The Sufi Map of the Seven Valleys

Osho’s allegory of  Sufi Mystic Al-Ghazzali’s 7 Valleys. It’s about man’s journey of finding oneself and
understanding the paradox of the human condition. Enjoy this masterpiece of story telling.
MAN is a paradox. And man is the only animal, the only being, that is paradoxical – that is man’s
uniqueness. Man’s special being is his innermost paradox. All other animals are non-paradoxical.
A tree is a tree, and a dog is a dog, but man is never in a state of isness. He is always becoming,
growing. Man is always surpassing himself; that is his paradox. And it is at his very core of being.
It is not accidental, it is very fundamental. Once you understand this paradox you have your first
glimpse about human-ness – what man is.
Man is always a project, a becoming. His being consists of becoming – this is the paradox. He is
always between that which he was and that which he is going to be. He is always between his past
and future – a bridge hanging between two eternities, the past and the future. He is a surpassing, a
continuous surpassing. Man is never content with that which he is; he is trying to go beyond, always
trying to go beyond. Whatsoever he is doing, all his effort is basically how to become something
more, something higher, something better.
Man is a progress, a wayfarer, a pilgrim – and his life is a pilgrimage, a non-ending pilgrimage, that
goes on and on. A dog is born, a tree is born…. The tree is born with all its tree-ness and the dog is
born with all its dog-ness. Man is not a given fact; man is born only with a possibility, with a potential.
Man is born as a blank, as a nothingness; nothing is written.
All other beings have a certain essence, a certain soul. In man it is just the reverse. His existence
comes first and then he starts seeking for his essence. In other animals essence comes first, then
existence. They already bring a built-in programme; they never grow, they remain the same. That’s
why they look so innocent, so unworried, so non-tense. Look into the eyes of a cow – how peaceful,
calm, tranquil she is. There is no anxiety no anguish, no clouds. Look into the eyes of a man. They
are always cloudy. They always have anguish, there is always trembling: the trembling of. ’Whether
I am going to make it or not?’ – the trembling of, ’Whether I will be able to find myself or not?’ – the
trembling of, ’Whether I will be fulfilled or remain unfulfilled?’
The animals are at ease, relaxed; man is a tension. This is his glory and this is his anguish too. This
is his dignity and this is his problem too. It is his glory because he is capable of creating himself – he
is a god. And it is his anguish because the possibility is always there that he may fail, he may not be
able to create himself. Who knows? It is glory because of freedom – he has not been programmed.
He is the only animal who remains without a programme. He has not been given a map, he has not
been ordered.
Man is the only being who is uncommanded, with no orders. He comes into existence empty and
then he starts groping for his being. Then he starts groping and creating and searching. Man is an
But with the adventure is uncertainty, insecurity, failure, fear. One can always go wrong. There is
more possibility of going wrong, less possibility of being right. There are a thousand and one ways
– which one is the right one? You are always anxious. And whatsoever you choose you choose with
uncertainty because you can never be certain whether this path will lead to your goal or will end in
a cul-de-sac somewhere – whether it will reach anywhere or will just end in a desert.
Man’s glory is his freedom: that he can create himself, that he can be himself, that nothing is forced
on him, that he is open-ended. And man’s misery is because he cannot be certain, can never be
certain that he is on the right path, that whatsoever he is doing is meaningful or not.
Man is the only animal who goes mad. He has problems to face, to solve, to grow beyond. This is
the first thing I would like you to understand.
There was a great Sufi Master – one of the greatest in all the ages – Al-Ghazzali. He says: ’On the
path of human growth from man to God – from man the potential to man the actual, from possibility to
reality – there are seven valleys.’ These seven valleys are of immense importance. Try to understand
them because you will have to pass through those seven valleys. Everybody has to pass through
those seven valleys.
If you understand rightly what to do with a valley you will be able to go beyond it, and you will attain
to a peak – because each valley is surrounded by mountains. If you can pass through the valley,
if you don’t get entangled in the valley, if you don’t get lost in the valley, if you don’t become too
attached to the valley, if you remain aloof, detached, a witness, and if you keep on remembering that
this is not your home, that you are a visitor here, and you go on remembering that the peak has
to be reached, and you don’t forget the peak – you will reach to the peak. With each valley crossed
there is great celebration.
But after each valley you have to enter another valley. This goes on. There are seven valleys.
Once you have reached the seventh then there are no more. Then man has attained to his being,
he is no longer paradoxical. There is no tension, no anguish. This is what in the past we have
called Buddhahood. This is what Christians call the state of being a Christ. This is what Jainas
call Jinahood – becoming victorious. There are many names, but the basic idea is that unless man
becomes God he remains in anxiety. And to become God these seven valleys have to be crossed.
And each valley has its own allurements. It is very, very possible that you may get attached to
something and you will not be able to leave the valley. You have to leave it if you want to enter the
second valley. And after each valley there is a peak, a great mountain peak. After each valley there
is jubilation and the jubilation goes on becoming more and more intense. And then finally, in the
seventh valley, you attain to the cosmic orgasm – you disperse. Then only God is.
Listen to these seven valleys and try to understand them. And don’t think Al-Ghazzali is talking
about something philosophical. Sufis are not interested in philosophy at all. They are very practical
people. If they say something they mean it. If they say something, it is said for the seeker. It is
not said for the curious ones, not for intellectuals, but for those who are on the path, those who are
really working hard to have a glimpse of the truth. It is for the seekers.
The first valley…. The first valley is called the valley of knowledge.
