What about the cowards?
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 Mohammad 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.
Real prayer is dangerous
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… 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 Mohammad 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.
The majority of humanity consists of cowards
What about the cowards? They would also like to enjoy… at least the idea that they have seen God, at least the idea 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. Mohammad is real, Muhammadanism 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 Mohammad is asserted by Mansoor; the spirit of Mohammad is asserted by Omar Khayyam; the spirit of Mohammad 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…
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, Vol 1