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#1579 - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - Editor: Joyce (Know_Mystery) 

"If the fool would persist in their folly, they would become wise."

~ William Blake ~


  • Nasrudin the Mullah - A Dinner of Smells

    Once, long ago, a very fine and expensive restaurant stood on a busy street in a bustling market town. One day, a poor man passed by this restaurant. He was tired and hungry, for he had had nothing to eat all day. His nostrils caught the smell of the delicious food being cooked inside. He stopped and sniffed, smiled sadly, and began to walk away.

    But he did not get far. The owner of the restaurant came storming out into the street.

    "Come here!" he bellowed. "I saw that! You took the smell of my food, and you'll have to pay for it!"

    The poor man did not know what to do. "I cannot pay!" he stammered. "I have no money!"

    "No money!" shouted the restaurant owner. "We'll see about that! You're coming with me to the Qadi! A Qadi is a judge in a Muslim court. Naturally, he is very powerful, and the poor man was frightened.

    "Hmm," said the Qadi, when he had heard the story. "Well, this is an unusual case. Let me think. Come back tomorrow, and I'll pronounce the sentence."

    What could the poor man do? He knew whatever sum the Qadi demanded, payment would be impossible. All night long he tossed and turned, unable to sleep for worry. When dawn came he said his prayers and, tired and dejected, made his way to the Qadi's court. As he passed the mosque he spotted a familiar figure -- Nasrudin the mullah. Suddenly, his heart lifted. For he knew that Nasrudin was a clever man, who was sure to be able to think of a way around the problem. He poured out his story, and Nasrudin agreed to come to the court and speak for him.

    The rich restaurant owner was already at the court, chatting with the Qadi. The poor man saw that they were friends, and feared the judgment would go against him. He was right. The Qadi began heaping insults upon the poor man as soon as he saw him, and ordered him to pay a very large sum of money.

    At once, Nasrudin stepped forward. "My lord," he said to the Qadi. "This man is my brother. Allow me to pay in his place."

    Then the mullah took a small bag of coins from his belt and held it next to the rich man's ear. He shook the bag, so that the coins jingled. "Can you hear that?" asked Nasrudin.

    "Of course," the man replied, impatiently.

    "Well, that is your payment," said the mullah. "My brother has smelled your food, and you have heard his money. The debt is paid."

    And, in the face of such argument, the case was settled and the poor man went free.

     Rescuing the moon...

    Nasruddin was looking at the image of the moon in a well. He thought it was a recompense to take out the moon from the well. Therefore, he threw a rope inside the well and swung it a few times. Incidentally, the tip of the rope got caught to a big stone. He tried to take the rope out. Hence he pulled it with a lot of force. The rope tore off and he fell on his hack to the ground. When he looked at the sky, he saw the moon and said, "Doesn't matter. My efforts were not wasted. Though I faced a lot of difficulties, I finally succeeded to rescue the moon."

     The Empty Room…

    Nasrudin would constantly enter a small locked room in his house and come out looking very troubled. Eventually someone asked him "Mullah what is in the small locked room?"

    "I keep it empty," explained Nasrudin, "but everytime I enter, something seems to be in the room. I suspect someone is stealing the emptiness . . . "

    "Show me!" demanded the curious enquirer.

    Reluctantly Nasrudin opened the room.

    "But Mullah, there is nothing in this room but me and you."

    "It is getting worse!" screamed the Mullah, "Yesterday there was only me in here . . ."

    (Lobster ~ archives at )

    Humour Therapy ~ Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati

  • The one thing that most people who are sick have in common is unhappiness. Very few can accept disease with equanimity and perceive the hidden design within the illness, lacking understanding of cause and effect and the science of healthy living. Santosha, or contentment, is at the core of recovery from all dis-ease, tension, worry, stress, and ill-health. When we can view all our problems as obstacles on our path to make us strong, mature and healthy or whole, then we gain contentment or cheerfulness. We can see life as it is, and with a humorous sparkle in our eye.

    Indeed cheerfulness and humour are an absolute necessity for anyone traversing the yogic or spiritual path. Too often we get bogged in the morass of seriousness, intellectualism, speculation and heavy thinking about the future, the past, or this, that and the other, so that we lose our perspective of the present and cannot live life with a relaxed and free mind. We have a tendency to take ourselves and the whole ‘trip’ too seriously, worrying about unnecessary things that never will take place anyway. The remedy for this dis-ease is humour.


    Happiness - the key to good health

    We should be able to see a humorous side to everything, for humour is a divine quality and happiness the key to health. It includes freedom from expectations, conditioning, desires, limitations. It is the very stuff of enlightenment. All spiritual masters possess it, and radiate it to those who come in contact with them. Their life is cosmic humour or lila. They play divine games with us and laugh at the folly of our seriousness.

    Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the humorous side of a situation that we are involved with, especially since we believe that certain things are invested with importance and should be respected as such. When we journey on the spiritual path we are endeavouring to lift this burden off our shoulders, to remove the weight of life so that we can flow freely. We have to transcend our beliefs, assuming new ‘truths’ until we can transcend them. Then, when we reach masterhood the things we once saw as important and serious have become as so many pebbles or insects, and a true perspective of our priorities dawns. One of the important things that we keep foremost as of the ‘new order’ is humour and happiness, contentment with life, a cheerful attitude of mind and a positive outlook.


    Yoga and awakening joy

    We must reawaken a sense of proportion and recover our sanity and a sense of humour. What good is it to learn or do anything if there is no joy in the act? This joy represents the essence of karma yoga, it is the basis for jnana yoga, bhakti and so on. When we have joy in our hearts, karma, jnana and bhakti yoga come spontaneously, and they in turn increase our share of joy, initiating a snow-balling effect, a virtuous circle of ever increasing health, understanding and better living. This is what yoga is about, making our lives better.