Naturally, knowledge has to be the first because man starts by knowing. No other animal has
knowledge; only man knows, only man collects knowledge. Only man writes, reads, talks. Only man
has language, scriptures, theories. So knowledge has to be the first valley.
The negative part of the valley is that you can become knowledgeable, you can get hooked on
knowledge. You can forget the real purpose of knowing and you can become attached to knowledge
itself. Then you will be accumulating more and more knowledge and you can go on for lives together
accumulating knowledge. You will become a great scholar, a pundit, but you will not become a
The way of the knower is utterly different from the way of knowledge.
There are two things when knowledge happens: the content of knowledge – you know something
– and the consciousness, the mirror, you who knows. If you become too attached to the content of
knowledge rather than to the capacity of knowing, you will be lost in the valley. That part which can
make you entangled, hooked, attached, I call negative.
If you become knowledgeable then you are lost; you cannot cross the first valley. And the more
knowledge you have, the more confused you will become – because there is no way to decide what
is true. Everything that you hear, if rightly put before you, logically placed before you, will look right.
There is no other way for you to decide; there is no criterion. That’s why it goes on happening. You
go to one Master and you hear him, and he looks right. Then you go to another Master and you hear
him, and he looks right. You read one book and it looks right; you read another book – maybe just
the opposite – and that too has its logic, and it looks right. There is no way to decide what is right.
And if you go on accumulating you will go on accumulating contradictions – opposite statements.
And there are millions of standpoints and sooner or later you will become just a crowd of many
philosophies and systems. That is not going to help. That will become the greatest hindrance.
So the first thing is that in the valley of knowledge one has to remain alert that one has to be
emphatically concerned with the capacity of knowing – not with the object, not with the content.
One should emphasise witnessing, one should become more and more alert and aware, then one
becomes a knower. Not by knowing many things but just by becoming more aware, one becomes
really a knower.
The path of knowledge has nothing to do with scriptures. opinions, systems, beliefs. It has
something to do with the capacity to know – you can know. You have this immense energy of
being conscious. So be concerned with the container, the consciousness, and don’t be concerned
with the content.
Don’t be concerned with the known, be concerned with the knower. Knowledge is a double-arrowed
phenomenon. One arrow points to the known, another arrow points to the knower. If you go on
looking to the known you will be lost in the valley. If you start looking to the knower you cannot be
lost, you will be able to transcend the valley. And once you transcend the valley of knowledge there
is great, great joy – because you have understood something very essential in you, something that
is going to remain to the very end, something that is very fundamental: the capacity to know, the
capacity to be conscious.
So if you look at the knower, if you become more alert about the knower, you have used the positive.
The second valley is called the valley of repentance.
When you start looking at who you are, naturally great repentance arises. Because of all that you
have done wrong, all that you have done and should not have done. you start feeling repentance.
So a great peak comes with consciousness – but suddenly, with consciousness, conscience arises.
Remember, the conscience that you have is not the true conscience. It is a pseudo-coin; it is given
by the society.
People have told you what is right and what is wrong; what is moral, what is immoral. You don’t
know exactly what is moral or what is immoral. But after crossing the first valley you will be able
to know exactly what is right and what is wrong. And then suddenly you will see what wrong you
have done – how many people you have been hurting, how sadistic you have been with others, how
masochistic you have been with yourself, how destructive, violent, aggressive, angry, jealous, you
have been up to now. All that will come to your vision. That is a natural by-product of becoming
conscious – conscience arises.
This conscience has nothing to do with the ordinary conscience that you have – that is borrowed.
So you can have it and still it does not hurt; it does not give pain so real that you can be transformed
through it. You only know so-so what is right, and you go on doing the wrong, you go on doing
whatsoever you want to do. Your knowledge of the right does not create any difference in you. You
know that anger is bad but you remain angry. On the one hand you know that anger is bad, on
the other hand there is no problem, you continue to be angry. On the one hand you know that
possessiveness is not good, and on the other hand you go on hoarding, you go on possessing
– not only things but you even start possessing persons. You possess your wife, your husband,
your children – as if they are things, as if they can be possessed. You destroy through your
possessiveness, and you know it is wrong.
This borrowed conscience does not help, it simply burdens you. With the first valley crossed, your
own conscience arises. Now you know exactly what is wrong and it becomes impossible to do
otherwise. This is the point where the Socratic dictum becomes meaningful – that ’Knowledge is
Now the negative part of the valley of repentance…. The negative part is that you may become too
worried about the guilt concerning the past – that you have done this wrong and that wrong, and you
have been doing millions of wrongs. You have been unconscious here for so long that if you start
counting all of that, it will create a kind of morbidness. You will become so guilty that, rather than
growing. you will fall into great darkness.
So if guilt arises and you become morbid and you become too troubled by the past, you will remain
in the second valley. You will not be able to surpass it. If the past becomes too important, then
naturally you will be continuously crying and weeping and beating your chest and saying, ’What
wrong I have been doing!’
The positive part is that you should become concerned with the future, not with the past. Yes, you
have noted that you have been wrong, but that was natural because you were unconscious. So
there is no need to feel guilty. How could one be right when one was unconscious? You have taken
