Writings on Mullah Nassr Eddin, quotes

Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch

These anecdotes and quotes are from the Beelzebub's Tales 1931 manuscript.

Book I - Gurdjieff Quotes 

Although I have began to write in Russian, nevertheless as the wisest of the wise, Mullah Nassr Eddin would say, in that language "you-cannot-go-far".

Mullah Nassr Eddin, or as he is also called, Hodja Nassr Eddin, is, it seems, little known in Europe and America, but he is very well known in all the countries of the continent of Asia. This legendary personage corresponds somewhat to the German Till Eulenspiegel. Numerous tales popular in the East, akin to wise sayings, are ascribed to this Nassr Eddin; and various witticisms, some of long standing and others newly arisen, still continue to be ascribed to him also.

I recalled this saying from among the many "infallible" and "indisputable'' sayings of that, in my opinion, universal teacher, the wisest of all the terrestrial sages, one whom I particularly esteem, and one who, again, of course, in my opinion, ought to be esteemed and respected by everybody without exception - Mullah Nassr Eddin, and I have set it down at this point in my Warning, because of my proposed subsequent writings I intend often to touch upon philological questions also.

That Greek language, the spirit and essence of which were transmitted to me by heredity, and the language now spoken by contemporary Greeks, are as much alike, as, according to the expression of Mullah Nassr Eddin, "a-nail-is-like-a-requiem".

...that the so-styled "grammar" of any laguage is compiled by people who not only in respect of knowledge of the given language are those biped "somethings" which His Uniqueness Mullah Nassr Eddin characterizes by the words "all-they-can-do-is-to-wrangle-with-pigs-about-the-quality-of-oranges"...

Meanwhile I boldly or, if you like, impudently, take it upon myself in advance to advise you to absorb with, as might be said, an "intensive-mobilization" of all your perceptive organs, the information elaborating the rest of this story, in order that the crystallization in you of the new impression may proceed normally and not in the manner in which it has already become habitual for this to proceed, that is to say, as the great sage Mullah Nassr Eddin defines and expresses it: "One part is used up for one's own welfare, and that only for today, while all the rest going in at one ear, is exhausted in the process of trying to get out at the other."

...I cannot do otherwise than as the most exalted great terrestrial sage Mullah Nassr Eddin would say, "tangle-and-entangle" the whole of you, or as he also sometimes says, "put-you-in-goloshes", in full face of the fact that I am counting on your help, or rather on your money, which I shall receive thanks to your purchase of writings; for the full possibility of accomplishing even with a "flourish", my self-imposed and perhaps from your point of view, purely egoistic aim.

...that since in the present period of my existence I must become a professional writer, I am compelled to employ this new profession of mine, at whatever cost, as our esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin has expressed it, to "tangle-and-entangle" all your, as you call them, "images" and "notions"...

"Really I do not know how to advise you, my dear captain. Ah, yes... in that solar system where I existed for a long time, there is a planet called 'Earth'. On that planet 'Earth' very peculiar three-centered beings arose and still continue to arise. And among the beings of a continent of that planet called 'Asia' there arose and existed a very wise three-brained being whom they called there 'Mullah Nassr Eddin'.

Mullah Nassr Eddin or, as he is otherwise called, Hodja Nassr Eddin, is, it seems, little known in Europe and America. He is very well known, however, in all the countries of the continent Asia. This legendary personality is like the Russian 'Kusma Prutkov', the American 'Uncle Sam', or the English John Bull'. To this Mullah Nassr Eddin are ascribed numerous popular tales of the East, akin to sayings of the wisdom of daily life. They also now continue to ascribe to him various witticisms recalled from long ago as well as those newly made.

"For each and every peculiar situation, whether great or small in the existence of the beings there, this same terrestrial sage, Mullah Nassr Eddin, had an apt and pointed saying.

"As all his sayings were full of the sense of truth for existence there, I also aways used them in order to have a comfortable existence among the beings of that planet.

"In the given case also, my dear Captain, I intend to profit by one of his wise sayings.

"In such a situation as has befallen us he would probably say:

"You cannot jump over your knees and it's absurd to try to kiss your own elbow.

...while there on the planet which interests you, the action of this astonishing and exceedingly ingenious invention bloomed and blossomed from the very first day, as the wise Mullah Nassr Eddin would say - 'Like the trumpets of Jericho in full blast.'

