The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
– Ernest Hemingway
It happened in a Sufi Mystic’s house that by mistake a thief entered. He was thinking that it was some rich man’s house. The house was beautiful and big; some rich follower had presented it to the Sufi mystic. Seeing the house, the thief could easily calculate how much treasure must be inside it.
But when he went in for the rst time, he was shocked to see that the doors were open. In such a beautiful mansion, there was not even a guard, and the doors were open. He felt a little shaky and afraid too –perhaps this was some kind of a trap.
But his greed was greater than his fear. He said, ”I should look around a little bit more. Perhaps they have forgotten to lock the door. Perhaps the guard is on vacation, away for the weekend.”
He went in and there he found the Sufi…. It was hot summer but Sufis use only wool. That’s why they are called Sufis –suf in Arabic means wool. They use only woollen clothes –it does not matter whether it is winter or summer or rain. And in Arabia it is almost always summer, hot summer, the sun is burning –and the Sufis use wool.
So the Sufi was lying down on a woollen blanket. And there was nothing in the whole house, not a single thing, because the Sufi used the blanket in the day to cover himself and in the night to lie on. The thief was of course very much disappointed. He looked into other rooms, and when he came back to the front of the house where the Sufi was lying he saw that the Sufi had moved to the bare floor and had left the blanket.
The thief could not understand what had happened, but he thought, ”Whatsoever has happened, at least I can take this blanket.” But he was feeling a little sorry too, ”This man will not have anything tomorrow even to wear. I have looked in the house, there is nothing to eat. Such a beautiful mansion, so utterly empty! The only belonging is the blanket.” Even the thief felt compassionate.
Just out of habit, first he took the blanket and was going to run away, but on second thoughts he spread the blanket again in its place. The Sufi was awake. He said, ”What are you doing? I rolled out of the blanket just so that you could take it. The house is empty and I am very sorry. I never thought that a thief would come here; otherwise I would have arranged a few things.
”Next time when you come, just inform me two or three days ahead. I have many followers, I can collect things. They are always giving and I am not taking because I don’t need. But please don’t reject this blanket; otherwise I will always feel wounded that a man had come to nd something and I am so utterly poor that I could not offer him anything.”
The thief was in a great difficulty: what to do? Nobody before has begged him to steal. And not a single word of condemnation –on the contrary, the Sufi is feeling guilty that the house is empty.
Just not to wound the beautiful man, with whom he had almost fallen in love… he had never seen such a man who could be so loving, so trusting, so helpful even to a thief in his own house. So he took away the blanket, but could not go far. It was ugly to distrust such a man who trusts you so totally, who respects your humanity so totally without any condition.
He came back, and what he saw he could not believe. The Sufi was sitting outside the mansion. It was a full-moon night and he was singing a song. The song meant: ”I am so poor. If I possessed the full moon I would have given it to that poor man.” He was crying because he did not possess the moon; otherwise he would have given the moon to the poor man.
The thief listened to his song –it was so beautiful…. He came and fell at the Sufi’s feet and told him, ”Just accept me. You have already a big mansion; accept me as your disciple, as your servant – in any way. And please take this blanket back, I cannot take it. And I promise you, I will never steal because, who knows, sometimes one may be stealing in the house of a man like you. I am not dropping stealing because stealing is bad, I am dropping stealing because there are people like you who can trust even a thief.”
Trust is a very alchemical force. If you trust somebody, you can transform the person.