To Leave Everything Behind and Gain Everything Within – A Sufi Story
Sadhguru narrates a story about Ibrahim, the Sufi saint. With the opulent trappings of a king, Ibrahim encounters a wandering dervish with a begging bowl.
Another Sufi, a wandering dervish, happened to pass by, and looking at all the luxury, thought, “This cannot be a spiritual person.” When he had the opportunity to meet Ibrahim, he chided him, “What kind of a Sufi are you? You are still holding on to your material wealth, your gold pegs!” Ibrahim simply nodded and asked him to rest for a while.
Then, in the night when they met again, Ibrahim said, “Early tomorrow morning, let us walk to Mecca, the two of us.” The man said, “Okay, that is where I am heading too.”
They woke up early in the morning and left together. After walking for a few hours in the desert, suddenly the other man remembered that he had left his begging bowl behind in the sleeping quarters. He told Ibrahim, “I have forgotten my begging bowl. Let me return and get it.” He started to walk back.
Ibrahim looked at the man and replied, “I have left all that material wealth, the camels, the gold tent pegs and everything else, and I am walking without looking back. But you want to go back for a begging bowl? I want you to know, the gold pegs were only piercing the sand, not my heart. Whether it is steel or gold, it makes no difference to me, so I made it gold. But you? You cannot leave your begging bowl and walk away. You are walking towards Mecca which is supposed to be the holiest of the holiest, but you are turning back because of a begging bowl. I am not even carrying a begging bowl with me.” And Ibrahim walked on.
What you have or do not have, how you eat, dress or live should not determine what you are within yourself. Externally, you can live whichever way you want. But how you keep yourself within is more important. Otherwise you may gather everything and still have nothing.
Right from the times of the caveman, people have been gathering things. As a child, you gathered shiny pieces of stone. Nothing has changed since then. It is just that the stones have become more expensive now. As a child, you could just pick it up on the beach. Now, you have to go and buy it at enormous cost. But nothing has changed. You still want to gather.
What you gather – relationships, family, property, wealth, knowledge, ideas and everything else you hold – are all accessories to add decoration to life. People gather so many accessories and get so caught up, attached and identified with these accessories that they never experience the life that they are.
Life is not in the things that you gather. By gathering, you are trying to become full in life, you are trying to find fulfillment by acquiring things. You want to somehow ensure your life is not empty. But, all the beautiful things have happened to you only in moments of emptiness. It is only in moments of emptiness that you have known love, joy and peace. But logically, mentally, you think emptiness is one thing that you do not want.
Most of the time, I do not have a single thought on my mind. I am empty. Other than what is required for the activity I undertake, I barely speak. I am so empty-minded that both thought and speech happens with some effort. If I simply sit, I neither have thought nor words to speak. I am just totally blank.
If you become utterly blank, you will see the whole existence will fit into you. If you are full of ideas, here and there your ideas may fit with the existence. But if there is nothing in you that you can call your own, if you are just an empty space, then the whole existence fits perfectly into you.
If you become absolutely, totally empty, there is no gathering for the sake of gathering. What you have, you enjoy it thoroughly. If it is not there, you enjoy its absence.
Editor’s Note: Watch Sadhguru narrate the story of Shiva’s south Indian love affair, which unfortunately did not find success. However, it bore fruit in a different way, and resulted in the Kailash of the South.