the Zensufi bag
here i will collect stories, yarns , poetry and reflections i put in this blog.
1- the man from the desert said three truth
in a land far from here lived a king that wanted to know the truth without searching for it. from his palace he saw coming a man from the desert , dressed like a pilgrim . The king immediately sent his soldiers to take him under arrest and said : “it seems that you are a wise man . i want to know the truth in therms that i can understand , otherwise you will be killed immediately” the man from the desert said “it is true that there is a tradition here, saying that if i say the truth you are obliged to free me immediately ?” the king said : “if i will not do this my soldiers will immediately kill me, but you have to prove that what you say it is the truth” the man said : “i will reveal you not one but three truth that are the prove of themselves” the king accepted and the soldiers testified. So the man said : “the first truth is that i was coming from the desert . the second truth is that you accept to release me if i say the truth . the third truth is that you want to know the truth in a form that correspond to your concept of truth” the king was obliged to free him immediately.
you can be the most powerful of all men but pride , superficiality and aggression can veil the truth to your eyes.
this old story tell us a simple thing : to search truth is not only a matter of intention but also of attitude. how you can reach the best acting in the worst manner ? each action originate a reaction . the nature of the second is directly derived from the first . but more deep this story told us that the truth is rarely what we expect or better what we want, because truth is not joined to our will or desires . truth is what it is , nothing more or nothing less .
2- the teaching pipe
many years ago in a place far from here , a man went to a great master of the path to visit him. he found the master smoking a pipe . to show his knowledge the man said : ” after some study i’ve concluded that the world does not exist , we does not exist , the path does not exist , nothing exist ! the reality does not exist!”. the master was smoking his pipe silently . suddenly he hit the man head with the pipe. the man was really angry for that. the master said: “if nothing exists, where this anger come from ?”
saying that reality is an illusion doesn’t mean that things doesn’t happen.
this old Koan show us how difficult can be the explanation of reality. if you read it with attention , you will notice that the master doesn’t deny the non existence of reality . he just hit (literally) the right spot making the man notice that the origin of all is in our mind . reality exist ? maybe is just an illusion , but we perceive it so for us is real. what is the demonstration that reality is real ? what is the definition of “reality” & “real”, in the end ? the answer ? reality is empty of existence , but we perceive it with our mind that is equivalent on saying that our mind originate our reality . confused ? every answer about what is real and unreal cannot be expressed completely in words , so must be a confused answer. but with direct experience you can find the complete answer . And for sure the answer is in your mind. oh yes, i know, too complicate . don’t try to find the answer , try to be inspired.
3- a man loses his camel
A man was walking on the street with his beautiful camel . arrived near a temple he decided to go inside to pray . some time passes and the camel run out . when the man came out from the temple and saw the camel was gone he became really angry and begin to yell : “you, god , how cruel and unjust you are with your servant ! i abandoned all myself to you in the prayer , i humiliate myself bowing to you & you permit that my beautiful camel run out , how unjust you are !” . a wise man , a master of the path was passing from there , hearing such a speech he stopped & said to the man : ” my dear brother , it is a really good thing to trust in god , but is also a good thing to tie your camel!”
this old story , found in many variances in all mediterranean area, reveal a great limit of humans that is the taking of responsibility for their acts. is not god that came into the temple leaving the camel untie. is not god that commit homicides or project wars & also the consequences of natural disasters , with a careful planning, can be reduced . to the ones that ask “where is god now ?” can be answered “in the same place where he always is , and where were men before and after ?”
4- a tale of a mountain
in a little village there was a big problem : a mountain made a shadow on all the valley. the sun beams where blocked , the harvest was really bad , the children grew with problems and all the people where more or less hill all the year. many times the people met to talk about the problem , but the only thing on which they all agree was that the mountain must move from there. one day an old man get up and begin to walk toward the mountain with a spoon in his hand . a man asked him “where are you going grandpa?” , the old man answered “i will move the mountain” so the man laugh and said “with just the spoon?” the old man look at him and replied “you know , someone have to begin”.
if you don’t begin to solve the problem, who will do ?
everyone in his life hear about big problems . there are always many experts that teach you how to resolve and very often their solution begin with “if everyone will ….. “, but in the end no one will do what they say , just because no one do it ! i really don’t know if an expert have a good solution or not (very often they are payed to talk, you know) but someone must have the courage to stop talking and begin to solve the problem, even if the solution seems to be incredibly complicate or time wasting . better if you are the one.
