(This is a recreation of a Sufi lore narrated in the first person by a sufi disciple.)
When I was a novice in the sufi-path, yet to learn the lessons of humility, I was a proud disciple of a great Sufi master. Like many sufi seeker, I had a condescending disdain for the practitioners of traditional religion. I looked down upon them from a pedestal of spiritual superiority and a false tolerance. My master was aware of this falsity in me and constantly warned me, directly and indirectly, not to harbour such ego. He told me many times, “don’t think all the mullahs of traditional religion are spiritually underdeveloped. There are mullahs who are very spiritually advanced, much more advanced than you.” My master, is a great soul who has attained the highest realizations of the Sufi path, far beyond the narrow boundaries of traditioned religion. But he always treated the traditional religion and its practitioners with great respect, without even a trace of superiority. But at that stage of my evolution, there was in me such a thick veil of ignorance, neither the living example of my master nor his repeated warnings had any positive impact on my ego and the sense of spiritual superiority, until one day my master led me to that ego-shattering experience.
It was the day of Ramlan. I had a call from the Master when it was half an hour before the breaking of the fast. When I entered into my Masters room, he was in deep meditation. There was a beautiful box in front, kept in the table. As I stood before him, he opened his eyes and looked at me for a few second, with his big eyes which are at once piercing and compassionate. He took the box in his hands and told me, “Rasul, take this box and give it to our dear brother Mulla Nazar “and gave me the address of the mosque at a nearby village. I took the box with bowed heads and a happy heart, glad to be of some help and service to my maser. As I was about to leave, Master said, “Rasul, be alert, humble and sensitive.” I nodded my head but without understanding why Master said those words.
I entered the village mask a few minutes after the breaking of the Ramlan fast. I asked one of the worshipper about Mulla Nazar and he pointed to a person who was sitting and reading the scripture in the traditional way, swaying his body back and forth and muttering the words slowly. I was a little amused and thought, “What is the use of reading the scripture mechanically without understanding.” I went near him and stood with my box. Mulla stopped reading and looked up. I said, “This is from my Master” and told my Master’s name. He immediately stood up and took the box with great reverence. He said in a warm and moved voice. “Please convey my heartfelt thanks to your great master, for remembering this humble mullah.” He opened the box and it was full of sweets. I said, “I am taking leave of you mullah Nazar, kudafis.” But Mulla, looking at me with a melting kindness in his eyes, said, “You may be hungry after a long fast, why not you break the fast with the sweets given by your Master” and gave me a handful of sweets. I politely declined the offer and told him, “I prefer to break the past in the presence of my Master and with other brother disciples.” Mullah nodded his head approvingly and said, “that is the right attitude of a sufi.”
When I was returning back to my Master’s home I was recollecting with surprise the behavior and personality of the Mullah. There was kindness in his eyes. The rigidity of the traditional discipline has not stifled his heart. But unfortunately, this spark of light and recognition was again clouded by the ignorant smallness of my ego which said, “What is so great about it. There are many ordinary, unspiritual people who are also kind.”
When I met the master again, he looked at me silently for a few minutes with an inquiring eyes. He asked, “Have you given the box?” I said, “Yes, Master.” The Master asked further, “How did you find our brother Mulla Nazar.” I said, “He seems to be a nice and kind person.” My Masters face shrunk in disappointment when he heard my reply. He said, “Nothing else? You felt nothing and saw nothing?” I muttered with a perplexed frustration. “No sir, nothing else.” My Master remarked with an ironic smile in his face, “It is good you have atleast felt the kind heart of Mullah Nazar. I am glad that all the long meditation and inner visions and experiences have not made you totally insensitive with a bloated sufi ego.” This scorching irony is one of the methods of our master in making his disciples aware of their deceptions and deviations I inwardly winced under my master’s irony.
The next day I was again called by my Master. I entered into his room with much guilt and hesitation. But the Master greeted me warmly with a smiling face radiating kindness and compassion. “You must always try to forget the impressions of the past, Rasul.” Master said in his booming voice, “Keep you mind always fresh and open to receive new experiences.” All my feelings of guilt and hesitation disappeared. “Today you must go again to Mullah Nazar,” said my master, “He will give you back the box. Bring it back.” Master looked deep into my eyes for a few minutes and said, “This time keep your mind silent and your inner eyes open.”
I went again to the village mosque. While travelling I tried to keep my mind calm and silent and prayed intensely to God that I may keep the right attitude and raise to the expectations of my master.
I entered the mosque and approached Mullah Nazar, who was doing the same thing when I saw him yesterday: reciting Koran with his swaying body. As I stood before him all of a sudden I felt something was getting loosened inside my head, near my temple, and I saw with my inner vision the inner being of Mullah Nazar which was luminous. As he read the Koran, I saw the light of his inner being radiating through his lips and illuminating the whole mental atmosphere of the community, purifying it with the illumined vibrations of his chant.