The thief was becoming old. His son said to him, “Now you are old and soon you will die. Teach me your art!”
The master thief said, “I was also thinking about it. But it is not an art, it is rather a knack. I cannot teach you, it cannot be taught, but it can be caught.”
That’s how religion is: it cannot be taught, it can only be caught. That’s the difference between a teacher and a master: the teacher teaches, the master only makes himself available to be caught. You have to imbibe his spirit. If you only listen to his words you will miss him; if you start tasting his wine, only then will you understand him.
The thief said, “It is a knack; if you can catch it, I am ready to help you, I will make myself available to you. I had been wondering myself, but it is such a great skill – like poets, real thieves are born not made. But one never knows unless one tries. You come along with me tonight.”
The son followed. The son was young, healthy, very strong. The old man was really old, more than eighty. The old man arrived at a rich house. He broke the wall, he removed the bricks – but the way he was doing it! And the young man was just watching, standing there and trembling. It was a cold night and the young man was perspiring and trembling. And he was so afraid: he was looking all around – somebody might be coming. “And what kind of man is my father? He is doing everything so silently, so gracefully, as if this was our own house! No hurry, no worry.”
The father did not even look around even a single time. He entered the house, gestured to the son to follow. He followed trembling, perspiring, his whole body was just bathed in perspiration; it was flowing like water. He had never experienced this kind of perspiration even on hot summer days – and it was a cold winter night, ice cold! And the old man was moving in the house, in the darkness, as if he had always lived there. He didn’t stumble against anything.
He reached inside the house, he opened the innermost room. Then he opened a closet and told the son to enter the closet. The son entered the closet…and what the father did was unimaginable to the son. The father locked the closet – the son was inside! – shouted loudly, “Thief! Thief!” and escaped.
The whole house was awake, the neighborhood was awake. People rushed here and there; they looked all around inside the house. You can imagine the situation of the son! He thought, “This is the end. Finished! My father is mad! I should not have asked – this is not for me. He was right to say that thieves are born not made. But is this a way to teach? If I stay alive I will kill this old man! I will go home and cut his head off immediately!”
He was really angry – anybody would have been in his situation – but there was no point in being angry. Right now something had to done and he could not think of anything. The mind simply stopped.