it. Just tell me; I am not engaged in any other work, I can help you.”
Rabiya laughed. She said to him, “Thank you for your kindness, stranger.”
He said, “Why do you call me stranger?”
She said, “Because nobody of this village would have come to help me; they think I am mad. And perhaps they are right. But I have lost my needle.”
The young man said, “Such a small thing like a needle, with your so-ancient eyes, in the darkening evening, how can you hope? – just tell me exactly where it has fallen. Perhaps – because the road is big – if you show me the exact spot, I may still be able to find it.”
Rabiya said, “It would have been better if you had not asked that question, because I have not lost it on the road. I have lost it inside my house, but there is too much darkness. I am a poor woman, I don’t even have a lamp. Thinking that inside there is so much darkness, finding the needle would be impossible, I was searching outside because there was a little sunlight at the time that I started the search.”
The young man said, “Then perhaps your village people are right. You have lost your needle inside the house, and you are searching for it outside! But your madness has a method in it, you have a certain rationality. The reason is, because inside the house there is so much darkness, finding it would be impossible. And outside there is a little light yet, perhaps there is some possibility. But if you have not lost it there, the light will not help.”
Rabiya said, “But this is what everybody else in the world is doing, and nobody calls them mad. They have all lost their treasures within themselves and they are all searching for them outside, because outside there is more light. Because all the senses open outside, it is easier to search there.”