5- a tale of a bandit
a wise man was walking in pilgrimage on a path up on the mountains . he met a bandit that pointing at him with his sword said : “give me all you have and i will leave you free and safe” the wise man open the arms and said “take it!” . the bandit was confused : “what?” he said. the wise man said “i offer you all i have : my life. now leave me free and safe like you said!” the bandit leave the sword and run away crying . some say that after some years he become one of the most renowned saint of this world .
what you can steal from a man that have nothing ?
attachment is a big weakness for human being . not only a weakness in strategical sense , but also in spiritual sense . attachment create a scale of value that is false and , if followed, ruin our life . love , family , religion, culture became not important in comparison to money , possess , power . what is not important is excludable from our life , so the man that think that money and power really are a value have , in the end , to abandon family , love and the other value that make a life livable. what is the solution? to be poor for choice ? no, obviously. the solution is to be not attached to all this material things , even if you have it . if the one that have power don’t exercise it just for power , but for the benefit of the community , that will have the consequences of improve the life of all. easier said than done , isn’t it ? the bandit of the story imposed his power for himself , making the wrong thing. the wise man just demonstrate him that a selfish power have a limit and is not productive even for the one that detain it .
6- the philosopher and the king
one day a great king that conquered a big part of the world heard about a great philosopher , called “the dog” , a master of the path. he went to the city where the philosopher lived and found him on the steps of the temple , taking the last rays of the sunset. he stopped between the philosopher and the sun and said : “i am the great conqueror of the world, you are the philosopher called ‘the dog’ ?” the wise man answered “i am” . the king then said “i heard about your reputation and your thinkings , i want to give you a gift, please , tell me what you want and i will give you , i can do anything in this world” the philosopher looked at him and asked “you can do anything ?” the king replied “what you want” the philosopher said “move away from there ,you are covering the sun “.
you can be powerful , but you can do nothing for a man that needs nothing .
it seems that this story really happened around 300 b.c. in a city called Corinth , the two characters where the conqueror Alexander the great and the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope . these two men changed really the world and i suggest you to read the biography of both. i erased the names from the story because what is interesting is the example that the philosopher gave us. a man that have measure and moderation needs nothing more than what he have, is independent from all. that means that he can’t fall in the pitfalls of power , like corruption or greed. in fact with moderation and measure he can’t be dishonest and that is also a great protection from criminals that want to take advantage of people , like scammers, for example . i want not to be too long , but the first rule of the scammer is that you can’t fraud a completely honest person. a fraud is based on an undue advantage that the cheated think to have , instead is the cheater that take advantage from him . anyway the lesson is really simple : to be measured and moderate is a protection , not only a moral directive. think about.
7- the master was always happy
many years ago , in a far land lived a man . he was fat and always happy , he had no home nor possession except a bag that he fill up with cakes to give to children .
he was recognized by all as a great master of the path but he refuse to live in a temple nor teach in a school different from the street.
one day a man approach him asking : “oh great master , what is the essence of the path ?”
he dropped his bag without a word
the man asked again : “what is the application of the path ?”
he took the bag again & walked away without a word .
that’s the essential of the path : abandon the world
that’s the application of the path : work for the world
many will recognize this short story as strongly inspired by one of the stories regarding Budai , the famous fat , laughing bhudda (its good that they are public domain stories otherwise i could be charged for plagiarism , by the way) .
many times we hear from mystic that we have to abandon the world to achieve illumination . is the reason why people searching for illumination are fewer and fewer as times passes by. but abandon the world don’t means that we have to be all poor people (even if most of the churches hope to be the humble treasure keeper of the penitent) it means only that we have to erase attachment .
also abandon the world don’t mean that we have to abandon completely the society we live in (and again there are many people that hope to manage the world being our humble administrators) . we have to have the responsibility of what we do & search to do the best for what we know, despite of what we have , reasoning with simple common sense and putting on the table our contribute.
