Nasrudin and the egg

By Paulo Coelho

One morning, Nasrudin – the great Sufi mystic who always pretended to be mad – wrapped an egg in a cloth, went into the town’s main square, and called the people who were there.

– Today there will be an important contest! – he said – Whoever discovers what is inside this cloth, will be given the egg inside it!

The people exchanged glances, intrigued, and answered:

– How can we know? No one is capable of divination!

Nasrudin insisted:

– That which is inside this cloth has a yellow center like a yolk, surrounded by a clear liquid like egg white, which in turn is contained inside a shell which breaks very easily. It is a symbol of fertility, and reminds us of birds flying to their nests. So, who can tell me what is hidden here?

All the folk thought Nasrudin was holding an egg, but the answer was so obvious, no one wanted to embarrass themselves in front of everyone else.

What if it wasn’t an egg, but something more important, a product of the fertile Sufi mystic’s imagination? A yellow center might suggest the sun, the surrounding liquid could be an alchemist’s concoction. No, the madman was definitely trying to make someone look a fool.

Nasrudin asked twice more, and no one dared say something foolish.

So he unwrapped the cloth and showed everyone the egg.

– You all knew the answer – he said – And no one dared put it into words.

“Such are the lives of those who haven’t the courage to risk: solutions are generously provided by God, but people always seek complicated explanations, and end up doing nothing.”

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  1. marie-christine says:

    that’s brilliant! thanks!

  2. wanbliska says:

    But some do act good, without especially want “to save the world”. And everyday.

  3. wanbliska says:

    “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty…But you remain guilty because you claim you can see”
    Simple words by Jesus, by John 9:41.

  4. Petr says:

    I disagree, you don’t need courage, believe me, if I would be looking like an complete idiot in front of some bunch of people…what would it be compared to standing before GOD? :)
    So it doesn’t matter unless it hurts someone.

    Btw. thank you people, you make me think, smile & understand ;)

  5. Joan says:

    In our inner thought there is a big “truth” easy answer means easy thinking.

    We don’t want others to think that I am a easy thinking man, so I cannot give an easy solution.

    I agree with Liara, it requires courage and self confidence to give our own ideas and opinions, no matter how simple they are.


  6. Hi Paulo, That was a lovely story. Truth is simple. Hence none dare to speak it!

  7. Liara Covert says:

    We have more courage than we realize. We simply need to let it flow naturally, without holding back.

  8. Agnieszka says:

    So true Petr, the children.. someone said,…they’re so honest until it hurts.:-)

  9. Leaf says:

    There’s a shorter, racist version in UK…
    An Irishman was going to market and met two friends who asked;
    What you got in the sack?
    Paddy replied;
    A pair of rabbits…and if you can guess how many – I’ll give you both of them.


  10. Petr says:

    There is one more famous story about a King who was offered a cloth made of very precious fabric – only those who were stupid couldn’t see it. So The King payed a fortune to those people, they made a suit for him, dressed him in it and then the King walked in the middle of crowd of people – naked – believing he had dressed beautiful suit. Not the King and nor the people said anything, everyone pretended how beautiful the dress was but a little girl said: why is our King naked?

  11. vicky says:

    two thoughts unwrapped,

    We often chicken out even on the simpliest of things…

    What came first the chicken or the egg?
    What came first the egg or the thinking?


  12. Tania says:

    sometimes the most easiest of all answers is staring us in the face , we have to brave to speak up , good or bad ,right or wrong yes or no ..Most times we are right ,if we trust ourselves .Blessings Tania

  13. rainer says:

    Dear paulo,
    the story is a fine reminder, to be true to yourself. Once you are convinced and have yourself prepared carefully you should act.

  14. Agnieszka says:

    That is so funny, and so true.
    Sometimes the simpler the idea, the difficult to accept.
    So many of us cannot believe when simple things show up in front of us.
    Because it is impossible that something may be that easy, we think.
    Because we cannot imagine it can happen to us.
    I believe that we think….we don’t deserve it,…we’re not worthy, that something easy, good, may come to us.
    We’re so used to complicated things, complicated life, that when simple is presented before us, we assume it’s not true, not real, not possible,… a trick….. and we so wrong.

    I think…..simple….is a beautiful word.
    Love is simple.
    It doesn’t need an explanation….simply….is.

    Do we believe in love?
    How can we not?


  15. Maria says:

    People are often not willing to accept things at face value. They always want to find a deeper meaning in the simplest of things. I guess that’s what feeds the ego. We have a ridlle, which is really a joke ” What color is George Washington’s white horse?” This story reminds me of that.

    There’s a general blindness, and most often pertains to the most “supposely enlightened people” How many scholar dedicate their lives to interpreting the bible and we take their interpretantions, and new religious spring up based on these interpretentions, and we follow blindly, without question, but yet we question the word of god, and the message, at least Jesu’s message was plain and simple. He even spoke in parables, gave us simple stories so we could related them to our own simple lives, and we still say, What does it mean? We go to church and listen to lengthy sermons when the message is simple. “Love one another as I have loved you” “I’m the truth and the light” “Iam” It really can’t get any simpler than that.

  16. kealan says:

    Like two eggs in a hanky! lol