Trick of words

‘Cause sustenance to be produced for the quadrupeds,’ called an affected and imperious nobleman, dismounting in Nasruddin’s courtyard, ‘and conduct me to the tranquillity inducing chambers where I may be regaled with appropriate nutriment.’ Such members of the Sultan’s Court were difficult to deny, and Nasruddin ran to do his bidding. When the interloper was settled on the best couch, sipping Nasruddin’s coffee, the Mulla brought the Kazi (magistrate) to meet him. ‘O great noble,’ said Nasruddin, ‘have you land?’ ‘A million jaribs.’ ‘And do you use quadrupeds for ploughing?’ ‘Yes, indeed.’ ‘Would you buy from me two dozen quadrupeds at a price of five silver pieces each?’ The patrician knew plough-animals were worth a hundred pieces of silver. He eagerly assented. Nasruddin went out and bought twenty-four rabbits for a silver piece each. He presented these quadrupeds to the noble. He appealed to the Kazi. ‘We must stick to the letter of the law,’ said the pedant, ‘and I uphold the contention that rabbits are four-footed.’

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To stick to just the words of your Master or the scriptures is to have foot in your mouth. Those who merely stick to the external procedures and words of some traditions become a burden on the real Masters. Such students consider themselves to be amongst the best. They see the other more subtle students as lacking in faith or necessary qualifications to proceed on spiritual path. Actually the reverse is true.
The superficial students would always be greedy for some things. Their greed can be easily exposed by digging just a bit. Normally people cannot penetrate beyond such superficial behavior or do not have the strength to expose and thereby teach. But a saint like Nasruddin are meant for just that.