8- a tale of death
many years ago in a city called Baghdad lived a wise man with his disciple. one day the master had the visit of death . they where good friends , and began to chat . the disciple was curious and , from outside the house , begin to listen them in silence. the wise men asked: “so, my friend, what are you doing here in Bagdad ?” death answered : “as usual i’m here to collect some people for a few days”; hearing that the disciple ask himself if death was come also for him. he was very scared. he thought : “to be sure, i will take the quickest horse i can find, i will be in Samarcand within a week and i will stay there for some time , so the death will not find me here in Baghdad.” he ran at the market , bought a horse & began his ride to Samarcand . in the meantime death and the wise man were still chatting. death asked : “by the way, where is your disciple?” the wise man replied “somewhere here in Baghdad, going around preaching and meditating” so death said :”i’m surprised to hear he is still in Baghdad, i have to collect him within ten days in Samarcand !”
death will change you, no matter where you will hide.
death is a serious thing . it is the cause of many of our attitudes and behavior , religious belief included. and for sure no one can hide from death. but this story tell also another thing : we are the makers of our fate. if the disciple will not ran from Baghdad death can’t find him in Samarcand. so, in the end , why to be scared from death ? why to live in continuous stress from this thought ? obviously you have not to live with irresponsibility , but you have not to live in fear too. moderation, measure. death is a change , not the end . we will talk about that again.
9- heave and hell
A mighty warrior went to a wise man and asked : “heave and hell exist ?” the wise man asked “what is your job?” the warrior answered “i’m a warrior” the wise man laugh at him “with that stupid face? i don’t think you can be able to fight!” the warrior became immediately angry and growling put the hand on his sword saying ”i will kill you!”, the wise man said “that’s hell”; the warrior astonished and understood , then smiled, the wise man said “that’s heaven”.
where to find heaven and hell if not inside you ?
mind perceives reality and , as we have said in another occasion, you can say also that mind creates reality. so inside and outside have no sense in a mystic search . people use to make long trips to go in holy places, but every place is holy , often they don’t understand that they are making with feet a journey of their mind.
10- a tale of the evil one
there was a being , many years ago, called “the king of illusion” or ”the evil one”. his aim was to divert men from the right path and push them toward lies to make their life impossible. one day he was walking with his attendant and they saw a man still and looking up the sky fixed. the attendant asked : “what he’s doing?” the evil one answered “well , it seems that he was meditating and he found a piece of truth” the attendant said “must bee a bad thing for you , oh evil one, that he found a piece of truth!” the evil one replied “not at all ! you know, when a man find a piece of truth he immediately make a belief out of it”.
truth have an explanation in itself , why make it more intricate ?
many belief that we have derives from the perception of a part of the real truth; after this happen that ego, interest , bad or good intents mix the truth with superstition & other things that are not related with truth. try to find the original truth and follow it. often it is a life long work.
11- burn the reward & douse the punishment
in a land far from here there was a really wise woman , considered a great teacher of the path . one day people saw her going around searching for something with a lighted torch & bucket full of water.
A man call her & ask : “oh teacher of the life , were are you going with this torch & this bucket ?” she answered : “i’m going to burn heaven & douse hell , so people will act with justice without caring of the reward or the punishment”.
to act with justice , just act with justice.
many times our action is not the consequence of a real thinking , but a reaction on what we expect to be the consequences to us . even the more good person is not really good if he act thinking of a reward, is in fact selfish even if he devolve his entire life to help the others. if you act just with spirit of justice you will not chose who need your help or you will not care who is the person that you contrast acting in a certain way. if you care about the consequences for all but yourself you are in the right way.
12- tale of a strong master
many years ago lived a wise man that was famous for his strength. the king of the realm where he lived went to him and ask “what you can do with your strength ?” the wise man answered “i can lift a feather with one hand and i can brake a dry leaf with two fingers” the king was surprised “i can fight with a bull and win, and i can lift a stone big like me! how it is possible that you are so renowned for your strength ?” the wise man replied “you know, it is not about how much strength i have , but about how i use it”.
to have strength is good , but is the manner you use it that it’s important .
many peoples think that the solution of all the problem is to have more of something . more strength, more informations , more speed and so on. the only thing that they don’t want is what they need more : an open mind. many times you have the solution of your problem in front of you , you just have to look at the problem from a different perspective.
