Teaching stories may relate events that are funny, foolish, bemusing, sometimes even apparently stupid, but they usually have deeper meanings.
A good teaching story has several levels of meaning and interpretation and offers us opportunities to think in new ways. At first you may just have a good laugh but as you reflect on the story, the significance becomes more and more profound.
A teaching story veils its knowledge and as you ruminate, the walls of its outer meanings crumble away and the beauty of the previously invisible inner wisdom is revealed, and you begin to identify yourself in the story, and to acknowledge that you too could be as foolish or as lacking in discernment as the characters in these classic tales.
An example of the concept of teaching stories is embodied in the “wisdom” tales of the inimitable Mulla Nasrudin narrated by Sufis to illustrate finer aspects of human behaviour which are relevant to both our personal and professional lives.
You can reflect, introspect or take them with a pinch of salt – the choice is yours! After reading this you may ask me: “You relate stories, but you do not tell us how to understand them” – to which I will reply:” How would you like it if the shopkeeper from whom you bought a banana peeled it, ate the deliciously nourishing fruit before your eyes, leaving you only the skin?”
One of the great bonuses in learning through humour is that even as you have a good time and doubt that you have learned anything, the lessons penetrate subtly, permeate within and stay with you, to come alive when the need arises.
If you are a serious type, devoid of a sense of humour, please skip this and move on to more profound and sombre reading.
This is fun. Enjoy yourself, dear reader, and try to identify yourself in the apocryphal stories.
PUNISHMENT AND REWARD - A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story
Rushing to work on his motorcycle Nasrudin jumped a red light. He was promptly stopped by a Traffic Policeman, who asked Nasrudin to pay Rs.100.
“What for? Why should I pay Rs.100?” Nasrudin asked.
“It’s a fine. For breaking the traffic rules. You jumped the red light,” said the cop.
“Okay,” Nasrudin said, “You owe me five hundred rupees. Give me Rs.500.”
“What nonsense?” shouted the infuriated cop. “Why should I pay you Rs.500?”
“For the six times I correctly crossed the green lights, you owe me Rs.600. From that you deduct your fine of Rs.100. That means you owe me Rs.500,” said a nonchalant Nasrudin. “If you punish me for doing the wrong thing, you must reward me for doing the right thing.”
Did you like reading this story?
I am sure you will like the 27 stories in COCKTAIL
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