The Great Sufi mystic woman, Rabia al-Adawia
I have heard about a very great Sufi mystic woman, Rabia al-Adawia.
One evening, people found her sitting on the road searching for something. She was an old woman, her eyes were weak, and it was difficult for her to see. So the neighbours came to help her.
They asked, 'What are you searching for?'
Rabia said, 'That question is irrelevant, I am searching. If you can help me, help.'
Rabia said, 'Okay. Just to satisfy you, I am searching for my needle, I have lost my needle.'
So they asked Rabia, 'Please tell us where you lost it — the exact, precise place. Otherwise it is difficult. The road is big and we can go on searching and searching forever. Where did you lose it?'
Rabia said, 'Again you ask an irrelevant question. How is it concerned with my search?'
Rabia said, 'Okay. Just to satisfy you, I have lost it in my house.'
And Rabia is reported to have said, 'Because here there is light and there is no light inside.'
This parable is very significant. Have you ever asked yourself what you are searching for? Have you ever made it a point of deep meditation to know what you are searching for? No. Even if in some vague moments, dreaming moments, you have some inkling of what you are searching for, it is never precise, it is never exact.
You have not yet defined it. If you try to define it, the more it becomes defined the more you will feel that there is no need to search for it. The search can continue only in a state of vagueness, in a state of dreaming; when things are not clear you simply go on searching. pulled by some inner urge, pushed by some inner urgency. One thing you do know: you need to search. This is an inner need. But you don't know what you are seeking.
And unless you know what you are seeking, how can you find it? It is vague — you think it is in money, power, prestige, respectability. But then you see people who are respectable, people who are powerful — they are also seeking. Then you see people who are tremendously rich — they are also seeking. To the very end of their life they are seeking.
So richness is not going to help, power is not going to help. The search continues in spite of what you have.
The search must be for something else. These names, these labels — money, power, prestige — these are just to satisfy your mind. They are just to help you feel that you are searching for something. That something is still undefined, a very vague feeling.
The first thing for the real seeker, for the seeker who has become a little alert, aware, is to define the search; to formulate a clear-cut concept of it, what it is; to bring it out of the dreaming consciousness; to encounter it in deep alertness; to look into it directly; to face it. Immediately a transformation starts happening. If you start defining your search, you will start losing your interest in the search. The more defined it becomes, the less it is there. Once it is clearly known what it is, suddenly it disappears. It exists only when you are not attentive.
Let it be repeated: the search exists only when you are sleepy; the search exists only when you are not aware; the search exists only in your unawareness. The unawareness creates the search.
Yes, Rabia is right. Inside there is no light. And because there is no light and no consciousness inside, of course you go on searching outside — because outside it seems more clear.
Our senses are all extrovert. The eyes open outwards, the hands move, spread outwards, the legs move into the outside, the ears listen to the outside noises, sounds. Whatsoever is available to you is all opening towards the outside; all the five senses move in an extrovert way. You start searching there where you see, feel, touch — the light of the senses falls outside. And the seeker is inside.
This dichotomy has to be understood. The seeker is inside but because the light is outside, the seeker starts moving in an ambitious way, trying to find something outside which will be fulfilling.
It is never going to happen. It has never happened. It cannot happen in the nature of things — because, unless you have sought the seeker, all your search is meaningless. Unless you come to know who you are, all that you seek is futile, because you don't know the seeker. Without knowing the seeker how can you move in the right dimension, in the right direction? It is impossible. The first things should be considered first.
I carry a torch in one hand
If you are interested, this is a link about Rabia’s life: