Entry: flour and salt 1/23/2005

I have subscribed to Winds of Change.NET through RSS (both in Firefox and My Yahoo!, incidentally) for some time now. I discovered it by links from mentions in Armed and Dangerous, the Lessig Blog, Boing Boing, and other places. One of my favorite part of their site is their weekly Sufi Wisdom series. From a recent entry entitled 'Flour and Salt':

Once upon a time there was a fool who was sent to buy flour and salt. He took a dish to carry his purchases.

'Make sure,' said the man who sent him, 'not to mix the two things -- I want them separate.'

When the shopkeeper had filled the dish with flour and was measuring out the salt, the fool said: 'Do not mix it with the flour; here, I will show you where to put it.'

And he inverted the dish, to provide, from its upturned bottom, a surface upon which the salt could be laid.

The flour, of course, fell to the floor.

But the salt was safe.

When the fool got back to the man who had sent him he said: 'Here is the salt.'

'Very well,' said the other man, 'but where is the flour?'

'It should be here,' said the fool, turning the dish over.

As soon as he did that, the salt fell to the ground, and the flour of course was seen to be gone.

The WoCN bloggers blogger T.L. James mentions that it comes from Shah's The Way of the Sufi, (I think I'd like to find out where I can get a copy) and at the end they ask: What is the lesson here? What are the flour and salt, and what is the fool's mistake? I attempted an answer in their comments section:

Great comments on 'the lesson to be learned'.

I'd like to try a guess at 'the flour and salt':

  • they are two things that are seemingly alike (physically) but totally different (palatably),
  • they are both usefull in life (or at least in cooking),
  • they are two forms of 'white sand' (white being a 'holy' color), and
  • they are also two things that too easily mix to become something unpalatable (when mixed indiscriminately)...

Extreme fundamentalism and extreme love?

disclaimer: I'm an armchair philosopher, and a young adolescent at that

And there is (as of now) an interesting and thoughtfull discussion happening in the article's comments section over the meaning of the parable. There's one in particular that suggest that there may be more than one fool in the story.

And you know something, this is what trackback is made for. Trackback is very usefull for showing context for things like these. A good reason to switch to Blogger, or at the very least a good reason to use Haloscan for the commenting system. If I can afford it, I think I'd rather get a Typepad account when (if ever?) I can afford one.

Newbie bloggers needs exposure from Trackback. Myself included. And other technologies too. I think I'll attempt an entry on on it. Or at least an entry linking to a Trackback essay with comments. Real Soon Now™.

Speaking of interesting articles, there's this one by Eric S. Raymond on his (yet-to-be-proven) personal beliefs (its been there awhile).

addendum: I just discovered that <em> is an inline element; thus I've replaced the Sufi passage's <em> tags with <div style="font-style:italic">. Perhaps I should've used <I> since its better supported, and both markup methods are equally deprecated, but...


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January 31, 2006   07:31 PM PST
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January 9, 2006   02:07 PM PST
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January 4, 2006   04:23 PM PST
Hi all!

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November 29, 2005   08:01 AM PST
Hi, why nobody responds me?
November 24, 2005   09:18 AM PST
What music prefer?
January 25, 2005   06:13 PM PST
lol :)
January 25, 2005   07:07 AM PST
i think the fool needed some tupperware containers.

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