Question of truth

I was talking to a friend yesterday about seminar leaders and self-improvement gurus who use untrue stories to back up their point. I told the story of one of the most popular (and hence richest) of these authors and how he claimed that the word desire comes from the Latin roots “De Sire” meaning of the father.

I have studied Latin for seven years at schools in England and also love etymology, so this sounded wrong. I spent less than a minute online and discovered:

Desire – Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French desirer, from Latin desiderare, from de- + sider-, sidus heavenly body – Date: 13th century

Later I discovered the source of this mistake from someone the new age movement I really love and respect. This person wrote about desire fifty years ago when research was not so easy but today with Internet there is really no excuse for such mistakes.

Anyway, I’m going to start a series of such untrue stories and urbane tales. These are not true but there are teaching values in them anyway. The problem is when people talk about these puns being true linguistic etymology.

I mean it would be wonderful if desire meant of the father and meant that whatever you desire your heavenly father (or mother) would provide. It is a great story, a very useful lie but still a lie. I call it a pun since it is a matter of coincidence in English language and has no bearing with the Latin source or the word.

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I felt the earth move

This afternoon we had one of those typical Southern Californian earth quacks. It reminded me of a time about twenty five years ago when there was another Lakers/Celtics rivalry. Those were the times of Magic Johnson and Kamal Abdal Jabbar on our side and Larry Bird on theirs.

Anyway at the time I worked for a company which had just been bought by another from Boston. So we amplified that rivalry between us and the people from our parent company.

Anyway, one day they sent a new manger to see how we laid-back Californians were working and how could they make our operation more efficient.

As it happened when this manger first arrived at our office we had one of those earth quakes. This guy got so scared that he nearly caught the next plane back to Boston.

We teased him and he teased us and we became great friends. I cannot remember who won that specific year’s NBA final.


And now for the Mullah Nasrudin story.

Mullah was making love to his when exactly at the moment of climax an earth quack shook the whole ground.

Next day he was in the caravansary (tea-house) and he bragged to his friend, “I know this is pure love with my wife. Last night we made love and not only did I feel the ground move, my wife felt it too.”

His friends told him, “You fool, we all felt it move.”

At which Nasrudin said, “Wow, I’m so good, even you guys felt it.”

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even idiots can be right at times

My family spent the summer of 1960 in Geneva Switzerland. The apartment we rented for the summer overlooked Lake Geneva and one could see Mont Blanc from the same window too.

We had great time walking by the lake and took lots of photos. We would drive for day trips to France on the other side in Lake Leman (the French name for Lake Geneva – go figure).

The local delicacy was filette de perche. And the swimming was fantastic…

Anyway that’s all great memories for me but nothing to do with the story:

That summer a cult of some kind had predicted that on a certain day the world would end in a flood and the only people who would survive would be their followers (about thirty in total)  who were camped on Mont Blanc. Of course no one outside Geneva heard about these crazies (after all there are all sorts of idiots predicting the end of the world at all time).

But the cult was big funny news in Geneva and for the week before the predicted end of times flood the TV news kept talking about it and people were laughing at the idiots. As I mentioned we could see the mountain top which was snow covered even in August. Si we looked out toward the place the cult was encamped and laughed at them. Made no sense to stay on the mountain rather than swim in the lake…

So eventually the allotted day came. The world was to end at mid day.

That morning started as a very sunny day. But by ten a storm came by and soon it was raining.

And the rains intensified. By eleven it was one of the biggest downpours I have ever seen (the strongest in my first thirteen years – my age at the time). It was raining so hard that we could hardly see the lake less than fifty meters away from us, let alone Mont Blanc ten twenty kilometers away.

As I mentioned, I was only thirteen. As it rained harder and harder. I came to think, “Perhaps they are onto something.”

Soon midday came and passed and the world was still there. The lake had not flooded. There were cars driving in the street between our apartment and the lake.

And time still moved forward inexorably. Slowly the rain slowed down.

By two it was sunny again. We were laughing again and in time the cult members had to climb down back to their homes.


They asked Mullah Nasrudin the timing of Akhar-E-Zaman (end of time). Nasrudin replied which one the small or large end of times.

They said, “What do you mean? We only know of one end of times.”

Nasrudin replied, “The small end of times is when my wife dies and the large one is when I die!”


I laughed at the above Nasrudin story when I first heard it more than fifty years ago, but I still don’t get. I laughed because everyone else laughed.

Oh well.

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The man who gained weight in prison

This is a true story. In 1953 the people of Iran threw out Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, the puppet of Angelo Iranian oil company (later to be known as British Petroleum – BP of Gulf of Mexico fame). Unfortunately the British government had convinced the ignorant US government that the democratically elected nationalistic government was pro-communist. It wasn’t but just mentioning the word communism to the Dulles brothers (Secretary of State and CIA chief) was akin to waving a red flag (pun intended) in front of a mad bull…

So there was a meeting in Geneva and ten million dollars were given to the Shah’s sister, General Zahedi and assorted mobsters (Shaboon without a brain among others) and there was a CIA organized coup d’etat.