note of it – that your whole past has been wrong – but it does not create a burden on your chest.
You take note of it. That taking note helps you because you will not be able to do it again – you are
finished with it. You feel sad that you have been hurting so many people in so many ways, but you
feel joyous also, simultaneously, because now it will not happen any more. You are freed from past
and guilt! You don’t become concerned about it, you become concerned about the future, the new
Now you have your own conscience; now the future is going to be totally different, qualitatively
different, radically different. You will be thrilled with the adventure. Now you have your own
conscience, and your conscience will never allow you to do wrong again. It is not that you will have
to control – when the real conscience has arisen there is no need to control, no need to discipline.
The right becomes the natural thing. Then the easy is the right and the right is the easy.
In fact, once the conscience has arisen in you, if you want to do wrong you will have to make great
effort to do it. And even then there is not much possibility of succeeding.
Without your own conscience you have to make much effort to be right, and even then you don’t
succeed. So one is thrilled. One feels sad for the past but one is no longer burdened, because
the past is no more. That is the positive part – that one should feel that the transformation has
happened, that the blessing has arrived, that God has given you the greatest gift of conscience.
Now your life will move in a totally new dimension, on a new track.
This is where real morality is born, virtue, SHEELA.
The third valley…. The third valley is called the valley of stumbling blocks.
Once the conscience has arisen you will now be able to see how many blocks exist. You have eyes
to see how many hindrances there are. There ate walls upon walls. There are doors too but they
are few and far between. You will be able to see all the stumbling blocks.
Al-Ghazzali says there are four: one, the tempting world – the world of things. They are very
fascinating. Lust is created. Why have all the world religions been saying that one has to go beyond
the temptation of the world? – because if you are tempted too much by the world, and you hanker
too much for the worldly things, you will not have enough energy to desire God. Your desire will be
wasted on things.
A man who wants to have a big house, a big balance in the bank, great power in the world, and
prestige, puts all his desiring, invests all his desiring in the world. Nothing is left to seek God.
Things are not bad in themselves. Sufis are not against things, remember. Sufis say that things are
good in themselves. but one who has started seeking for God and the ultimate truth cannot afford
them. You have a certain quality and certain quantity of energy. The whole energy has to be put into
one desire. All the desires have to become one desire, only then can God be attained, only then
can you surpass this third valley.
Ordinarily we have many desires. the religious person is one who has only one desire, whose all
other desires have fallen into one big desire – just as small rivers, small streams, small tributaries
fall and become the big Ganges – like that. A religious person is one whose all other desires have
become one desire: he desires only God, he desires only transcendence.
So the first is the tempting world; the second is people – attachments to people.
Sufis are again, remember, not against people, but they say that one should not become attached
to people. Otherwise that very attachment will become a hindrance, a stumbling block to God. Be
with your woman and be with your man, be with your children, be with your friends, but remember
that we are all strangers here and our togetherness is just accidental. We are travellers, we have
met on the road. For a few days maybe we will be together – feel thankful for that – but sooner or
later, ways part. Your wife dies, she goes on her own way, and you will never know where. Or, your
wife falls in love with somebody else, and your ways part. Or you fall in love with somebody else. Or
your son becomes grown-up and he takes his life into his own hands and moves away from you –
every son has to move away from the parents.
We are together on this road for only a few days and our being together is just accidental. It is not
going to be forever. So be with people, be lovingly with people, be compassionately with people,
but don’t become attached – otherwise your attachment will not allow you freedom enough to go
So the second is people, attachments. The third Al-Ghazzali calls Satan, and the fourth, the ego.
By Satan the mind is meant – the mind that you have accumulated in the past. Although conscience
has arisen, although you have become more conscious than ever, the mechanism of the mind is
still there lurking by the side. It will lurk a little longer still. It has been with you for so long that it
cannot leave you suddenly. It takes time. And it waits and watches – if some opportunity is there it
will immediately jump and take possession of you. It has been your master, you have functioned as
a slave. The mind cannot accept that you have become a master so suddenly. It takes time.
The mind is a mechanism, it is always there. For the seeker, the mind is the Devil. All the stories
about the Devil are nothing but about the mind. The Devil – or Satan, as Sufis call the Devil – is just
a mythological name for the mind.
When the Devil tempts Jesus, do you think some Devil is standing there outside? Don’t be foolish!
There is no Devil standing outside. The temptation is coming from Jesus’ own mind. The mind says,
’Now that you have become so miraculously powerful, why bother about other things? Why not have
the kingdom of the whole world? You can have it! It is just within your reach. You can possess the
whole world, you have so much power. You are so spiritually high. Your SIDDHIS are released. You
can have all the money and all the prestige that you want. Why bother about God and religion? Use
this possibility!’ Mind is tempting.
And when Jesus says, ’Don’t come in my way. Go away!’ he is not talking to some Devil outside.
He is simply saying to the mind, ’Please don’t come in my way. I am no longer concerned with the
desires that you have, I am no longer concerned with the projects that you have, I am on a totally
different journey. You know nothing about it, you keep quiet.’
And the fourth is ego – one of the greatest stumbling blocks on the path of seeking. When you
start becoming a little conscious, when your conscience arises, and you start seeing the stumbling
