Today we find him in a high-level physics report, illustrating phenomena that can't be described in ordinary technical terms. He appears in psychology textbooks, illuminating the workings of the mind in a way no straightforward explanation can.
In three definitive volumes (The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, and The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin) Idries Shah takes us to the very heart of this mysterious mentor, the Mulla Nasrudin. Skillful contemporary retellings of hundreds of collected stories and sayings bring the unmistakable - often backhanded - wisdom, wit and charm of the timeless jokester to life.
The Mulla and his stories appear in literature and oral traditions from the Middle East to Greece, Russia, France - even China. Many nations claim Nasrudin as a native son, but nobody really knows who he was or where he came from.
According to a legend dating from at least the 13th century, Nasrudin was snatched as a schoolboy from the clutches of the "Old Villain" - the crude system of thought that ensnares man - to carry through the ages the message of how to escape. He was chosen because he could make people laugh, and humor has a way of slipping through the cracks of the most rigid thinking habits.
Acclaimed as humorous masterpieces, as collections of the finest jokes, as priceless gift books, and for hundreds "enchanted tales", this folklore figure's antics have also been divined as "mirroring the antics of the mind". The jokes are, as Idries Shah notes, "perfectly designed models for isolating and holding distortions of the mind which so often pass for reasonable behavior". Therefore they have a double use: when the jokes have been enjoyed, their psychological significance starts to sink in.
In fact, for many centuries they have been studied in Sufi circles for their hidden wisdom. They are used as teaching exercises, in part to momentarily "freeze" situations in which states of mind can be recognized. The key to the philosophic significance of the Nasrudin jokes is given in Idries Shah's book "The Sufis" and a complete system of mystical training based upon them was described in the Hibbert Journal.
In these delightful volumes, Shah not only gives the Mulla a proper vehicle for our times, he proves that the centuries-old stories and quips of Nasrudin are still some of the funniest jokes in the world.
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As the urgency of our global situation becomes apparent, more and more readers are turning to the books of Idries Shah (1924-1996) as a way to train new capacities and new ways of thinking. Shah has been described as "the most significant worker adapting classical spiritual thought to the modern world." His lively, contemporary books have sold over 15 million copies in 12 languages worldwide and have been awarded many prizes. They have been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Times, The Tribune, The Telegraph, and numerous other international journals and newspapers.
"The most interesting books in the English language." Saturday Review
"A major psychological and cultural event of our time." Psychology Today
"One is immediately forced to use one's mind in a new way." New York TimesExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE VALUE OF TRUTH
"If you want truth", Nasrudin told a group of Seekers who had come to hear his teachings, "you will have to pay for it."
"But why should you have to pay for something like truth?" asked one of the company.
"Have you noticed", said Nasrudin, "that it is the scarcity of a thing which determines its value?"
CAUSE AND EFFECT
One evening Nasrudin quarrelled with his wife and shouted at her so fiercely that she fled for refuge to a neighbouring house, where he followed her.
As it happened, a wedding feast was in progress, and the host and guests did all they could to calm him down, and vied with one another to make the couple reconciled, to eat and enjoy themselves.
The Mulla said to his wife: "My dear, remind me to lose my temper more often - then life really would be worth living!"
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