Tierno Bokar was a Sufi, a spiritual guide, sage and teacher. He lived in the first half of the twentieth century.
“In relation to one another,” he said, “humans are comparable to walls located facing one another. Each wall is pierced by a multitude of small holes where white birds and black birds are nested. The black birds are bad thoughts and bad words. The white birds are good thoughts and good words. Because of their form, the white birds can only enter into holes for white birds and the same for black birds who can only nest in holes for black birds. Now, imagine two men who believe they are enemies of each other. Let us call them Yousef and Ali.
One day, Yousef, persuaded that Ali wishes bad for him, feels full of anger for Ali and sends him a very bad thought. In doing this, Yousef releases a black bird
and at the same time liberates a corresponding hole. His black bird flies towards Ali and looks for an empty hole adapted to his form to nest in. If, from his side, Ali has not sent a black bird towards Yousef, that is, if Ali has not emitted any bad thought, none of his black holes will be empty. Finding no place to lodge itself, Yousef’s black bird will be obliged to return to its original nest, taking with him the evil which he was burdened with, an evil which will end up eroding and destroying Yousef himself.
But let us imagine that Ali too has emitted a bad thought. By doing this, he has liberated a hole in which Yousef’s black bird will be able to enter in order to deposit part of his evil and accomplish there his mission of destruction. During this time, Ali’s black bird will fly towards Yousef and will alight in the hole freed up by Ali’s black bird. Thus, the two black birds will have obtained their goal and will have worked to destroy the men whom they were each destined for.
But once their task is accomplished, the birds will each return to their nest of origin because, it is said: ‘Everything returns to its source.’Since the evil they were burdened with is not exhausted, this evil will turn against their authors and will end up destroying them. The author of a bad thought, of a bad wish, or of an ill-spoken word is therefore attacked by both the black bird of his enemy and by his own black bird when this latter returns to him.
The same thing happens with white birds. If we emit only good thoughts towards our enemy, whereas the enemy only addresses bad thoughts to us, the enemy’s black birds will not find any place to lodge themselves with us and will return to their sender.
As for the white birds who bear good thoughts that we have sent to him, if they find no free place with our enemy, they will return to us charged with all the beneficial energy which they are carrying.
Thus, if we emit only good thoughts, no evil, no ill-spoken words can ever reach into our being. That is why one should always ask for blessings on both one’s friends and one’s enemies. Not only does the benediction go towards its objective to accomplish its mission of pacification, but also it comes back to us, one day or another, with everything with which it is laden.
This is what the Sufis called “desirable egoism”. It is the valid Love of Self, likened to respect for oneself and for one’s neighbor because every man, good or bad, is the depository of a part of the divine Light. That is why the Sufis, in conformity with the teaching of the Prophet, do not want to soil either their mouth or their being by bad words or bad thoughts, even by apparently benign criticisms.”
from : Teaching Stories from Tierno Bokar
Gathered and Rendered into English by Jane Fatima Casewit