HAS SUFISM ARISEN AS A REBEL AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISLAM? OR IS IT PRE-ISLAM?
It is both. Anything that is alive is both. It is very ancient and it is very new — together, simultaneously.
Sufism is pre-Islam and yet it is a unique new phenomenon too. It is the essential core of Islam and yet it is a rebellion against the establishment of Islam too. That’s how it is always. Zen is also both — it is the essential core of Buddhism and a rebellion against the establishment.
It has to be understood. Whenever a man like Buddha or Mohammed happens, the essential flowers. But sooner or later the human mind will make an establishment out of it. That too is natural because man needs something to cling to. And man needs something pseudo because the real transforms him. The real is dangerous. He needs something which only looks real but is not real. He needs a toy to play with. That’s what the Church is, the establishment is; it gives the appearance of doing the real thing. So you can enjoy doing it and you can enjoy the ego trip and yet you remain the same. It does not penetrate you, transmute you, at all. Nothing is at stake.
If a man really goes into prayer he will die. He will never come back the same again. He will come back, but as a totally different person. The one who has gone into prayer will never come back. Something new, something that has never existed before, something that is discontinuous with the past, will arise. You will be lost and then only will you find the real you. Real prayer is dangerous; it is a death and a resurrection.
So man is very tricky — he creates a false prayer. He makes a ritual out of prayer, he pretends to pray. He only goes through the gesture, through the empty gesture — his heart is not in it. He goes to the mosque, to the temple, to the church; he prays. And he knows that he is deceiving, he knows that he is not in it. Yet it gives him a certain respectability. People think of him as being a religious man. That gives him a certain credibility. It is a formal gesture, it makes his social life smooth, it creates a kind of lubricant — but it doesn’t change him.
So whenever a Mohammed or a Buddha happens, the real is brought into the world. But the real drives you mad, the real starts killing you. only very rare people, courageous people, can have that date with the real. What about the cowards? They would also like to enjoy… at least the idea that they have seen God, that they have also been into prayer, at least the idea that they are also religious. What about these cowards? And they exist in great numbers. The majority of humanity consists of cowards. These cowards sooner or later create a false religion. Christ is real religion, Christianity is false religion. Mohammed is real, Mohammedanism is false. When this false religion, this established religion, becomes too much, again and again there will come people — courageous people — who will assert and who will say that this is all wrong. So these people will look rebellious. In fact, they are asserting the very spirit. The spirit of Mohammed is asserted by Mansoor; the spirit of Mohammed is asserted by Omar Khayyam; the spirit of Mohammed is asserted by a thousand and one Sufi mystics again and again.
But now you can see what the problem is. Whenever somebody asserts the same spirit he is bringing the essential religion back, but he will go against the establishment, against the false religion. And the false religion has great power — the mass madness is behind it. The mass neurosis supports it. It can kill, it can destroy. It cannot create but it can destroy a Jesus, a Socrates, a Mansoor. That is very easy for it.
These people are like flowers, very fragile, and the mass neurosis is like a rock. If you throw a rock at a flower nothing is going to happen to the rock, only the flower will be destroyed. The higher is always destroyed whenever there is a clash with the lower, remember it. If there is a clash between poetry and prose, poetry will be destroyed, not prose. If there is a clash between God and the world, God will disappear, not the world. If there is a clash between lust and love, love will be poisoned, not lust.
When the unknown descends, when the superior comes into this world, it comes like a flower.
Yes, it is very rebellious. It is rebellious because it is essential. The essential is always rebellious. Mohammed was a rebellious man — his whole life he was haunted by enemies. Many times he was just on the brink of being killed. He had to fight his whole life — a mystic had to become a warrior, a mystic had to waste his whole life in being a warrior. He had to carry a sword. And you can see the contradiction, the paradox — on his sword he had written the words: peace, love. Love had to carry a sword because of mad people. Peace had to carry a sword because of neurosis.
Mohammed had to wage war continuously; he was fighting and fighting. His whole life was wasted in fight. He could have brought more flowers from the unknown, he could have brought more of God into this world, but there was no opportunity.
And once Mohammed has become established, sooner or later the enemy wins again… the enemy who was fighting against Mohammed will become the priest. Watch it! The priests were fighting against Mohammed — the priest of the old establishment. Mohammed brings the essential religion back again, the eternal. Then the priest who was with the older establishment fights with him. If Mohammed wins, then the priest changes party. The priest is always with those who are victorious; the coward is always with those who are victorious. The priest changes party. He says, ‘I am converted by you.’ He moves into the camp of Mohammed.
But he has his old tricks, he has his old mind. He starts playing the same game. Maybe while Mohammed is alive he will not be able to do it, but once Mohammed is gone it will be very easy for him to have the same kind of establishment in the name of Mohammed. Then again whenever another Sufi mystic brings God back, he will be a friend of Mohammed and an enemy of Mohammedans. That’s why there is this paradox.
It is both; religion is always both. Look at me. Whatsoever I am saying to you is the essential religion. It is the religion of Buddha, Christ, Moses, Mohammed, and yet all the priests are against me, all the priests. They may not agree on anything else but they agree on one thing — on being against me they all agree. The Mohammedan priest agrees with the Hindu. They will not agree on anything else, but about me being wrong they both agree. The Christian agrees with the Jaina. They have nothing similar, not a single iota of doctrine which is similar, but on one thing they will agree: if they have to condemn me they will all be together. Whatsoever I am saying to you is the essential core of all their religions, but they are against it. They pretend to be for it, they pretend to be the protectors — they are the enemies. The establishment is the enemy of religion. But it happens in the natural course of things because man is stupid. The establishment is bound to happen again and again. And again and again somebody has to assert and rebel.
[Sufis: The People of the Path #1]