    But how to achieve this joy when we are stuck in the mud of ill-health and the problems of life. Asana and pranayama help because they make the body and mind feel good, increase our vitality and positivize our mental framework, our outlook and inlook on life. Meditation is helpful too because we can see ourselves better. We reawaken to our place in the universe, our importance and simultaneously our insignificance. We become aware too of our illusions, beliefs, rigid modes of conduct and at the same time to the thousands of beautiful things in the world, the sky, sun, flowers, birds, shapes, music, architecture, and people in all their multifaceted intricacies and simplicities, shapes and sizes. We awaken to our desires and see them as binding, useless chains of our own making. All human weakness such as jealousy, pride, anger and so forth, are simply childish in the face of humour and the inner smile.


    Transcendental humour

    A method to reawaken humour and higher consciousness popular throughout the East has been through stories and jokes. This medium conveys a joke, a moral and the little extra which enhances our awareness of life. Perhaps the best known form of this method lies in the Mulla Nasrudin tales which date back to the 3rd century A.D., and today are known all over the world. These tales have been used for centuries to convey a transcendental message and to help us to climb out of the tangled web of serious thinking. For example:

    A group of sufis, yogis and occultists is sitting and talking. One of them, a monk, states, "My master taught me that until the man who has not been wronged is as indignant about a wrong as the man who has actually been wronged, mankind will not be fulfilled."

    For a moment an impressive silence, and then the Mulla speaks, "My master taught me that nobody should become indignant about anything until he is sure that what he thinks is a wrong is in fact a wrong - and not a blessing in disguise!"

    Using the medium of the joke the Mulla was able to add a new dimension to our consciousness refusing to accept people’s beliefs or relative truths, as he sees them as limitations to what is real.

    Nasrudin was with the king, who was complaining that his subjects were untruthful. "Your Majesty," said Nasrudin, "there is truth and truth. People must practise real truth before they can use relative truth. They always do things the opposite way and take liberties with their man-made truth, because they know instinctively that it is only an invention."

    The king frowned, "There are true things and false things. I will force people to tell the truth and thus establish a habit in them of being truthful."

    The next morning it was announced that whoever told a lie would be hung and that those wishing to enter the city would be asked a question which they should truthfully answer. Nasrudin, who had been waiting at the gates, was the first to step forward. The captain of the guard asked him, "Where are you going? Answer truthfully or you will be hung."

    "I am going," said Nasrudin, "to be hung on those gallows."

    "I don’t believe that," said the captain.

    "Very well, if I am lying, hang me!"

    "But that would make it the truth!"

    "That is exactly right," said Nasrudin, "your truth."

    There are many other ‘jokes’ designed to wake us up, for example, when Nasrudin stood up in a teahouse and declared that the moon was more useful than the sun. When asked why he answered, "Because at night we need the light more."

    Laughter is a contagious disease

    These views of life serve to break down our rigid beliefs, those beliefs and thought patterns which lead to mental tensions and ill-health, and as such form a part of jnana yoga. So jnana and other aspects of philosophy do not have to be dry, unintelligible discourses on the nature of life and the universe. Yoga encompasses such methods as the above in order to create intuitive insight, extending and liberating our understanding.

    Through humour, cheerfulness, contentment and a spontaneous and creative attitude to life, we cure ourselves of despondency, hopelessness, helplessness, depression and anxiety so that tensions disappear. We are then free to flow with life as it comes, reacting spontaneously and therefore in the best possible way to events in our environment. With humour we worry less and live more of life. If illness comes we see it in a positive light. Our interrelationships with people improve because we can see the humour in those situations which previously would have led to tension and disharmony. Thus humour and harmony go hand in hand. Laughter is contagious, but this is one infection we should not try to stop.

    If you have some form of illness, use humour therapy and discover a cheap, effective and pleasant way to remove the root cause of disease and suffering.

    Make More With Less...

    Nasrudin was elected President. As fate would have it he was immediately
    called upon to help solve the world water shortage.

    "You see," the minister said, "if people keep using water as they are
    doing now, we'll run out of water very, very soon."

    After giving the problem some thought, Nasrudin asked his minister to
    set up a press conference. Nasrudin stood up behind the podium and said,
    "By decree of the President, henceforward and until further notice, in
    order to help conserve the world's water resources, we will be diluting
    the water."

    (Montalr ~ archives at )

    Your mistake..

    Nasrudin was being paid by the week for a job that was likely to stretch over several months. He approached the owner of the property and held up the check he'd been given.

    "This is two hundred dollars less than we agreed on," he said.

    "I know," the owner said. "But last week I overpaid you two hundred dollars, and you never complained."

    Nasrudin said. "Well, I don't mind an occasional mistake. But when it gets to be a habit, I feel I have to call it to your attention."

    (Germaine ~ archives at )

    NASRUDIN, THE SUFI WISE FOOL, is the subject of many stories. Here are two. ~ By Joy Mills

    Once on a journey, Nasrudin stopped for the night in a town where he did not know anyone. He found an inn and slept comfortably, but the next morning on waking, he discovered to his dismay that he did not know who he was. He thought about this for a time and finally decided to go out into the market to see if anyone recognized him. Of course since it was a town in which he knew no one, obviously no one knew him. After wandering around for a while, he decided to go into a clothing store, where he tried on several suits and jackets, but none of them seemed quite satisfactory. Finally, he asked the shopkeeper, "Did you see me come into your store?" The shopkeeper, mystified by such a question, replied rather sharply, "Of course, my good man, I saw you come in." "Well, tell me then," said Nasrudin, "how did you know it was me?"

