Are we alert enough to learn…?
When one of the great Sufi Masters from Baghdad, Junaid Baghdadi, was dying. His chief disciple came close to him and asked, “Master, beloved Master, you are leaving us. One question has always been in our minds, but we could never gather courage enough to ask you. Now that you are leaving, there will be no more opportunity to ask, so all the disciples have forced me to come to you and ask. Who was your Master? This has always been a great curiosity amongst your disciples because we have never heard you talk about your Master.”
Junaid opened his eyes and said, “It will be very difficult for me to answer because I have learned from almost everybody.
“The whole existence has been my Master. I have learned from every event that has happened in my life and I am grateful to all that has happened, because out of all that learning I have arrived. But I did not have any single Master. I was not so fortunate as you are,” Junaid said to them. “You have a Master.”
“I never had any Master; you are far more fortunate. I had to learn the hard way: from every experience, from every event, from every person I came across. But it has been an immensely rich journey.”
Junaid said, “Just to satisfy your curiosity I will give you three instances.
“I was very thirsty and I was going towards the river carrying my begging bowl, the only possession I had. When I reached the river a dog rushed, jumped into the river and started drinking.
“I watched for a moment and threw away my begging bowl, because it was useless — a dog can do without it. I also jumped into the river, drank as much water as I wanted. My whole body was cool because I had jumped into the river, sat in the river for a few moments, thanked the dog, touched his feet with deep reverence, because he has taught me a lesson.
“I had dropped everything, all possessions, but there was acertain clinging to my begging bowl. It was a beautiful bowl, very beautifully carved, inlaid with gold.
“It was presented to me by a king and I was always aware that somebody may steal it. Even at night I used to put it under my head as a pillow so nobody can snatch it away. That was my last clinging — the dog helped. It was so clear: if a dog can manage without a begging bowl, I, a man, why can’t I manage? That dog was one of my Masters.
“Secondly,” he said, “I lost my way in a forest and by the time I reached the nearest village that I could find, it was midnight. Everybody was fast asleep. I wandered all over the village to see if I could find somebody awake to give me shelter for the night. I could only find a thief who was searching to find some house to enter.
“I asked the thief, ‘It seems only two persons are awake in the town, you and I. Can you give me shelter for the night?’
The thief said, ‘I can see from your gown that you are a Sufi monk and I feel a littleembarrassed to take you to my home. I am perfectly willing, but I must tell you who I am. I am a thief. Would you like to be a guest of a thief?’
“For a moment I hesitated.”
The thief said, “Look, it is better I told you. You seem hesitant.”
The thief is willing, but the mystic seems to be hesitant to enter into the house of a thief, as if the mystic is weaker than the thief.
“I am not afraid of you. In fact, I should be afraid of you — you may change me, you may transform my whole life! Inviting you means danger, but I am not afraid. You are welcome. Come to my home. Eat, drink, go to sleep and stay as long as you want, because I live alone and my earning is enough. I can manage for two persons. It will be reallybeautiful to chit-chat with you of great things. But you seem to be hesitant.”
Junaid became aware that it was true. He asked to be excused. He touched the feet of the thief and said, “Yes, my rootedness in my own being is yet very weak. You are really a strong man and I would like to come to your home. I would like to stay a little longer, not just for this night. I want to be stronger myself!”
The thief said, “Come on!”
He fed the Sufi, gave him something to drink, helped him to go to sleep and said, “Now I will go. I have to do my own thing. I will come early in the morning.”
Early in the morning the thief came back. Junaid asked, “Have you been successful?”
The thief said, “No, not today, but I will see tomorrow.”
This happened continuously for thirty days; every night the thief went and every morning he came back, but he was never sad, never frustrated, no sign of failure on his face, always happy, and he would say, “It doesn’t matter. I tried my best. I could not find anything today again, but tomorrow I will try. God willing, it can happen tomorrow if it has not happened today.”
After a month Junaid left and for years, he tried to realize the ultimate, but it was always a failure. But each time he decided to drop the whole project he was reminded of the thief, his smiling face and his saying “God willing, what has not happened today may happentomorrow.”
Finally, when he achieved the ultimate, Junaid said, “I remembered the thief as one of my greatest Masters. Without him I would not be what I am.”
“Thirdly,” he said, “I entered into a small village. A little boy was carrying a candle, a lit candle, obviously going to the small temple in the village to put the candle there for the night.”
Junaid asked, “Can you tell me from where the light comes? You have lighted the candle yourself so you must have seen. From where does the light come? What is the source of light?”
The boy laughed and he said, “Wait!” He blew out the candle in front of Junaid and said, “You have seen the light gone. Can you tell me where it has gone? If you can tell me where it has gone, I will tell you from where it has come, because it has gone to the same place. Ithas returned to the source.”
Junaid said, “I had met great philosophers, but nobody had made such a beautiful statement: ‘It has gone to its very source’.”
Everything returns to its source finally.
“Secondly, the child made me aware of my own ignorance. I was trying to joke with the child, but the joke was on me. He showed me that asking foolish questions: ‘From where has the light come?’ is not intelligent. It comes from nowhere, from nothingness and goes back to nowhere, to nothingness.”
Junaid said, “I touched the feet of the child. The child was puzzled. He said, ‘Why are you touching my feet?’ I told him, ‘You are my Master — you have shown me something. You have given me a great lesson, a great insight.”
“Since that time,” Junaid said, “I have been meditating on nothingness and slowly I have entered into nothingness. Now the final moment has come when the candle will go out, the light will go out. I know where I am going — to the same source.
“I remember that child with gratefulness. I can still see him standing before me blowing out the candle.”
“Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.” — Guru Nanak
“Let each man take the path according to his capacity, understanding and temperament. His true guru will meet him along that path.” — Swami Sivananda Saraswati
Guru tattva is a teaching principle, which can manifest any time, any where, in any form and by any method.