blocks, a great ego – from nowhere – suddenly takes possession of you: ’I have become a saint, a
sage. I am no longer ordinary, I am extraordinary!’ And the problem is that you ARE extraordinary!
It is true! So the ego can prove it. That is the greatest problem, because the ego is not just talking
nonsense. It is sensible. It is exactly so!
Still one has to be alert that if you get entangled with the ego, with the idea that ’I am extraordinary’
then you will always remain in the third valley. You will never be able to reach the fourth, and the
fourth will bring more flowers and higher peaks and greater joys – and you will miss.
This is the place where SIDDHIS – spiritual powers – become the most hindering thing.
The negative part is to start fighting with these stumbling blocks. If you start fighting, you will be lost
in the valley. There is no need to fight. Don t create enmity. Just understanding is enough.
Fighting means repression. You can repress the ego, you can repress your attachment to people,
you can repress your lust for things, and you can repress your Satan, your mind, but the repressed
will remain, and you will not be able to enter into the fourth valley.
Only those who have no repressions enter the fourth valley. So don’t start repressing.
The positive part is: take the challenge – that the ego is challenging you. Don’t take it as an enmity,
take it rather as a challenge to go beyond. Don’t fight with it; understand it. Look deep into it. Look
into the mechanism of it: how it functions, .how this new ego is arising in you, how this mind goes on
playing games with you, how you become attached to people, how you become attached to things.
Look into the how of it with cool observation, with no antagonism. If you become antagonistic in any
way, then you are caught. If you become indulgent, you are caught. If you become antagonistic,
you are caught. And these two are the easiest things. People know only two things: either they
know how to become friends or they know how to become the enemy. That is the only ordinary
understanding possible.
The third thing will help. Be watchful, witnessing; neither inimical nor friendly. Be indifferent. Just
see that they are there, because if you take any feeling attitude – for or against – the feelings will
become bondages. Feeling means that you become attached. Remember, you are as attached to
your enemies as you are attached to your friends. If your enemy dies, you will miss him as much as
you will miss your friend – sometimes even more, because he was giving some meaning to your life.
Fighting with him, you were enjoying a trip. Now he is no more. The ego that was being fulfilled by
fighting with him will never be fulfilled again. You will have to find a new enemy.
So don’t make enemies and don’t make friends. Just see. Be very, very scientifically observant.
That is the positive thing to do. Explore what ego is, and explore joyously. Explore what lust is, and
explore joyously.
Then comes the fourth valley: the valley of tribulations.
Entry into the unconscious happens in the fourth valley. Up to now you were confined to the world
of the conscious. Now, for the first time, you will enter into the deeper realms of your being, the
unconscious, the darker part, the night part. Up to now you were in the day part. It was easier. Now
things will become more difficult. The higher you go, the more you have to pay. With each higher
step the journey becomes more arduous and the fall becomes more dangerous. And one has to be
more alert. On each step more awareness will be needed, because you will be moving on higher
The valley of tribulations is the entry into the unconscious. It is the entry into what Christian mystics
have called ’the dark night of the soul’. It is the entry into the mad world that you are hiding behind
yourself. It is very weird, it is very bizarre. Up to the third a man can proceed without a Master, but
not beyond the third. Up to the third one can go on one’s own. With the fourth a Master is a must.
And when I am saying that one can go up to the third on one’s own, I don’t mean that one has to
go and I don’t mean that everybody will be able to go. I am simply talking of a theoretical possibility.
Up to the third it is theoretically possible that a man can go without a Master. But with the fourth,
the Master becomes an absolute necessity – because now you will be sinking into darkness. You
don’t yet have any light of your own that you can use in that darkness. Somebody else’s light will be
needed – somebody who has gone into that dark night and for whom it has become possible to see
in that darkness.
The negative part of the valley of tribulations is doubt – great doubt will arise! You don’t know what
doubt is you don’t know yet! All that you think is doubt is nothing but scepticism, it is not doubt.
Doubt is an altogether different phenomenon.
Somebody says, ’God is’; you say, ’I doubt.’ You don’t doubt. How can you doubt? You are only
being sceptical. You are only saying, ’I don’t know.’ Rather than saying ’I don’t know’ you are using
a very strong word ’doubt’. How can you doubt? Doubt is possible when you are facing a reality.
For example, you have never seen a ghost. And you say, ’I doubt the existence of ghosts.’ That is
not doubt, that is just being sceptical. You are simply saying, ’I have never come across one so how
can I believe. I doubt.’ That is not doubt. Doubt will be when one day, passing through the cemetery,
you suddenly come across a ghost! Then your whole being will be shaken. Then you will be for the
first time in a state where doubt arises: whether that which you are facing is true or an hallucination.
Doubt is very existential; scepticism is intellectual. Scepticism is only in the mind; doubt enters into
your very being, your whole body-mind-soul. Your totality is shaken.
In this dark night of the soul, doubt arises. Doubt about God – because you were seeking for more
light and this is happening, just the opposite. You were seeking for more bliss and you have fallen
into the dark night. A great doubt arises about whether you are going right, about whether this
seeking is worth it – because you were seeking for gold, you were seeking for great light and great
enlightenment and nirvana and samadhi and satori, and instead of satori and samadhi, this dark
night has overwhelmed you. Even those lights that used to be there are there no more. Even those
certainties that used to be there are there no more.
You used to know certain things; now you know nothing. You had some security. Even that is gone.
The very earth underneath your feet has slipped away; you are drowning. Then doubt arises. Then
