Chapter 19: Infinite Patience
There was once a woman who had heard of the fruit of heaven. She coveted it.
She asked a certain dervish, whom we shall call Sabar, “How can I find this fruit, so that I may attain to immediate knowledge?”
“You would be best advised to study with me,” said the dervish. “but if you will not do so, you will have to travel resolutely and at times restlessly throughout the world.”
She left him and sought another, Arif the Wise One, and then she found Hakim the Sage, and Mojud the Mad, then Alim the Scientist, and many more.
She passed thirty years in her search. Finally she came to a garden. There stood the tree of heaven, and from its branches hung the bright fruit of heaven.
Standing beside the tree was Sabar, the first dervish.
“Why did you not tell me when we first met that you were the custodian of the fruit of heaven?” she asked him.
“Because you would not then have believed me. Besides, the tree produces fruit only once in thirty years and thirty days.”
Once upon a time there lived a very poor man in a village in Italy. He desperately wanted to know the answer to the mystery of existence, so he decided to work very hard and travel to the Himalayas and find a guru. He worked long arduous hours and at the end of twenty years he had saved his fare.
He had been on a ship for about two weeks when a tremendous storm blew up and he was shipwrecked, and found himself on a desert island. He spent the next twenty years on the island when one day he managed to finally attract the attention of a tanker. They picked him up and took him to Bombay where he caught a plane. He had managed to salvage some of his money when shipwrecked.
However, during the flight he was hijacked by the hijackers. But the hijackers decided to set him free in the desert. He walked to a village and waited for the bus to take him to the Himalayas.
Within a few months the bus came and he caught it to the foothills of the Himalayas. He then spent a long time on foot but finally managed to arrive at the guru’s cave. He then asked the guru his question about the mystery of life.
The guru replied, “Life is a river.”
The man went crazy, threw his arms up and shouted at the guru, “For fifty years I have been trying to get to you. I had to work very hard for the fare. I was shipwrecked and then hijacked, and bloody hell - now you tell me life is a river?!”
And the guru said, “Isn’t it?”
Life is not a problem or a puzzle to be solved. Life is a mystery to be loved and to be lived. And the mystery is not something far away, the mystery is something that is very obvious, herenow. The mystery is the this-ness of existence; hence the answer of the guru, “Life is a river.”
He must have been sitting on the bank of the river watching the river go by. In that moment his consciousness was full of the river, there was nothing else but the river.
Another master was asked, “What is truth?” and he said, “The cypress tree in the courtyard.”
He must have been looking at the beautiful cypress in the courtyard; that was all in that moment. That moment was full of the cypress tree, that moment was nothing but the cypress tree.
And another master when asked, “What is life?” was drinking tea. He said, “A cup of tea.”
This-ness, idam, or suchness, tathata - that’s what life is.