A man noticed Nasruddin intently inspecting the ground outside his door in bright daylight.
“Mulla,” he said, “what are you looking for?”
“I’m looking for a ring I dropped,” Nasruddin replied.
“Oh,” the man replied as he also began searching. “Well, where exactly were you standing when you dropped it?”
“In my bedroom,” Nasruddin replied, “not more than a foot in front of my bed.”
The ring had dropped in between the cracks of his wood flooring down into the depths of the ground.
“Your bedroom?!” the man asked. “Then why are you searching for it out here near your doorway.
“Because,” Nasruddin explained, “there is much more light out here!“[i]
This Sufi folktale is a satirical story of Nasruddin, a wise fool who lived in a small village in the 13th century of what is now considered modern day Turkey.
He was a populist philosopher who is remembered for his funny stories and often the butt of a joke.[ii] You could say he was the Stephan Colbert of his time.
This specific tale, Nasruddin points out the tendency for people to look for things they lost, in the wrong places.
The Ring - What we desire:
The ring is one of Nasruddin’s prize possessions which symbolizes those things that are precious to us; love, money, and happiness. When we lose these precious things, we go outside ourselves which is representative of Nasruddin looking for his ring outside his home. We seek a relationship to feel loved, money to secure happiness, or fame to feel validated and accepted. We seek outside ourselves to fill our needs.
Seek: Partnership of the Light and Shadow
“There’s so much light out here”, Nasruddin tells the stranger. This is equivalent to desiring enlightenment without taking the moment to truly reflect deep inside ourselves which is representative of the dark bedroom where Nasruddin lost the ring in the first place. Going into the dark shadows within ourselves can be scary and difficult, which is why many of us desire to go out to the light and seek outside things or people to fulfill us.
To face the very truth of your situation, analyze your weaknesses and negative tendencies is something people would prefer to avoid and thinking happy thoughts, eating healthy and doing meditation is all that is needed. These light-filled calming practices do give a sense of inner peace, but do you find it sustaining? Do you find yourself running in circles?
Why does the same thing keep happening to me? The practice of going within (the shadow) should be the first step. Then the second step of the light filled practices can offer you support so you can maintain what you have learned about yourself. The partnership of light and shadow is essential.
Examples of Spiritual Leaders who went to reflect in the Dark
“What is to give light must endure burning.” – Viktor Frankl
Buddha and Jesus both exemplify how to go deep within the dark shadows. To be clear, shadows are hidden fears and internal conflicts that exist in our unconsciousness.
- Enlightenment was not an overnight event for these two Holy Teachers.
- Buddha and Jesus wandered in the desert, meditated, and prayed before their great transformation.
- Both did not seek out to other people to teach them the way.
- Going within to confront their fears and sadness gave them the choice to walk through their fears, have trust and faith to let go.
- They let go of the disillusionment and temptation of this world in order to have the Divine union with God.
On a Personal Note:
Nasruddin reminds me of my initial attempts to find peace with the challenges God has given me. Earlier in my spiritual path, I exercised, ate right, attended yoga sessions and felt really great. However, when I resumed the role of mother/caregiver I descended back into moodiness and the hamster wheel of a self-pity mind-set.
I stopped exercising, ate chips and then my back went out when I attempted to do yoga once again. It was not until I did the solid work of looking within, confronted and understood my shadows, that I found the strength to let go and find the Grace of peace.
I am human and subject to stumble. Now, embracing the partnership of light and shadow and learning the dance between the two, I am able to sustain the lessons of the Divine truth.
—— About Remy Nirschl:
Remy is a writer, a mother to two wonderful souls, and a soul companion to her husband of nearly 25 years. Propelled into the autism journey in 2004 with the diagnosis of her son, this lead Remy to journey within as she experienced great losses and challenges. Trained in Caroline Myss “Sacred Contract”, this modality has given her the tools for clarity and empowerment. Remy is called into service as an Archetypal Consultant mentoring individuals in their soul journey.
Want to learn more about your other Archetypal Patterns? Read more….