In search of the master

Occasionally, there is a mail from a reader, saying that she began to read a story with an eager expectation of finding some inspiring material but was sorely disappointed that the story did not give her the spark of inspiration. “I want to read something that leaves me thinking up and positive, but that did not happen,” she rues.

While appreciating such feedback, and also empathising with the disappointment of these readers, I am reminded of an old story.

Junaid, the young seeker, was looking for his master. He went to meet an old fakir and asked him, “I have heard that you know. Show me the path.” The old man said, “Oh, people told you that I know. But it is for you to experience.” Junaid was not too happy at the answer. He said, “Hmm… I don’t feel anything. Perhaps, I should go elsewhere. Can you at least guide me where I can find my Master.” A smiling fakir gave Junaid the directions: “You will find your master sitting under a tree. From his eyes, you will see bright light. And, the smell of musk will be around him. Go, seek.”

Accordingly, Junaid began his search. On and on, for twenty years. In his journey, he came across many people who looked like the master he was in search of, but they failed the tests that the fakir had described to him. He did not see light in their eyes, nor was the smell of musk around them. Junaid was weary, but relentless, though he was no longer the young man he once was.

One day, on the streets of Mecca, where he had started off his quest, he saw an old fakir under a tree. Even while approaching the tree, Junaid could see the unmistakable bright light from the fakir’s eyes. And there was the fragrance of musk all around. Falling at the fakir’s feet, Junaid cried, “Master, I searched for you, for twenty long years. Accept me.”

Here comes the twist in the story. The fakir said, “Yes, I was also waiting for you, for twenty long years.” A jolted Junaid looked up to see the fakir, and yes, it was the same person the young Junaid had met. Angrily, Junaid asked, “Why did you do this? You played a trick on me. I wasted all my youth. You could have told me when I first came to you.”

What the fakir said in reply is the crux of the story, and an important lesson for wannabe entrepreneurs looking for ideas, and jaded entrepreneurs searching for inspiration. The fakir looked at Junaid and said softly, “I could have told you but that would not have helped. The light was there, and the fragrance of musk was around, even then; but you did not have eyes to see, or the nose to smell. Over these twenty years of wandering, your senses have become sharper, and your quest has become intense. You have changed, by becoming a better perceiver of what is around you.”

Returning to my reader who is looking for inspiration, looking for the fiery spark of charge that can simply light up something within you to get you moving fast, the message from the story is simple: Work on yourself to become perceptive enough to pick up the unspoken signals around you, the unexpressed needs, the gaps in market.

Do you have a story about how you found your inspiration, your ‘master’, the trigger that made you a purposeful entrepreneur? Quite probably, it would not have come as a 72-point bold-lettered message jumping at you, off an in-flight magazine.


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