A dervish said to a Sufi: “People make me a master, I want to dissuade them.
– All you have to do, replied the Sufi, is to behave as if you were mad. They will not be long in abandoning you.
– But that will spoil my reputation! exclaimed the dervish.
– I see, said the Sufi, the question was about teaching, but what was hiding behind was self-esteem!“ (source)Idries Shah, Apprendre à apprendre
This dervish wants to be taken seriously because he takes himself seriously. He hates the idea of being taken for a master, but he hates even more that of being mistaken for a madman. He is proud of his reputation. Despite his denial, he behaves as master, model and guru, and should not be surprised that his students treat him as he presents himself.
There is no problem with the master unless you only have one. You risk losing sight of what you are wanting to marry what your master. Another master cancels the excesses of the first. Many masters guarantee your independence and your integrity.
Don’t make any disciple, you would only get zeros. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Nietzsche was right. Don’t make disciples, you will only have zeros. Add a lot of zeros behind the unit, you can get a very large number. But in the end, there will always be only one unit followed by a crowd of zeros. Everyone must become this unity, wary of those who follow him.
You want a master
I am not a master. Now you want to see me. What for? I’m not a curious beast or a distant relative to pay a visit. I am not a master or a guru. I am not an idol. I am not a star. I do not need admirers, fans or groupies. If you really need someone to help you, life will send that person to you. I am not. Do not try to force it.
Don’t provoke a meeting, under penalty of causing a catastrophe. Meetings happen when you are ready to take advantage of them. As long as this moment has not come, it is useless to rush things. Also, know that it is not the disciple who chooses the master. This choice belongs to the master, and to him alone. But if there’s one thing I’m sure of, here it is: I’m not a master.
You have a question to ask me. First, make sure I have not dealt with this issue in one of my 800 articles. At the top of each page, the SEARCH window is made for that. If you do not find the article in question, send me an e-mail.
You have a request. E-mail too. Now remember I’m not Google, I don’t know everything. I am not a djinn or a fairy, I can’t realize all your wishes.
You want to go further. You need fresh air. No need to meet me. Grab your backpack and hit the road. You will just make the meetings that suit your condition. That’s the way to become a Fool. Master of yourself as of the universe. Or to become a Buddha. Last stop-over before heaven.
You are looking for a guru desperately. You desire it so much that you are ready to fall into the clutches of an incompetent person. Many incapables play the paid guru. The higher the price, the less reliable the guru is, the more catastrophic the results will be for you. I know a Sufi tale that perfectly illustrates the dangers of a bad master.
Once upon a time there was a Sufi who wanted to open a school in the mountains, far from his usual home. He wanted the mountaineers to benefit from his teaching as well. For six months he teaches them. When time comes to return to his distant city, he says to them, “My dear friends, I must leave you, I will be away for several months, and I do not know when I can come back to you.
During my absence, it is important that you continue to study the texts I have made available to you.Your comrade Abdullah will be responsible for order and discipline during my absence, so that your work is not disturbed.”
And the Sufi takes leave of them. At first, everything is going well for the isolated school. But time passing, Abdullah takes his role too seriously. He corrects what he thinks is bad interpretations of the texts, he invents his own initiatory tales, he proposes his own exercises and subjects of meditation that are not find in the texts.
Two years go by before the Sufi can return to the mountains. What he finds here is the dismay. He said to the students, “You have followed a wrong path, the one to whom I entrusted the responsibility of your study group has taken for your master, He has stuffed your heads and your hearts with nonsense and counterfeiting. It was better for you to stop studying because not only did you not progress in my absence, but your level is much lower than when I left.“
This story is told by Idries Shah and other older Sufis. It illustrates what is generally meant by counter-initiation. René Guénon, French thinker converted to Islam and become Sufi, insists on this reality. Most religions are agents of counter-initiation. Not only will they not advance those who practice them, but the risk of regression is very great for them.
Neither God nor master
I am not a guru. I do not have a sect or followers. I am not a model to follow. Nobody is one for others. Everyone can be one for oneself. The anarchists refuse any compromise on this point as on many others, that’s why I feel a great tenderness for their way of seeing, even if, with the age, I learned to fear any form of extremism .
“Neither god nor master,” they profess. I do appreciate the formula which was long my motto. Forty years ago, a song by Bob Dylan made me think deeper. Whatever you do, he says, and even if you do not know, you’ll have to serve somebody. Everyone has to serve someone. Better choosing who you gonna serve, rather than living in the illusion that you don’t serve anyone.
Some of us, aware of this pitfall, think we can avoid it by choosing an impersonal master. Jean-Claude Flornoy, my benefactor, had chosen to serve the Living. Others revere the Source. This is another name for the gods, which is often confused with them in practice.
He always prays for his star who consoles him with his misfortunes. When lassitude embraces him, he implores him thus: “O my star, always faithful, when will you give me an appointment less ephemeral in your field of eternal certainties?“
This person is too tired to taste life again and wants the end to win a star … or to lose everything. Who knows for sure? With this words, is this person sincere? Jean de La Fontaine(1621–1695) answers in his fable:
Death and the Woodcutter
Translation of George McLean Harper
A poor woodcutter, covered with green boughs,
Under the fagot’s weight and his own age
Groaning and bent, ending his weary stage,
Was struggling homeward to his smoky hut.
At last, worn out with labor and with pain,
Letting his fagot down, he thinks again
What little pleasure he has had in life.
Is there so cursed a wretch in all the strife?
No bread sometimes, and never any rest;
With taxes, soldiers, children, and a wife,
Creditors, forced toil oppressed,
He is the picture of a man unblessed.
He cries for Death. Death comes straightway,
And asks why he was called upon.
“Help me,” the poor man says, “I pray,
To lift this wood, then I’ll begone.”
Death comes to end our woes.
But who called him? Not I!
The motto of mankind still goes:
We’ll suffer all, sooner than die.
(Jean de La Fontaine)
The path with heart
For my part, said don Juan Matus, the benefactor of Carlos Castaneda, I chose the path that has the heart. It’s a personal choice. You will do your own, no obligation. For my part, I put myself at the service of unconditional love. The power given by the practice of this very love has no equivalent.
It is not a power that crushes, but that welcomes. It looks like a smile. It is a small source that you feel in your heart. The source grows in strength and brilliance. One day, from your heart, flows an irresistible source that springs up forcefully, causing drunkenness.
I am the finger that shows the moon. Please, look at the moon, not at the finger. In spite of all my efforts, my imperfections are still numerous, my faults are always present. Over the years, just have they become more bearable. At least I wish, out of respect for those who love me.
Am I as the sufi of the tale or as his substitute? How would I know? And you, how would you know? Please, do not follow me, do not follow anyone. Pray your soul so that it will incarnate itself in you and diffuse its light, which is yours. But do not invoke anyone else.
The invisible are not at your service, but at its own. In this predatory multiverse, they seek easy prey. Do not be one. Keep yourself from them. Protect yourself from their lies. Most often, without your knowledge, they do not bring the best, but the worst.