Bahaudin al-Shah, the great Sufi mystic, was in Bokhara, accompanied by his followers. In the middle of the market square, they find a person, sitting very calmly. His clothes are simple, and his stance humble, but there is serenity in his very presence. Bahaudin’s followers feel envious of this stranger’s state, since they all desired this very condition.

“Who are you,” they asked him? And he said, “I don’t know.” But they ask him again, “Where did you come from, and where are you going”? And the stranger says, “I don’t know.”

The stranger appears very wise, and they ask of him, “What is good, and what is evil”? Prompt comes the reply, “I have no idea.”

The stranger gets up, and walks off with very purposeful steps, but in no particular direction. The group goes back to Bahaudin. They tell him, “We thought the stranger was wise, but he was actually a fool, and knew nothing.”

Bahaudin, however, saysthe stranger was enlightened, as he held up the mirror to each one of us. We are all in an unconscious state, for none of us know where we came from, or where we will go.One man’s evil is another man’s good, and we do not know ourselves at all. The stranger showed the carelessness with which we are living our lives. At the same time, we pretend as though we know all the answers, and in a simple manner, the stranger exposed our lies .

To learn, we must accept our ignorance. When we do this, we empty our self of our false ego, and make some space for fresh wisdom. Guru Granth Sahib gives us this advice:

First, accept your mortal nature,

Give up desire for your false existence.

When you have rid yourself of pride, and accepted -humility—

Then, come to me.

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