    It may well have been in the same town that Nasrudin went into a bank to cash a check. The bank teller asked him if he could identify himself. Nasrudin took a mirror from his backpack, looked into it for some time, and finally declared, "Yes, that’s me!"

    We may chuckle at such stories, but consider, do we really know who we are? Are we certain of our own identity? When we look in the mirror each morning, who is it that looks back at us? Is the "I" who looks the same "I" who looked yesterday? Is that "I" the self, the me, the singular one who feels sad or happy, who thinks and ponders and wonders? Is there a self at all?

    When we say "I" it is obvious that we do not always refer to the same entity within ourselves. There may be, indeed there is more than one "I" within us, and yet the sense of being an "I" is a very precious possession. How often we guard that identity which we feel at any particular moment to be the essential "I," the self that is the me-ness of me, that defines me and identifies me...

    Read the rest at:

    A Tale…

  • One day Nasrudin was strumming a guitar, playing just one note. After a while a crowd collected around him (this was in a marketplace) and one of the men sitting on the ground there said,

    "That's a nice note you're playing, Mullah, but why don't you vary it a bit the way other musicians do?"

    "Those fools," Nasrudin said, "they're searching for the right note. I've found it.

    (Germaine ~ archives at )

    Drunken Nasrudin…

    Here is a story by Rvd. Swami Yatishwarananda of the Sri Ramakrishna Order; of course the story is ported to Nasrudin.

    Nasrudin used to carry a box with some holes whenever he went to the pub to drink. The bar tender wondered what he was carrying in the box. One day he asked Nasrudin.

    Nasrudin explained, "Whenever I get drunk, I see snakes all around me. It is a very frightening sight. So, I carry a mongoose in this box. With this box near me, I do not get frightened."

    The bar tender told Nasrudin, "What a fool you are !! There are no snakes here. They are all only in your mind."

    Nasrudin replied, "I am not a fool. I know there are no snakes. There is no mongoose in this box either. The mongoose is also in my mind only."

    (Gokulmuthu ~ archives at )


    Mulla Nasrudin and his wife went to Israel for their holidays and visited a nightclub in Tel Aviv. A comedian was on the bill who did his whole act in Hebrew. Nasrudin's wife sat through the comic's act in silence, but Nasrudin roared with laughter at the end of each joke.

    "I did not know you understood Hebrew," she said to the Mulla when the comedian had concluded his act.

    "I don't," replied Nasrudin.

    "Well, how come you laughed so much at his jokes?"

    "Oh," said Nasrudin, "I trusted him."

    Neural Correlates of Humor

    A consistent element throughout our recorded history has been our sense of humor and ability to laugh. Although there have been some studies over the years that have attemped to understand and quantify humor, little research has been done into the neurological correlates. Researchers from the Department of Neuroradiology at the University of Tübingen, Germany and the Department of Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland have examined studies over the last two decades in the journal Brain. They found that 'expression of laughter seems to depend on two partially independent neuronal pathways. The first of these, an ‘involuntary’ or ‘emotionally driven’ system, involves the amygdala, thalamic/hypo- and subthalamic areas and the dorsal/tegmental brainstem. The second, ‘voluntary’ system originates in the premotor/frontal opercular areas and leads through the motor cortex and pyramidal tract to the ventral brainstem.'

    There seems to be a coordination of these systems by a laughter-coordinating center in the dorsal upper pons. The real challenge in analyzing the cerebral correlates of humour is the lack of consensus among psychologists on exactly what humour is, and what are its central components. Fortunately, some progress has been made over the last few years and through the use of hypotheses combined with non-invasive methods, researchers suggest that the perception of humour (and depending on the type of humour involved, its mode of transmission, etc.) the right frontal cortex, the medial ventral prefrontal cortex, the right and left posterior (middle and inferior) temporal regions and possibly the cerebellum seem to be involved to varying degrees.

    This is only the beginning of an area of study that will surely catch on as quickly as a good joke. As Oscar Wilde said, "Life is far too important to be taken seriously."

    A Story About A Bag...

    One day Nasrudin was out walking and found a man sitting on the side of the road crying.

    "What is the matter, my friend?" asked Nasrudin. "Why are you crying?"

    "I'm crying because I am so poor," wailed the man. "I have no money and everything I own is in this little bag."

    "Ah-ha!," said Nasrudin, who immediately grabbed the bag and ran as fast as he could until he was out of sight.

    "Now I have nothing at all," cried the poor man, weeping still harder as he trudged along the road in the direction Nasrudin had gone. A mile away he found his bag sitting in the middle of the road and he immedaitely became ecstatic. "Thank God," he cried out. "I have all my possessions back. Thank you, thank you."

    "How curious!" exclaimed Nasrudin, appearing out of the bushes by the side of the road. "How curious that the same bag that made you weep now makes you ecstatic."


    Nasrudin, the known talker, become silent one day, and rarely contributed a word to the conversation. After a few days of this changed behavior, one of his friends approached him and asked: "What happened, Nasrudin? Why don't you speak?"

    "Nothing happened." replied Nasrudin."I am just saving words. i might be needing them someday"

    (Yosy ~ archives at )


    Nasrudin was traveling by train to a neighboring village. The conductor came to Nasrudin and asked for his ticket. Nasrudin began to search all his pockets for his tickets. When he couldn't find it, he began looking through his luggage. Then he frantically began looking in everyone else's luggage.

    At that point the Conductor got impatient and said "Nasrudin, you always keep your ticket in the top left pocket of your jacket. Why don't you look there?"

    Nasudin stopped his frantic search and said to the conductor "I can't look there. If it's not there, then I have no hope".

