When I was an adolescent I had the great pleasure of working with a Sufi master. I was only beginning to play the game of life. At the time I did not realize the importance of the encounter I had with this man of knowledge. My background was that of Roman Catholic, and as I entered my adolescence I began to search for meaning beyond the boundaries of the church. A friend of mine, invited me to meet his uncle. This uncle, he said, was a Sufi who might be able to assist me, to start finding life changing answers to the questions I had.
I agreed to this invitation, albeit a bit tentatively. My friend’s family was in the catering business and I thought a Sufi had something to do with Sushi, or some other culinary creation. So I was a little unsure as to how a chef was going to help me. But anyone who could shed light on my desire for meaning was worth a shot. Little did I know that, a Sufi is someone who delves into the mystical side of things.
This man assisted me to start becoming a finder of meaningful answers to questions. However, I lived in a small town, and news traveled fast. My priest found out that I was seeing a mystical man. He eventually came to see me. During his visit he pointed out that if I continued this relationship with the Sufi, my soul would be damned to eternal hell. Being young and impressionable I took my priest’s advice.
So, I had my last appointment with the Sufi Master. My last encounter was particularly significant. Somehow, he knew I was coming to say goodbye. I remember very little of that last meeting, except for one thing. This man somehow realized that I was aborting my quest for knowledge. As he spoke to me, he had a kind of sadness to him. A sadness that one only finds in those who know, watching someone, who doesn’t know he is making a mistake.
We were on the third-floor of a building. There was a large window behind a desk, by then I was disconnecting from him. I was looking out the window and reading a large billboard sign, advertising Ferodo Brake Pads. I knew the billboard I had seen it before.
He could see I was being distracted. I said: “Look I am sorry, I was distracted by Ferrodo brake linings” The sign read: “Never Start Something You Cannot Stop – Use Ferrodo”
The Sufi caught my line of vision and he asked me what I was looking at. I rather sheepishly admitted that I had not been listening to him. Rather I had been looking at the billboard. I told him what it said. He asked me what I thought of the statement. I said I agreed with it, I explained: “I never start anything I cannot stop. I never start anything that I do not have complete control over.”
What I remembered most is the expression on the face of this Wise Man of Islam. It was pure sadness, almost like tears of sadness forming in his eyes. Now I know, that it was the knowingness that it was going to be our last encounter. He wanted to give me something before I go.
He looked at me and said: “You will never truly be happy until you start something that is far bigger than you. If you do not dare, set in motion something, something that you cannot stop, over which you have no control, something that is bigger than you, bigger than life itself, you will never find happiness.
At the time, this life changing encounter went completely over my head. I left shortly afterwards and thought very little of that encounter. Years later, I again began to embrace a path of knowledge and wisdom.
The Sufi’s last words to me have become pivotal in my life. Whenever I am faced with a difficult decision I step back and ask myself: “As i play the game of life – Am I setting something in motion that is bigger than me?” Or, “am I taking the easy way out and only creating something that I can control.”
Originally from Adventure Learning Initiatives.