Sufi Gnani Stories – Who is the Guru?

1.    One of the greatest Sufi sages, Hasan, was asked on his deathbed who his Guru was.

2.    He replied, ‘’You have asked this question very late. No time. I am dying.’’ The questioner then replied, ‘’Just saying the name is enough. You are still alive, still breathing, and talking.’’

3.    To that, Hasan said, ‘’I have thousands of Gurus. It will take me months to say their names and years to talk about them. However, I would like to mention only three people.’’

4.    One of them was a thief. Once, I got lost in the desert, and by the time I found my way to the village, it was midnight. Half the night had passed. All the shops were closed, all the doors were locked, and there was no human traffic on the road. I looked around to see if there was anyone to talk to. Eventually, I saw a thief using a crowbar to dig through the wall to get in.

5.    I asked him if there was any place for me to stay that night. He said, ‘’I am a thief, and you look like a Sufi sage. Now it is very difficult to find a place to stay. But you may come to my house if you like. Come with me if you have no objection to stay with me, the thief.’’

6.    I hesitated for a second. Then it struck me. Why should a Sufi fear a thief when a thief does not fear a Sufi? In fact, he is the one who should be afraid of me. So, I told him, "OK, I will go to his house." I went with him and stayed at his house. The man was very kind, a very nice man. I stayed at his house for a month. Every night when he went out to steal, he said, ‘Well, you look after your work, meditate, and rest. I'm going to look after my work.’ When he came back, I asked him if he got anything. The thief said, ‘Nothing found today. But I will try again tomorrow. I have never seen him lose hope.

7.    For a whole month, he came back empty-handed, but he was happy. He said he would try tomorrow. God willing, we will get something tomorrow. "Please pray for me too. You tell God to help this poor man," he would say.

8.    And Hasan continued to say that I had been meditating continuously for many years, and nothing had happened. I was so disheartened and hopeless that many times I wondered if I could just call it quits. I would think that there is no God, that all prayers are nonsense, all meditations are false – then suddenly I remembered that thief. I remembered him saying every night that if God wills, tomorrow we will get something.

9.    So, I thought I would give it another try. When even a thief has that level of confidence and that level of optimism it seems like why shouldn't I try one more day. This has happened many times. That thief and the memory of him have helped me to try one more day. One day it happened. It has happened. I was thousands of miles from the thief's house and from him. Yet I bowed in that direction. He was my first Guru.

10.    My second guru is a dog. I was very thirsty. I was going towards the river to drink water. Then a dog also came towards the river to drink water. It was also very thirsty. It looked into the river. It saw another dog there – its image – and was afraid of it. As soon as it barked, the image also barked. It was very frightened and hesitated. But being very thirsty, it came back and looked into the water and saw the dog still there. But when it jumped into the water out of thirst, the image disappeared. Drinking the water and enjoying swimming in the water as it was summertime. I kept watching. Through that, I understood that I had received a message from God. I understand that one must jump in with all the fears.

11.  A fear came when I jumped into the unknown. I will go that far and come back reluctantly. Then I remembered that dog. Why shouldn't I jump when the dog jumped? One day I jumped into the unknown. I had only dissolved into the unknown. That dog was my second Guru.

12.   My third guru was a small child. When I went into a city, the child was carrying a candle, its wick was lit, and the child was carrying the candle in his hands to be placed in the mosque. As a joke, I asked the child whether he lighted the candle. He said, ‘’Yes.’’ I continued, ‘’Can you tell me where that light came from? Did you see it when you lit it?’’ The boy smiled and blew out the candle and asked me, ‘’Now did you see where this light went?’’ My pride shattered a hundredfold, and all my knowledge was dust. In that second, I realized my folly. Since then, I have given up being a knower.