[ by Charles Cameron — double-quoting a remark taken from Zen’s most recent post with a Sufi teaching tale out of Idries Shah ]
Zen — Zenpundit, Mark Safranski (above) that is — had a powerful comment about “the emaciated Somali followers of a two-bit warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid, gleefully swarming over and looting our military’s former…. garbage dump” tucked away in his recent post on Strategy, Power and Diffusion:
When the enemy has a land so poor that he treasures and makes use of the crap you throw away, the economic spillover of your logistical supply lines will fund his war against you.
That’s a pretty profound statement about different levels of disparity, if you ponder it a bit. And worth pondering.
And it reminds me of Idries Shah‘s lovely story The Food of Paradise, in which a fellow named Yunus, son of Adam sets out to find the source, the original source, of food.
Sitting by a riverbank to consider the matter, he spies a package floating downstream, rescues it, and find that it contains a delicious halwa “composed of almond paste, rosewater, honey and nuts and other precious elements” – surely a gift of providence — which he then eats. The next day, at the same time, a second package appears – and each day thereafter he wades further upstream, in search of the miraculous giver, each day receiving and appreciating the gift.
In time he comes to an island with a high tower, from a high window of which a maiden is casting out, each day, the packaged halwa which is to him the food of paradise. After considerable efforts involving a mirror stone and an army of jinn, he manages to present himself to this princess, and asks her:
How, and by what order, is the Food of Paradise, the wonderful halwa which you throw down every day for me, ordained to be deposited thus?
to which she replies:
Yunus, son of Adam, the halwa, as you call it, I throw down each day because it is in fact the residue of the cosmetic materials with which I rub myself every day after my bath of asses’ milk.