Limits of perception

Carrying some cocks to a certain place, Nasrudin thought he would let them out for a little, allowing them to walk part of the way. They started to wander in all directions, pecking at the earth.
    ‘O Fools!’ shouted Nasrudin. ‘You know when it is going to be sunrise; how is it that you cannot even understand where I am going?’

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Chickens outside

Allah will provide

‘Allah will provide,’ said Nasrudin one day to a man who was complaining that someone had stolen some cash from his house.
    The man expressed doubt.
    Nasrudin took him to the mosque, and rolled on the ground, calling upon Allah to restore the man’s twenty silver coins.
    Annoyed by his presence, the congregation made a collection and the sum was handed to the surprised loser.
    ‘You may not understand the means which operate in this world,’ said the Mulla, ‘but I trust that you understand the end when it is handed to you in such a concrete from.’

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Mosque in Isfahan

On his own

The King had allowed a pet elephant loose near Nasrudin’s village, and it was destroying the crops.
    The people decided to go in a body to Tamerlane to protest. Nasrudin, because he had been known to amuse the King at times, was appointed leader of the delegation.
    So overawed were they by the magnificence of the Court that the group pushed Nasrudin into the audience-chamber and fled.
    ‘Yes,’ said the King, ‘what do you want, Nasrudin?’
    ‘About your elephant, your Majesty … ’ stammered the Mulla. He saw that the King was in a bad temper that morning.
    ‘Yes—what about my elephant?’
    ‘We—that is, I, was thinking that it needed a mate.’

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

An elephant

Back To Front

‘Reasonable people always see things the same way,’ said the Khan of Samarkand to Nasrudin one day.

‘That is just the trouble with “reasonable” people,’ said Nasrudin; ‘they include at least some people who always see only one thing out of a potential two possibilities.’

The Khan called the divines and the philosophers to explain, but they thought Nasrudin was talking nonsense.

The next day Nasrudin rode through the town on a donkey in such a way that his face was towards the tail.

When he arrived at the palace where the Khan was sitting with his advisors, Nasrudin said:

‘Would your Highness please ask these people what they have just seen?’

When asked, they all said: ‘A man riding back-to-front on a donkey.’

‘That is exactly my point,’ said Nasrudin. ‘The trouble with them all is that they did not notice that perhaps it was me who was right and the donkey the wrong way around.’

Caravan of Dreams Idries Shah, Octagon Press

The roof of Hafez's tomb

Salute

Nasrudin was passing through the Land of Fools one day, on donkey-back. On the road he passed two local worthies, plodding along on foot. ‘Good morning,’ said the Mulla.
    ‘I wonder why he spoke to me, and not you?’ one of the fools said to the other.
    ‘You idiot, it’s me that he spoke to – not you!’
    Soon they were scuffling on the ground. But then it struck them both at once that they could run after Nasrudin and ask him to settle the question. They jumped up and scampered after him.
    ‘Which of us were you saying “Good morning” to?’
    The Mulla said:
    ‘The greater of the two fools!’
    ‘That’s definitely me!’ said the first fool.
    ‘Nonsense, it’s obviously me!’ said the other.
    Nasrudin left them struggling in the dust.

The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A funny looking donkey

Tyranny of the majority

At one point in his life, the entire population of his village had had enough of the pleasantries and confusions of Mulla Nasrudin.
    They all went to the magistrate, and he gave a ruling:
    ‘Nasrudin, by the will of the people I have to declare that you must leave the village.’
    ‘Are they unanimous?’ asked the Mulla.
    ‘Yes, I am afraid so.’
    ‘Then I refuse to go. There are plenty of them – and only one of me. If they don’t like the village as it is, they can leave and build another one. But I, a single individual, how can I even start to build one small house for myself elsewhere?’

The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

An empty street

Which is my half?

Nasrudin and a friend were thirsty, and stopped at a café for a drink. They decided to share a glass of milk.
    ‘You drink your half first,’ said the friend, ‘because I have some sugar here, just enough for one. I shall add this to my share of the milk and drink it.’
    ‘Add it now,’ said the Mulla, ‘and I will drink only my half.’
    ‘Certainly not. There is only enough sugar to sweeten half a glass of milk.’
    Nasrudin went to the owner of the café, and came back with a large packet of salt.
    ‘Good news, friend,’ he said, ‘I am drinking first, as agreed, and I want my milk with salt.’

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Bonneville salt flats

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