Hardly anyone could understand Nasrudin, because sometimes he snatched
victory from defeat, sometimes things seemed to go astray because of his
blundering. But there was a rumor that he was living on a different plane from
others, and one day a young man decided to watch him, to see how he
managed to survive at all, and whether anything could be learned from him.
He followed Nasrudin to a river bank, and saw him sit down under a tree.
The Mulla suddenly stretched out his hand and a cake appeared in it which
he ate. He did this three times. Then he put his hand out again, picked up a
goblet and drank deeply.
The youth, unable to contain himself, rushed up to Nasrudin and caught
hold of him. ‘Tell me how you do these wonderful things, and I will do
anything you ask,’ he said.
‘I will do that,’ said Nasrudin, ‘but first you have to get into the right state
of mind. Then time and space have no meaning, and you can be reaching
out to the Sultan’s chamberlain to hand you sweetmeats. There is only one
‘I accept it!’ shouted the young man.
‘You will have to follow my way.’
‘Tell me about it.’
‘I can only tell you one thing at a time. Do you want the easy exercise, or
the difficult one?’
‘I will take the difficult one.’
‘This is your first mistake. You have to start with the easy one. But now
you cannot, for you have chosen. The difficult one is this: Make a hole in
your fence so that your chickens can get into your neighbor’s garden to
peck - large enough for that. But it must also be so small that your neighbor's
chickens cannot get into your own garden to feed themselves.’
The young man was never able to work this one out, and so he never be-
came a disciple of Nasrudin. But when he told people about what Nasrudin
could do, they though he was mad.
‘This is a good start,’ said Nasrudin; ‘one day you will find a teacher.’