you start feeling that maybe this whole religious trip is nonsense, maybe there is no God, maybe you
were tooling yourself, maybe you have chosen something absurd. It was better to live in the world,
to be of the world. It was better to have many more things: to enjoy power, to enjoy sex, to enjoy
money. What have I done? I have lost all and this is the result!
To every seeker this moment comes. And if this doubt arises, then naturally one starts defending
oneself against the darkness. One creates an armour around oneself against the darkness, the
invading darkness. One has to protect oneself. If you do that you will be thrown back again to
the conscious part of your mind. You will miss the mystery of darkness. Light is beautiful, but
nothing compared with darkness. Darkness is more beautiful, more cooling, more deep. Darkness
has depth; light is shallow. And unless you are able to welcome darkness you will not be able to
welcome death.
So the first teaching is that you have to accept, welcome, relax. This darkness is the first glimpse
of God. It is dark, but later on you will understand that it was not dark. It was really that for the first
time you had opened your eyes towards God and it was too dazzling, that’s why it looked dark. It
was not dark; darkness was your interpretation.
Look at the sun for a few seconds and soon you will be surrounded by darkness. It is too much; you
cannot bear it. A man can go blind by looking at the sun too long. Look at the sun for a few seconds
and then go into your house and you will find the whole house full of darkness. Just a moment
before you were there and you could see everything. Now you cannot see anything; you will stumble
over things.
That it is dark is interpretation. But it is natural. Later on when you have transcended the valley then
you will be able to look back and see the reality. Only a Master can hold your hand in this dark night
of the soul and make you confident, can say to you and convince you – ’Don’t be worried. It only
looks dark, it is not dark. It is the first meeting with God. You are coming closer.’
There are three things to be understood: sleep, death and samadhi.
Sleep is like death. In the East we say it is the small death, the tiny death. We die every night and
disappear into the dark night. Then comes death – a bigger death than sleep. The body disappears
but the mind remains and is born again. Then comes the ultimate death – samadhi – where body
disappears and mind disappears and only the innermost core, consciousness, remains. That is the
ultimate death.
In the fourth valley you encounter the first glimpse of how the ultimate death is going to happen to
you. If you reject it, if you defend yourself against it, if you create an armour, you will be thrown back
to the third valley, and you will miss. And once you have missed the fourth you will always remain
afraid to go again into it.
My observation about people is that people who have entered into the fourth valley some time in
their past lives, and have become too frightened and escaped from it, are the people who are always
afraid of anything deeper. Love – and they will be afraid. Orgasm – and they will be afraid. Friendship
– and only so far; beyond that they will be afraid. Discipleship – and they will be afraid. Surrender
– and they will be afraid. Prayer – they will be afraid. They will be afraid of all those things that can
again bring them to that fourth valley. They may not be consciously aware of why they are afraid.
The fourth valley is very important because it is just in the middle. There are seven valleys, the
fourth is just in the middle. Three are on this side and three are on that side. The fourth is immensely
significant; it is the bridge. The Master is needed on this bridge because you pass from the known
to the unknown, from the finite to the infinite, from the trivial to the profound.
The positive part is trust, surrender; the negative part is doubt, defence. The Master starts teaching
you about trust and surrender from the very beginning so that by and by it becomes your climate –
because it will be needed when you enter into the fourth valley.
Sometimes people come to me and they say, ’Why can’t we be here without surrendering? Why
can’t we meditate and listen to you and be benefitted as much as we want? What is the point of
They don’t understand. In the beginning it may not look very relevant. Why? For what? You can
listen to me without surrendering and you can meditate here without surrendering. You can pass
through growth groups without surrendering. It seems perfectly okay. Surrendering does not seem
to be needed at all. But you don’t know what is going to happen in the future. For that, preparation
has to be made right now. You cannot wait for that moment. If preparation has not been made
before, then you will miss. Then when the right time comes, when your house is on fire and you
have not dug the well yet, and you start digging it, by the time it is ready, the house will be gone.
One has to dig the well before the house catches fire! So right now it may not seem relevant. I
can understand. Logically it is not relevant right now. Listening to me, what surrender is needed?
Meditating, what surrender is needed? But when you enter the fourth valley, surrender will be
needed. And you cannot suddenly learn the ways of surrender. You have to go on learning them
before the need arises. Surrender has to become your climate.
The fifth valley… the thundering valley.
In the fifth valley you enter death. In the fourth you entered sleep, darkness; in the fifth you
enter death. Or, if you like to use modern terminology for it: in the fourth you enter the personal
unconscious; in the fifth you enter the collective unconscious. Great fear arises because you are
losing your individuality.
In the fourth you were losing light, day, but you were there. In the fifth you are losing yourself – you
don’t feel as if you are, you are dispersing, you are melting. Your feeling that ’I am a centre’ starts
becoming vague, cloudy.
With entry into death, entry into the collective unconscious, great fear arises, great anguish is felt –
the greatest anguish that you will ever feel – because there comes the question: to be or not to be?
You are disappearing; your whole being will hanker to be. You would like to go back to the fourth. It
was dark, but at least it was good – you were there. Now, the darkness has become more dense.
Not only that, you are disappearing into it. Soon not even a trace will be left of you.
The negative part is clinging to the self. That’s why great teachers – Buddha or Jalaludin Rumi –
insist – ’Remember, no-self, anatta.’ Sufis call it fana – one disappears. And one should prepare
