The dog and the lake. A Sufi story


“Knock, And He’ll open the door / Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun / Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens / Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.” J. Rumi

Some time ago I read an inspiring Sufi story which immediately got stuck in my memory. Today I want to share this story with you. The story goes like that: “Long time ago it existed a great sufi Master who used to be approached by many different disciples to be asked the most varied questions about Sufism, the hearth and the spiritual path. One day one disciple asked to the Master: “Master, among all of your many experiences, which was the one which lead you nearest to the understanding of the human hearth? Among all the many people you’ve encountered which one was the wisest teacher you’ve met in your path?” The master reflected on the question for a few minutes. “A dog” replied the master. In hearing that answer the room was suddenly filled with surprise. The Master was a very renown spiritual teacher who studied with the most well-known sages and intellectuals of his time, and all the many students which were in the room sat there incredulously. “A dog?” asked the disciple. “Yes, a dog” replied the master. “And why a dog?” asked the disciple, intrigued. “Well,” said the Master. “One day I was walking near a very big and beautiful lake. Just in front of the lake I noticed one very thirsty dog. He looked as if he had crossed the desert all by himself and he looked as if he was about to die of thirst. The dog got really excited upon seeing the lake as he thought he found that thing which could finally expire his thirst”, said the Master. :The dog run towards the lake with renewed energy”, continued the Master. “As he reached the boarder of the lake, though, he found that another wild dog was there to wait for him with a terrible look on his face. The thirsty dog run away a scared.” “As the dog’s thirst increased, he found the courage to approach to boarder of the lake once more. But again he got scared.” “The same scene happened several times, with the dog making several attempts of drinking the water. Every time, though, there was the very same scary dog waiting for him on the border of the lake”. “At a certain point the dog’s thirst grew so much he could not bare it anymore. The dog run with all the remaining vigour he had towards the water, not caring anymore about the other wild dog”. “With his surprise the dog fell into the water without encountering the wild dog. How refreshing was the water of that lake!”. The audience looked at the Master without understanding. “You see”, continued the Master. “The image of the wild dog was not real and, in reality, it had never been there. It was just the reflection of the thirsty dog on the surface of the lake”, said the Master. “Similarly when we approach the lake of our hearth we can get scared by our own projections. When we do that, though, we are like that thirsty dog near the lake. In reality nothing prevents us to drink the gentle water of our hearth”.



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