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What’s going on in the world today?

Here’s a Sufi story to answer the question so many are asking these days, post-Brexit, pre-Trump, pan-ISIS, mass shootings; what’s going on in the world today?

“We have a word,” said the Sufi, “which sums all this up. It describes what we are doing, and it summarises our way of thinking. Through it you will understand the very reason for your existence, and the reason why mankind is generally speaking at odds. The word is Anguruzuminabstafil.” And he explained it in a traditional Sufi story.

Angur by any other name...

Angur, by any other name…

Four men – a Persian, a Turk, an Arab and a Greek – were standing in a village street. They were travelling companions, making for some distant place; but at this moment they were arguing over the spending of a single piece of money which was all that they had among them.
“I want to buy angur,” said the Persian.
“I want uzum,” said the Turk.
“I want inab,” said the Arab.
“No!” said the Greek, “we should buy stafil.”

Another traveller passing, a linguist, said, “Give the coin to me. I undertake to satisfy the desires of all of you.”
At first they would not trust him. Ultimately they let him have the coin. He went to the shop of a fruit seller and bought four small bunches of grapes.

“This is my angur,” said the Persian.
“But this is what I call uzum,” said the Turk.
“You have brought me inab,” said the Arab.
“No!” said the Greek, “this in my language is stafil.”
The grapes were shared out among them, and each realised that the disharmony had been due to his faulty understanding of the language of others. (From: Idries Shah – The Sufis)

Perhaps now, more than ever, is the time for us to learn the language of “others,” and this involves two kinds of listening. This might also be a Sufi parable for the European Union.

For more by this author, see his Amazon page here.

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4 Comments

  1. What a brilliant Sufi parable, I’d like to call it if you don’t mind. I didn’t realize that you are an author of such many books, thanks to your Amazon link, I just checked out. Thank you so much for sharing , I feel like sharing it om my face book page. I am familiar with most of the words, having traveled earlier on to Greece and Turkey, and having been married to persian man.

    • aviottjohn says:

      Thanks for your comment on the story. I found it while looking for something by Rumi (what a great soul!). Great to hear from you. Please feel free to share. I also admired your Rajasthan photographs, particularly since I’m hoping to start a rural solar lighting project there in the next year or two.

  2. aviottjohn says:

    On my last visit to India, I met some people from villages near Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. That might be a place to start. I hope to go again this year.

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