Cherries are on sale at my local grocer. In my mind, cherries are connected with one of the tales in the book Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah. I have mentioned on numerous occasions that there is a great sympathetic vibration between these dervish tales and the teachings of the New Message from God. It is occurring to me to demonstrate this by commenting on this dervish tale as it proceeds.
There is a wise perception of the present
This tale is attributed to Sufi Abdul-Hamid Khan of Qandahar, who died in 1962. He was the Master of the Afghan Mint, a man with one foot in the dervish world and the other in the world of modern technology. This tale is called “Valuable – and Worthless.” I will put my commentary in brackets.
A certain king one day called a counselor to him and said “The strength of real thinking depends upon the examination of alternatives. Tell me which alternative is better: to increase the knowledge of my people or give them more to eat. In either case they will benefit.”
The Sufi said “Majesty, there is no point in giving knowledge to those who cannot receive it, any more than there is point to giving food to those who cannot understand your motives. Therefore it is not correct to assume that ‘in either case they will benefit.’ If they cannot digest the food, or if they think you give it to them as a bribe, or that they can get more – you have failed. If they cannot see that they are being given knowledge, or whether it is knowledge or not, or even why you are giving it to them, they will not benefit. Therefore the question must be taken by degrees. The first degree is the consideration: ‘The most valuable person is worthless and the most worthless person is valuable.'”
[We have now learned that the counselor is a Sufi, a dervish. I consider the knowledge being spoken of here to be knowledge in the ordinary sense; data, information, education. But the Knowledge spoken of by the New Message from God also requires skill and desire to be attained. The deeper spiritual intelligence that God has placed in every person is indifferent to satisfying idle curiosity.]
“Demonstrate this truth to me, for I cannot understand it,” said the king.
The Sufi then called the chief dervish of Afghanistan, and he came to the court. “If you had your way, what would you have someone in Kabul do?” he asked.
[We now know this tale is set in Kabul, Afghanistan. I believe that the Sufi is responding to a royal command for a demonstration. I believe that the Sufi is responding to a sincere request to learn. As there are monastic orders, there are dervish orders. As monastic orders have leaders, dervish orders have leaders.]
“It so happens that there is a man near such-and-such a place who, if he knew it, could by giving a pound of cherries to a certain necessitous man, gain a fortune for himself and also great advancement for the whole country and progress for the Path,” said the chief dervish, who knew of the inner correspondence of things.
[I imagine the king thought to himself, “This is the very thing I was asking about in the first place, the benefit of my people!” I consider “the Path” to refer to the dervish path and its participants. I make no claim regarding the inner correspondence of things. But one of the outward manifestations of the Knowledge I seek to reclaim is wise perception in the present and in the future.]
The king was excited, for Sufis generally do not discourse upon such things. “Call him here and we will have it done!” he cried. The others silenced him with a gesture. “No,” said the first Sufi, “this cannot work unless it is done voluntarily.”
In disguise, in order not to influence the man’s choice, the three of them went straight to the Kabul bazaar. Divested of his turban and robe, the chief Sufi looked very much like any ordinary man. “I will take the part of the exciting cause,” he whispered, as the group stood looking at the fruit. He approached the greengrocer and wished him good day. Then he said “I know a poor man. Will you give him a pound of cherries, as a charity?” The greengrocer bellowed with laughter. “Well, I have heard some tricks, but this is the first time that someone who wanted cherries has stooped to ask me as if it were for charity!”
[So now we know that the man who could have given the cherries was a greengrocer, and the cherries were part of his inventory. I imagine the king being crushed on the inside as a golden opportunity was lost forever.]
“You see what I mean?” the first Sufi asked the king. “The most valuable man we have has just made the most valuable suggestion, and the event has proved that he is worthless to the man to whom he speaks.”
[There is a wise perception of the present. Step 232 of the 365 steps in Steps to Knowledge is “My calling in life requires the development of others.” I might not make my rendezvous with others. They might not make their rendezvous with me. But I have to work on being ready.]
“But what about ‘the most worthless person’ being valuable?” asked the king.
The two dervishes beckoned him to follow them.
As they were about to cross the Kabul River, the two dervishes suddenly seized the king and threw him into the water. He could not swim.
As he felt himself about to drown, Kaka Divana, whose name means Insane Uncle – a well-known pauper and lunatic who roamed the streets, jumped in and brought him safely to the bank. Various other, more solid, citizens had seen him in the water, but none moved.
When the king was somewhat restored, the two dervishes intoned together: “The most worthless person is valuable!”
[There is a wise perception of the present. Don’t ask me how the dervishes knew that Kaka Divana would save the king. Don’t ask me why the king didn’t honor and enrich Kaka Divana for saving his life. Don’t ask me why the king didn’t have the dervishes executed. I think the answer to these things is “Elaborating on this would disrupt the arc of the story.”]
So the king went back to his old, traditional method of giving whatever he could – whether education or help of any kind – to those to whom it was decided from time to time were the most worthy recipients of such aid.
[There is a wise perception of the present. The punch line of the story is “The valuable advice of the dervishes proved to be worthless to the king, as it made no change in his behavior.” I desire for the wisdom of the wise to be valuable to me.]
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