The hermit's occult powerThere was a hermit who was spiritual to the extreme. He was spirituality incarnate in his own way. Eventually even the prince came to hear about this hermit. One day the prince came to the hermit's cottage and said, "Would you kindly teach me about spiritual matters?"
The hermit said, "You are a prince. You will only argue with me. Because your father is the king, I am sure you are not accustomed to obeying others. I am a humble man. You will only create problems for me."
The prince said, "No, I will not create any problems for you. I have come here with utmost sincerity to learn from you."
The hermit said, "All right. I shall teach you." Then the hermit said, "Do you know that I have tremendous occult power?"
The prince said, "I have not yet started my spiritual journey and you want me to have occult power? Today for the first time I have come to you to learn. I do not even know the alphabet and you want to give me the M.A. course? How am I going to understand it?"
The hermit said, "Oh no, it is quite possible. I can give you all kinds of occult power — I have that capacity. Do you want to hear what kind of occult power I have?"
The prince said, "If you want me to hear about these things, I will listen. But I feel it is only delaying my journey. I have to learn the first steps. You have to teach me how to pray and then how to meditate. I have to repeat God's Name. I have heard that these are the first things one must learn if one wants to enter into the spiritual life."
"Have you come to learn from me, or do I have to learn from you?" asked the hermit.
Then the prince felt sorry. He was afraid he had offended the hermit. He said, "All right, if you can give me the advanced lesson in one day, I have no objection. I will try to learn from you. Forgive me, forgive me. I do not want to argue with you any more. I have come to you with utmost humility, admiration and love."
The hermit said, "I am very, very pleased with your humility. Now let me tell you what kind of occult power I have."
The prince remained absolutely silent. He wanted to behave well. He did not want to argue with his master any more.
The hermit continued, "I can remain under the ground for five hours! Then I can emerge, and you will see that I am in perfect condition."
The prince showed tremendous astonishment.
The hermit went on, "Come closer! I shall tell you a secret."
The prince moved closer. The hermit whispered, "I can remain underwater for ten hours or even more!"
Once again the prince showed that he was absolutely astonished.
Then the hermit breathed, "Come still closer! This time I shall tell you something very confidential."
The prince moved closer than the closest to the hermit and the hermit softly said, "I can fly in the sky!"
At this, the prince could tolerate no more. He cried, "What am I doing here? I thought that you were a most spiritual person, a jewel of renunciation. But you are a mere miracle-monger!"
The hermit became absolutely furious. He said, "I knew that I could expect this kind of behaviour from you. That is why I was unwilling to accept you as a disciple. I refuse to teach you!"
The prince said, "All right. You will not teach me. Please forgive me for taking your precious time. Before I leave, I would like to give you a few lessons."
Now the hermit became really annoyed. He said, "I have to learn from you?"
"From me," said the prince.
"How arrogant you are!" said the hermit. "Tell me what kind of lessons I have to learn from a prince."
The prince saw a worm on the ground nearby. He dug a hole and placed the worm in the ground. Then he covered the hole with earth and said to the hermit, "You can stay underground only for five hours, but this worm can live for years under the ground!"
Then he said, "You can stay underwater for ten hours, but fish remain in the water all their lives."
Then the prince looked up at a bird in the sky and said, "See how the bird is flying! You say that you have mastered the art of flying, but for birds, flying is quite natural. Why should we pray to God to do what a worm, a fish and a bird can easily do? That is going backwards in terms of evolution. Our goal should always be ahead of us."
The hermit screamed, "I knew it, I knew it! You did not come here to learn. You are such a rogue! Go back to your palace. Only people who are very, very sincere will be allowed to come and learn from me."
The prince bowed and said, "How I am praying to God to send you a few really sincere students!"