The whole town had gathered to say good-bye to him and to give him all their blessings. They were sad also that he was going and perhaps he may not return again, so their joy and their sorrow were a mixed phenomenon. They had tears in their eyes, but those tears were not of misery. There was sadness, but there was joy also.
It is very rare that someone goes in search of truth, devotes his whole life to it. Junnaid was naturally thought to be their pride, to be their glory. When he reached the forest, the master looked at him and said, “You can come in, but leave the whole crowd out.”
Junnaid looked back, because he was alone, there was no crowd. He looked back. There was nobody. He said to the master, “I have come alone. I have left the crowd far away on the boundary of my village.”
The master said, “Don’t look behind – close your eyes and look within. The crowd is there!”
Junnaid closed his eyes and was surprised. All the people he had left behind – friends, mother, father, brothers, neighbors – were present there. Although now it was only a memory, the mind was full of the memory of the crowd that he had left behind. He opened his eyes and asked forgiveness, saying that he was very new on the path and he did not understand its language: “You are right. I am not alone. My head is full of the crowd I have left behind.”
The master said, “Then wait outside the gate – however long it takes. The day you feel the crowd has dispersed from your mind you can come in. But remember, you cannot deceive me.”
Junnaid waited outside for almost one year. It is so difficult to get rid of your thoughts. It is very easy to leave the crowd and go to the forest, but the real problem is not the crowd outside you; the real problem is the crowd within you, which will go with you to the forest. You will not be alone. Your memories will surround you. And as far as mind is concerned, they are as real as the real people outside.
But Junnaid was a man of great patience. He sat outside the door, where people leave their shoes and go in to see the master. Having nothing to do, he used to polish the shoes of the people who had left them outside. That became his meditation. He became so concentrated, so deeply involved in cleaning and polishing the shoes… Slowly, slowly, the crowd faded away. And that blessed day came when he looked inside and there was no one – but before he could enter the temple the master was standing behind him.
And he said, “I congratulate you. You were patient enough – not only patient enough, but you managed to create a device of meditation of your own. Just now I became aware that the crowd has gone, all the noise has gone. Now I will take you with me inside the temple, with great respect. You have attained aloofness and you have learned the art of being alone.