"At best they would so thrash you that as our Mullah Nassr Eddin there says: 'You wouldn't recover your senses before the next crop of birches'.

...the result for him was as the highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin once again says: simply "Roses,roses."

"But, as a matter of fact, when I was on that planet for the last time and, having heard of the said writer, once went myself specially to see him, on quite another matter, he seemed to me to be not only like all the other contemporary writers there, that is to say, extremely limited, and also as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin would say: 'seeing no further than his nose,' but as regards any knowledge of the real psyche of the beings of that planet in real conditions, he might safely be called 'totally illiterate'.

"And as for the given case, there is no harm in recalling again one of the wise sentences of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin who says:

"'Struth! What only may not happen in the world! A flea might swallow an elephant!'"

restrain yourself from such laughter, if only it were to come about that they should suddenly clearly sense, in some way or another, and understand without any doubt whatever, that to their planet from their Sun itself, not only does nothing of any such thing as 'light', 'darkness', 'heat', and so on, come, but that their supposed source of heat and light is itself almost always freezing with cold like the hairless dog of our highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin.

"Not a single one of those 'sorry scientists' has ever thought that the difference between these two cosmic processes is just about the same as that which the highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin once expressed in the following words:

"'They are as much alike as the beard of the famous English Shakespeare and French Armagnac, no less famous'.

"It is the same with your favourites on the planet Earth. They also have invented the addition to the name of every other person the word 'mister' or sometimes a whole meaningless phrase expressing such conception as our honourable Mullah Nassr Eddin has the following sentence for:

"And namely, he says:

'All the same, there is more reality in it than in the wise-acreings of an expert in monkey-business.'

"The following is what happened:

"Gornahoor Harharh with all those unusual heavy appliances which had been put on him as well, suddenly found himself at a certain height above the chair, where he began to wriggle, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin says, 'like a puppy in a well'.

"But to the grief of every Individual with Pure Reason of any gradation whatsoever and to the misfortune of the three-brained beings of all succeeding generations who arise on that planet, the first succeeding generation of the contemporaries of this genuine Messenger from Above, Saint Buddha, already also began, owing once again to that same particularity of their psyche, namely, of wiseacreing, which until now is one of the chief results of the conditions of the ordinary being-existence abnormally established there - to wiseacre with all His indications and counsels, and this time to 'superwiseacre' so thoroughly that there reached the beings of the third and fourth generations no more than what our Honourable Mullah Nassr Eddin defines by the words:


"And as for the objective reality of the theories of both these 'great' terrestrial 'learned-beings', I am reminded and willy nilly impelled to utter one of the wise sayings of our esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin, namely: 'They both succeeded, though of course not without luck, in finding the authentic god-mother of the incomparable Scheherazade on an old dung-hill'.

"These favourites of yours would in my opinion get quite a correct answer to this question which always excites them, that is, the question how the apes arose, if they were able in the given case to apply one of those sayings again of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin, who often used to say: 'The-cause-of-every misunderstanding-must-be-sought-only-in-woman'.

"Well then, it was after these 'partnerships' that those kinds of beings also began to appear in our Great Universe who in themselves are, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin would say, 'Neither-one-thing-nor-the-other'.

"As for those beings there who are going to carry out this 'scientific-experiment', and as for any benefit from it for the other three-brained beings there, it can all be pictured if one remembers the profoundly wise saying of our same honourable Mullah Nassr Eddin, in which he says: 'Happy is that father whose son is even busy with murder and robbery, for he himself will then have no time to get accustomed to occupy himself with 'titillation'.

"The decline of those being-factors by inheritance from generation to generation has brought it about that instead of a real being-psyche, such as should exist in the presence of every kind of three-brained being, there now already exists in the presence of your contemporary favourites, although a 'real psyche' also, nevertheless one that can be very well defined by the wise sayings of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin, which consists of the following words: 'There is everything in it except core, or even kernel.'

"Note, by the way, that for the definition of the importance of the scientists there, our venerated Mullah Nassr Eddin also has a sentence expressed as follows:

"'Everybody talks as if our learned know that half a hundred is fifty'.

"As for the information which passed from generation to generation through the ordinary mass of beings of that planet, it either completely disappeared, having been soon forgotten, or there remains of it, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin expressed himself, only the 'tail-and-mane-and-food-for-Scheherazade!

