There was once a Sufi who lived alone. He was sought out by a young man who wanted enlightenment, and he allowed him to come and live nearby, and said and did nothing to discourage him.
At length, having no teaching and little to think about, the young man said, ” I have never seen you eating, and I marvel at how you sustain life without food.”
” Since you joined me,” said the Sufi, ” I have stopped eating in front of you. Now I eat in secret.”
The young man, even more intrigued, said, ” But why should you do that? And if you wanted to deceive me, why do you now confess?
“I stopped eating,” said the sage, ” so that you may marvel at me, in the hope that you would one day stop marveling at irrelevancies and become a real student.”
The young man asked, ” But could you not have simply told me not to marvel at superficialities?”
“Everyone in the world,” said the Sufi, ” and that includes you, has already been told precisely that, at least a hundred times. Do you imagine that one more handful of words on this subject would have had any effect on you?”