Once a poor man, burning with thirst, approached a merchant. He implored him for a cup of water, and the merchant gave him a drink from his flask. Refreshed, he thanked him and continued on his way.
After a time, wandering and distracted in his search for God, he became thirsty again, and roamed the scorched sands in quest of relief, praying fervently to God and anticipating a remedy.
He happened upon a dervish, an idiot of God, carrying a water jug. The seeker stopped him and asked for relief from his burning thirst. The dervish said, “Close your eyes, and I will give you something better to refresh you.”
The seeker closed his eyes and put out his tongue. When the dervish placed grains of salt there, he spat and swore, cursing this injustice, yelling, “O you who have quaffed from the streams of nearness, why do you offer a poor man salt! You are carrying water and I am in need, so why this cruelty?”
The dervish replied, “Because of the intensity of your thirst, I know God will grant what you seek. What I offer may seem the opposite of your desire now, but once you’ve found the river beyond the next hill, and tasted of its pure water, you will realize what sweetness I have given you, how greatly I have aided your tongue to appreciate such a drink.
“To take away your thirst too soon would rob you of your reward; truly my salt is sugar to one such as you, and a greater relief than what you had expected.”