— Sumit Paul

Mulla Nasiruddin was in a philosophical frame of mind: " Life and Death-Who can say what they are?" His wife looked up from her cooking and said, " You men are all alike- impractical. Anyone can tell that when a man's extremities are rigid and cold, he is dead."

Nasiruddin was impressed by his wife's efficient wisdom. One day he was out in the snow when his hands and feet went numb. " I must be dead," he thought. Then came a further thought: " If I'm dead, what am I doing ? I should be lying down like a normal corpse." Which is exactly what he did.

An hour later, a group of travellers, finding him by the roadside, fell to arguing among themselves about whether he was dead or alive. Nasiruddin yearned to cry out, " Fools, can't you see my extremities are rigid and cold? " But he knew better than to say that, for corpses do not talk.

They finally concluded that he was dead and put him on their shoulders to take him to the cemetery. They hadn't gone a mile when they came to a forking of the ways. A fresh dispute arose as to which road led to the burial ground. Nasiruddin put up with this till he could take it no longer. Then he sat up and said, " Excuse me gentlemen, but to the road to cemetery is one to your left. I know that corpses do not speak, but I've broken the rule this once and I assure you that it will not happen again."

When Reality clashes with a rigidly held belief, Reality is generally the loser. A belief is a signpost pointing the way to Truth. When you cling to the signpost, you are prevented from moving towards the Truth because you think, you have it already. The devil went for a walk with a friend. They saw a man ahead of them stooping down and picking up something from the ground. " What did that man find?" asked the friend. " A piece of Truth," said the devil. “Doesn't that disturb you?" asked the friend. "No," said the devil, " I shall let him make a belief out of it."

The English mystic poet William Blake penned, " When Truth descends into a belief, it remains forever there, unlike a dry leaf." A Christian scholar who held the Bible to be literally true was once accosted by a scientist who said, " According to the Bible, the earth was made five thousand years ago. But we have discovered bones that point to life on earth a million years ago."

Pat came the answer: " When God created earth five thousand years ago, he deliberately put those bones in to test our faith and see if we would believe his Word rather than scientific evidence."
Further evidence of rigid belief leads to reality distortion.

The village preacher at the home of an elderly parishioner was busy answering grandma's questions over a cup of coffee. "Why does the Lord send us epidemics every so often?" asked the old lady. " Well," said the preacher, "sometimes people become so wicked that they have to be removed and so the good Lord allows the coming of epidemics." "But then," objected the grandma, “why do so many good people get removed with the bad?"

"The good ones are summoned for witnesses," explained the preacher," The Lord wants to give every soul a fair trial." There's nothing that the Rigid Believer cannot find an explanation for.

We let beliefs regulate our lives and dare not examine their validity, lest we should tamper with the divine order. But we never realise that only by repudiating the hoary-old beliefs, do we get to the divinity. Remember, a so-called established belief is the root cause of every grief.

About the Author
Sumit Paul is a Poona-based advanced research student of Semitic languages and civilizations. He contributes to world's premier publications and portals in several languages, viz, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, French, Spanish, Dutch, Hindi, English among others.

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