Needs

As Mulla Nasruddin emerged from the mosque after prayers, a beggar sitting in the street solicited alms. The following conversation ensued:

Mulla: “Are you extravagant?”
Beggar: “Yes, Mulla.”
Mulla: “Do you like sitting around drinking coffee and smoking?”
Beggar: “Yes.”
Mulla: “I suppose you like to go to the baths every day?”
Beggar: “Yes.”
Mulla: “…and maybe amuse yourself, even, by drinking with your friends?”
Beggar: “Yes. I like all those things.”

“Tut, tut,” said the Mulla, and gave him a gold piece.

A few yards further on, another beggar who had overheard the conversation begged for alms importunately.

Mulla: “Are you extravagant?”
Beggar: “No, Mulla.”
Mulla: “Do you like sitting around drinking coffee and smoking?”
Beggar: “No.”
Mulla: “I suppose you like to go to the baths every day?”
Beggar: “No.”
Mulla: “…and maybe amuse yourself, even, by drinking with your friends?”
Beggar: “No, I only want to live meagerly and to pray.”

Whereupon the Mulla gave him a small copper coin.

“But why”, wailed the beggar, “do you give me, an economical and pious man, a penny, when you give that extravagant fellow a sovereign?”

“Ah,” replied the Mulla, “his needs are greater than yours.”

From “The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin”, by Idries Shah

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One Comment

  1. Bob Koepp says

    As part of his discipline, in an effort to free himself from attachment to (and thus worry about) money, a sufi friend once filled his pockets with cash and then walked through the city throwing bills into the air. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to watch what transpired. But his description of people rushing to grab the money, but maintaining a safe distance from this obviously “crazy” person, had me bursting at the seams with laughter. The only thing that could have improved his story would be a citation for littering.

    Posted April 25, 2006 at 9:35 am | Permalink