And the Shah returned as an absolute dictator and American puppet…

Enough history and preamble – now for:

The man who gained weight in prison

After the 1953 coup d’etat all the usual suspects (intellectuals, honest journalists, nationalists) would be rounded up whenever the political temperature would get too high and the dictator or his CIA handlers got paranoid…

My father was among those who was jailed a few times between 1953 and 1956. Given that he was a famous surgeon with his own hospital and the son in law of the chief judge my father was never tortured but he did the screams of those who were tortured under the supervision of CIA. Many teachers, nationalistic armed forces officers and other not so famous people had their finger nails pulled off their nails and testicles electrocuted (Abu Graib was typical CIA savagery to me).

But my father, thank God, was a VIP and was just jailed and kept away from his family. Among the other VIP inmates was Mr. T (I don’t wish to give his full name).

Mr. T was the owner and publisher of a satirical political weekly. Now the food in the prison was meager (even in the “VIP” section). Each day we would go to the political jail where my father was interned (arrest without charge or recourse) and take him (and the guards – they were not paid well) food. Even so my father’s weight kept going down as he shared his food with other less lucky political prisoners and the hungry guards.

However, Mr. T kept gaining weight.

I asked my father how come the famous editor kept gaining weight.

Even though polygamy was legal in Iran (you could have four wives and multiple concubines), we did not know anyone who had more than one wife. The educated class were very Westernized and did not believe in polygamy.

However, Mr T did have two wives. They lived in different cities and were not aware of each other.

Mr T who was quite rich bribed the guards to keep the wives away from each other. Each day one wife would visit him from eleven till twelve and the other from one to two. So Mr T had to eat two lunches each day and he gained weight.

Unfortunately one day there was a mix up in the timing. There was a traffic jam or something (I was only seven or eight years old at the time) and the two wives ended up arriving at the jail at the same time. And all the kings horses and all the kings men…


By 1957 my father had opened his new larger hospital and he was part of the establishment and was never jailed again. But the jailing and torturing and execution of many patriots continued under the Shah’s dictatorship…

And so it goes…

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King of the farts

This is a very simplistic teaching story that my mother used to tell us when we were little childre4n. We loved hearing my mother talk about the king of the farts…


A long, long time ago…

An old humble lady was invited to a banquet given by the third vizier to the Shahanshah.

The banquet was sumptuous.  There was gaz (nougat) from Isfahan, sohan from Ghom, venison from Gorgan, sturgeon and caviar from Babolsar (on the Caspian sea), rahat-al-ghum (Turkish delight) from Hashtroud (in Azerbaijan where my ancestors hail from) and delicacies from the rest of the empire (Iran covered a huge portion of Asia in those days).

As the banquet continued festively full of fun, the old lady felt an ache in the stomach. She had an extremely bad case of wind. The old lady did her best to stop the wind. She bent over in pain squeezing ever muscle around her sfinkter.

Alas and alack…

To no avail.

She let out a tiny fart.

In truth no one had heard it, smelled it or noticed in the slightest way.

But she knew. She had farted in the banquet of third vizier to the Shahanshah.

The old lady went pink in the face and then red and redder and shrunk in size out of shame. She became smaller and smaller and eventually she totally disappeared from sight.

The old lady melted into the ground out of shame and next moment found herself in the land of farts.

The farts who normally did not get visitors from the land of humans arrested her and took her in front of their king.

The king of farts had a fantastic palace with bright shimmering multicolored walls. Everywhere you looked you would see rainbows, chimera, and gossamer.

The fart soldiers threw the old lady in front of the fart king, who screamed, “Human, how there you enter our realm?”

The old lady replied, “You majesty, I had no intention of coming here,” and she told her story of how she had farted in the vizier’s palace and had grown smaller and smaller out of shame and the disappeared from the face of the earth…

The king of the farts could see into the heart of people and said, “You tell the truth and you are here for no fault of your own. Since a fart caused you shame we will send you home with one hundred Ashrafis (gold coins the size of sovereigns – I suppose about $100,000 in today’s money)…

The old lady was in here home the next instant with a bag of one hundred gold coins. She gave away half to friends and the poor and kept the other half for herself.

Her nosy neighbor. Eventually manged to discover what had happened. So the next time she was going to a party she  ate plenty of beans beforehand and even so she did not have to fart. In the party the nosy neighbor ate as much fruit as could and then when she still hads no wind she started jumping up and down and swallowing air. She did all she could do and eventually she managed to fart.

Even though she had farted on purpose she pretended to be ashamed. She held her breath until she went pink and next red in the face. Still she held her breath and grew smaller and smaller until she melted into the ground and was soon in the land of the farts.

Once more she was taken to the king and when asked why she was there the greedy neighbor replied, “Sire, I could not help myself. I was at a party and I farted. I was ashamed and next thing I knew I found myself in your presence.”

Alas and alack, the king of the farts could see into people’s hearts. He said, “You are a liar. My poor subject was minding his own business. You forced him out and farted shamelessly. You then held your breath and forced yourself into my realm. I order you to get one hundred lashes before being sent home…


We loved this story and would laugh our heads off. I suppose the secret was hearing our mother saying the word fart which made it so funny.