    (Dick ~ archives at )

     The Other Side…

    Nasruddin was standing on the banks a of a river. A traveler on the other bank, shouted to him, "How do I get across?"

    Nasruddin shouted back, "You are across!"

    (Samuel ~ archives at )

    Facing Facts…

    Nasrudin was walking together with a friend when he noticed a piece of mirror on the wayside. He picked it up and looked into it and shuddered, then turned away.

    His friend took it from him and looked into it too. "What's the matter? This is me inside!"

    "Thank goodness, said Nasrudin, "I thought it was me!"

    (Jan ~ archives at )

  •  The Legend of Nasrudin ~ by Dr. Chris Walsh

  • Introduction

    This is an adaptation of a Sufi teaching story. Sufis are Eastern and middle Eastern mystics. They are most usually associated with the Islam religion. There have also been Christian, Jewish and Hindu Sufis. Sufis commonly use teaching stories often featuring the wise fool, Mulla Nasrudin. This very old story show how ancient is the way that the way rigid closed minded western scientists and the superstitious regard each other. It also indicates that there may be a more sensible middle path - a path that is difficult for us to see without the lighthearted guidance of a wise fool.

    The Story

    A CERTAIN crafty villain was entrusted with the education of a number of orphans. Observing that children have certain strengths and weaknesses, he decided to take advantage of this knowledge. Instead of teaching them how to acquire a skill in learning, he told them that they already possessed it. Then he insisted upon their doing some things and refraining from others, and thus kept most of them blindly subject to his direction. He never revealed that his original commission had been to teach them to teach themselves.

    When these children grew up, he noticed that some had detached themselves from his authority, despite all his efforts, while others remained bound to it.

    He was then entrusted with a second school of orphans. From these he did not directly demand obedience and respect. Instead, he enslaved them to his will by telling them that mental culture was the sole aim of education and by appealing to their self-pride. 'The mind', he told them, 'will give you universal understanding.'

    'This must be true,' thought the children. 'After all, why should we not be able to solve all problems by ourselves?'

    He supported the doctrine by demonstrations. 'This man', he said, 'is enslaved by his emotions. What a disastrous case! Only the intellect can control the emotions. That other man, however, is ruled by his intellect. How much happier he is, how free from emotional frenzy!'

    He never let the children guess that there was an alternative to the choice between emotions and intellect, namely intuition. Intuition could, however, be overshadowed or blurred by either emotion or intellect. He always dismissed its appearance as irrelevant coincidence or guesswork. This villainous old man thereby distracted the children from noticing intuition and its value at every turn.

    Some of the children, nevertheless, suspected that certain miraculous aspects of life did not fit into his fragmentary pattern, and asked him whether there was not, perhaps, something else undisclosed, some secret power. He told one group of questioners, 'Certainly not! Such a notion is superstitious, and due to faulty mental processes. Do not put any value on coincidence. "Coincidence" means no more than accident, which though perhaps of emotional interest, lacks all intellectual significance.'

    To another group he said, 'Yes, there is more in life than you will ever know; because it cannot be acquired by honest extension of the scientific information which I gave you, or which you manage to collect under my direction.'

    But he took care that the two groups did not compare notes and so realize that he had given two contradictory answers. Now, from time to time, when the children reported inexplicable events to him, he consigned these to oblivion as having no scientific relevance.

    He knew that, without taking stock of intuition, the children would never escape from the invisible net in which he had bound them, and that the intuitive knowledge of secrets excluded from their education could be won only when they were in a certain harmony of mind with the emotions. So he taught them to ignore variations in their mental condition; for once they discovered that powers of awareness vary from hour to hour, they might guess how much he had concealed from them. His training confused their memory of such intuitions as they had been granted and they were willing to think along the logical lines he had prepared for them.

    The children whom this villain had mistaught in his first school were now grown up, and since he had let them come nearer to understanding the true nature of life, certain casual remarks that they made to members of the second school disturbed their faith in scientific truth. So he hastily gathered those of the first school who still remained loyal to him and sent them out to preach incomprehensible doctrines purporting to explain the hidden mechanism of life. Then he directed the attention of the second school to these teachers, saying, 'Listen carefully, but never fail to use your intellect.'

    The intellectual children soon found that there was nothing to be learned from these doctrines and said, 'They contradict logic. Only with logic are we on firm ground.'

    Yet some members of the first school who had broken away from the old villain's teaching reproached them, saying, 'We, too, reject these doctrines, but that they fail to explain the secret mechanism of life of which you are in search does not deny its existence.' They answered, 'Can you, then, put the secret in logical terms?' but were told that to do so would be to deny its truth.

    So they protested, 'Nothing is true that cannot face the cold light of reason.' A few, however, cried out, 'We are ready to believe everything you tell us. We think you are wonderful.' But they were as hopelessly lost as the intellectual children and the teachers of the incomprehensible doctrine, because they trusted only to a slavish credulity, not to the habit of intuition.

    The old villain who had bred this confusion thrived on it like a madman rejoicing in deeds of violence. Especially his cult of the intellect encouraged egotism and discord. And to those who still felt an inner uncertainty, a sense of incompleteness, or a hankering for something whole and true, he said, 'Distract your minds by ambition!' He taught them to covet honours, money, possessions, sexual conquests, to compete with their neighbours, to immerse themselves in hobbies and diversions.

    It is said that when a horse cannot find grass, it will accept hay. For want of the green grass of Truth they accepted the dry hay with which he filled their mangers.

    The old man devised more and more distractions for them: vogues, crazes, lotteries, fashions in art, music and literature, sporting competitions and all kinds of achievements which offered them temporary relief from this sense of lack. They were like a patient who accepts palliatives from his physician because he assures them that his disease is incurable. Or they were like the monkey and the crab-apple: he clutched the crabapple inside a bottle, but the neck was too narrow for him to withdraw his hand and the crab-apple too. Unable to escape because hampered by the bottle, he was soon captured and put into a sack. But he proudly cried, 'I still have the apple.'

