Sufi Story: Lethargic People:


This is a story about a clever teacher and how he cleverly ignites motivation in a group of lethargic people.

The Palese were a seafaring people who for some reason or other had become very lethargic. They still had boats, but they never actually managed to set sail - there was always something better to do. At the same time, though, the Palese were very proud, and considered themselves the greatest seafaring nation in the world.

The Palese lived on an almost barren island; what food plants there were, yielded crops of very poor quality. Across the sea, however, there was an archipelago covered in exotic fruit trees and palms that bore delicious fruit. The Palese knew this from old legends, and they had many teachers who, even though they had never been to the islands, told wondrous stories about their splendor, and gave detailed accounts of the great journeys of the past, and of how one could get there even today.

One day, a new teacher appeared. This teacher, too, was talking about the islands, but his tales felt different from the tales the others told. When he described the flavor of the fruits, and the splendor of the trees, it seemed to the listeners as though they could actually smell the flowers of the trees and perceive the taste of their fruit on their tongues.

There was one thing, though, that was disturbing about this teacher: one day he would say that the archipelago consisted of five islets, another day he would say that there were seven; one day he would say that they formed an arch, another day, that they formed a circle, and so on. His descriptions were never consistent; the only thing consistent about him was the vividness and seeming authenticity of his talks.

The other teachers were very annoyed with this man, and they said things like: "Actually, everyone knows that there are six islands, and they form a rectangle."

The new teacher created such a stir and controversy, and at the same time aroused such a profound longing in his listeners, that in the end something almost unprecedented happened: after years of dreaming about the archipelago, sitting in front of their houses, drawing maps, discussing winds and currents and sailing routes, doing anything but actually taking to the sea, some of the Palese began to look at their boats again.

They realized that the boats were real, and that they could leave the shore on them. Some of them traveled in the direction the teacher had seemed to them to be indicating, and, after a long and perilous journey, many of them found the islands. They brought back delicious fruit and shared it with their neighbors.

At that point, nobody was interested any more in whether there were six, seven or eight islands, and whether they formed an arch or a rectangle.

Sufi Teacher Inspires People to JourneyAnd in time, even though the teacher had never given a description of the archipelago that he had not at another time contradicted, the Palese decided that in fact he had been the only one of their teachers who had explored and known the archipelago himself.

He was remembered for millennia as one of the greatest of teachers, because in his compassion he had made people dissatisfied and curious enough to try to find the archipelago for themselves.

Copyright © by Jasmine Way

This Sufi Story about motivation and was inspired by the living thought of Sufi poets and teachers such as Kahlil Gibran and Jalaluddin Rumi. These brief parables aim to provide an insight into the psychology of the path. A world where effect comes before cause and silence is the key to being heard.

In a sense, no-sense is the only sense.