Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq’s message in a bottle

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Osho states, “Each system is perfect and works. But don’t mix it with anything else; let it function on its own.”

There was once a woman who abandoned the religion in which she had been brought up. She left the ranks of the atheists too and joined another faith. Then she became convinced of the truth of yet another. Each time she changed her beliefs, she imagined that she had gained something, but not quite enough. Each time she entered a new fold she was welcomed, and her recruitment was regarded as a good thing and a sign of her sanity and enlightenment.

Her inward state, however, was one of confusion. At length, she heard of a certain celebrated teacher, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, and she went to see him.

After he had listened to her protestations and ideas, he said, ‘Return to your home, I shall send you my decision in a message.’

Soon afterwards the woman found a disciple of the sheikh at the door. In his hands was a packet from the Master. She opened it and saw that it contained a glass bottle, half full with three layers of packed sand – black, red and white – held down by a wad of cotton. On the outside was written: ‘Remove the cotton and shake the bottle to see what you are like.’

She took the wadding out and shook the sand in the bottle. The different coloured grains of sand mixed together and all that she was left with was a mass of greyish sand.

[…] She became knowledgeable. She went to this school and to that; she went to this teacher and that; she studied this doctrine and that; and each time she started something new she would be thrilled. It would be a kind of honeymoon. And sooner or later she would be fed up with it and she would start moving and searching again.

The total result was that she gathered much knowledge of diverse nature, much knowledge of contradictory systems. All those systems work, remember – never forget it! Each system works, but it works in its purity only. If you mix it with many systems it will never work. It will be like you take a few parts from a Mercedes-Benz and a few parts from a Rolls Royce and a few parts from a Chevrolet and a few parts from a Ford and a few parts from a truck and a few parts from somewhere else, and you put them together. They are all useful, but this mechanism that you have created out of them is not going to work. A part that was functioning in a certain mechanism will not be able to function with other kinds of parts. Each system is an organic whole. It is complete in itself.

If you listen to Mahavira and find a few beautiful thoughts, and then you go to Buddha and listen and find a few beautiful thoughts. And you make a concoction – a kedgeree – you will become confused. Those fragments that you have taken from Mahavira were beautiful, but they belonged to a certain system; they were organic parts of a certain whole. They can function only in that whole, they cannot function with anything Buddhist. And the Buddhist fragments are beautiful, but only in a Buddhist system.

Now this woman became more and more confused. And this woman is very representative of many people – many people here also – who have been going to this teacher and that, to this system and that, and go on gathering. And they think that just by gathering a few wise statements they are going to become wise. They are utter fools! They will simply go mad.

Each system is perfect and works. But don’t mix it with anything else; let it function on its own.

Osho, Sufis, the People of the Path – Talks on Sufism, Vol 2, Ch 1 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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