Saint Fareed was 12 when he left his house for the jungle to look inside for the truth. His mother was his first teacher, and she had led him on to the path of self-discovery. After 12 years in the forest he returns home.

He is received by his mother. As he sits down, she wants to know if he thought of Him all the time, or did he waste any moments? How did he live, what did he eat? Fareed tells her that he would meditate all the time, live and sleep under the trees, and when he felt hungry, he would pull the leaves off the trees, and eat them.

Fareed’s hair is in knotty trails, and Mother says, “Come child, take a bath, and wash your hair. I will then comb out the knots.” As Fareed sits in front of her, she takes the comb and begins running it very fast through his hair. Fareed clutches his head, and cries in pain, but the mother does not stop.

“It pains you?” she asks. “And what of the trees whose leaves you pulled off just like this, it did not pain them?” She commands Fareed back to the jungle, telling him that all meditation is a waste if you cannot see Him in everything — the trees, the leaves, and finally in yourself.

Mother had taught him a lesson — see oneness in everything, be content with the minimum, else your greed shall be your nemesis. It is said that Fareed made a wooden chapatti, and tied it around his stomach. Whenever he felt hungry, he would bite it. Guru Granth Sahib includes Saint Fareed’s couplet:

Fareed, my bread is made of wood,
And it relieved my greed well.
Those who eat with greed
Many are the troubles they will face.

A mother’s simple, but remarkable lesson had produced a great Sufi like Saint Fareed.

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