THREE travellers on a long and exhausting journey had become companions, and shared the same pleasures and sorrows, pooling all their resources.
After many days they realized that all they had between them was a piece of bread and a mouthful of water in a flask. They fell to quarrelling as to who should have all the food. Making no progress on this score, they tried to divide the bread and water. Still they could not arrive at a conclusion.
As dusk was falling, one finally suggested that they should sleep. When they awoke, the person who had had the most remarkable dream would decide what should be done.
The next morning the three rose as the sun came up.
‘This is my dream,’ said the first: ‘I was carried away to places such as cannot be described, so wonderful and serene were they. I met a wise man who said to me: “You deserve the food, for your past and future life are worthy and suitable subjects for admiration.”‘
‘How strange,’ said the second man. ‘For in my dream, I actually saw all my past and my future. In my future I saw a man of all-knowledge, who said: “You deserve the bread more than your friends, for you are more learned and patient. You must be well-nurtured, for you are destined to lead men.”‘
The third traveller said: ‘In my dream I saw nothing, heard nothing, said nothing. I felt a compelling presence which forced me to get up, find the bread and water-and consume them then and there. And this is what I did.’
Tales of the Dervishes
Available in printed and eBook editions. Read the book, for free, here:
This tale is one of a number attributed to Shah Mohammed GwathShattari, who died in 1563. He wrote the famous treatise, Five Jewels, in which the manner of man’s attainment of higher states is described in the terminology of magic and sorcery, based on ancient models. He was an initiating Master of no less than fourteen Orders and greatly esteemed by the Indian Emperor Humayun.
Although hailed by some as a saint, some of his writings were considered by clerics to infringe holy writ, and they therefore sought his execution. He was ultimately acquitted of heresy on the grounds that things said in a special state of mind could not be judged by ordinary scholastic standards. His shrine is at Gwalior: a very important Sufi place of pilgrimage.
The same plot is used in monkish Christian tales of the Middle Ages.