When the son of the Rabbi of Lenshno was a boy,
he saw Rabbi Vitzhak of Vorki praying.
Full of amazement, he came running to his father
and asked how it was possible for such a zaddik
to pray so quietly and simply
without giving any sign of ecstasy.
His father answered, “A poor swimmer
has to thrash around in order to stay up in the water.
The perfect swimmer rests on the tide and it carries him.”
There is one very ancient tale: if you listen well you will find yourself also in it, but if you only hear it you will laugh at it and forget it.
Sometimes you simply laugh to forget a thing, to hide a thing. Many times I have observed that you laugh just to hide the tears, you laugh because if you don’t laugh it will be too much, too heavy. Laughter is a way of avoiding a thing. So please, listen to it as deeply as you can.
I know: hearing is simple, listening is very difficult. You hear it and you think that you have listened to it. Hearing is just mechanical. When you listen with perfect awareness, then, listening becomes possible. Hearing is just like eating without tasting: you can fill the belly, but deep down the hunger remains. The body may be satisfied, even overloaded, but the subtle hunger remains because it can be satisfied only when you become capable of taste. But to taste a thing is to be aware, alert.
Listen to it – the story is one of the most wonderful I have ever come across. It is a Hasid story. It says….
There was a very great city. It appeared great to those who lived in it. In fact, it was not bigger than a small saucer. The houses of the city were skyscrapers and the people who were the dwellers, they claimed that their housetops almost touched the sky. But to those who were not deluded, the height of the city looked not more than that of an onion.
In that city, people of ten cities were assembled – millions of people. But to those who could count, there were only three fools in that city, not a single person more.
The first fool was a great thinker. He was a great system-maker, a metaphysician – almost an Aristotle. He could talk about anything – you ask and he has ready-made answers. It was spread, the rumor was in the town, that he is the greatest seer. Of course, he was absolutely blind. He could not see the Himalaya just in front of his eyes but he could count the legs of the ants crawling on the moon – and he was absolutely blind. But he was a logic-chopper. He saw things which nobody has ever seen: God, angels, heaven and hell. He was very condemnatory of the mundane world, which can be seen; he was always appreciating the unseen – which he only could see, and nobody else.
The second man used to hear the music of the spheres. He used to hear the dancing atoms, the harmony of existence – but he was stone-deaf.