    The fragmentary view of life forced on mankind by the old villain was now accepted; and the few people who tried to point out where Truth really lay were thought insane and readily refuted by the old argument, 'If what you say is true, then prove it to us logically!'

    False coin is accepted only because true coin exists, and deep in their hearts many people knew this. But they were like children born in a house from which they had never been allowed to stray, doomed to walk from one room to another without knowing that there could be another house, elsewhere, with different furnishings and a different view from its windows.

    Nevertheless the tradition that true coins exist, that there is another house, and that some horses eat grass, not hay, survived in a book which was not a book, delivered by direct succession from an ancient sage to one of his descendants named Hussein. Hussein searched the world until he found the man who through craft and guile would give the teaching of this book fit expression: namely, the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin. Thereupon this book which was not a book was interpreted by the actions of a Mulla who was no Mulla; who was both wise and a fool; who was both a man and many men. And the teaching was thus brought to the attention of the children who had been misled.

    A state of educative chaos supervened. So many different ways of thought were current that it was often said, 'I cannot trust anyone. I must find out for myself by the exercise of my supreme will.'

    Mulla Nasrudin broke out of the net which had been cast by the old villain. For how can one burn a book which is not a book? How can one name a fool who is no fool? How can one punish a man who is a multitude? How can one strike a man who is oneself?

    Study the adventures of Mulla Nasrudin, plumb the depth of the subtleties! He is like a tree which has nourishment in its roots and an edible sap; whose leaves are pot-herbs, whose flowers, fruit, branches and seeds are all variously the same!

    Can a tree be a man, or a man a tree?

    Why Are You Here?

    One day Nasrudin was walking along a deserted road. Night was falling as he spied a troop of horsemen coming toward him. His imagination began to work, and he feared that they might rob him, or impress him into the army. So strong did this fear become that he leaped over a wall and found himself in a graveyard. The other travelers, innocent of any such motive as had been assumed by Nasrudin, became curious and pursued him.

    When they came upon him lying motionless, one said, "Can we help you? And, why are you here in this position?"

    Nasrudin, realizing his mistake said, "It is more complicated than you assume. You see, I am here because of you; and you, you are here because of me."

    I am here because of you...


    Coming Thursday I again have to give a speech. Any suggesions?


    I have heard it said that the 'best speech is silence'. Not in this context.

    Here is a speech that might go down well . . . if you are brave enough . . .

    "I have decided to say what you would like to hear. However you will have to imagine I am saying it NOW . . . pause [long as possible with a big grin]. If you are impressed with what I have said then I would like to claim the credit. If not you only have yourself to blame . . . "

    Just an idea.

    As Nasruddin might say, 'I always do the right thing - sometimes though, I do it at the wrong time . . ."


    Just now I've given my speech and I did follow most of your advice as reproduced below. At some point during my pause (with the big grin) the student gave a good reaction by breaking the silence and saying: "Thank you!"

    I have to thank you for your suggestion. It worked!


    Good stuff. Nasrudin was chattering away as usual . . .

    "Friend Nasrudin have you not heard; 'The Best Speech is Silence'?"

    "Of course not. Who would dare say such a thing!"

    (Lobster & Siraj ~ archives at )

    Time And Time Again…

    Time and time again, Nasrudin passed from Persia to Greece on donkey-back. Each time he had two penniers of straw, and trudged back without them. every time the guards searched him for contraband. When the guards questioned him about his business, Nasrudin answered, "I am a smuggler".

    Years later, more or less prosperous in appearance, Nasrudin moved to Egypt. One of the customs men met him there.

    "Tell me, Mulla Nasrudin," asked the customs official, "Now that you are out of the jurisdiction of Greece and Persia, living here in such luxury-- what was it that you were smuggling when we could never catch you?"

    Nasrudin answered: "Donkeys."

    A Sufi Story…

    Nasrudin was eating a poor man's diet of chickpeas and bread. His neighbor, who also claimed to be a wise man was living in a grand house and dining on sumptuous meals provided by the emperor himself.

    His neighbor told Nasrudin, "if only you would learn to flatter the emperor and be subservient like I do, you would not have to live on chickpeas and bread."

    Nasrudin replied, "and if only you would learn to live on chickpeas and bread, like I do, you would not have to flatter and live subservient to the emperor."

    The Use of Stories in Sufi Psychological Teaching ~ by Jay Einhorn ~ Conscious Choice, September 1995

    Two Stories:

    A thirsty lion, having found his way to a lake, was startled when he bent over to take a drink, to see (as he thought) another lion looking back at him. He roared at it but it didn't go away, and the other animals watching nearby laughed at him. Finally he charged into the lake to attack the "other lion," to discover that there wasn't any other lion there at all -- it was his own reflection. (Told by Idries Shah in the "Dreamwalkers" program of the BBC TV series, "One Pair of Eyes.")

    Mulla Nasrudin, as everyone knows, comes from a country where fruit is fruit, and meat is meat, and curry is never eaten. One day he was plodding along a dusty Indian road, having newly descended from the high mountains of Kafiristan, when a great thirst overtook him. "Soon," he said to himself, "I must come across somewhere that good fruit is to be had."

    No sooner were the words formed in his brain than he rounded a corner and saw sitting in the shade of a tree a benevolent-looking man, with a basket in front of him.

    Piled high in the basket were huge, shiny red fruits. "This is what I need," said Nasrudin. Taking two tiny coppers from the knot at the end of his turban, he handed them to the fruit-seller.

