Heaven and Hell : It is All our Making

Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic, was once approached by a devotee seeking a solution to a problem he was facing.

“Master, how will I explain what I am going through these days. I live with my wife and two children in a small house which has only one room. My camel tied outside brays entire night and the dog never allows us to have sleep as he too barks the entire night. We could not stand to accustom ourselves to this hell. I have always been coming to you for all my problems and all the advices you gave me worked well and the problems went away. Have pity on me, master, find me a solution.”

The master said, “I have a solution. Tonight when you retire to bed, bring the dog inside your room and tie it there and you can have a good sleep.”

The poor man was nonplussed. He didn’t utter a word. He decided to follow the guru’s advice as he has always been a conscientious obedient devotee having unlimited faith on the master.

At home, he did what the master told him to do. The dog went on barking, none could sleep the entire night.

The poor man had to rush to his master in the morning.

“What master, I did what you kindly advised me to do.  But last night was worse than before. None slept even a minute. What should I do, Master? I seek your pardon for exceeding my limits in telling me this, Master. I will be much obliged if you give a better advice.”

The master said, “I am happy with what you did. I now understand your problem. But I have a solution. Believe me, this will relieve you of your problem. Tonight, in addition to the dog, you also bring the camel inside the room and then you all go to sleep.”

The poor man felt his heart stop. But he could not open his mouth. He was already happy that the Master did not get angry at his impudence. But he shuddered at what will happen that night.

At home that night also, he obeyed his master’s advice and did as told. The family was left with no place to sit. The camel occupied the entire area, kept jumping and kicking, the dog’s bark filled the entire night, and children were crying.

The next morning, he went to the master and related his travails to him. “Master, I am dying today. I thought it was hell; this is worse than hell.” The master pacified him and told about a better solution. He asked him to tie both the camel and the dog outside the room.”

He went home, took the dog and camel out of the room. All had a good night sleep. None felt any disturbance of any kind.

He ran to the master the next morning and told, “I am lifelong indebted to you, my great Master. It was heaven yesterday, master. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

The master asked him, “You said it was hell and now you say it is heaven. It is all in your mind. Go home happily and live with contentment. Do not complain.”


(Note: I read a similar message in one of the spiritual books by Swami Krishnananda. This post is a retelling of the message in my words.)

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