There were two men of great renown as teachers of the right path. Ibn Halim relates that he went first to see one of them, whose name was Pir Ardeshir of Gazwin.
He said to Pir Ardeshir, “Will you advise me as to what to do and what not to do?” The Pir said, “Yes, but I will give you such instructions as you will find very hard to carry out, since they will go against your preferences, even if these preferences are sometimes for hardship.”
Ibn Halim spent some months with Pir Ardeshir, and found that the teaching was indeed hard for him. Although Pir Ardeshir’s former disciples were now famed throughout the world as enlightened teachers, he could not stand the changes, the uncertainties and the disciplines placed upon him.
At length he applied to the Pir for permission to leave, and traveled to the tekkia of the second teacher, Murshid Amali.
He asked the Murshid, “Would you place upon me burdens which I might find next to intolerable?”
Amali replied, “I would not place upon you such burdens.”
Ibn Halim asked, “Will you then accept me as a disciple?”
The Murshid answered, “Not until you have asked me why my training would not be so onerous as that of Pir Ardeshir.”
Ibn Halim asked, “Why would it not be so onerous?”
The Murshid told him, “Because I would not care for you and your real well-being like Ardeshir cared for you. Therefore you must not now ask me to accept you as a disciple.”
Religion is as simple as the fish swimming in the ocean, but man has become very complicated. It is because of man’s complexity that religion looks arduous. Religion cannot be arduous because it is our very nature. It is in our breathing, it is in our heartbeats, it circulates in our blood, it is our very marrow, our very soul. How can it be difficult? The very idea of difficulty arises because of a wrong notion.
We have been taught down the ages that religion is a faraway goal and the journey is uphill. In fact, religion is not a goal at all, and there is no journey uphill or downhill. There is no journey possible. Religion is where you are, religion is what you are, religion is your being – there is nowhere to go. And those who go in search, they are moving farther and farther away from religion. To seek is to lose, to search is not to find.
Seeking becomes more and more difficult; the farther away you reach, the more difficult it becomes, the more frustrating – because the more efforts you make to attain to God, the less is the possibility of attaining him.
God is already the case. God is the ocean, we are the fish. And there is no need for a fish to learn swimming.
I have heard…
Mulla Nasruddin was fishing on a lake. It was a private lake and fishing was absolutely prohibited. And just behind him there was a big board declaring in capital letters: “No fishing allowed. Trespassers will be prosecuted.” But he was sitting on the bank, fishing.
The landlord came, caught him red-handed. He asked, “What are you doing?”
Mulla laughed. He said, “I was teaching this fish to swim.”
No fish needs any teaching to swim. No man needs any religion whatsoever. All that is needed is to become simple. Drop your complexities, drop your unnecessary mind games. Be silent and still and you will find it at the very core of your being; it is waiting there, but it is a very still small voice. Your mind is creating so much noise; that’s why you cannot hear it.
I have heard…
An Englishman and an Irishman were riding on top of a London bus, and the Englishman especially had been annoyed by the confusion, the bustle, the raucous din from all sides. They came in sight of Westminster Abbey, and at this moment the chimes burst forth in a joyous melody.