Amongst the numerous parables contained in ‘A Message of Love’ there was the parable of the man and the thug which is reproduced here verbatim from the book.
Where does Love dwell? Where can we get it? Where is it sold? It is really of great worth and value, but it is as scarce as it is valuable. It is unseen, and its whereabouts are not known. It is beyond space and time. It cannot be had for entreaties. It cannot be seen with the help of a telescope. It is not found in books. How then can we get a thing the particulars of which are not known? Would that we could find it!
Arise and take the cup of joy from thine own heart
O thou fruitlessly searching for the goal,
When thou art living in the very heart of it.
Where is the abode of Love?
Just attend to thyself and look within thee.
Oh, He, after whom I ran all my life from place to place!
Suddenly, I found him sitting in my heart, fact to face!
At last I saw him waiting in my heart,
though I ran much after him from place to place!”
After acquiring some wealth, a certain man was returning home, when along the way, he met a thug, who was a professional thief, who wanted to know where he was going.
I am going home, replied the man.
Where is your home? asked the thug
The man mentioned the place. The thug thereupon said, Your village lies in my way, and I have to go a little further. If it does not displease you, may I come along with you?
What objection can I have to this? replied the man, it will please me. Companionship will lessen the hardship of a tedious journey. God has sent you to help me. I feel honoured to have a fellow-traveller in you.
At night they lodged at an inn. The man was decidedly perturbed for a little while as he was afraid of losing his fortune. He had become aware of the thug’s cunning and wanted to keep his wealth in a safe place. Necessity is the mother of invention. He soon found a secure place, and put his treasure there. And then he went to bed without a care, snoring deliberately to create the impression of sleep. The man slumbered, while the thug dreamt of his awakened luck.
The thug got up and looked around, and, taking the man’s sleep for his good fortune, started ransacking everything there, but he found nothing but disappointment. He wondered what had become of the pearls. The man had certainly had them. He had slept near him; he had not been out of the room even. What could have happened to the pearls? He consoled himself with the thought that his craft had failed him that night, but he would see what could be done on the next, and he lay down with ease.
The same thing happened on the following night. The thug was sorely disappointed. Three nights passed and the man reached his village. Just before parting, the man took out the box of pearls from his pocket and began to count them. The thug was taken aback because he had searched the man’s pockets several times and always found them empty.
He must be a great magician or else a professional thief like me, thought the thug, “for he never let me have an inkling of the hiding place of the pearls! I can always search out things wherever they may be kept; I can even detect the smallest of articles. I can find things hidden in the heart of the mountains. I wonder who this man is, and where he hid this pearls?
The thug was greatly puzzled. He lost all confidence and faith in his own craft. He stood before the man like a child and said O Master! Can you divulge your secret to me? Where did you hide your pearls? With a thousand wiles I managed to become your companion and was ever planning to rob your pearls. But, despite all my cunning, I failed utterly. Please be so kind as to tell me where you hid your pearls.
The man smiled and replied, I had entrusted these pearls to your own self!
How? asked the bewildered thug.
The man said: At night, when you were asleep, I used to put this small box of pearls in your pocket!
The thug was shocked and said to himself, Alas! If I had only known that these pearls were in my own pocket! How could I imagine that anyone could place his wealth in another’s pocket so fearlessly! This man alone could do it. I wasted all my time in fruitless search, looking everywhere but in my own pocket, and gained nothing but fatigue.
It is true that the things nearest to us are most often overlooked. The man had really found the safest place for his pearls.
Alas! The goal that seems to us so infinitely far, is, in fact, very near. Rather, the path to the goal, and the goal are one.
He, himself, is the cup, the cup-maker, and the clay!
That ignorant man, who, being in union, still cries for union, –
How infinitely distant is he, how unimaginable his separation!