Sufis Don′t Renounce, They Rejoice

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An article entitled The Dangerous Myths About Sufi Muslims published in The Atlantic magazine cites the recent attack on the Al Rawdah mosque in the Sinai during which at least 305 people died, going on to say that because the mosque was often frequented by Muslims linked to a Sufi order, the massacre has also brought to light the deeply flawed ways Sufism is discussed – both by those who denigrate Sufism and by those who admire it. The author states that, “Sufism never betrayed Islamic orthodoxy; if anything, it is Islamic orthodoxy in its purest form,” and that Rumi, possibly the most famous Sufi in the West, was very much within the Islamic mainstream.

If this is so, what is it about Sufism that makes people fearful?

“Sufism is not concerned with knowledge. Its whole concern is love, intense, passionate love: how to fall in love with the whole, how to be in tune with the whole, how to bridge the distance between the creation and the creator.

“The so-called organized religions of the world teach a kind of duality, that the creator is separate from the creation, that the creator is higher than the creation, it has to be renounced. Sufis don′t renounce, they rejoice. And that′s what I am teaching you here: Rejoice!

“My sannyas is a way of rejoicing, not a way of renunciation.

“Rumi has said:

“If you are not one with the Beloved,
Seek!
And if you are in union,
Rejoice!

“This assembly is a Sufi assembly. You are my Sufis, the Sufis of the new age. I am introducing you to the world of love. I am initiating you into the ways of love.

“Sufis talk about two kinds of love. One they call muhabbat; it means the ordinary love, lukewarm, momentary, partial. One moment it is there, another moment it is gone. It has no depth, no intensity. You call it passion, but it is not passionate. It is not such a flame which can burn you. You don’t become aflame with it; it remains under your control. You don’t become possessed by it, you don’t lose yourself in it. You remain in control.

“The other kind of love, the real love? The authentic love, Sufis call it ishq; ishq means love with total intensity. One is lost in it, one is possessed by it. One goes mad in it.

[…]

“One needs to be in such love that one is ready to risk all. That love is called ishq. You have all known muhabbat, the so-called ordinary love, which is just an emotion, a sentiment, superficial. One day you are in love, another day you are in hate. One day you love the person and you are ready to die for the person, and another day you are ready to kill the same person. One moment you are so nice, so beautiful, another moment you are so nasty, so ugly to the same person. This is not ishq, ishq has depth. This is only circumference. This is just a mask; this is part of your personality. Ishq, passionate love for God, is not of the personality. It is of the essence. It comes from your center; from the very ground of your being it arises and possesses you. It is not within your control; on the contrary, you are in its control. Yes, you are drunk and you are mad.

“Sufis have found ways and methods of how to create ishq. That is the whole Sufi alchemy: how to create ishq in you, how to create such a passion that you can ride on the wave of it and reach to the ultimate.”

Excerpted from Osho, The Secret, Talk #1

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