This is from Neil Douglas-Klotz’s book, The Sufi Book of Life.
“Once upon a time, Mullah Nasruddin was invited to speak at the mosque in a particular village at Friday community prayers. This is normally the only time when there might be a sermon or talk, since everyone would be gathered. The village that invited Mullah was widely known as the largest collection of foolish people in the region. They sent a delegation to Mullah: ‘O Mullah, wisest of the wise, we know that we’re not worthy, but please come and give the sermon at our community prayers. Give us a chance!’
Mullah agreed and went there the next Friday. He walked to the front of the mosque after prayers and said, “Does anyone know what I’m about to tell you?”
No one dared answer, for fear of being proved foolish.
“Then,” said Mullah, “you’re all too foolish to tell.” And he walked out.
The next day the town again sent a delegation to Mullah, begging and pleading. “We’ll try to do better, Mullah! Please come again!”
The next Friday the same thing happened. Mullah walked to the front of the mosque after prayers and asked, “Does anyone know what I’m about to tell you?”
This time, as if choreographed, everyone responded at once. “Yes! We know!”
“Then there’s no point in telling you.” said Mullah, and he walked out again.
As you might guess, another day, another delegation, more bowing and scraping. “Just one more chance, Mullah! We promise!”
Again the following week, the same scene, the same question. This time half the crowd yelled out, “Some of us know!” and the other half responded “And some of us don’t!”
“So,” said Mullah, “Let those who know tell those who don’t!” And he walked out a third time.
Now I’ve heard it told that many years later, Mullah happened to be traveling again near the town of foolish people, and he noticed that it just happened to be Friday, around noon. “I think i’ll go see how they’re getting on,” said Mullah to himself.
As he entered the mosque, prayers were over, but it looked as if everyone was waiting for something. He muttered to himself, “Oh…why not!” and walked to the front.
“Does anyone know what I’m about to tell you?” he asked.
At this point, everyone in the mosque stood up and walked out, leaving Mullah standing alone.
This story mirrors one view of the journey of our inner self. As we begin the spiritual path, we’re in denial that we even have a voice of guidance within us. We’re waiting for someone outside to illuminate us. Then we swing to the other extreme and think we know everything. When our inner life finally wakes up, the part of us that knows is able to speak to the part of us that doesn’t know (Mullah’s third solution). Our higher guidance is able to speak to our nafs (loosely translated as ego), and the various voices of the inner self can gather together and work as one. Once this happens, it’s just a matter of staying on the path and allowing our hearts to continue to grow. At the end, when Mullah returns, he finds that the “answer” to his question is absence. The small self, beyond affirmation and denial, has merged with the Self of the Beloved.
* * *
Today is a funny day. It’s been building for weeks, I can see it in my previous posts. Voices that I thought had become silent suddenly got a microphone. Started soft and then by last night were blaring trumpets. This strange conflict inside myself. One voice, angry and frustrated, asking the other voice, full of sadness and pain, WHY ARE YOU HERE AGAIN?
And amidst all that confusion, another voice that knows something, tells the voices that don’t: be patient! And suddenly, a flash of peace. Then energy that is stuck in the battle is released to my heart.
Right now I’m in Mullah Nasruddin’s third solution, as I discover and bring to light fragments of voices inside my self. trying to create coherence amongst all the voices is a paradox in some ways, and in other ways it is the path to becoming one and uniting with the divine inside of me. Right when you think you’ve figured out something, is when you realize you’ve figured out nothing! hah! how funny is this mystery of life 🙂