To the disciples' delight the Master said he wanted a new shirt for his birthday. The finest cloth was bought. The village tailor came in to have the Master measured, and promised, by the will of God, to make the shirt within a week.
A week went by and a disciple was dispatched to the tailor while the Master excitedly waited for his shirt. Said the tailor "There has been a slight delay. But, by the will of God, it will be ready by tomorrow."
Next day the tailor said "I'm sorry it isn't done. Try again tomorrow and, if God so wills, it will certainly be ready."
The following day the Master said "Ask him how long it will take if he keeps God out of it."
"Why is everyone here so happy except me?"
"Because they have learned to see goodness and beauty everywhere" said the Master.
"Why don't I see goodness and beauty everywhere?"
"Because you cannot see outside of you what you fail to see inside."
According to legend, God sent an Angel to the Master with this message: "Ask for a million years of life and they will be given you. Or a million million. How long do you wish to live?"
"Eighty years" said the Master without the slightest hesitation.
The disciples were dismayed. "But, Master, if you lived for a million years, think how many generations would profit by your wisdom."
"If I lived for a million years, people would be more intent on lengthening their lives than on cultivating wisdom."
To a disciple who depended overmuch on books the Master said:
"A man came to the market with a shopping list and lost it. When to his great joy he found it again, he read it eagerly, held on to it till he had done his shopping - then threw it away as a useless scrap of paper."
To a man who hesitated to embark on the spiritual qust for fear of the effort and renunciation the Master said:
"How much effort and renunciation does it take to open one's eyes and see?"
"What must I do for Enlightenment?"
"Because Enlightenment doesn't come from doing - it happens."
"Then can it never be attained?"
"Oh yes it can."
"And what does one do to attain nondoing?"
"What does one do to go to sleep or wake up?"
He was a religious writer and interested in the Master's views.
"How does one discover God?"
Said the Master sharply "Through making the heart white with silent meditation, not making paper black with religious composition."
And, turning to his scholarly disciples, he teasingly added "Or making the air thick with learned conversation."
"Help us to find God."
"No one can help you there."
"For the same reason that no one can help the fish to find the ocean."
"How shall I help the world?"
"By understanding it" said the Master.
"And how shall I understand it?"
"By turning away from it."
"How then shall I serve humanity?"
"By understanding yourself."
"I wish to learn. Will you teach me?"
"I do not think that you know how to learn" said the Master.
"Can you teach me how to learn?"
"Can you learn how to let me teach?"
To his bewildered disciples the Master later said "Teaching only takes place when learning does. Learning only takes place when you teach something to yourself."
To a group of his disciples whose hearts were set on a pilgrimage the Master said "Take this bitter gourd along. Make sure you dip it into all the holy rivers and bring it into all the holy shrines."
When the disciples returned, the bitter gourd was cooked and served as sacramental food.
"Strange" said the Master slyly after he had tasted it. "The holy water and the shrines have failed to sweeten it!"