Thursday, September 14, 2006


An inquirer asked Sayed Khidr Rumi:

‘Is there anything which can be called the best and also the worst of human institutions?’

He said:

‘Yes, indeed. There is such a thing, and its name is “etiquette”.

‘The advantage of etiquette and conduct is that it enables the Wise to approach the student without being jeered at, and it makes possible the search by the student without people thinking him ridiculous.

‘The disadvantage of etiquette which makes it the worst of human institutions is that it enables the ignorant to erect their own rules of what is permissible in thought and conduct and what is not. If such people decide that there are certain things which should never be thought or done, then they can effectively prevent the transmission of knowledge.’

The inquirer asked:

‘May I have an instance of how this happens in our teaching?’

Sayed Khidr Rumi said:

‘It has been customary for people, when they read prescribed books and accounts of the doings of the Masters, to say, “This is an analogy which does not apply to me." It also enables them to say. “This is an encounter with a stupid man. I could never think like the man in the tale; therefore the Teacher is in this instance dealing with a completely different type of person.” The reality is that such a person is always the one most in need of teaching, while he is unaware of it.

‘There is the story of the dog who was distressed when a man shouted at him, saying, “look at that mangy creature!” The dog, instead of looking for a sage who would cure his mange, jumped into a pool of water and came out dripping wet. He ran up to the man, wagging his tail, as if to say, “Look, my coat is changed, it is all dampness where before it was a dusty mat!” The man started to curse him even more strongly, because he did not want the dog to shake the water off all over him.

‘The dog became convinced that the man was irrational, while it was simply a matter that one did not understand the other. In he instance of the acts related of the Wise, the doggishness in the student must realise that the sage is talking about a real, not an illusory, improvement in his state.’

From: Thinkers of the East, by Idries Shah.

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