The great Sufi mystic, Hasan, was dying. Somebody asked: “Hasan, who was your master?” And Hasan replied, “I had thousands of masters. If I just tell their mes, it will take months and years and it will be too late. But three masters I will certainly tell you about.
“One was a thief. Once I got lost in the desert, and when I reached a village it was very late, everything was closed. At last I saw a man trying to cut a hole in the wall of a house. I asked him where I could stay and he said, ‘At this time of night it will be difficult, but you can say with me - if you can stay with a thief’.
“This man was so wonderful, I stayed with him an entire month! Each night he would say to me, ‘I am going out for my work. You rest and pray.’ When he came back, I would ask, ‘Did you get anything?’ Many a times he would say, ‘Not tonight. But tomorrow I will try again, God willing.’ I never saw him lost for hope, he was always cheerful.
“When I was meditating for years on end but nothing was happening, many a times I would become desperate or lose hope. I would tell myself ‘to stop all this nonsense once and for all’. And then suddenly I would remember the thief who would say every night, ‘God willing, tomorrow it is going to happen.’
“My second master was a dog. Once I was going to the river for a drink. A thirsty dog was there too. He would go near the water, see his image and take fright. He would bark and run away, but his thirst was so great, he kept coming back. Filly, despite his fear, he just jumped into the water. Lo!, the image disappeared. And I knew that a message had come to me from God: ‘One has to jump in, despite all fears’.
“My third master was a small child. I entered a town and saw a child carrying a lit candle to put in a mosque and pray. Wanting to pull his leg a little, I asked, ‘Have you lit the candle yourself?’ He replied, ‘Yes sir.’ Then I asked, ‘There was a moment when the candle was unlit, and then there was a moment when the candle was lit. Can you show me the source from which the light came?’
“The boy laughed, blew out the candle, and said, ‘Now you have seen the light going out. Where has it disappeared? You tell me!’
“My ego was punctured. Suddenly my whole knowledge was shown up as hollow. At that moment, I felt so stupid! Since then, I stopped trying to be wise.
“You may think, I had no formal master. That does not mean I was not a disciple — I accepted the world around me as my master. I trusted the clouds, the desert, the rivers, the trees. I trusted existence as such.
“My life-long disciplehood was a greater involvement than yours. I had no particular master because I had millions of masters. I learned from every possible source, every experience in life.
“To be a disciple is a must on the path. And what does it mean to be a disciple? It means to be always available to learn, ever ready, willing and open to learn, and to learn to be vulnerable to existence.
“With a master, you start learning to learn. The master is a pool where you can learn how to swim. Once you have learned, all the oceans are yours.”