"How the contemporary learned beings of the planet Earth concoct their hotchpotch from the scraps of information which reach them, is very well defined by one of the wise sentences of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin; it consists of the following words: 'A flea exists in the world just for one thing......so that when it sneezes, that deluge should occur which our 'learned beings' love so much the job of describing.'

"'Every real happiness for man can arise exclusively only from some unhappiness - but also real - which he has already experienced.'

The Greeks were the cause why the Reasons of the three brained beings there began gradually to degenerate and became at last so degenerate that among contemporary beings it is already as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin says, 'a real nonsense mill'.

As examples of the very many particularly-maleficent 'inventions' of those German beings, let us just take those five of what are called 'chemical-substances', now existing there under the names of l)Satkaine, 2)Aniline, 3)Cocaine, 4)Atropine, 5)Alisarine, and which chemical substances are used there at the present time by the beings of all the continents and islands, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin says: 'even without moderation'.

When their ancestors had that invention in themselves of the Great Angel Louisos, then thanks to it, they were always exactly in the same state as the contemporary beings are when they take this German invention called 'Cocaine'.

I must warn you my boy, of course that even if the action of that German invention was similar to the action of the famous organ Kundabuffer, it happened without any conscious intention on the part of the contemporary beings of the community Germany; the became colleagues of the great Angel Louisos only by chance.

At the present time almost all the beings who become genuine representatives of contemporary civilization very meticulously and with the greatest delight and tenderness introduce into themselves this 'blessing' of contemporary civilization, of course, always to the glory, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin says, of the 'one-eyed-General'.

"Hence it is that there just proceeds in them that particularity of their general presence which is expressed thus: that with one part of their essence they always intend to wish one thing; at the same time with another part they definitely wish something else; and thanks to the third part, they already do something quite different.

"In short, what happens in their psyche is just what our dear teacher Mullah Nassr Eddin defines by the word a 'mix-up'.

Book II - paradoxical quotes

"On the day of the presentation, the same important general met me as soon as I stepped out of the train and from that moment, as Mullah Nassr Eddin would say in such a case: 'I began to dance to his tune'.

"Russia has recently lost a large number of other good customs, and, in fact, about Russians in general, Mullah Nassr Eddin would say: 'One ought to be very cautious with a turkey'; by which wise saying our highly respected teacher advises us what kind of beings to trust and what not.

What our Mullah Nassr Eddin calls 'turkey', is something which is neither this nor that, but something anamolous; and when he said this, he had in mind three birds, a crow, a peacock and a turkey. In her manners and customs Russia should more closely resemble Asiatic beings, because she was under their influence during long centuries; and it might have been said that she had become Asiatic. These Asiatic beings, Mullah Nassr Eddin calls 'crows'; but the European beings, whom Russians now emulate, Mullah Nassr Eddin calls 'peacocks'.

"In short, on that planet Earth, as the wise Mullah Nassr Eddin says: 'If the mare is pulled the tail will drop, and if the tail is pulled the mane will drop'. The beings of the social organization are as they are because the king is as he is; and the king is as he is, because the beings are as they are.

In this Montmartre, many Russian restaurants had been recently opened. In these, and in the majority of others, the so-called 'artists' are chiefly Russians, whose fathers had previously in this same Montmartre, lowered human dignity by squandering the money collected by the sweat of peasants. Their children were now, in their turn, being humiliated before other people who had money. In such a case, Mullah Nassr Eddin would say: 'If fathers will ride sons must drive.'

"Of this knowledge and understanding, that is, concerning the necessity of the second and third foods for beings, something has passed by some means or other from the beings of the continent Atlantis to contemporary beings of the Earth; but unfortunately it has passed to them after the manner described by our eminent Mullah Nassr Eddin, "As for seeing him, I saw him; but strange to say, I did not observe his size'. In such a case he would also say, 'I noticed the taste, but only from my throat down'.

"Although I have said that your favorites do not know of this holy planet, this is not altogether so. A certain number there, even of contemporary beings, have heard of this holy planet; but this number is very small and their idea of the holy planet recalls how our highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin described a similar idea. He used only three words, namely: 'Chihertma provokes sneezing'.

