I’ve said before that every craftsman searches for what’s not there to practice his craft. A builder looks for the rotten hole where the roof caved in. A water-carrier picks the empty pot. A carpenter stops at the house with no door. Workers rush toward some hint of emptiness, which they then start to fill. Their hope, though, is for emptiness, so don’t think you must avoid it. It contains what you need! Dear soul, if you were not friends with the vast nothing inside, why would you always be casting you net into it, and waiting so patiently? This invisible ocean has given you such abundance, but still you call it “death”, that which provides you sustenance and work. God has allowed some magical reversal to occur, so that you see the scorpion pit as an object of desire, and all the beautiful expanse around it, as dangerous and swarming with snakes. This is how strange your fear of death and emptiness is, and how perverse the attachment to what you want. Now that you’ve heard me on your misapprehensions, dear friend, listen to Attar’s story on the same subject. He strung the pearls of this about King Mahmud, how among the spoils of his Indian campaign there was a Hindu boy, whom he adopted as a son. He educated and provided royally for the boy and later made him vice-regent, seated on a gold throne beside himself. One day he found the young man weeping.. “Why are you crying? You’re the companion of an emperor! The entire nation is ranged out before you like stars that you can command!” The young man replied, “I am remembering my mother and father, and how they scared me as a child with threats of you! ‘Uh-oh, he’s headed for King Mahmud’s court! Nothing could be more hellish!’ Where are they now when they should see me sitting here?” This incident is about your fear of changing. You are the Hindu boy. Mahmud, which means Praise to the End, is the spirit’s poverty or emptiness. The mother and father are your attachment to beliefs and blood ties and desires and comforting habits. Don’t listen to them! They seem to protect but they imprison. They are your worst enemies. They make you afraid of living in emptiness. Some day you’ll weep tears of delight in that court, remembering your mistaken parents! Know that your body nurtures the spirit, helps it grow, and gives it wrong advise. The body becomes, eventually, like a vest of chain mail in peaceful years, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. But the body’s desires, in another way, are like an unpredictable associate, whom you must be patient with. And that companion is helpful, because patience expands your capacity to love and feel peace. The patience of a rose close to a thorn keeps it fragrant. It’s patience that gives milk to the male camel still nursing in its third year, and patience is what the prophets show to us. The beauty of careful sewing on a shirt is the patience it contains. Friendship and loyalty have patience as the strength of their connection. Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates that you haven’t been patient. Be with those who mix with God as honey blends with milk, and say, “Anything that comes and goes, rises and sets, is not what I love.” else you’ll be like a caravan fire left to flare itself out alone beside the road.