Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Nasrudin and the egg

Author: Paulo Coelho

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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