In Search Of A Guide – Spiritual Story by Osho

I will tell you one Sufi story: A man is going in search of truth. As he comes out of his city, he finds an old man sitting under a tree. The young man does not know where to go in search of truth. He has heard that one has to go somewhere in search of truth, one has to go on a pilgrimage — but where? Roads go to all sides. Which road is the road?

Seeing the old man sitting under the tree, he thought: perhaps this man is old enough; he must know which road leads to truth. And he asked the man. He said, “Yes I know the road. Follow the right and go on until you come to a certain tree” — he described the tree in detail, its leaves, its fruit — “and you will find under it a very old man… just to give you an example, something like me but thirty years older. This is the man who is going to be your guide.”

The man was very happy. He thanked the old man and rushed towards the way he had shown him. For thirty years he was wandering and wandering, and the tree never came and the old man never came. He was getting tired, and he himself was getting old, and he said, “What nonsense!”

Finally he decided, “It is better to go back home… enough is enough! Thirty years I have wasted in searching truth, and I have not even met the old man who is going to be my guide. And God knows, when the guide meets me, what kind of guidance it will be and how long it will take. It seems to be too complicated; it is better to go home. I was running a good business. I destroyed the business and unnecessarily got into trouble hearing this word `truth’ again and again.”

He came back. Again he passed the tree — and he was shocked! This was the tree the old man had described. And he looked under the tree and the old man was there — the same old man, thirty years older and exactly the same as the description in every way. He said, “My God! Then why did you waste my thirty years?”

He said, “I wasted your thirty years — or you wasted my thirty years? At that time you were not ripe enough to be guided, because I gave all the guidance and you didn’t even look at the tree — and I was describing it in minute detail. I was describing your guide in minute detail, and you did not look at me, to see that I am describing myself. You were in such a hurry; you were too young. But nothing is wasted. I was, waiting, knowing that one day you will come back, one day you will recognize this tree, one day you will recognize this old man, that I am your guide!”

The young man said, “This seems to be a strange business.”

The story is immensely significant. You have a little trust. Don’t be worried, go to the right… This time not under a tree, this time on a beautiful chair, you will find an old man — someone looking similar to me.

Osho – “Beyond Psychology”

What Is the Spiritual Moral / Meaning of Osho's “In Search Of A Guide” Story?

First and foremost, this story teaches us about the importance of readiness in our spiritual quest. The young man's initial encounter with the old man under the tree signifies the beginning of his journey, yet he was not prepared to see the truth right before his eyes. Spiritual readiness is crucial; it requires an open heart and mind, free from preconceived notions and impatience. We must cultivate a state of being where we are receptive to the guidance and wisdom that the universe offers us at every moment.

The tale also underscores the concept of inner growth and maturity. The young man's thirty years of wandering symbolize the necessary process of spiritual maturation. True understanding and enlightenment cannot be rushed; they require time, experience, and often, the shedding of youthful arrogance. Each step of the journey, no matter how frustrating or seemingly pointless, contributes to our growth and prepares us for the ultimate realization of truth.

Trust in the process is another significant theme in this story. The young man's frustration and decision to return home reflect our own struggles with doubt and disillusionment. Yet, the story reassures us that nothing is ever truly wasted. Every experience, every moment of searching, is part of the divine plan. Trusting in this process, even when the path seems unclear or circuitous, is essential for spiritual growth. We must have faith that each step is leading us closer to our truth.

This narrative also highlights the importance of presence and awareness. The young man’s failure to recognize the old man and the tree initially was due to his lack of mindfulness and hurried approach. In our quest for truth, we often overlook the answers that are right in front of us because we are too focused on the destination rather than the journey itself. By cultivating presence and truly seeing the world around us, we open ourselves to the divine guidance that is always available.

Moreover, the story speaks to the wisdom of our elders and the significance of spiritual guides. The old man represents the timeless wisdom that guides us on our path. Often, this wisdom is personified in mentors, teachers, or even within ourselves as we grow older and more experienced. Respecting and seeking this wisdom is crucial for our spiritual journey. Our guides have walked the path before us and can offer invaluable insights that help us navigate our own way.

The journey back home is symbolic of the return to our true self. After years of searching externally, the young man’s return home signifies the realization that truth is not found in distant lands or through constant seeking, but within ourselves. The spiritual journey ultimately brings us back to our own essence, where we discover that the answers we seek have always been within us. This inward journey is the most profound pilgrimage we can undertake.

The lesson of patience is deeply embedded in this story. The old man’s patient waiting under the tree for thirty years mirrors the patience required in our spiritual endeavors. Spiritual awakening does not adhere to our timelines; it unfolds in its own divine timing. Learning to be patient, to trust that everything will be revealed when we are ready, is a crucial aspect of our spiritual journey.

Another significant moral is the concept of divine timing. The old man’s presence under the tree, unchanged and waiting, signifies that the universe operates on its own schedule. Our task is to align ourselves with this divine timing, to be ready when the moment of realization comes. This requires surrendering our own agendas and being open to the flow of life.

Lastly, the story teaches us about the value of introspection and self-awareness. The young man’s journey and eventual realization point to the importance of looking within. Our outer journey often mirrors our inner state; by reflecting on our experiences and recognizing our patterns, we gain deeper insights into our true nature and the nature of reality.

In essence, this Sufi story is a rich tapestry of spiritual wisdom, guiding us to trust the process, cultivate presence, respect our guides, and ultimately, to find the truth within ourselves. By embracing these lessons, we embark on a journey that transcends time and space, leading us to the profound realization of our own divine nature.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflect on a time when you were in a hurry to find an answer or reach a goal. How did your haste affect your ability to recognize the signs or guidance that were already present?
  2. Consider the moments in your life when you felt lost or unsure of which path to take. What internal or external guides appeared to help you, and how did you respond to them?
  3. Think about the concept of readiness. Are there areas in your life where you might not yet be ready to receive the guidance or truth you seek? How can you cultivate patience and openness?
  4. How do you perceive the passage of time in your own spiritual journey? Do you view your experiences as steps towards growth, or do you sometimes feel frustrated by the length of the journey?
  5. Reflect on the idea of returning home, both literally and metaphorically. What truths have you discovered upon returning to familiar places or revisiting old experiences with a new perspective?
  6. Consider a time when you received advice or guidance but did not fully understand it until later. How did the passage of time and your own growth help you see the wisdom in that guidance?
  7. Think about the role of mentors and guides in your life. How do you differentiate between those who offer genuine wisdom and those who may not have your best interests at heart?
  8. Reflect on a situation where you realized that the answers you were seeking were right in front of you all along. How did this realization change your approach to seeking truth or solutions in the future?
  9. Consider the importance of observation and attention to detail in your daily life. How often do you take the time to truly see and understand the people, places, and events around you?
  10. Reflect on the concept of a guide waiting for you until you are ready. How does this idea influence your understanding of destiny, divine timing, and the role of patience in your spiritual journey?