surprising results

Beneath the patched robe of the Mulla Nasrudin there is sometimes wisdom…

nasrudin 2

Two of his stories suggest to me that we could achieve surprising results if we were prepared to do unusual things. The first is about keeping dry:

A man invited Nasrudin to go hunting with him, but mounted him on a horse which was too slow. The Mulla said nothing. Soon the hunt outpaced him and was out of sight. It began to rain heavily, and there was no shelter. All members of the hunt got soaked through. Nasrudin, however, as soon as the rain started, took off all his clothes and folded them. Then he sat down on the pile. As soon as the rain stopped, he dressed himself and went back to his host’s house for lunch. Nobody could work out why he was dry. With all the speed of their horses they had not been able to reach shelter on that plain.

‘It was the horse you gave me,’ said Nasrudin.

The next day he was given a fast horse and his host took the slow one. Rain fell again. The horse was so slow that the host got wetter than ever, riding at a snail’s pace to his house. Nasrudin carried out the same procedure as before.

When he got back to the house he was dry.

‘It is all your fault!’ shouted his host. ‘You made me ride this terrible horse.’

‘Perhaps,’ said Nasrudin, ‘you did not contribute anything of your own to the problem of keeping dry?’

(text copied, with thanks, from here)

The second is about staying warm, and it’s just the first bit that I’m thinking about, though the rest is good too:

On a frigid and snowy winter day Mullah Nasruddin was having a chat with some of his friends in the local coffee house. Mullah Nasruddin said that cold weather did not bother him, and in fact, he could stay, if necessary, all night without any heat. “We’ll take you up on that, Mullah Nasruddin” they said. “If you stand all night in the village square without warming yourself by any external means, each of us will treat you to a sumptuous meal. But if you fail to do so, you will treat us all to dinner.” “All right it’s a bet,” Mullah Nasruddin said. That very night, Mullah Nasruddin went up to the flat roof of a building. He spent the whole night pushing around a block of stone that had been left on the roof, and by doing so kept warm. In the morning, he went down triumphantly to his friends and told them that they should be ready to fulfill their promise.

______________________________________________________

“But as a matter of fact you lost the bet, Mullah Nasruddin,” said one of them. “At about midnight, just before I went to sleep, I saw a candle burning a window about three hundred yards away from where you were . That certainly means that you warmed yourself by it.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Mullah Nasruddin argued. “How can a candle behind a window warm a person three hundred yards away?”

All his protestations were to no avail, and it was decided that Mullah Nasruddin had lost the bet.

Mullah Nasruddin accepted the verdict and invited all of them to a dinner that night at his home. They all arrived on time, laughing and joking, anticipating the delicious meal Mullah Nasruddin was going to serve them. But dinner was not ready. Mullah Nasruddin told them that it would be ready in a short time, and left the room to prepare the meal. A long time passed, and still no dinner was served.

Finally, getting impatient and very hungry, they went into the kitchen to see if there was any food cooking at all. What they saw, they could not believe. Mullah Nasruddin was standing by a huge cauldron, suspended from the ceiling.

There was a lighted candle under the cauldron. “Be patient my friends,” Mullah Nasruddin told them. “Dinner will be ready soon. You see it is cooking.” “Are you out of your mind, Mullah Nasruddin?” they shouted. How could you with such a tiny flame boil such a large pot?

“Your ignorance of such matters amuses me,” Mullah Nasruddin said. “If the flame of a candle behind a window three hundred yards away can warm a person, surely the same flame will boil this pot which is only three inches away.”

(adapted, with thanks, from here)

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi Simon
    The Eurasian Association of Singapore is contemplating a Permanent Exhibition on the life and art of Errol Le Cain, who was Eurasian and from Singapore.
    I am writing his biography and would be glad to hear from you on how his art has impacted on your own creativity. If you should have any information on his life and unpublished art,
    please email me at errollecainlegacy@gmail.com
    Good wishes
    Denyse Tessensohn

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