Sunday, October 28, 2007

Status Report - A Sufi Story

One evening a very influential and wealthy shipping magnate
was having dinner with several powerful members of government in
a city where the tycoon was visiting. While this businessman dealt
with all manner of exported and imported goods throughout the
world, the bedrock of his fortune revolved around the transport of
crude oil.

Although this man was very rich, his financial and social status
had not always been so exalted. As a boy, he had been quite poor, but
through hard work and some extraordinary good luck which his
efforts were able to take advantage of, he steadily built up a global
shipping empire.

Despite his considerable wealth, the ‘shipping wizard’, as he was
affectionately known in many places, was a very humble, down-to-
earth individual. His mother had been a mystic of some note, and,
consequently, the boy had taken an interest in spiritual matters from
an early age due to his mother’s considerable influence.

Among other things, they were discussing the status of the
world’s economy and the impact which terrorist activities might play
in undermining the shipping industry, in general, and this shipping
magnate’s operations, in particular. There was considerable concern
in many economic and political circles about the issue, because,
recently, there had been an increase of strikes against commercial
shipping, both on the open seas, as well as when docked, and the
government officials at the dinner table were among those whose
nerves were beginning to fray under the constant tension of
uncertainty surrounding the time, place and extent of damage in
relation to the next set of terrorist attacks.

The dinner group was nibbling away at a variety of appetizers,
waiting for the first course to be served, when a middle-aged man
approached the table in a rather agitated state. The man was one of
the tycoon’s close aides.

The aide hovered at a respectful distance from the spot where the
businessman was seated, waiting for an opportunity to catch the eye
of his employer. Clearly, the aide was in a controlled state of panic
and in great need to be relieved of the burden with which he had
come to the table.

Finally, one of the other members of the dinner party, who
recognized the businessman’s associate, touched the arm of the
tycoon and motioned in the direction of the aide. The shipping
magnate turned, recognized his assistant, noted the man’s frantic
condition, and waved him to the table.

His assistant came to his boss, leaned over and began whispering
in his employer’s ear. “Sir, I am sorry to say there have been
massive, simultaneous attacks upon your shipping interests by
unknown terrorist groups, and the early reports are that the vast
majority of your ships have been destroyed, and many others have
been damaged extensively, perhaps irreparably. There are additional
indications that quite a few of your port facilities in different
countries have been rendered largely inoperable. I fear, sir, your
shipping empire is listing badly and in danger of sinking altogether.”

The other people at the table had been watching the shipping
wizard during this whispered exchange, and his expression never
changed. He listened calmly to the information he was being given,
and when the aide had unloaded his terrible cargo, the tycoon was
silent for a moment, seeming to gaze at something in the distance,
and, then, he remarked: “That is good,” told his assistant to return
to his duties, and, once again, began talking with his dinner

Several hours passed and the dinner engagement was still going
on. The group was working its way toward dessert and coffee, and
the dishes from the previous course had just been removed from the

As the waiters were arranging things at the table in preparation
for the remainder of the meal, the aide who had visited the tycoon
earlier in the evening entered the dining area and, once more,
approached his employer. This time the aide’s entire mood was up-
beat and excited, as if very happy about something.

The tycoon had seen his assistant come into the room and
followed his progress to the table. When his aide was relatively close,
the shipping magnate moved the fingers of his hand in a beckoning
motion to signal for his assistant to come to the table.

The aide did as was indicated. He leaned down and whispered in
his boss’ ear: “Sir, wonderful news. The previous reports concerning
your empire were in error. It was not your interests, holdings, and
property which were damaged but those of one of the other global
shipping empires. Your empire is completely safe and intact.”

The tycoon listened impassively to what was being said. When
his assistant had finished delivering the happy news, the shipping
wizard again appeared to stare into some space in the distance and
commented: “That is good,” after which he thanked his aide for
keeping him informed of what was going on, and, then, dismissed
him with: “I’ll see you back at the office in an hour or so.”

A little over fifty minutes later, the shipping magnate came into
his offices, where he found his aide watching the latest television
updates concerning the multiple terrorist attacks which had taken
place earlier that day in different parts of the world. As the aide saw
the tycoon come in the assistant began supplying details of all that
had transpired -- at least as far as the aide knew.

After completing his summary and answering a few cursory
questions for his boss in relation to the day’s events, the assistant
sought permission to ask a question of his own and the businessman
acceded to his aide’s request. The aide remarked: “You know
something puzzles me about tonight. When I told you during my first
trip to the dining table that, apparently, your shipping empire had
been ruined, you simply said: ‘That is good.’ Yet, when I came on the
second occasion with the good news, you also said: ‘That is good’. If
I am not being out of line here, or too personal, could you tell me why
you responded the same way on both occasions?”

His boss smiled slightly in relation to the question. He said:
“Well, you aren’t being insubordinate, and my remarks are neither
classified information, nor are they too personal. In point of fact,
each time that you whispered in my ear and I listened to what you
were saying, I was concentrating on my inner spiritual condition by
carefully checking to see whether, or not, your news altered my
heart’s equilibrium.

“When I saw that your initial report did not upset my spiritual
condition, I said: ‘That is good,” and when I witnessed that your
happier news also did not disturb the condition of my heart, I said:
‘That is good.’”

1 comment:

Dipti said...

wow such wonderful and inspiring story