A Servant In Baghdad
An ancient Sufi parable:
A rich merchant in Baghdad sent his servant one day to the marketplace to buy food. But after a few minutes the servant returned looking panic-stricken.
“Master!” he cried. “You must lend me your best horse immediately, so that I may flee to Damascus and thereby escape my fate.”
“Whatever is the matter?” asked the merchant.
“I went to the marketplace and I saw Death standing there among the stallholders!” exclaimed the servant. “He made a hostile gesture at me and started walking towards me. I beg you, lend me your best horse so that I may flee to Damascus and escape.”
The merchant was a kind man and he did as his servant asked. Then he himself walked down to the marketplace to see if the story was true. Sure enough, Death was standing in the crowd.
“Why did you make a hostile gesture at my servant?” asked the merchant.
“I made no gesture of hostility,” replied Death. “I was simply very surprised to see him, for I have an appointment with him tonight… in Damascus.”
You cannot escape. Wherever you go you will find your death waiting for you. Yes, it can be prolonged, postponed, but what is the point? Rather than postponing, why not use this opportunity of becoming aware of death — that it is approaching, that it is on the way, that any moment you will be in its grip. Don’t ask for the horse and don’t try to go to Damascus. You cannot escape. The only way is to transcend, not to escape.