One day, all the disciples went to their Master and said, “Master, we all want to go on a pilgrimage.”
Master: “Why do you want to go on a pilgrimage?”
Disciples: “So that it will bring a transformation and help us on our spiritual path.”
Master: “Take this bitter gourd along with you. Make sure you dip it into all the holy rivers and lakes, take it into all the holy shrines and take the blessings of all the deities and bring it back.”
So, the bitter gourd also went on the pilgrimage with the disciples. Finally, when they returned, the bitter gourd was cooked and served as a sacramental good.
“Strange,” said the Master slyly after he had tasted it, “the holy water and the shrines have failed to sweeten it!”
Disciples: “But that’s the very nature of the bitter gourd, Master.”
Master: “That’s what I am saying. Unless you change your nature, pilgrimage will not make any difference.
So, if we don’t change ourselves, if we don’t bring inner transformation, no teacher, Guru, holy books or any pilgrimage can make any difference in our lives.
Most people do not really want a cure, even though they say so. Cure is hard. Cure is painful. They only want relief.
Cure requires an inner transformation. It is uprooting. It is change. It is progress. Whereas relief is a short-lived soothing effect. Under the garb of change and cure, most people, by their very indolent nature, seek only relief. Relief implies a change in the environment — the temporary removal of some obstacle. But cure is always internal which produces resilience to tackle any environment.
The Sufi Bayazid says this about himself: “I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord give me the energy to change the world’.”
As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends and I shall be content’.”
“Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, my one prayer is, ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this right from the start, I should not have wasted my life.”