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Nuri Bey’s crate

Posted March. 25, 2020 07:38,   

Updated March. 25, 2020 07:38


Fables often have wisdom more profound than we think. Idries Shah, an Indian author who collected and published fables passed on by Sufi (Islamic mysticism) monks, had a story of a married couple in the book.

Nuri Bey was a thoughtful and respected Albanian. His wife was much younger than him. One evening, his servant came up to him and said his wife was suspicious. “She is suspiciously obsessed with a big crate that used to belong to your grandmother,” he said. “The crate is big enough to put a man inside, but she doesn’t let us see inside.” Bey went to his wife’s room after hearing that. She was sitting next to the crate. He asked her what was inside. She asked whether he was asking the question because of the suspicion of his servant or because he did not trust her. The husband refused to answer and demanded to show him what was inside. His wife said she would give him a key once he lets the servant out, so that he could open it himself. He let the servant out, and she gave him the key and left the room. He was lost in thought for a long time. And he made four gardeners bury the crate in a faraway garden. He decided not to open it. He never brought up the issue again.

He could have simply open the crate as his wife gave him the key. But opening it was distrusting his wife, being swayed by the words of his servant. His wife, who had been already hurt by his suspicion, would have been hurt even more if he opened it. He suppressed his curiosity and kept the secret of his wife.

Masters of Islamic mysticism told these stories to their followers to teach them wisdom of life and ethics several hundred years ago. What is important is the mindset to embrace others without prejudices, not what is really inside the crate. The crate is a metaphor for “a person’s own room” that no one should intrude.