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Chapter 14: Understanding Is Enough

Now God is very vague; you cannot depend on such a vague idea. You need somebody solid, substantial to represent him. That’s the work of the priest. He stands at the door of the temple and says, “You cannot see God, but I can see him. You can depend on me, you can follow me.”

Kahlil Gibran has a beautiful story:

A man used to travel around the country talking to people, preaching beautiful sermons to people, telling them that “If you come and follow me I will lead you to the ultimate home of God.”

People would worship him and they would say, “Yes, when the time arrives, when the opportunity is right, when the situation is favorable we will certainly follow you. We are convinced you are right, we know that you know the path.”

Nobody ever followed him, hence nobody ever came to know that he knew nothing about the path, about God, about the ultimate. But once it happened, a crazy young man stood up and he said, “Okay, I am coming with you. I will follow you. Unless I reach the ultimate home of God I am not going to leave you.”

The man was a little afraid, but he thought, “I will give him such stupid things to do that he will become tired and escape.”

But the young man was really crazy: whatsoever the old preacher said he did. In fact he did more than the preacher was saying. If he said, “Stand on your head for one hour,” he would stand on his head for two hours. If he said, “Fast one day,” he would fast for three days. If he said, “You have to recite this mantra one hundred times,” he would recite it one thousand times.

And the story says in this way seven years passed. Instead of the young man getting fed up with the old fool, the old fool started getting fed up with the young man - because of him his reputation was being destroyed. Now people started asking, “What is the matter? For seven years this young man has been following you and nothing has happened!” And the young man would say, “I have been doing everything, but nothing is happening.” He was destroying his whole profession.

It is like a man sitting in the waiting room of a doctor saying to new patients, “Beware! This man has been treating me for seven years and nothing has happened!” Now how long can the practice go on?

People started thinking that this old man knew nothing. The audience became thinner and thinner. Finally only the young man was left. And one day the old fellow fell at the feet of his disciple and said, “Please leave me. Leave me alone!”

But the young man said, “I have not yet reached the ultimate home. I have to experience God!”

And the old man said, “In fact I knew the way before I met you. Since you have been with me, because of you even I have lost the way! I don’t know now where the way is and where the ultimate home is. Please excuse me, forgive me, and leave me alone. You have destroyed my whole profession!”

The whole profession was dependent on those people who listened to him but never followed.

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