    Without a word the man handed him the whole basket, for this kind of fruit is cheap in India, and people usually buy it in smaller amounts.

    Nasrudin sat down in the place vacated by the fruiterer, and started to munch the fruits. Within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. Tears streamed down his cheeks, fire was in his throat. The Mulla went on eating.

    An hour or two passed, and then an Afghan hillman came past. Nasrudin hailed him. "Brother, these infidel fruits must come from the very mouth of Sheitan!"

    "Fool!" said the hillman. "Hast thou never heard of the chillis of Hindustan? Stop eating them at once, or death will surely claim a victim before the sun is down."

    "I cannot move from here," gasped the Mulla, "until I have finished the whole basketful."

    "Madman! Those fruits belong in curry! Throw them away at once."

    "I am not eating fruit any more," croaked Nasrudin, "I am eating my money." (from, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, by Idries Shah).

    Sufi stories like the two above are funny and entertaining in their own right. They also offer morals for daily life. Beyond both purposes, however, lies something more: Sufi stories are part of a method for developing perception.

    Let us begin from a perspective on the brain as a developing organ of perception. We know that the language in which so much of our communication, culture, education, and thought is based is a function and product largely of the left cerebral hemisphere (in most people). The right hemisphere has more to do with perception and orientation. Its language use can be more poetic or lyrical than linear. The right hemisphere of the brain can be associated with certain emotions, but there is certainly quite a big difference between the ways in which the two hemispheres use language.

    People with left hemisphere damage often lose much or all of their ability to speak and/or understand speech, depending on where in the hemisphere the damage is. People with damage to the right hemisphere continue to be able to speak but suffer deficits in their ability to understand the situations that they are in and the complexities and contexts of their relationships with other people. Thus, developing the "organ" of perception would necessarily involve both verbal and nonverbal development, as well as supporting the integrated operation of these functions at higher levels of perception of meaning.

    "The Legend of Nasrudin," in Idries Shah's Thinkers of the East, refers to this as a higher development of intuition, linked both to the emotions and the intellect, when they are functioning in a certain harmony. Sufis have traditionally spoken of the development of an "organ of perception."

    Many people think the purpose of education is to prepare students for jobs of one sort or another: psychologist or automobile mechanic, business manager or cosmetologist. But while learning how to make a living is an important goal of growing up for everyone, such a view of education ignores the quality and purpose of life. More intellectual types see the aim of education as mental culture, as if lofty thinking were an end in itself. But that ignores the role of intuition and perception in real understanding. "A donkey with a load of books on its back remains a donkey," some have said.

    Education as we practice it does not train the capacity of intuitive perception, it just stuffs us with facts and intellectual ways of processing them. Theocratic or dictatorial cultures use education to instill obedience to certain dogmatic principles. They teach people to believe what their controllers want them to believe, and use rewards and punishments in very obvious ways. More sophisticated cultures use coercion in more subtle ways, which doesn't make it any less coercive, just harder to identify and avoid. Only the very fortunate get to work with a teacher who can help them to learn through experience, and they are exceptions to this prevailing situation.

    Sufi teaching, on the other hand, sees the real purpose of education as the development of capacities of perception that are latent within humanity, and which, once developed, allow the person to apply himself or herself more completely and effectively to life. Information plays a necessary part in this process -- you can't learn what you don't know anything about, or what you have incorrect assumptions about -- but the role of teaching is to support experiential learning, which develops the latent capacities.

    Sufis criticize education for its reliance on partial, often incorrect information, and also for failing to balance conditioned belief and informational learning with experiential learning. A Sufi quoted in one of Idries Shah's books says: "'I believe it is true' is no substitute for 'this is how it is done'."

    Sufi teachers -- that is, genuine teachers as opposed to self-appointed imitators, which abound -- are rare. They also have duties which accord with their perceptions, and often have to work with many people at a distance. Even when a teacher is physically present, students may be too "raw" to benefit from his or her presence; they may need a course of experiential development to help them get ready to begin learning, so to speak. For these reasons, instruments are needed which can contain knowledge and provoke experience while taking a form that is initially acceptable to the brain's word processor.

    These instruments also must be able to stimulate and/or support a further development of perception under correct circumstances. And, if they're entertaining or funny, so much the better, because then people will tell and retell them, and the instruments will survive even when there is no specialist around to understand and employ their deeper applications. Eventually, there will be. Such instruments are -- you guessed it -- stories. But they are not ordinary stories. Sufis use special tools known as "teaching stories," which have multidimensional, multi-level potential.

    Now, let us return to the two stories given at the start of this article. In the form they are given, they are perfectly suitable as children's stories: kids like them, and such stories no doubt help to develop children's attention and cognitive capacities. Most people stop there. Some go further, and appreciate their wry humor and entertainment value, perhaps seeing their neighbors or co-workers' behavior exemplified by the lion or Nasrudin. Most of those stop there. But these stories have much more to offer.

    Try to take them a step deeper: try on the structure of the stories as if they were written just for you. Has there been a time when you, like the lion, were scared of reaching out for something you needed because of your own unrealistic fears, which you projected onto the situation? Was there a time when you stuck with something through to the end, even after you realized it wasn't good for you, because you "paid for it?" Of course, we may literally do this with food, but what about belief systems: how often do we cling to a belief system, or ways of seeing or doing things that clearly are not doing us any good (if they ever did) because we "paid for it" in one way or another?

    Thus, Sufi teachers provide students with stories to soak themselves in, stories that provide some information useful right away, and additional dimensions of potential value which become activated as and when the student is ready for them. Sufis do not indoctrinate, and, indeed, one of the things that most appealed to me when I began reading Sufi literature, as presented by the Afghan Sufi writer Idries Shah, is that the Sufis see conditioning as a widespread, often unsuspected, and nearly entirely destructive force in humanity's existence.

