There was once a Sufi who wanted to make sure that his disciples would, after his death, find the right teacher of the way for them.
He therefore, after the obligatory bequests laid down by law, left his disciples seventeen camels, with this order:
‘You will divide the camels among the three of you in the following proportions: the oldest shall have half, the middle in age one-third, and the youngest shall have one-ninth.”
Sufism depends absolutely on the concept of the master. Without the master there is no Sufism. Sufism does not believe in the books, it believes in the living master. One has to come to somebody who has come to know by himself. The books may contain great wisdom, but there is no way to decode it. If you decode it, you will decode it according to your mind. That will falsify the book.
Islam is known as the religion of the book – the Koran. Hinduism is also known as the religion of the book – the Veda. And so is the case with Christianity. The word bible simply means the book.
But Sufism insists that the book cannot help you. No book can help you. Sufis of course have a book which they call The Book of the Books, but it is empty. Nothing is written in it – not even a single word. That is their attitude about books – that although many things will be there, for you it will remain empty, because you can read only that which you know.
Just the other day I heard somebody ask Mulla Nasruddin, “Why did Jesus say ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit?’”
Mulla thought for a while and then said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they have no money to buy booze.”
Another time somebody asked Mulla Nasruddin, “And what is the eleventh commandment?”
He said, “Thou shalt not get caught.”
Your mind will become your master when you are reading a book, and the mind is the problem. This mind can continue perfectly well with a book. The book is dead. The mind has to interpret, comment, decide what the meaning is. So when you are reading a book, you are reading your own mind in an indirect way. The book goes on throwing you back to yourself.
You may become very learned but you will never become a man who really knows. You will know many things about God but you will never know God. And you will know many things about truth but you will never know truth. And to know about is just meaningless. To know is the thing, not to know about. To know about means you have missed. But the books can give you a very, very strong feeling that you know; without knowing at all you can have the feeling that you know – and that will become your greatest barrier to knowing. That will become a China Wall around you; your bridges will be broken. How to bridge? How to connect? How to attain to this connection with the divine?