for this disappearance, one should be ready – not only ready but in a deep welcome. It is going to
bring great joy, because all your misery is contained in your ego. The very idea that ’I am’ is your
ignorance. The very idea that ’I am’ creates all kinds of anxieties and problems for you. The ego is
the hell.
Jean-Paul Sartre has said: ’Hell is other people.’ That is not right. The hell is YOU, the hell is the
ego! If other people feel like the hell, they feel like the hell also because of the ego – because they
hurt it continuously. They go on pushing your buttons. Because you have this wound of the ego
everybody seems to hurt you. It is just your idea that ’I am special’ and when somebody does not
recognise it, it gives pain. When you don’t have any idea of being special – what Zen people call ’to
become ordinary’ – if you become ordinary, then this valley can be crossed. If you become nobody,
then this valley can easily be crossed.
So the negative part is clinging to the self and the positive part is relaxing into no-self, into
nothingness – being ready to die, willingly, joyously, voluntarily.
Then comes the sixth valley – the abysmal valley.
One disappears. In the fifth, one was disappearing; in the sixth, one is no more. One is a memory of
the past, one disappears. In the fifth, one was entering into death; in the sixth, death has happened,
one has died, one is no more. That’s why it is called the ’abysmal valley’. It is the most painful,
because it is the sixth – the last but one. One passes into the greatest pain of not being, of
nothingness. One cannot believe it – because in a certain sense one is, and in a certain sense
one is no more. The paradox has come to the ultimate peak. One is and one is not. One can see
one’s own corpse – one is dead – and still one knows that one is seeing, so one must be in some
way, in some sense. All the past ideas of the self have become irrelevant. A new idea of self arises.
Death happens, one disappears. This is what Christians call crucifixion. Nothingness has arrived;
one is just an empty sky. Hindus call it samadhi, Zen people call it satori.
And the negative part complains. It will be good to remind you. At the crucifixion Jesus shows both
attitudes. First he complains. He looks at the sky and says, ’Why? Why have you forsaken me?
Why have you abandoned me?’ This is the negative part. He is complaining. He is dying and no
help is arriving. He is on the cross – and deep down somewhere there must have been a lurking
desire that God’s hand will arrive and everything will be okay and the cross will become a crown
and he will descend with new glory. Somewhere there must have been a lurking desire in the very
unconscious core of his mind – he may not have been aware of it. He had waited long enough, the
last point had come. He had carried his cross on the hill, he had suffered all kinds of humiliation,
but he had waited, patiently waited – waited for this moment. Now his hands have been nailed. Now
it is a question of seconds and he will be gone. Now there is no time left to wait any more and the
help has not come and God is not visible. Hence the cry, ’Why have you forsaken me? Why have
you abandoned me?’ This is the negative part, natural even to a man like Jesus.
If you think of your past and then complain – ’I have been doing all that was asked of me to do,
all that you have ordered me to do. I have followed you blindly, and this is the result? This is the
The positive part is deep gratitude. With the second, the positive part, one forgets the past, one
looks into the future and one trusts. The last test has come, the ultimate test, and one feels grateful
that ’If this is your will, let it be done.’ That’s what Jesus did. He showed both the attitudes. First he
showed the negative – which is very human. I love Jesus because he showed that. He was very
human. That’s why he used to say again and again, ’I am the Son of Man.’ As many times as he
says ’I am the Son of God’ he says ’I am the Son of Man.’
He was eternity come into time; he was the beyond come into the world. He belonged to both the
world and the beyond. That’s how each Master belongs – to both. One foot is in this world, the other
foot is in the other. And on the crucifixion day, in that moment when all is disappearing, Jesus shows
both attitudes. First, he shows the attitude of being ’Son of Man’. He says, ’Why? Why have you
abandoned me? I have hoped, I have prayed, I have lived a life of virtue – and this is the fulfillment?
This is the reward?’
But then he immediately understands that he is missing the point. If this is the will of God then this
has to be so. He surrenders. The positive is gratitude, surrender.
With ’Why have you abandoned me?’ he recognises his complaint, his humanity. He must have
laughed in that moment, he must have seen his limitation as a human being, and he dropped it.
Immediately he says, his immediate statement is, ’Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.’ Gratitude
has arisen, surrender is total. Now there is nothing more.
Jesus dies as Son of God. And the gap is very, very tiny. In just a split second he changed from
being man into God. The moment complaint changes into trust, you change from human into God.
He becomes prayer. ’Thy will be done.’ Now he is no more. Now he has no will of his own.
And then comes the seventh valley, which is the last, the ultimate – the valley of hymns, the valley
of celebration.
Rebirth, resurrection, happens in the seventh valley. That is the meaning of the Christian idea of
resurrection – that Christ is reborn, reborn in the body of glory, reborn in the body of light, reborn in
the body divine. Now there is no positive, no negative. Now there is no duality. One is ONE. Unity
has arisen – what Hindus call ADWAITA. The dual has disappeared. One has come home.
The valley of the hymns…. Al-Ghazzali has given it a beautiful name. Now there is nothing left – just
a song, a song of celebration, praise of God, utter joy. This is what I call the ultimate orgasm.
If I were going to name this valley I would call it the valley of total orgasm. Only celebration is left.
One has flowered, bloomed. The fragrance is released. Now there is nowhere to go. Man has
become that for which he was seeking, searching, struggling.
Man is a paradox. He is not what he is. He is that which he is not yet. But the day you realise the
ultimate, you will have a laugh arising in your very heart, because then you will know that you were
always this. It was just unknown to you. The future was contained in you, just hidden. You had to
discover it. These seven valleys are the valleys of discovery.
This is a beautiful map; this is the Sufi map.

