A Sufi story from Idries Shah

There was once a man who opened a restaurant, with a good kitchen, attractive tables and an excellent menu.

One of his friends came along soon afterwards, and said: ‘Why have you not got a sign, like all the other eating-places?  I suggest that you put on it “RESTAURANT: FINEST FOOD”.’

When the sign was painted and put up, another enquirer asked: ‘You have to be more specific-you might mean any old restaurant.  Add the words “SERVED HERE” and your sign will be complete.’

The owner thought that this was a good idea, and he head the signboard duly altered.

Not long afterwards someone else came along and said: ‘Why do you  put “HERE”?  Surely anyone can see where the place is?’

So the restauranter had the sign changed.

Presently a further curious member of the public wanted to know: ‘Do you not know that the word “SERVED” is redundant?  All restaurants and shops serve.  Why not take it out?’

So that word was taken out.

Now another visitor said: ‘If you continue to use the phrase  “FINEST FOOD”, some people will be sure to wonder whether it really is the finest, and some will not agree.  To guard against criticism amd contention, please do remove the word “Finest”.’

And so he did.  Now, just the word “FOOD” was to be seen on the notice, and a sixth inquisitive individual put his head through the doorway.  ‘Why have you got the word “FOOD” on your restaurant: anyone can see that you serve food here.’

So the restauranter took down the sign.  As he did so, he could not help wondering when somebody who was hungry, rather than curious or intellectual, would come along…

Idries Shah, Learning How to Learn, Arkana (1993) UK


2 Responses to “A Sufi story from Idries Shah”

  1. Amit Says:

    Come on sabby. Isn’t this post excerpt itself food for thought? What moral do you particularly draw from this story is what I was wondering…

    Is this about listening to too many people and not having one’s own opinion? Or is it about test marketing? Cause people like me do test market messages and only a few really work.

    • sxray Says:

      Amit you seemed to have got it. The point about the story is to stimulate thought. It works on many levels. All of the aspects you mentioned are there, and there is FOOD.

      Food within reach is what modern man is all about. (In food I include cigarettes, beer, and other spirits)

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