In the Sufi tradition, Mullah (teacher) Nasruddin was a 13th century master who liked to teach through parables with a character named for himself who was prone to doing, apparently, foolish things. He believed that humour opened up contemplatives ways to see oneself and one’s actions and assumptions from a new point of view.
With the help of Anthony de Mello’s book, Song of the Bird, we looked at some of these Nasruddin tales and we laughed even more than usual. (We are not the most somber contemplatives…)
Here is one example:
Everyone became alarmed when they saw Mullah Nasruddin, astride his ass, charging through the streets of the village.
“Where are you off to, Mullah?” they asked.
“I’m searching for my ass,” said the mullah as he whizzed by.
Alone or together, this kind of funny parable can open up new space in our contemplation.