18 thoughts on “The Sufi Map of the Seven Valleys

  1. Just in case you didn’t get a chance to read my reply to your comment, here it is:

    Universidad the Chile is a great team, Madeline, Marcelo Salas used to play there! But of course you’re free to cheer for Asuncion, after all you’re in Paraguay, you don’t want to disappoint the host. And ask Anna, she might be able to show you where to get the autograph or jersey of Mr Bulldog, Jose Luis Chilavert, one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of soccer. Man, my brother and I love him, so I guess you won’t be disappointed meeting him! 🙂

    And if you like, wait until next week when Malaga meets Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League, it might be broadcast by the local TVs. One of the best Paraguayan strikers, Roque Santa Cruz, will be playing, the first match ended 0-0 yesterday, so you and Anna would be happy cheering for him next week. But sorry I’d be in the Borussia Dortmund side, that’s for sure, haha, Germany teams are my love, dum dum dum ♥

    Opera? I will take some time off work end of this month. Ann wants me to visit her and her husband in Sydney, so I might go to the Sydney Opera House and see what an opera is like. I haven’t decided yet, I will need to consult with her first.

    Brazil 2014? I’m definitely going! I’ve been planning for it for years. South American trip is scheduled for next year. Ticked. My Colombian, Ecuadorian, Chilean, and Argentinian students will tell me and have told me where to go. I don’t know anyone from Peru yet, but I really want to go to Peru as well, I want to hug Llamas and do the shalah and meditate around Machu Pichu, LOL! ♥ In 2014, Leo Messi will be 26 and Mario Gotze will be 22, a great time for two of the greatest talents in Argentinian and German soccer to meet in the field. If the group drawing goes well, perhaps they would meet in the Quarter Finals like they did in 2006 and 2010. But Argentina and Germany are not the only center of attraction. Lots of other great players and teams will be there too. For example, Brazil and France. Divine excitement! ♥

    Which team will you be cheering for? The USA? The USA is very likely to qualify, they only have Mexico as a strong team to compete with, so that’s good already, great chance. Landon Donovan is 31, he will still probably be playing next year, so you’ll see a familiar face around ♥


  2. Great post so far, unfortunately for me as a collector of many different pieces of teachings, Osho continues his comment with “Now this story…” in Sufis_The_People_of_the_Path_Vol2.pdf chapter 1 Seven Valleys page 14-18

    ( )

    „This is a beautiful map; this is the Sufi map.

    Now this story.

    This woman was lost in the first valley – the valley of knowledge – and she got hooked to the negative. 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.

    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.

    She was just collecting fragments, wise sayings. These wise sayings may look wise, may be useful to the system from which they have been taken, but they become useless the moment you take them out.

    Only a real Master can be shocking. All others who are just pseudo are never shocking. How can they shock? You are their customers, they have to persuade you – they cannot shock you. They have to adjust themselves to you. In fact, they always say what you want to hear, they never say that which will be shocking – otherwise you may leave them.

    Saying anything to her would be confusing her more. Right now nothing could be taught to her. Right now she did not need to learn any more, she had already learned enough. She needed unlearning.


    This must have been a great shock to the woman – because everywhere else she had gone before she had been welcomed, and everywhere they had told her that now she had become enlightened because she had chosen the right Master. Now she had come to the right door. Now she had become sane. Up to now, wandering here and there, she had been mad. She was recruited with great welcome. But Sadik hammered her. He did not even feel it right to say anything to her. He sent a message – a very practical device to show her her state of consciousness. She was lost in the first valley. She could not go beyond the first valley.

    The story is of great significance. Many of you are lost in the first valley. It you want to go to the second, you will have to drop all the rubbish that you have gathered in your mind. All kinds of thoughts you will have to drop. You will have to unlearn.

    Unlearning is the positive path. Through unlearning you will have a new attitude arising in you – you will be less concerned with the known, you will be more concerned with the knower. And once you have dropped all your knowledge it will be very clear to you whether it is action that is going to be your door, or it is love, or it is knowledge. Right now you are a greyish mass.

    Ohhh, what a mad utter fool am I, lost in the first valley !

    So it’s time to follow the path of unlearning for me.


