It happened once upon a time that a student of a certain spiritual path received a message from her teacher, saying that he had some matters to attend to in her city, and wondering if she could receive him as a guest for a few days.
The student was honoured to accept, and began to think what she could do to make her teacher happy during the visit. She knew that he found music very inspiring, and so she thought that perhaps he would enjoy going to some concert.
When the teacher arrived, she proposed that they attend a special performance scheduled for that evening, and he said, “Yes, certainly.”
Arriving at the concert hall, they found there was already a large crowd of people gathered. The student was preparing to join the queue, but to her surprise the teacher did not stop, but simply walked on by.
A few streets further on, they came to a smaller crowd outside another concert hall, but the teacher ignored this also, and the student, now very puzzled, hurried along in his wake.
Finally, on a very narrow, dimly lit street, they found an open door and saw two or three people going inside. “Here,” said the teacher.
It was not a concert hall – just a shabby space with a few chairs – and the student could not understand why her teacher had preferred to come here. When it began, though, the music was inspired beyond description, and lasted far into the night.
The next morning, the student ventured to ask her teacher about what seemed to her a mystery: why he had ignored the first two concerts, and chosen something so small and obscure – a choice which now seemed to have been correct. “The first concert,” she said, “was a musician of the highest class. A rare performance even in this city. But I suppose that you had some message from the Unseen that directed you to the third place.”
The teacher frowned. “Do you think I am a magician? What directed me was the audience. The people waiting to enter the first hall wanted to be seen, not to listen. They were well dressed and looking around to see who else was there – even the best musician in the world could only lift them so far.”
“And the second hall?” asked the student. “Why did you pass by that place?”
“Those waiting looked like family,” said the teacher. “Family of the students who would perform. So the music would be inspiring for the family, but less interesting for an outsider.”
“At the third place,” he concluded, “I saw faces that were thirsty for beauty, and as I felt the same, I joined them.”