13- a tale of a cup
years ago there was a king that decided to make a party. to entertain his guests he decide to invite also a wise man from the desert. they had a really good party, and at the end , in front of all his guests, the king called the wise man that was sitting in an edge for all the evening a little dazed from confusion and richness of the party. the king said “my guest , this evening this man amused us with his nonconformism , i want to make him a gift! oh man from the desert, ask for want you want and i will give you” the wise man then asked “are you sure you can give me all i want?” the king replied “sure i am! you see, i am the more powerful king of all the world!” the wise man take out a little bowl and said “well , i will go after you will have filled this bowl” the guests and the king laughed. the king ordered to fill the bowl with some cooked rice , but soon he realize that no matter how much rice he can put in, the bowl was not filled. the rice finished and the king began to put in the bowl other food , then jewels , coins , and in the end all his palace was threw in the cup with no results . the king began to throw in everything he can find in his realm and , at the end he had nothing more to throw in. he was now more poor than the wise man from the desert . the king said “you won , i can not fill the bowl. but before i go begging tell me the secret of this bowl , please!” the wise man replied “oh, it is so simple! i made it with ego, no matter what or how much you give it, you can not satisfy it!”
no matter what you can buy or obtain, if you are a slave of you ego, your ego will ask for more.
many people don’t know what is ego. ego is a primordial part of the mind that is deputed to the research of power and advantage . is his only function, and if can not overcome it you can only be , as word say, egoistic or selfish. i think you can name several persons with this feature, especially in high social position . the reality of facts is that we can not live just by us self , because we need help in life , for example as a children, and if you have the illusion to don’t need help now you will need it , be sure of that . so first is better to give . overcome your ego is the first step.
14- story of a smile
in a land far away lived a beautiful princess . she was so beautiful that everyone , when she passed in the street, turned to look at her. one day she passed near a guy that was heating a piece of brad as his lunch. the guy remained so surprised of the beauty of the princess that the bread fall from his hands. the princess smiled at him and walked away. the guy fell desperately in love. he stop eating and sleeping and each day he went around crying his love for the princess and yelling around. the princess was disturbed by that and the guards decide to kill the guy to protect her. the guy preached the guards to made him talk just one time with the princess. they led him to her and he said “oh my love, i will die innocent, but before i want to know the truth, why you smiled at me that day you passed in the streets?” the princess replied “i was smiling seeing how silly you looked with that dazed face and for no other reason”.
our mind is the greatest creator of illusions
it happens often that we have problems just because we convince us self of a thing that is not true. if a fact happens each person that assisted will describe it in a different manner and with different particulars. is not easy to judge what we call “reality” with just our mind. well, reality is continuously mutating and our mind receive continuously mutating informations. we have to conclude that what we call “objective data” are simply a more shared “subjective data”. the solution ? there is no solution except to conclude that “reality” is a shared lie & to try finding the truth. yes, i know it is strange, but just reflect on that.
15- a dog and a donkey
after many years of study, a man discover the key to understand the language of the animals. one day he was walking and passed near a dog and a donkey. the dog were saying “how boring are your talk about hay and grass! i wanted to talk about meat and bones!” the man interjected “you see, there is a relation between the two things, meat and bones have the same function of hay and grass!” . immediately the two animals formed a coalition against the man , and while the dog barked and growled toward the man , the donkey give him a good kick.
may god protect you from trying to solve problems that no one want to solve.
many times a problem seems so simple to solve that a person of god will try to solve it. it is natural . you will not believe that, but is also natural that this man will find him in contrast with the people that just a minute before complained about this problem. people unite when exist a collective problem. sometime they create problem just to unite. we need others even if we don’t admit that. sometime we need an excuse to do something.
16- a cup of tea
a famous professor wanted to integrate his culture with some mystical studies, so he went to a wise man and asked to study the path with him. the wise man served him a tea and in the meantime the professor begin to talk of how much he already learned about the path in theory . the wise man was pouring the tea inside a cup and when the cup was full he kept on pouring , eventually the tea begin to overflow. so the professor said “my friend, it is impossible to make this cup more full” the wise man replied “in the same way it is impossible to me to teach you the path if your mind is full of notions”.
if you decide to study the path, forget all you have learned and begin again to learn.
the path is a particular way of living , so it needs a particular way on learning. if you decide to follow a mystical path what to have to do is empty your mind and full it during the path, simply taking what you learn for what it is , without complicating it with what you learned before.