    • Congrats Stephan! If you are aware of the foolishness, then drop the learning. You already know, be brave and innocent, rather than a learned fool. Thank you for elaborating Osho’s story – intelligent seeker. ♥


      • Ohhh, it was not intelligence, as I didn’t liked the view of the line wrapping on my browser while reading, I searched for the document, as I have most of Osho writings downloaded. Also I wanted to forward it to someone else.
        It is strange, that it doesn’t even seem to bother me, to be a “mad utter fool”. It is more a relief.
        I am without job, soon get divorced and are currently reducing material stuff, so “unlearning” fits in.


  3. Wonderful reading, Maddy! I started and got a ways down and love it! Hope I can get back and read the rest later 😉 Very good to deepen my understanding on several levels while enjoying myself, I like that! In Joy and Peace, Tomas


  4. Wow, Maddy. I felt like I was back in university–trapped in the valley of knowledge with a ton of reading to do. 🙂
    I love so many things about this treatise. I’m going to list them so I don’t forget.
    4 stumbling blocks–tempting world, attachment to others, Satan=the mind, and ego.
    Don’t fight the stumbling block of ego or mind. Take the challenge. Be a witness. equanimity and indifference.
    Guilt is in the past, look forward to the future. You were unconscious, so your trespasses are understandable.
    Develop surrender before encountering the darkness.
    Accept duality without attachment.
    Jesus on the cross displayed both negative complaint(Why have thou forsaken) and positive gratitude (thy will be done).

    Let me know if you have any modifications or additions.
    Maddy, //bow// you have gifted me with so many life changing concepts and ideas in the past week. I am truly grateful. ||bow||
    {{{Hugs}}} Kozo
    When you and Subhan decide to hold a seminar on this material, sign me up.


    • Whoa Kozo, U spiritual beast! I’m impressed u’ve digested the discourse in one sitting. Also glad to know this material helps with u’r quality of life, your growing level of awareness is staggering. I see your summarized list of valleys, perhaps topics you wish to focus on further. Just keep meditating on what you want to realize in yourself and how you relate to others. Like you said, hey, it’s only practice right? No pressure, just relax into the meditation and u’r good to go. We are grateful to you, & I’m truly honored to share this journey with a noble fisher of men. Your every post is pure Love!
      {{{Hugs & Heartfelt Bows}}} to you my lovely brother. ♥♥♥

      LOL, let’s all get together one day and hold a reunion/ spiritual retreat. We’ll share everything. 😀


  5. Great post, Maddy, so informative! We studied Al-Ghazali in uni.
    I loved the idea of 7 valleys, this is the growth of a spirit, a journey up to the ultimate light.
    Thanks for the inspirational reinforcement on the subject, dear, helps detach from false goals, ego and the absurdity of the Self!


    • Thx Sis, I’m so glad u’ve enjoyed this post. Sofia, it’s such a wonderful feeling to know deep down we can help each other find the way back home. I always feel you nearby, goddess of wisdom and light. ♥♥♥


      • Finding the way back home! I always loved this expression! You are so right, this is what we are doing – on the path, walking home! ❤

        I also feel your presence around me and it's so inspiring! But magical things become daily things with you, guys! 🙂


  6. I had interesting talks with my uncle who masters Ihya Ulumuddin as much as Plato understood Socratic dialogues. While I admired Al Ghazali for his strong advocacy for sufism, I guess I wasn’t mature enough to accept the fact that he scorned the philosophers in his book, Tahafutut Falasifah. My uncle explained that basically what Al Ghazali did was a result of disappointment towards philosophy, he believed that philosophy cannot lead to God. The only way to God is not through the mind, but through the heart.

    While I totally agreed with his opinion, I thought that it is just not cool to totally refute philosophy. Human civilizations owe much to philosophy and I guess without it we couldn’t be where we are now, I said to my uncle. But he was a patient teacher and discussions with him were enlightening. It was through such discussions that I encountered Averroes and other sufi masters, until I had my hands on Rumi and Hafez. I guess later on in my life I was swimming too far that I became another disciple of modern Ibn Taimiyah, until I returned to Sufism, my safe haven.

    It is interesting that I am reminded to read more stuff by the Hujjatul Islam by an American who dreams of world peace. I guess the journey towards Light comes through many different ways, and often the bright ones are those that we never expect. Thank you for another post of Light, Maddy. You are a blessed soul, many blessings and much love to you 🙂


    • Subhan, you certainly are well read! While I am certainly not against the importance of knowledge that philosophy has enriched humanity with, I do agree it may become a stumbling block on our path to spiritual growth. Being attached to words or concepts weighs on the mind, and we can not be open to the divine possibilities of all there is! True freedom lies in understanding oneself through our own experiences of life. Can you really take the words of another without verifying it firsthand? No amount of philosophy can substitute real life. I leave you with a few Sufi quotes:
      “He who tastes, knows no words”
      “Freedom is the absence of choice.”
      “One who discovers his own self, discovers God”

      If we could leave the politics out of religion, then WOW! Suddenly we realize all paths lead to God, simply everything is God – duality of thought, internal/ external conflicts are opportunities allowing us to understand we are all one in the end. Mind or No-mind, this is the only logical conclusion.
      Blessing to you my friend, you are wise beyond your years. ❤


♥Thanks for sharing♥

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