When the other craftsmen asked him what the secret was, he said, “It was simple. First I made an ashtray as close to the original one as possible, then I painted the walls accordingly.” Impossible as it was to get the exact shade in the ashtray, this was the only way out.
When Nanak speaks there are only two ways open to you: either you merge into Nanak’s color and attain to satisfaction, or else you are bound to become restless. To be near a person like Nanak is like standing next to fire. Either you burn yourself as Nanak burned, you turn into ashes as Nanak did, you lose yourself as Nanak did – like a drop falling into the ocean; or, the only other alternative is to color Nanak’s words in your own shade. This is very easy, for we never actually hear what is told to us, but hear what we want to hear. We infer meanings that suit us. We don’t stand on the side of truth; we make truth stand on our side; we make truth follow us.
The difference between a genuine seeker and a false seeker is that the legitimate seeker follows truth wherever it might take him – whatever be the outcome – even if everything is lost, even if life is lost. He is ready to lose his all. The inauthentic seeker bends truth to follow him; but then it is no longer truth, it is falsity.
How can truth follow you? Only untruth can follow you, for you are false; your shadow is bound to be fake. You can follow truth if you desire, but truth can never follow you; it cannot be contained in your concepts, it is too big for your head. Therefore Nanak says whoever attempts it afterwards repents. There is yet another reason which you should note, that I have mentioned before. When you almost reach contemplation you come to the midpoint from which there are two choices, one of which is to start talking of it to others. In that case you will regret it; therefore, whenever the urge comes to tell others, first consult the guru. Do not trust in your own judgment to talk about it till the guru tells you.
The ways of the ego are very subtle. No sooner do you make one small step than it proclaims great triumph. It gets a fistful and claims to have attained all space! A little glimpse of light and it says the sun has risen. A drop has hardly fallen and you begin talking of the ocean. Then the talk leads to more talk and the result is that even the one drop vanishes, the glimpse dissolves. The result is that the person remains a shallow pundit, full of nothing but knowledge; he seems to know too much. He talks a great deal without any experience. If you observe him carefully you will note that his actions are completely inconsistent with what he says.
Once Mulla Nasruddin was trying to catch a train that had already started moving. He caught hold of the handle and one foot was already in the door when the guard grabbed him saying, “Don’t you know it’s an offense to climb a moving train?” The Mulla climbed down.