Monday, February 23, 2009

Nasrudin: The Lamp and the Key

Sufism, as a practice, emphasizes certain unique rituals for guiding spiritual seekers into a direct encounter with God. It comes from the Islamic traditions in places especially Persia or Iran.
Muhammad is considered the chief prophet; many consider Sufism to be a mystical practice of Islam. The following story by the great Sufi teacher, Nasrudin, illustrates a common experience for those along the Way.

His friend, Mansour, comes to visit him and sees Nasruddin on his hands and knees, crawling on the sidewalk under the street lamp, obviously searching for something, appearing frustrated.

Concerned for his friend, Mansour asks, "Nasruddin, what are you looking for? Did you lose something?"

"Yes, Mansour. I lost the key to my house, and I’m trying to find it, but I can’t."

"Let me help you," responds Mansour. Mansour joins his friend, kneels down on his hands and knees, and begins to crawl on the sidewalk under the street lamp, searching.

After a time, having looked everywhere on and around the sidewalk, neither Nasruddin nor Mansour can find the lost key. Puzzled, Mansour asks his friend to recall his steps when he last had the key, "Nasruddin, where did you lose the key? When did you last have it?"

"I lost the key in my house," Nasruddin responds.

"In your house?" repeats the astonished Mansour. "Then why are we looking for the key here, outside on the sidewalk under this street lamp?”

Without hesitation, Nasruddin explains, “Because there is more light here . . . !”

In his book At Home in the Muddy Water, by Ezra Bayda, Buddhist practitioner and teacher, recounts this story about a key and a light.
"In trying to uncover how to best proceed with practice, we're often like Nasrudin, looking in the wrong place. Sometimes we're looking in the wrong place for something that isn't even there. We think there is a magic key, some experience that will make the practice permanently clear, especially in the midst of everyday difficulties." In the simple mind, we realize there is no magic key, nor do we need one. What is needed is to persevere through the ups and downs of life. We hold our own key.

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