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By teaching others you will learn yourself.

The 86 Sayings of Mullah Nassr Eddin

"Over his face spread his customary benevolent and as always enchanting grimace, which nevertheless had a slight shade of contempt." (1)

"I teach that when it rains the pavements get wet." (2)

"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 countries of the continent of Asia; this legendary personage corresponds to the American Uncle Sam or the German Till Eulerspiegel. Numerous tales popular in the East, akin to the wise sayings, some of long standing and others newly arisen, were ascribed and are still ascribed to this Nassr Eddin." (3)

Gurdjieff, speaking through Beelzebub, lavishes endless praise on the 'incomparable Teacher Mullah Nassr Eddin', the 'Teacher above all teachers'.

This lofty praise might seem excessive when we consider all of Gurdjieff's talk about pre-sand Egypt, ancient secret Brotherhoods and Messengers sent from Above. But of course, Mullah Nassr Eddin is himself a mythical personage and his presence in the Tales occupies a key corner of Gurdjieff's jig-saw puzzle.

Many of us in the Work might consider the simple sayings of popular wisdom to be 'B' or 'A' influences, but in the person of Mullah Nassr Eddin, Gurdjieff has raised them to the status of Conscious Influences. Amidst the complexities of the Laws of Three and Seven and the other elements of Beelzebub's Cosmology are strewn Mullah Nassr Eddin's pearls of popular wisdom. Why this contrast of simple and complex; of heart and head; experience and speculation? What is Gurdjieff trying to show us?

Gurdjieff's own words may help in illuminating our understanding:

"To know means to know all. Not to know all means not to know. In order to know all, it is only necessary to know a little. But, in order to know this little, it is first necessary to know pretty much."

What is this little we need to know - that when it rains the ground gets wet? The audacity of such a statement strains our credulity, yet we cannot discount Gurdjieff's sincerity in making such a statement. Certainly many have broken under this strain and fallen victim to the complexity of Gurdjieff's teaching. On the other hand, many of his followers have sought to distill the wine of Gurdjieff's teaching and present us with the armagnac of a purified understanding. Unfortunately, this armagnac is too strong for many people to swallow. But then, Gurdjieff's Toast to the Idiots was designed to separate the 'men' from the 'boys'.

In contrast to the intricate and profound teachings of Ashiata Shiemash, Buddha and Jesus, we have the stark simplicity of a street-wise Mullah whose pithy, and sometimes even crude, pearls of wisdom shocks us out of our complacency, turns our world upside down and sets us face to face with our own personal demons. In Mullah Nassr Eddin we see a portrait of Gurdjieff himself.

The Sayings

About the Russian language: In that language you cannot go far.

About the Greek language: A nail is like a requiem.

All they can do is to wrangle with pigs about the quality of oranges.

Without greasing the palm not only is it impossible to live anywhere tolerably but even to breathe.
(Till Eulenspiegel: If you don't grease the wheels the cart wont go.)

Never poke your stick into a hornets' nest.
(Russian proverb: There is no offence which with time will not blow over.)

You cannot jump over your knees and it is absurd to try to kiss your own elbow.

Like a Jericho-trumpet-in-crescendo.

You wouldn't have recovered your senses before the next crop of birches.

About books written by contemporary writers: Stuff and nonsense.

Just roses, roses.

Able to see no further than his nose.

'Struth! What might not happen in this world! A flea might swallow an elephant.

No more hokeypokey about it.

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

Nevertheless, there's more reality in it than in the wiseacrings of an 'expert' in monkey-business.

Like-a-puppy-who-has-fallen-into-a-deep-pond.

He-is-already-sitting-in-an-old-American-galosh.

Giving-one's-word-of-honor-not-to-poke-one's-nose-into-the-affairs-of-the-authorities.

Only-information-about-its-specific-smell.

They were both very successful, though of course not without luck, in finding the authentic godmother of the incomparable Scheherazade on an old dunghill.

The cause of every misunderstanding must be sought only in woman.

Neither one thing nor the other.

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."

What a good husband he is, or what a good wife she is, whose whole inner world is not busy with the constant 'nagging of the other half.'

Show me the elephant the blind man has seen, and only then will I believe that you have really seen a fly.

There is everything in it except the core or even the kernel.

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

Only the tail-and-mane-and-food-for-Scheherazade.

A flea exists in the World just for one thing - that when it sneezes, that deluge should occur with the description of which our learned beings love so much to busy themselves.

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

Reason of contemporary beings: A-real-mill-for-nonsense.

