Rabbi Bunam used to tell young men
who came to him for the first time
the story of Rabbi Eisik, son of Rabbi Yekel in Cracow…
After many years of great poverty,
which had never shaken his faith in God,
he dreamed that someone bade him look for treasure
under the bridge which leads to the king’s palace in Prague.
When the dream recurred the third time he set out for Prague. But the bridge was guarded day and night
and he did not dare start digging.
Nevertheless he went to the bridge every morning
and kept walking around it until evening.
Finally, the captain of the guards,
who had been watching him, asked in a kindly way whether he was looking for something, or waiting for someone.
Rabbi Eisik told him of the dream
which had brought him from a faraway country.
The captain laughed, “And so to please your dream you wore out your shoes to come here! You poor fellow.
And as far as having faith in dreams, if I had had it I should have had to go to Cracow and dig for treasure under the stove in the room of a Jew – Eisik, son of Yekel!
That’s what the dream told me. And imagine what it would have been like; one half of the Jews over there are called Eisik, and the other half Yekel!” And he laughed again.
Rabbi Eisik bowed, traveled home,
dug up the treasure from under his stove,
and built the house of prayer which is called Reb Eisik’s Shul.
Rabbi Bunam used to add,
“Take this story to heart and make what it says your own. There is something you cannot find anywhere in the world, not even at the Zaddik’s,
and there is, nevertheless, a place where you can find it.”
Life is a search, a constant search, a desperate search, a hopeless search…a search for something one knows not what. There is a deep urge to seek, but one knows not what one is seeking.
And there is a state of mind in which whatsoever you get is not going to give you any satisfaction. Frustration seems to be the destiny of humanity, because whatsoever you get becomes meaningless the very moment you have got it. You start searching again.
The search continues whether you get anything or not. It seems irrelevant what you have got, what you have not got – the search continues anyway. The poor are searching, the rich are searching, the ill are searching, the well are searching, the powerful are searching, the powerless are searching, the stupid are searching, the wise are searching – and nobody knows exactly what.
This very search – what this search is and why it is there – has to be understood. It seems that there is a gap in the human being, in the human mind; in the very structure of the human consciousness there seems to be a hole, a black hole. You go on throwing things into it, and they go on disappearing. Nothing seems to make it full, nothing seems to help towards fulfillment. It is a very feverish search. You seek it in this world, you seek it in the other world; sometimes you seek it in money, in power, in prestige, and sometimes you seek it as godliness, bliss, love, meditation, prayerfulness – but the search continues. It seems that man is ill with search.
The search does not allow you to be here and now because the search always leads you somewhere else. The search is a project, the search is a desire: that somewhere else is what is needed, that it exists, but it exists somewhere else, not here where you are. It certainly exists, but not in this moment of time, not now – and somewhere else. It exists ‘then-there’, never here-now. It goes on nagging you; it goes on pulling you, pushing you, it goes on throwing you into more and more madness; it drives you crazy and it is never fulfilled.
I have heard about a very great Sufi mystic woman, Rabia al-Adabiya.
One evening people found her sitting on the road searching for something. She was an old woman, her eyes were weak and it was difficult for her to see. So the neighbors came to help her. They asked, “What are you searching for?”
Rabia said, “That question is irrelevant, I am searching. If you can help me, help.”
They laughed and said, “Rabia, have you gone mad? You say our question is irrelevant, but if we don’t know what you are searching for, how can we help?”