17- tie up the cat
many years ago a wise man and his disciple were meditating. the cat of the house , in the meantime, wanted to have some fun with rats or whatever seems to be fun for a cat. the result was that the animal made so much noise that the two man were disturbed in their meditation. the next time the wise men decided to tie up the cat during meditation, so the little animal cannot disturb with his noises. after some years the cat died and another cat came in the house , the wise man and the disciple didn’t loose the habit to tie up the cat during the meditation. after some time the wise man died and his disciple succeeded him taking another disciple. they continued to tie up the cat of the house during the meditation. this story went on for many many years and after a century or so a real intelligent man wrote a beautiful treatise on the mystical, secret and inestimable value of the act of tying up a cat during the meditation.
thinking to the simplest reason of things will destroy lies , rituals, secrets and the unnecessary .
people tend to complicate things for many reasons. to justify their work, to maintain status quo, to hide the real reason and so on. many times a ritual is just an empty action used to puff smoke in the eyes of simple people. in the same manner secrets give you power , but they are always trivial if revealed. lies divert intentions and unnecessary make confusion . in fact lies , rituals, secrets and the unnecessary are the weapons of who want some advantage from people. keep eyes and ears open and your feet on the ground and nobody can harm you.
18- i wanted air
many years ago there was a great master of the path that lived on the bank of a river. a man came to him and said “i thought that can be useful for me to know god and i want to try to study with you, can you help me?” quickly the master take him for the hair and put his head under the water. the man tried to free himself but the master was too strong. then the master suddenly let him go. the man was shocked . the master asked “when you were under the water , what you wanted more than anything?” the man answered “air, just air” the master replied “if you want to know god go home and return only when you want god as much as you wanted air”.
if hajra is not a necessity it is not a real hajra.
the search for god is a pilgrimage toward the center of your heart, that is called a hajra. you have to take it with humor (like is good to do with every serious thing) , but also you have to realize that is not an hobby, a thing that you can decide to do or not just to pass time. a real hajra is performed because you strongly need it, not for other reasons. too serious this time, isn’t it? just be inspired.
19- story of a cane grower
in a land far from here lived a cane grower . he was so proud of his long canes and he decided to come to the city with one of them to make some advertising for his commerce, he was sure that the people , seeing how long and resistant was the cane, immediately would have placed some orders. at the door of the city he was forced to stop his travel, because the cane he have was too long to pass vertically nor horizontally from the arch of the door. he thought about it for a while then he find a good solution. he cut the long cane in the middle, so it can pass through the door of the city. that day the people placed no orders, because they thought the two canes he was carrying were too short to be good.
sometime the simplest solution is hidden in your mind.
it is strange but every time i tell this story to people most of them ask me what’s the point. seems that they don’t know that a cane can pass from a door also through it and not only vertically or horizontally. but if we can not manage the three dimension we live each day , how it is possible to know god, something that is beyond our daily perception ? just reflect on it.
20- defeating the evil one
one day the evil one was walking around with his attendant. after having travelled for all the world and more the attendant said to him: “dear master, it seems that your influence in this universe is great, you go around diverting the minds of men and no one can defeat you” the evil one said “you know, some wise men really are able to defeat me” the attendant exclaimed “they must be really strong to defeat the king of illusion!” the evil one said “no, actually to defeat me you need only the strength to blow a sand grain. the problem for the men is that when they search me i always hide in a place that is the more difficult for them to look in” the attendant asked “where?” the evil one replied “inside themselves”.
first thing to do is looking inside and purify yourself from ego, than the way will be as easy as blowing a grain of sand .
“the evil one” it is obviously a figure that simplify some concepts . first of all the concept of ego. as i said in another place ego is the part of ourselves that have the only aim to take advantage and power despite of other people. if you follow your ego you will be diverted by the right way , in the sense that ego want to be “the only one” within people, and with time people will leave you alone as your ego want. believe me, no one can live without the help of no one. the “way” is not selfish behavior . also because the only result of selfishness is self destruction. have you ever analyzed the fall of a dictator ? is the most pitiful thing in this world. no past glory can balance it. how to purify yourself from ego? looking deep inside you and correcting the selfish part of yourself. not easy. it means to recognize that your personal interests are less important than you expect.
