The master passed by a preacher who said, “We should not be concerned with the world but with God.”
The master remarked to his disciple, “Wouldn’t it be better to see God in the world?”
“What do you mean?” said the disciple.
“The preacher creates a dividing line between ‘the world’ and God — implying that there are ‘godly’ concerns and ‘worldly’ concerns. But that line is an illusion and is the cause of much strife. Witness the wife who complains that her husband spends too much time at church, or the family that is neglected in the name of God.
That is why I say it is better to see God in the world. See God in your neighbor. See God in your wife and family. See God in your work, in your every action and in every person you meet. That way, everything you do will be a godly concern,” concluded the master.
“Have you attained holiness?” asked the newcomer to the master.
“Why do you ask?” replied the master.
“I have to know if I should follow you or not,” said the newcomer.
“So what if I am holy? So what if I am not? A sinner can very well tell the truth, while a saint can also lead you to error. Listen to the message. Don’t be a slave to the messenger. The day you begin following me or anyone else, you cease to follow Truth,” said the master.
A pilgrim stopped by the temple where a master resided who was known for his holiness. A disciple ushered him inside and led him to the courtyard at the back.
The pilgrim heard boisterous laughter and the sounds of merrymaking coming from a bend in the garden. He turned the bend and was surprised to see the master and several disciples seated around a small table. They were sharing a bottle of wine, singing, laughing, swapping jokes and slapping one another’s back.
The pilgrim turned to the disciple who had led him there. “This is an outrage,” he said. “I thought that this master was supposed to be a very holy man.”
“Oh, he is a holy man,” replied the smiling disciple. “But you should know that it is one thing for a man to be holy. And it is a totally different thing that he should seem holy to you. Who are you to judge what is holy or not?”
Word spread around the kingdom that a holy man had moved into a hut near the base of a nearby mountain. The king wanted to see this man to ask for advice on how to handle the many problems he faced. So one day, he rode out to the mountain with a dozen soldiers and came to the holy man’s hut.
He saw a young, well-built man chopping wood outside the hut and thought this must be the holy man’s apprentice or servant.
“Hey there,” said the king. “I would like to speak to the holy man. May I come in and see him?”
“Of course, your majesty,” said the young man. “Please come in.”
The young man showed him inside the hut, which contained only a small table, a couple of old chairs, some utensils and a cot in the corner. The king stood and looked around, wondering where the holy man would come from. The young man sat in the corner and said, “After you’re done, you may leave whenever you wish.”
“I don’t understand,” said the king. “I said I wanted to see the holy man.”
“You already have,” said the young man. “And if you want my advice, here it is. See every man or woman you meet as holy. That should take care of most of your problems. Good day, your majesty.”