In the following anecdote told by Hazrat Inayat Khan, which turns around the incessant, all-enveloping noise of a ship’s engines when it is underway, he speaks of an adept, meaning someone who is spiritually accomplished. It is possible that the adept was Hazrat Inayat himself, and he did not wish to put himself forward in this tale.
An adept was sitting in a ship with an ordinary person, and this person said, “Oh, how terrible this noise is, continually going on! It breaks my nerves to pieces. Terrible, terrible, terrible! To hear this going on and on day and night almost drives me mad!”
The adept said, “I did not hear it until you reminded me of it. I hear it when I want to hear it; I do not hear it when I do not want to hear it.”
That is the idea. Both had the sense of hearing but one had the power to close it and to open it. The other had the doors of his sense of hearing open but he could not close them.