Ayaz was the boon companion and slave of the great conqueror Mahmud, the Idol Breaker, Monarch of Ghazna. He had first come to the court as a beggarly slave, and Mahmud had made him his adviser and friend.
The other courtiers were jealous of Ayaz and observed his every movement, intending to denounce him for some shortcoming, thus encompassing his downfall.
One day these jealous ones went to Mahmud and said, “Shadow of Allah upon Earth! Know that, indefatigable as always in your service, we have been keeping your slave Ayaz under close scrutiny. We have come now to report that every day as soon as he leaves the court, Ayaz goes into a small room where nobody else is ever allowed. He spends some time there, and then goes to his own quarters. We fear that this habit of his may be connected with a guilty secret: perhaps he consorts with plotters, even, who have designs upon your Majesty’s life.”
For a long time Mahmud refused to hear anything against Ayaz. But the mystery of the locked room preyed upon his mind until he felt that he had to question Ayaz.
One day, when Ayaz was coming out of his private chamber, Mahmud, surrounded by courtiers, appeared and demanded to be shown into the room.
“No,” said Ayaz.
“If you do not allow me to enter the room, all my confidence in you as trustworthy and loyal will have evaporated, and we can never thenceforward be on the same terms. Take your choice,” said the fierce conqueror.
Ayaz wept, and then he threw open the door of the room and allowed Mahmud and his staff to enter. The room was empty of all furniture. All that it contained was a hook in the wall. On the hook hung a tattered and patched cloak, a staff, and a begging bowl.
The king and his court were unable to understand the significance of this discovery.
When Mahmud demanded an explanation, Ayaz said, “Mahmud, for years I have been your slave, your friend and counselor. I have tried never to forget my origins, and for this reason I have come here every day to remind myself of what I was. I belong to you, and all that belongs to me are my rags, my stick, my bowl, and my wandering over the face of the earth.”
La illaha ill Allah – there is no God but God. There is no goal but the goal. And the goal is not separate from the source; the source and the goal are the same phenomenon. This is one of the most fundamental things to be understood: to reach the goal one has to reach the source. The alpha is the omega.
If you go on trying to reach the goal you will remain in an eternal wandering and you will never come home. If you start searching for the source you will not only find the source, but you will have also found the goal. When the source is found the circle is complete.
God is not where we are going; God is from where we are coming. And our eyes are fixed on distant stars. We go on looking ahead. We are oriented towards the distant and faraway, and all those goals that we create are our own mind projections. The real goal is from where we are coming. It is in our very nature, it is in our very being, it is the very ground of our existence.
Hui Hai once went to visit the great Master Ma Tzu. The master asked him, “Why do you come here?”
Hui Hai replied, “I come seeking enlightenment.”
The master said, “Why should you leave your home to wander about and neglect your own precious treasure? There is nothing I can give you. Why do you seek enlightenment from me?”
The visitor pressed him for the truth, “But what is my treasure?”
The master answered, “It is he who has just asked the question. It contains everything and lacks nothing. There is no need to seek it outside yourself.”
Seeking presupposes that it is far away. Seeking has taken it for granted that it is not now-here, that it is not in you, that it is not you. Seeking has already supposed that it is different, separate from you and somewhere else, and it has to be sought to be found.
This presupposition creates the misery for the seeker. The seeker lives in misery and frustration because the seeker has started on a wrong journey. The seeker is never going to find God, because God is not the sought but the seeker himself.