One day a man visited Hassan the Great Sufi in his house. The man was a devout; one who read the Holy Scripture every day, fast twice a week, and helped others with charities. After bragging of his piousness to Hassan, he spoke passionately about his great visions of God he felt he was having in his dream the night before.
He asked Hassan, “Are these wondrous dreams true? Are they signs that my rituals have now found their meaning?”
Surprisingly Hassan replied, “How many goats do you have?”
The man was taken by surprise. He said morosely, “I am speaking passionately about sublime visions and mystical dreams and you ask about goats!”
Imperturbably the Great Sufi replied, “Yes, brother-how many goats do you have?”
The man finally answered, “Well, Hassan, I have seventy four.”
“And how many wives?”
Again, the man looked surprised, and said, “Four.”
Hassan prattled on, “How many rose bushes in your garden? How many children? Are your parents still alive? Do you feed the birds?”
To all of these questions the man answered half-heartedly as his face displayed a bemused expression.
Finally Hassan made his remark, “You asked me whether your supreme visions of God were true, whether the mystical dreams were irrefutable. I would say that they were if they made you become more human. Your rituals only make sense if you are more kind to every creature and plant that you know.”