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The Dervish in the Ditch

The Dervish in the Ditch
The Dervish in the Ditch

Once upon a time, in a land to the east, a Dervish holy man and their student were walking from one village to the next. Suddenly they saw a great huge cloud of dust rising in the distance. They stood and stared at a grand carriage, pulled by six horses approaching at a full gallop. Riding on top were two liveries dressed in red, each holding a rein. The Dervish and the young student soon realized that the carriage was not going to slow down, let alone veer to the side to avoid hitting them. The carriage was coming at such a speed that they had to throw themselves from the road and jump into a ditch to save themselves. Covered with dirt and grass, the two got up. They looked after the carriage as it sped away into the distance.

The student was first to respond. They began to call out and curse the drivers. But the teacher ran ahead, cupped his hands over the student’s mouth, and called to the carriage: "May all of your deepest desires be satisfied!"

The student stared at the teacher and asked, "Why would you wish that their deepest desires be satisfied? They nearly killed us!"

The old Dervish replied, "Do you think all their deepest desires are satisfied? If they were happy, would they be so thoughtless and cruel as to nearly run down an old man and a student?"

The young student had no answer, for they were deep in thought. And so, in silence, the two continued their journey down the dusty road.

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This story is found in a number of sources, including From Once Upon a Time... Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying by Elisa Davy Pearmain; Doorways to the Soul: 52 Wisdom Tales from Around the World, edited by Elisa Pearmain (Pilgrim Press, 1998); Buddha Is As Buddha Does by Surya Das (Harper One, 2008); and Milk from the Bull's Horn: Tales of Nurturing Men by Doug Lipman (Yellow Moon Press, 1986).

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.

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