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Search Inside or Outside?
by Rabiya

[Listen to Audio!]

A famous Sufi mystic, Rabiya, was searching for something on the street outsider her small hut. The sun was setting and darkness was descending, as few people gathered around her. "What have you lost? What are you searching for?  Perhaps we can help," they said to Rabiya.

Rabiya said, "I have lost my needle."

One amongst the people said, "Well, the sun is setting now and it will be very difficult to find the needle.  Where has it fallen?  That'll help us narrow down the area on this big road.  If we know the exact place, it will be easier to find it."

Rabiya told them, "It is better not to ask me that question -- because, actually, it has not fallen on the road at all.  It has fallen inside my house."

Everyone started giggling as if she was joking.  Then a skeptic says out loud, "We always knew that you were a little insane!  If the needle has fallen inside the house, then why are you searching for it on the road?"

"For a very simple reason: inside the house there is no light and on the outside a little light is still there," Rabiya replied.

The people laughed and started dispersing.  Rabiya called them back and said, "Listen! That’s exactly what you are doing: I was just following your example. You go on seeking bliss in the outside world without asking the most fundamental question: where exactly have I lost it?"

After a pause, she continues, "You have lost it inside, and yet you are looking for it on the outside for the very same reason -- your senses are outward bound, your ears hear sounds on the outside, your hands touch things on the outside.  That's the reason why you are searching outside. For a very long time, I was also just searching on the outside.  But the day I searched inwards, I was surprised.  That is where I lost it and that is the only place it can be found."

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Latest Community Insights New!
Search Inside or Outside?
What does searching inwards mean to you? Can you share a personal experience of a time you searched inwards? What practices of searching inwards work well for you?
Abhishek Thakore wrote:  When I find myself searching for happiness too feverishly, I realise that it is like any other ambitious search that others are on (search for money, or for fame for example). So for me searchi...
Kristin Pedemonti wrote: Profound and so true as humor often is. Searching inward means being mindful and allowing oneself to slow down and Listen. Listen to the heart and inner voice which often reveals our true calling or ...
Rebecca wrote:  We have all heard the phrase "Take the road less traveled". One day, quite by accident, thoughts were thinking in me, about this idea. A line of thinking which led to a contemplation of the ide...
Rebecca McCarty wrote:  The door opens to all who would enter. ...
david doane wrote:  I remember a similar story.  God wanted to place the secret of happiness somewhere that was accessible to humans but would take some work.  He asked his angels for suggestions.  ...
Rebecca McCarty wrote:  Your post puts new energy in to the meaning of th word: "Insightful", thank-you. ...
Jagdish P Daveh wrote:  The source of sound is within me and I am in vain searching for the source of the sound outside of me. We look for happiness by wishing and acquiring name, fame, power and position coming ...
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