Even-without-any-economizing.

As-long-as-everything-looks-fine-and-dandy-to-me-what-does-it-matter-if-the-grass-doesn't-grow.

Better-pull-ten-hairs-a-day-out-of-your mother's-head-than-not-help-Nature.

Not-life-but-free-jam.

Just roses, roses.

A thousand-tongued hydra.

The dead camel of the merchant Vermassan-Zeroonitn-Alaram is buried.

For our sins, God has sent us two kinds of physicians, one kind to help us die, and the other to prevent us living.

So-and-so-and-so-must-be; do-not-do-what-must-not-be.

Zrrt!

Bird Turkey : Half-with-a-quarter-plus-three-quarters.

So-and-so-this-must-be-it; don't-sit-long-where-voti-shouldn't-sit.

To dance in everything to his tune.

The-very-greatest-happiness-consists-in-obtaining-the-pleasurable-with-the-profitable.

If a father likes to ride though it be but a child's sled, his son must obligatorily be prepared to drag the great village sleigh up the mountainside.

A thousand-tongued hydra; varied-titillating-titillations.

A resplendent Terasakhaboora from the fairy tale Kasoaadjy.

Eh!... get along with you.

What is most important is to have plenty of money, and then even our Nammus may creak.

Dooniyninishi, pakmazli pighi, geyann purnundah pussar eshahi dishi.
(Which saying in English means: World deeds are like honey-cakes, from which the eater must grow an ass's tooth)

Shooroomooroomnian.

About contemporary science: Twaddle!

Chrkhrta-Zoorrt!

Kmalkanatonashaeliermacher.

Glory to Thee, Lord Creator, for having made the teeth of wolves not like the horns of my dear buffalo, for now I can make several excellent combs for my dear wife.

Ekh!... you Koorfooristanian pantaloons, isn't it all the same to you whether you have a mule or a hare for your farm work? Haven't both of these animals four legs?

The limit of full satiety is bursting.

A soap bubble that lasts a long time only in a quiet medium.

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.

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

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.

He will blink only if you poke his eye with a rafter.

Isn't it all the same if I sing like a donkey as long as they call me a nightingale.

Ekh! People, people! Why are you people? If only you were not people, you might perhaps be clever.
(Uncle Sam: When nothing's right, only then it's all right.)

Pieces of pressed meat.

To look specially with the most powerful electric arc lamps.

Hasnamusses: Nullities with an atmosphere of unendurable vibrations.

The degree of the importance of these people depends only on the number of their corns.

Look! Look! He already begins to distinguish mama from papa!

Past centuries have shown us that Karabaghian asses will never sing like nightingales, nor will they refrain from indulging their noble taste for real Shooshoonian thistles.

This is the highest punishment: pull at the tail the mane gets stuck, pull at the mane and the tail gets stuck.

Isn't it all one to the poor flies how that are killed? By a kick of the hooves of horned devils, or by a stroke of the beautiful wings of divine angels?

The very corns turn pedicures.

Thanks be to Thee, Great and Just CREATOR, that by Thy abundant and just grace it is so ordained that cows do not fly like pretty little birds.

Ekh! My dear friend! Is there such a thing anywhere on Earth as a wise legal examination of men's guilt?

Plague and cholera are, at any rate, less ignoble than human honesty, since people with a conscience can at least live at peace with them.

Neither a candle for the Angel, nor a poker for the devil.

The purpose of their existence is to be the victims of leeches.

Ekh!... if you're unlucky in life, you may even be infected by your godmother with venereal disease.

Oh, you unfortunate creature! Your mother must have sung an Armenian ballad while you were being born.
(Kusma Prutkoff: The unluckiest among us is the fir cone, because every Makkar stumbles over it.)

As to this, nothing doing! Even a donkey can understand that peasant flesh costs nothing in peacetime.

One can never know who might help you to get out of galoshes.

Never will he understand the sufferings of another who has not experienced them himself, though he may have divine Reason and the nature of a genuine Devil!

As soon as anything is needed, it seems that it is filthy and eaten by mice.

Don't shed tears in vain like the poor crocodile that snapped at the fisherman and missed biting off his lower left half.

***

1. Beelzebub's Tales, G I Gurdjieff, 1950, Chapter 34, Russia, p. 404; v2-p.190 

2. Gurdjieff - The Anatomy of a Myth, James Moore, Element Books Ltd, 1991, p. 41 

3. Beelzebub's Tales, G I Gurdjieff, 1950, Chapter 1, The Arousing of Thought, p.9; v.1-p.9

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