"Relating happiness and fulfillment to a process of alchemical transmutation of the human mind, Ghazali gives a story of Bayazid, one of the early classical Sufi masters, in his Alchemy of Happiness, to stress how the amour propre (Commanding Self) must first be seen in its real light before any refining can actually be done:
A man came to Bayazid and said that he had fasted and prayed for thirty years, and yet had not come near to an understanding of God. Bayazid told him that even a hundred years would not be enough. The man asked why.
"Because your selfishness is working as a barrier between yourself and truth."
"Give me the remedy".
"There is a remedy, but it is impossible to you."
The man insisted, and Bayazid agreed to describe it to him.
"Go and shave your beard. Strip yourself naked, except for a loincloth. Fill a nose bag full of walnuts and go to the marketplace. There cry out, 'A walnut for every boy who slaps me!" Then make your way to the court where the doctors of law are in session."
"But I really could not do that. Give me some other method."
"This is the only method," said Bayazid, "but I have already told you, there is no answer for you."
Idries Shah, 'The Sufis'
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