"And so, my dear boy, these two words, Paradise and Hell, then become the chief reason of the fact that in the minds of these poor 'great initiates' of that time, their conceptions, which even apart from this, was already muddled, became more so. On account of these two words, those unfortunate beings imagined that the fantastic theory of the Babylonian dualists was the same as that mentioned in that Legominism. And they added unconsciously and somewhat consciously certain details of this theory to the Legomonism for further transmission, owing to which fact at the present time, the 'great initiates' there on the Earth have such astonishing ideas on the subject of the Beyond, that when the hens of our highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin hear them their cackle produces the very same results as follows from the use of that unique eternally true and beneficent remedy - castor-oil".

"Something indeed of the science of vibrations has reached them from ancient China; but it has shared the fate of all the real knowledge handed down from their ancestors. The idea of the resultant jumble our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin expressed when he said with his honeyed lips:

' "Eh! You! You're such a queer fellow, just think a little. Isn't it all the same to you whether you employ a rabbit or a donkey, since they each have four legs?'

Book III - quotes

"Even in this respect, the surrounding conditions of ordinary being existence among your contemporary favourites, chiefly among those breeding on this continent, have been transformed so to say, into 'Tralalalooalalalala', or, as our respected teacher Mullah Nassr Eddin would define it, 'a-soap-bubble-that-lasts-a-long-time-only-in-a-quiet-medium'.

"On the continent America, the three-brained beings have become so expert in this advertising of theirs, that it is quite possible to apply to them the satire of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin which declares that 'That-man-will- become-a- friend-of- the-cloven- hoofed- who- perfects -himself- to- such- Reason- and- such-Being -that-he- can-make -an-elephant -out-of-a-fly.

"They have indeed become so skillful at 'making-elephants-out-of-flies' and they do it so often, that already at the present time on seeing a genuine American elephant, one has to 'remember- oneself-with- the-whole-of- one's- being' not to get the impression that it is only a fly.

"For example; an ordinary good fellow with a character of as they say one of 'God's-Angels', suddenly became as irritable as those of whom our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin once said:

"He-is-as-irritable -as-a-man- who-has- just-undergone- full-treatment-by- a-famous-European -nerve- specialist'.

"I must explain that from the very beginning of his responsible existence, he also became, whether by accident or by the will of Fate, I do not know, a follower, and in fact a very devout follower, of our wise and esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin, and furthermore in the ordinary process of his being-existence he has never lost the smallest opportunity to act entirely according to Mullah Nassr Eddin's unprecedentedly wise and inimitable sayings. And now, according to the information which has reached me by etherogram, all of a sudden he appears to be constantly acting contrary to one of the very serious and exceptionally practical counsels - certainly not accessible to everybody - of this Teacher above all teachers, which is formulated in the following words:

"'Ekh! brother! Here on the Earth, if you speak the truth you're a great fool, whereas if you wriggle with your soul you are only a 'scoundrel', though also a big one. So it is best of all to do nothing, but just recline on your divan and learn to sing like the sparrow that had not yet turned into an American canary.'

"'Had the doctrine of this religion remained unchanged, it might even perhaps have suited these contemporary people, who by the way, our Mullah Nassr Eddin defines by his expression, "He-will-blink-only-if-you-poke-his-eye-with-a-rafter".

"'But as to the manner of their fasting - one cannot help recalling the saying of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin in such cases:


"Concerning the destruction and transformation by contemporary beings of these good customs which were handed down from the ancient days of their wise ancestors, our incomparable Mullah Nassr Eddin has also a very apt and wise sentence.

"'Ekh! People, people! Why are you people? If only you were not people, you might perhaps be clever.'

"But unless these 'buttons' are pressed, the beings there are in themselves only, as again our highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin says -'pieces-of-pressed-meat'.

... where for such beings with the aforementioned possibilities it is already necessary, particularly in recent times, as our wise teacher Mullah Nassr Eddin says on such occasions, 'To-look-specially-with-the-most-powerful-electric-arc-lamps'....

"And thus all those attending these 'schools' and all readers of these 'manuals' being themselves in regard to Being and in regard to information concerning reality exactly such types as our Teacher Mullah Nassr Eddin defined by the words: 'Nullities-with-an-atmosphere-of-unendurable-vibrations'...

