Tales : Moths

It happened once upon a time that a seeker after truth arrived in a small village, for he had heard that there was a Sufi shaikh living somewhere in the region. “Oh yes,” said the villagers, “we know the man you mean. He lives not far from here. But it is not easy to find him.”

“Why is that?” asked the seeker.

“Go up the path at the end of the village,” he was told, “and you will find the hut where he lives. But he is never there in the daytime. Perhaps he searches the forest for herbs and berries.”

“Then I must go there at night.”

And as the day began to fade, the seeker made his way into the woods in search of the Sufi. After a time, he glimpsed a light shining through the trees. Going toward this, he found a clearing, where a bright lamp hung from the branch of a tree. It was a warm night, and many moths were fluttering around the lamp, but of the Sufi himself, there was no sign.

Puzzled, the seeker peered around, wondering where the shaikh could be, and why the lamp was hanging there unattended. Then, a slight sound attracted his attention, and some way away, sheltering under an overhang of rock, he spied the Sufi with a small candle and a book.

After greeting the Sufi respectfully, the seeker asked, “Master, why is it that you sit here reading with only a small candle, and do not use the bright lamp?”

The Sufi smiled. “The lamp is for the moths,” he said. “In this way, I can read in peace, and the candle is enough for me.”

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