The Story Of The Sleepy Man

Mariam Ispahani (
13 May 1995 19:42:03 GMT

The Story Of The Sleepy Man

There was once a good man. He had spent his whole life in cultivating the
qualities enjoined upon those who would reach Paradise. He gave freely to
the poor, he loved his fellow creatures and he served them. Remembering the
need to have patience, he endured great and unexpected hardships, often for
the sake of others. He made journeys in search of knowledge. His humility
and exemplary behavior were such that his reputation as a wise man and good
citizen resounded from the East to the West, and from the North to the South.

He exercised all these qualities whenever he remembered to do so. But he
had one shortcoming, and that was heedlessness. This tendency was not
strong in him, and he considered that, balanced against the other things
which he did practice. It could only be regarded as a small fault.

He was fond of sleep, and sometimes when he was asleep, opportunities to
seek knowledge, or to understand it, or to practice real humility, or to add
to the sum total of good behavior, passed him by and did not return. Just
as the good qualities left their impress upon his essential self, so did the
characteristic of heedlessness.

And then he died. Finding himself beyond this life, and making his way
towards the doors of the Walled Garden, the man paused to examine his
conscience. And he felt that his opportunity of entering the High Portals
were enough.

The gates, he saw, were shut, and then a voice addressed him, saying: "Be
watchful, for the gates will open only once in every hundred years."

He settled down to wait, excited at the prospect. But, deprived of chances
to exercise virtues towards mankind, he found his capacity of attention was
not enough for him. After watching for what seemed like an age his head
nodded in sleep. For an instant his eyelids closed. And in that
infinitesimal moment the gates yawned open. Before his eyes were fully open
again, they closed: with a roar loud enough to wake the dead.

Note: Originally called, "The Parable of Heedlesssness," the origins of
this story are lost. Some have attributed it to Hazrat Ali, the Fourth
Caliph. Others say that it was passed down from the Prophet Muhammad
himself, but it is not found in any of the Traditions of the Prophet. The
literary form in which it is narrated here derives from the works of a 17th
century dervish, Amil-Baba. He wrote, "The real author is one whose work is
anonymous, for in that way nobody stands between the learner and that which
is learned" - from "Tales of the Dervishes" by Idries Shah.

Mariam Ispahani...(*_*)

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