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Mullah Nasrudin the boy scout

Mullah Nasrudin and his brother were both boy scouts.

They wanted to do good deeds and win many badges.

One week the scout master asked all the scouts about the good deeds they had performed in the last week.

One by one the scouts talked about their respective good deeds. Finally it was the turn of Nasrudin’s brother. He proudly said, “I helped an old lady across the street.”

The scout master replied, “Excellent, excellent,” and turned to Nasrudin and continued, “And what did you do the last week?”

Nasrudin replied, “I helped the same old lady across the road.”

The scout master asked, “You are big boys. How come both of you had to work together to help a single lady across the road.”

Both the Nasrudins replied in unison, “We had to push her together. She didn’t want cross that street.”

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It’s not always the same

This is an oral story about the Prophet Jesus (may peace be on him) – I’m writing this from a Muslim point of view to emphasize the fact that Jesus is a Prophet to the Muslims as are Moses, David, Joseph and all other Prophets of the Jewish and Christian Bibles.

Jesus told the disciples to carry some stones and follow him.

Each selected a stone of different size.

Peter chose a small pebble.

A few hours later it was lunch time and Jesus told his disciples to throw their stones on a carpet. He next whispered something and each stone turned into the most tasty meal of the same size.

Since Peter had carried a small pebble he got a tiny morsel.

After their meal Jesus asked  the disciples to pick up  some stones and follow him.

This time Peter selected the largest stone he could carry.

A few hours later Jesus told them it was time to eat.

Peter was happy to be about to get such a large dinner.

Jesus told the the disciples to throw the stones in a river and follow him to a friends house where they all ate identical meals…

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Gift of God

This teaching story comes from Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism literally meaning receiving…

When the Ultimate Reality created the heavens, earths, and the gods doves did not have wings.

Each day the lion would persecute the dove, running after her and scaring her to near death.

The dove prayed to the Ultimate Reality for help and succor. Ultimate Reality being the source of Ultimate Loving Kindness had compassion on the dove and gave the dove wings to escape from the lion.

Next day the dove pranced in front of the lion showing off his beautiful wings.

The lion chased – the dove ran as fast as possible…

Typically the dove would get away at the last moment – but today the wings got in the way – you see the dove did not know what the wings were for – he imagined he could run faster with them…

So this time the lion caught the dove and ate him.

Somewhere beyond time and space in dove heaven, the dove complained to the dove god. He said, “I asked for help and now I’m dead. You call this justice? You call this loving kindness?”

The dove god explained the truth. Thought all about Ultimate Reality – the Truth (Al Hagh) beyond conception and words. The dove god explained what the wings were to be used for…

Since that time no lion has killed a dove…


Note:  When the Ultimate Reality created the heavens, earths, and the gods refers to the first sentence of Genesis which according to a Kabbalistic translation means, “The beginningness created the gods, the heavens and the earths…

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Nasrudin and what people think

Mullah Nasrudin was returning from the market with his son and donkey. They had sold all the goods they had taken to the bazaar and now the Mullah was riding the donkey and his son was on foot when a passing man said, “Aren’t you ashamed old man that you ride the donkey and your young son walks.”

So Nasrudin came off the donkey and let his son ride. Soon another man came and said, “Shame, shame, shame… Young man, how dare you ride the donkey when you fragile old man has to walk.”

Actually Nasrudin was very fit for his age and both of them had walked from their village to the market earlier when the donkey was loaded with their fruits to sell. Anyway, Nasrudin did not wish people to look down on his son and so he joined his son on the donkey.

No sooner her had done this than he heard someone else scream, “You are cruel. You are hurting that donkey. Get off it at once.”

So the Mullah and his son both got off the donkey and started carrying the “poor donkey” on their shoulders. This was uncomfortable for the donkey as well as themselves. The donkey was kicking and braying when they heard the sound of laughter, “What absolute idiots. You are supposed to ride the donkey not the donkey riding you.”

At this the frustrated Nasrudin got back on the donkey with his son following and muttered under his breath, “No matter what you do, some people will disapprove so you might as well do what you want.”

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I dropped her at the other side

A Zen master and novice were walking from one monastery to another. They came to a wide fast river. A young lady was drying at the bank.

The master asked her what her problem was. She replied that she had to get to the other side but the river runs too fast and I am afraid to cross it. The master said, “Jump on my back and I will carry you to the other side.”He carried her to the other bank and dropped her off and blessed her.

Then they continued on their way toward the monastery.

The novice was shocked since he knew that Buddhist monks were not allowed to touch women. For the next eight hours he was silently seething with confusion.

At last they reached their destination and the novice could no longer hold back. He screamed, “But master doesn’t it say in the scripture that we are not to touch the female gender?” The master smiled and replied, “I dropped the young lady on the other side of the river. You have carried her all the way to here!”


How many things do you carry when you have reached the other side of the river?

I know I’m burdened needlessly by the past.

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