21- a grammar expert in the well
a night , much time ago , a wise man was passing near a well. he heard a voice from the bottom of the well crying : “help , please help me!” the wise man then asked “where are you ?” the voice answered : “i’m a grammar expert , i fell into the well, please save me!” the wise man said “wait for me brother , come i will with a rope to save you !” but the grammar expert said “hey, you did a grammar error, you have to correct it!” the wise man answered “well brother, if it is so important , is better that i learn to speak properly before to save you” & the wise man went away.
sometime we are so distracted from our mind superstructures that we forget the essential
life is a practical thing . theory is very important but , remember, just in order to find solution to practical problems. sometime we are so focus-minded on theory that we forget the important things . also another level of this story tell us about formality and form . in a practical situation form and formality are the first things you have to abandon . the hajra is a practical situation so is better to abandon formality .
22- a tale of two tigers
in a land far from here there was a man walking in a field . at a certain point he met a tiger. he ran away , chased by the tiger . running and running he finally saw a cliff . holding a vine he swung himself over the edge of the cliff, the tiger looking down sniffing at him . the man was terrified , and looking down he saw another tiger looking up , waiting to catch him . in the meantime he realized that two mice , one black and one white , where gnawing the vine . he saw a beautiful strawberry near him and holding the vine with one hand he plucked the strawberry with the other . it was delicious !
the present moment is where we live in , no time is more important .
this story is so old that probably everybody knows it . anyway it tell some important things. at a first level it tell us that past never come again and future is unpredictable , we have to take the maximum advantage of what we have in the present . at a more deep level the story tell us that we are constantly chased from danger (the tigers) and paired opposites (the mice) make the situation even worst . the solution is to consider our situation as if this two things (dangers and opposites) don’t exists and that simple thought will reveal all the possibilities we have in the present . there is a third more deep level in which the man of the story is the enlightened one that , finally quieting his mind, is completely avulsed from the cause-effect mechanism and dangers and opposites have no influence on him .
23- a donkey on the road
in a land far from here lived a man and a boy with a donkey.
one day they decided to go to the nearest city to make some business at the market .
they took the donkey & begun to walk sitting on it. at a certain point they hear a man on the road saying : “oh, poor donkey , how cruel are this boy and this man sitting together on him & oppressing him with all this weight !” so they decided to change, and the boy begin to walk at the side of the donkey , with the man still sitting on it.
but at a certain point they hear a woman saying “oh poor boy, how bad is this man that make him walk while he is comfortably sitting on the donkey!” . so they decide to switch their position.
they don’t walk too much before hearing another man saying ” how bad is this boy , he is comfortably sitting on the donkey while the old man is walking!” . at this point they decide both to walk.
after some time they hear some people saying “how stupid this two persons are, they have a donkey & they walk !”.
finally they arrived to the city , but at soon they walk through the square, all the people in the streets begun to laugh at them , because they never saw in their entire life a boy and a man carry a donkey on their shoulders !
if you decide to base your life on what people say , prepare to a difficult life.
we are strange people , we don’t look for the consequences of our acts nor the effective usefulness of them, we tend to care just of social convention or opinions of other peoples. a popular bhuddist sutra says that the form is not different from emptiness & emptiness is not different from form. if we care about form , why we wonder if we obtain emptiness ?
24- where this light come from ?
in a land far from here there was a village where a wise man lived.
An evening the wise man saw a boy bringing a lighted candle out in the street.
he called the boy and asked : “tell me my little friend , where this light come from ?”
the boy blowed on the candle and said : “tell me where it has gone & i’ll tell you where it came from”
nobody knows everything , even a wise man.
this is a really old story that you can find both as a sufi story & as a zen koan. sufi an zen are really different as a background , but really similar in the method . sometimes they also use the same mantras (short phrases they use to count to change their mind-state , we will have the occasion to analyze them).
going back to the story the important thing is the conclusion. even a wise man cannot know everything . this means that , even if it is a recognized authority that say something , you have always to judge things by yourself .
bible is clear on this (there is an entire chapter of qohelet that treat this argument) , & quran also (each rule is submitted to the condition “if it is easy for you”) but the more clear essay on this is in the sutras of bhudda.
how to judge things , in the end ? from their results , obviously.
that must be , i think , the principal rule in my hajra (the spiritual pilgrimage toward truth) .