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Chapter 18: The Alphabet of Rejoicing

Now Veena is sitting in her perfect beauty, relaxed, but she does not know: the whole night I have had to sharpen my sword for her! The closer you come to me, the more you love me, the more you should remember that at any time I can hit you.

I have told you the most beautiful story in Zen, about a master thief. He was no ordinary thief, because in his whole life nobody had been able to catch him red-handed. Even the emperor was amazed at his craftsmanship, his art in stealing. The man was so perfect.but he was getting old. The situation had come to the point in Tokyo that whosoever’s house was visited by the master thief, bragged about it. It was a great honor, because it was not that he would go just to anybody, but only to the super-rich. It was a certificate that the master thief had stolen things from some family, that they bragged about it.

But as he was getting old, his son said, “I don’t know anything of your art, your fame - and you have the strangest fame. Before you leave the world, please let me understand the secret of your greatness. Your stealing is not just for money; your stealing is simply to keep your mastery sharpened so you don’t forget the art.”

It is almost like a musician. Once Yehudi Menuhin was asked, “If you don’t practice one day, what happens?”

He said, “Only I understand that the thing is not as perfect as it would have been; nobody else will find any difference. If I don’t practice for two days, then the critics will become aware that something is missing. If I don’t practice for three days then everybody will be able to hear that something is wrong, the master is not at his height.”

Every musician practices for hours, sometimes eight hours per day. Even the most famous musician practices for hours, because the art is so subtle and so delicate that it can slip out of your hands if you miss just a few days’ practice.

So the boy said, “Before you leave the world, help me to know the secret so that I can practice in front of you, and you can correct where I am going wrong.”

The father said, “Tonight you come with me.”

They went to a very rich house, and the young man was trembling with fear and the old man was going as if he were going for a morning walk - so at ease, with such tremendous confidence. The old man made a hole in a wall to enter into the house.the young man was perspiring, and it was a cold night. But the old man was doing his job so silently that although he was making a hole in the wall, there was no noise. When the hole was ready, the old man slipped in, and signaled the boy to come in.

His heart was throbbing, naturally, but he was wondering.his old father is going as if it is their own house! He had the master key that can open all the doors.

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