    Shah, who is the foremost modern exponent of Sufism, has made an entire body of study materials available to modern people, East and West, who are interested in the contemporary and effective application of this knowledge. The tales and stories are sometimes like children's or fairy tales, or they may be narratives of interactions between teachers and students, letters and lectures of teachers, poetry, all ranging from the apparently mundane to the apparently fantastic and back again. Contemporary people of great achievement and influence who have publicly acknowledged the value of Shah's work include the psychologist Robert Ornstein, the novelist Doris Lessing, the psychiatrist Arthur Deikman, the zoologist Desmond Morris, and the poet Robert Graves. The Society for Sufi Studies in Los Altos, California, is identified in Shah's books published by Octagon Press as the place to write for further information. However, there is no use writing without having first familiarized oneself with Shah's books; he is on record as saying that people who want further instruction without having first read his books are ignoring the fact that he has written the books for them to read before trying to take a next step.

    Nasrudin has a story about this, too. It seems that he wanted to play the guitar, and went to see a teacher, inquiring about cost. "Twenty dollars for the first lesson, ten dollars for the subsequent ones," said the teacher. "Excellent," said Nasrudin, "I'll start with the second lesson." (slightly adapted). To begin at the beginning, try a story on for size.

    Jay Einhorn is a psychologist in Winnetka, IL.


    Some readers may be familiar with the stories about the Mulla Nasrudin which illustrate the Sufi school of philosophy. In one of these, Nasrudin was brought to trial accused of seeking to undermine the State by accusing its wise men of being ignorant, irresolute and confused.

    Before sentence, he was granted a final request and he asked that each of his judges should be separately required to write down their answer to the question "What is bread?''

    When the answers were read out in court, one judge had defined bread as "that which sustains us"; the second had defined it as "flour and water"; the third as "a gift of Allah"; the fourth as "baked dough" and the fifth as "it depends what you mean by bread".

    Nasrudin then appealed, saying "How can you entrust such matters of judgement to these wise men? They can't agree about something they eat every day and yet, when it comes to me, they can be unanimous in their verdict that I am a heretic".

    Lazy Man's Load ~ by Marilyn Helmer

    Nasrudin got a job at a busy granary, loading sacks onto trucks to be taken to market. The foreman, who was keeping an eye on the workers, soon came over to speak to him. "Why is it that you carry only one sack at a time while the other workers all carry two?" asked the foreman.

    Nasrudin looked around and said, "I suppose that they are too lazy to make two trips the way I do."


    Mulla Nasrudin's testimony in a shooting affair was unsatisfactory. When asked, "Did you see the shot fired?" the Mulla replied, "No, Sir, I only heard it."

    "Stand down," said the judge sharply. "Your testimony is of no value."

    Nasrudin turned around in the box to leave and when his back was turned to the judge he laughed loud and derisively.

    Irate at this exhibition of contempt, the judge called the Mulla back to the chair and demanded to know how he dared to laugh in the court.

    "Did you see me laugh, Judge?" asked Nasrudin.

    "No, but I heard you," retorted the judge.

    "THAT EVIDENCE IS NOT SATISFACTORY, YOUR HONOUR." said Nasrudin respectfully.


    Some mystic traditions use jokes, stories and poetry to express certain ideas. Allowing a process of by-passing the normal discriminative thought patterns. The exhaustion of the rationality that confines and objectifies the thinking process is the opposite of the intuitive, gestalt mentality that the mystic is attempting to engage, enter and retain. Others focus on companionship or exclusion, lectures, contemplation and repetition of movement, sound or behaviour to mention a few possibilities.

    By developing a series of impacts that reinforce certain key ideas, the rational mind is occupied with a surface meaning whilst other concepts are introduced. Thus paradox, unexpectedness, and alternatives to convention are all stressed. That is what makes us laugh.

    The stories themselves are usually humorous and have a range of possible meanings. The most easily understood and accessible being the aspect of 'mind component referral'. By illustrating certain areas of the persona as characteristics of behaviour, they become apparent and are exposed. A solution to a point of impasse may be expressed to the subconscious and in recognition the mind if receptive may engage this resolution.

    It is possible to analyse music and understand aspects of its effect and usage. So too with humour. However just like with music and art, explain the joke too much and you kill it. The life in a jokes humour is dependent on how and what is heard. What is consequently made of it is dependent on the capacity and comprehension of the listener.

    (Lobster ~ archives at )


    Mulla Nasrudin was walking through the streets at midnight. The watchman asked: "What are you doing out so late, Mulla?

    "My sleep has disappeared and I am looking for it."

    Looking Again…

    Once upon a time a gathering of Friends came upon the holy fool Nasrudin who was down on his hands and knees groping around. They stopped to ask if they could be of assistance. Nasrudin told them he had lost his keys -- would they please help him look? Soon the street was full of people looking for Nasrudin's keys.

    At length, one of his friends said, "Nasrudin, we don't find them anywhere... tell us exactly what happened when you lost your keys."

    "Oh, my friends," said Nasrudin, "it's a sad story... I was back there in the alley... I heard something drop and knew it was my keys..."

    "NASRUDIN!!" cried his friends in one voice. "Why if you lost your keys back there in the alley are we looking out here in the street?!"

    "My friends," said Nasrudin, "don't you see that out here the light is so much better?"

  • Speed. . .

    Nasrudin was caught going well over the speed limit on a highway.

    "What's the big hurry?" asked the cop as he started to pull out the book.

    "You see, officer" said Nasruddin, "I am so low on gas . . . I was trying to get to the gas station before i run out of it . . ."