"Those organic functions which are chiefly formed are called 'egoism', 'prejudice', 'vanity', 'self-love' and so on. Our dear sage Mullah Nassr Eddin very wisely defines similar beings, particularly contemporary 'important' or 'powerful' beings of the Earth in the following words: 'The degree of the importance of men, depends on the number of their corns'.

"From the strategems of your contemporary favourites nothing effective will ever result, because if those Earth-beings of former epochs did not attain anything at all - those Earth-beings who, when they became responsible beings were sometimes able to attain, at least, in the sense of Being, to what is called 'Self-remembering' - then the contemporary beings of the Earth who attain, in the sense of Being, only as our wise Mullah Nassr Eddin would say, 'As far as they are already beginning to distinguish Mamma from Papa', can of course never achieve the complete abolition of this peculiarity, which, as I have already told you, has entered into the flesh and blood of the beings of that unfortunate planet.

Regarding the effective results of the good undertakings of 'important' beings, there is also a very wise saying by our greatly respected Mullah Nassr Eddin, when he says: 'Past centuries have proved to us, that Karabach asses will never sing like nightingales, and will not be unwilling to spoil their taste with Shooshian thistles'.

"As regards the Theocrats, our esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin also has a saying in which he defines their significance in the following very strange sentences:

"Namely he says: - 'Isn't it all the same for the poor flies how they are killed, whether by a kick of the hoofs of horned devils or by the stroke of the beautiful wings of divine angels?'

"When our dear Mullah delivers this sentence, he usually extends his arms towards Heaven and with fervent devotion says: 'I thank Thee oh Great, Just Creator, that by Thy Great and Just Grace, it is so arranged that cows do not fly like lttle dicky-birds.'

"And as regards the beings of the caste of the Aristocrats, it is impossible to say anything at all in explanation of these Earth beings either in ordinary language, or in the language of our incomparable Mullah Nassr Eddin.

"Although Mullah Nassr Eddin also has a sentence about them, it scarcely explains anything at all.

"When it is a question about such beings, our Mullah says: - 'Alas! Queer fellows!' Can a barge riveted with that kind of rivet keep on the water a long time?'

"In any case in both of these state organisations, although the beings have different names, yet in all respects they are strictly equal. As regards a similar difference in the names of Earth-beings, I still recollect a remarkable saying of our wise Mullah Nassr Eddin which he personally once told me.

"And this I heard from him in Ispagan where at that time the worthy Mullah dwelt, and where I happened to be, in order to elucidate on the spot how 'politeness' as it is called, originated on your planet.

"There in Ispagan, I often met the highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin, and together we had many talks in elucidating many matters. Once we spoke about the difference between the proceedure during a trial, and the reaching of a verdict by Turkish and Persian 'Kasi' that is, justices of the peace, concerning the equality of their justice, when he said:

"'Ah, me! my dear friend! Is there anywhere among us on the Earth a wise investigation of man's guilt? Everywhere the 'Kasis' are alike only their names are different. In Persia they are called Persian and in Turkey, Turkish. It is exactly the same, just as everywhere donkeys are the same, only one calls them by different names.

"'For instance, the race of donkeys which breed in the Caucasus are entitled 'Karabach' and exactly the same donkeys which breed in Turkestan are called 'Horassan'.

"And since that time this wise saying of his has been imprinted in my mind, and whenever it was necessary for me during my existence on your planet to make any comparisons about the differences, I always recalled this wise saying of his.

"May his name be extolled forever on the planet where he was formed.

"'It is still possible for men who have conscience, to live peacefully during the pest and cholera, for their effects are at least nobler than human honesty'.

"They were such as for various reasons had the possibility neither to perfect themselves nor to serve Nature.

"The saying of our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin could also be applied to them. In such cases he says: 'Neither a candle for an angel nor a poker for the devil.'

"'The most unpardonable carelessness of man in the presence of women is to put a barrel of gunpowder near a Tandur'.

"And to speak about the unfortunate nature of this incomparable planet, one must also have recourse to the saying of the wisest of all the wise beings of your planet, who is particularly esteemed by me, Mullah Nassr Eddin.

"About these misfortunes, he first of all says:

"'AH! AH! ME! If you are very unlucky, you could get syphilis from your godmother'.

"And sometimes he says,'Oh you unfortunate creatures. While you were being born, your mother sang Armenian songs.'

"'What a good husband or wife it is if their whole inner life is not always engaged in nagging their other half'.