"Once upon a time, Mullah came up with a successful way of making a living: smuggling. Each week, he crossed the border between Persia and Greece with two donkeys, each loaded with a large bale of straw. As he crossed the border in each direction, the customs officials went through everything, but could find only straw. And yet Mullah was getting richer and richer, and everyone knew it. Week by week, the customs officials became more desperate to find something, but always failed.

"Many years later, Mullah retired to Egypt. One of the former customs officials looked him up and asked, 'Mullah, we know that you were smuggling something all those years ago, between Persia and Greece. Now that you are safely out of harm's way, can't you tell me what it was?'

" 'Yes, my friend,' said Mullah, 'now that you are also free of your responsibilities. I can tell you. I was smuggling donkeys.'

"In reviewing the many books on Sufism, scholars look for consistent historical or theological trends, philosophers look for an overriding metaphysical framework, and scientists look for methods that always work under all circumstances. The actual Sufis, however, concern themselves with the transformation of each person who comes to them. That means smuggling the teaching to the soul while the conscious mind is looking the other way."