    (Yosy ~ archives at )

    Survival of the Witty-est; Creating Resilience through Humorİ ~ By Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D.

    Just as our physical immune system protects us from toxins in our environment, our psychological immune system protects us from the toxins generated from psychological stressors we experience in the world around us. While the physical immune system produces antibodies to help protect us from biochemical toxins, the psychological immune system produces "antibodies" to help protect us from psychological toxins.

    Humor strengthens both our physical and psychological immune systems. The physical immune system is bolstered through biochemical changes such as an increase in immunoglobulin A during laughter. Humor helps to sustain the psychological immune system by altering how we feel, think, and behave.

    Resilience is the ability of the human organism to spring back from stressors in the environment. As human beings we are resilient and, therefore, able to encounter stressors and return to our previous levels of functioning. In order to be resilient it is important that we "maintain" both our physical and emotional immune systems. Maintenance of healthy immune systems comes in many forms. Physical maintenance can be sustained through good nutrition, rest, and exercise. Emotional maintenance can be supported by sustaining realistic beliefs and attitudes about our world and possessing feelings of self-value and self-worth. By changing one's biochemistry, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, humor can help build physical and emotional resilience as it stimulates the production of physical and psychological antibodies..."

    [Originally published in "Therapeutic Humor, Publication of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor", Fall, 1997, Vol. XI, 5, p. 1-2.]

    Read the whole article:

    From Ioan Tenner's Net Deck...

    Gregory Bateson, biologist and thinker, one of the geniuses of the twentieth century, had a favourite parable he told to generations of students:

    "The ultimate scientist built, at last, the ultimate computer. It was time to ask the machine the ultimate question: "Will computers ever think like humans?"

    The great machine processed this request for a long time running through huge databases never contained by individual mind. After seven days well spent, the answer was ready, printed out neatly on one sheet of white paper. The Scientist rushed to it and read:

    "This reminds me of a story."

    Read the Nasrudin stories at:


    Nasrudin and Hafiz were sitting at their favorite table in the back corner of the Tavern, drinking chai... smoking...smoking...smoking. Nasrudin had just returned from a long trek over the distant mountain pass, an arduous journey in the snows of January there, with only his old camel to keep him warm on the cold lonely nights. He recounted to Hafiz one particularly blustery blizzardy snowstorm that lasted for two full days and nights. And on the third day, he reported to Hafiz, he awoke to glorious sunshine - clear and crisp and cold - a panorama of glittering diamondlike sparkles stretching for kilometres in every direction.

    Nasrudin waxed poetic for some time about this winter wonderland until Hafiz at last interrupted, asking "How much snow fell during that blizzard."

    At that, Nasrudin pulled his pipe from his mouth and said, "ALL of it."

    (joyce ~ archives at )


    Nasrudin was sent by the King to investigate the lore of various kinds of Eastern mystical teachers. They all recounted to him tales of the miracles of the sayings of the founders and great teachers, all long dead, of their schools.

    When he returned home, he submitted his report, which contained the single word 'Carrots'.

    He was called upon to explain himself. Nasrudin told the King: 'The best part is buried; few know -- except the farmer -- by the green that there is orange underground; if you don't work for it, it will deteriorate; there are a great many donkeys associated with it.'

    (The Exploits of the Incomparable Mullah Nasrudin by Indries Shah, ISBN 0-86304-040-3)


    The editor tried hard to read Mulla Nasrudin's handwriting. "Mulla, this handwriting is so bad I can hardly read it," he said. "Why didn't you type out these poems before you brought them in?" "TYPE THEM!" cried Nasrudin. "DO YOU THINK FOR A MOMENT THAT IF I COULD TYPE, I WOULD BE WASTING MY TIME TRYING TO WRITE POETRY?"


    One day, the court jester went to the sidewalk cafe where Nasrudin spends much time pondering the thisness of that, and effing the ineffable while enjoying a biluminous cup of chai and smoking...smoking... smoking...

    "Nasrudin" said the jester, "The Queen has confided in me that the prosperity the kingdom has enjoyed is vast. To celebrate, a box of chocolates is to be presented to each of the subjects during a grand feast. The difficult question that arises is; what chocolate filling is best?"

    Leaning back in his chair and watching an endless chain of smoke rings climb to circle the clouds, Nasrudin said

     "It's ALL good."

    (Brian ~ archives at )

    Joe Riley ~ Panhala


    Beloved said,
    "My name is not complete without

    I thought:
    How could a human’s worth ever be such?
    And God knowing all our thoughts - and all our
    thoughts are innocent steps on the path -
    then addressed my

    God revealed
    a sublime truth to the world,
    when He

    "I am made whole by your life.  Each soul,
    each soul completes

    ~ Hafiz ~

    (Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky)

    Web version:

    [ Editor's Note: A google search on the word "Nasrudin" returned more than 12,700 hits. Nasrudin, in assorted names and guises, has been appropriated or referenced by a truly diverse range of organizations, philosophies, cultures, and countries. What they all seem to share is a warm-hearted affection for the ubiquitous holy fool, and a recognition that the Nasrudin tales, while humorous, are also effective teaching stories, with meanings on multiple levels. The list of links below include some where the "moral of the tale" is spelled out, but I've intentionally NOT included 'explanations' of the stories here. Lastly, many of the same Nasrudin stories have been retold in slightly different form over the centuries, and identification of the original author of many stories is impossible. I've included a link to the source for each tale here, though many appear in numerous locations. Joyce ]

    Nasrudin Links:

    International English lessons using Nasrudin:


  • "An Evening With The Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin" ~ A Play by Polly Peters


  • The Wisdom of Jokes by by Alejandro Jodorowsky,5127,13432,00.html

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