“If you cannot follow your own advice, what right have you got to give it to somebody else?” states Osho.
An ancient Sufi story…
A woman was very much disturbed by her young child – she had only one child, and her husband had died.
She was rich, but she had lost all interest in life. She was living simply because of this small child, and certainly in such circumstances, children are spoiled; the child would not eat anything except sweets.
The doctors were saying, “This is bad, his whole health will be spoiled.”
But the child was not listening.
The woman used to go to the Sufi mystic, so one day she thought, “He does not listen to me, but perhaps he may listen to the mystic, because the man is so radiant that anybody who goes close to him feels impressed.”
She took the child and she told the mystic, “He does not listen to anybody. Doctors tell him that his health will be spoiled, and I am telling him every day. His whole food consists only of sweets; otherwise he prefers to remain hungry. He is my only child, my husband is dead, and I am only living for him. I cannot see him hungry, so I have to give him sweets, knowing well that I am giving poison to him – white sugar is white poison. So I have brought him. You tell him something! You are a man of God, perhaps your words may have a different impact.”
The mystic looked at the child.
He said, “My son, I am not in a position to answer you right now, because I myself love to eat sweets. You come back after two weeks. For two weeks I will not eat sweets, if I can manage it. Only then can I advise; otherwise, I am not the right person to advise.”
The woman could not believe it. This could even be dangerous… but the child was immensely impressed. He touched the feet of the mystic. He said, “I have been taken to many people; my mother goes on taking me to this wise guy, to that wise guy, and they all go on advising immediately. You are the first man who is sincere. I will come after two weeks, and whatever you say, I will do. I can trust you.”
A man who confesses before a child …”Right now I am not in the right position even to advise you, because I myself like sweets; so for two weeks I will have to try my advice on myself, and then you come.”
“If I fail, I will say, ‘I am sorry, I cannot advise you.’ If I succeed, then I will say, ‘Don’t be worried, if I can succeed – an old man – you are so young and so powerful, and so intelligent, you can succeed also. Just give it a try!’”
The mother was shocked. If the mystic says after two weeks that he cannot succeed, then the whole thing is finished; then there is nobody else to whom she can take the child.
After two weeks they came back. The mystic said, “My son, it is difficult, but not impossible. I managed not to eat sweets for two weeks, and I promise you that my whole life I will not touch sweets again. Do you think I can advise you? If you allow me to advise, only then will I do so.”
The child said, “There is no need to say anything. I have received the message. I am grateful to you. A man like you who is ready to drop eating sweets for his whole life, just to give me the advice that he himself practices, is worthy of trust. I trust you. I also promise you that I will not eat sweets from this moment onwards.”
Osho, The Great Zen Master Ta Hui, Ch 4 (excerpt)