August 03, 2007

Hunger for knowledge or indigestion of teachings!

(from Idries Shah's book, 'Wisdom of the Idiots')

A man came to Bahaudin Naqshband, and said:
'I have travelled from one teacher to another, and I have studied many Paths, all of which have given me great benefits and many advantages of all kinds.
'I wish to be enrolled as one of your disciples, so that I may drink from the well of knowledge, and thus make myself more and more advanced in Tariqa, the Mystic Way.
Bahaudin, instead of answering the question directly, called for dinner to be served. When the dish of rice and meat stew was brought, he pressed plateful after plateful upon his guest. The he gave him fruits and pastries, and then he called for more pilau (rice), and more and more courses of food, vegetables, salads, confitures.
At first the man was flattered, and as Bahaudin showed pleasure at every mouthful he swallowed, he ate as much as he could. When his eating slowed down, the Sufi Sheikh seemed very annoyed, and to avoid his displeasure, the unfortunate man ate virtually another meal.
When he could not swallow even another grain of rice, and rolled in great discomfort upon a cushion, Bahaudin addressed him in this manner:
'When you came to see me, you were as full of undigested teachings as you now are with meat, rice and fruit. You felt discomfort, and, because you are unaccustomed to spiritual discomfort of the real kind, you interpreted as a hunger for more knowledge. Indigestion was your real condition.
'I can teach you if you will now follow my instructions and stay here with me digesting by means of activities which will not seem you to be initiatory, but which will be equal to the eating of something which will enable your meal to be digested and transformed into nutrition, not weight.'
The man agreed. He told his story many decades later, when he became famous as the great teacher Sufi Khalili Ashrafzada.

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