The Story of the Imprisoned Tinsmith

The ability to seek and identify structures, patterns and designs below the apparent surface of experience is the secret to success in communication, relationships, accelerated learning, languages, and many other things besides.

Someone asked me the other day why I chose to call myself a designer, rather than a consultant and I told them the story of the Tinsmith.  The story originally came from an order of the Sufi’s called the Naqshbandi Order.  Naqushbandi quite literally means “designer”.

“Once upon a time in a city far far away in a time long gone, a tinsmith was falsely accused of a crime he had not committed.  Being poor and without any powerful friends to influence the judge, he was imprisoned.  

He was given a wish before being sent to the cells and he asked that he be allowed to receive a rug which should be woven by his wife.  In due course, the rug was made and delivered to the prison.  Upon receiving the rug, the tinsmith prostrated himself upon the rug, day after day, to say his prayers.

Prayer Mat

After some time, he said to his jailers: “I am poor and without hope and you are wretchedly paid.  But I am a tinsmith.  Bring me some tin and tools to work with and I shall make small artifacts which you can sell in the market – and we will both benefit.”

The guards agreed to this and presently they and the tinsmith were both making a profit from which they bought food and comforts for themselves.

Then, one day, when the guards awoke to find that the cell door was open and the tinsmith was gone.  Some spoke of magic or perhaps a miracle because no prison in this kingdom had ever been escaped from.

Many years later, a convicted thief confessed to the crime that the tinsmith had been accused of.  As a result, the tinsmith was pardoned and two weeks later the tinsmith and his family reappeared in the city.  The governor of the province heard of the tinsmith’s return and summoned him to his palace.

The governor asked the tinsmith what magic he had used to make such an impossible escape.

The tinsmith replied “My wife is a weaver.  She designs rugs, mats and carpets.  She weaves patterns into the wefts and warps of her fabric.”

“By design, she found the man who had made the locks of the cell door and got it from him, by design.”

“She wove the design into the rug at the spot where my head touched in prayer five times a day.  I am a metal-worker and this design looked to me like the inside of a lock.  But I lacked the materials to make a key, so I made a business proposition to the guards, by design.  I then used the materials that the guards provided me to make many small artifacts, including a key that would unlock the cell door.”

So, by design, I escaped.”

“We are all born with a brain”, said the tinsmith.  “When we begin to understand the patterns and structures of our thinking, we can start to liberate ourselves from the enslavement of our limitations.”

Story adapted from the book: Sufis: The People of the Path: The Royal Way by Osho – Chapter 5 – Design within Design

Picture from Museum of London

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The Answer Lies in the Space Between

We are in recess.  In the gap between:

  • The wet weather and what’s to come
  • July and September
  • The Olympics and the Paralympics
  • The Euro Crisis and its eventual resolution
  • Taking off the honey and extracting it
  • Writing an action on the “to-do” list and doing the things you need to do so you can cross it off
  • Birth and Death
  • …X…. and ….Y….

Yet with all the tensions in life and all the things that we are somehow in the middle of completing, I find it more and more interesting to search the space between.  And to settle, for a moment, here and now, into a state of  stillness.  A state of mild contemplation of what the gap looks like between these different tensions.

If you have had your holidays, I hope they were good!  If you are not going on holiday, hope you have a future one to look forward to!  And if, like me, you are still to go away, then enjoy the experience and the space between going away and coming back!

The answer, after all, lies in the space between!

 

Image Copyright iStockPhoto: Illustration 000019183913

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Losing Faith, Renewed Hope

We caught the first swarm of bees for this season on Monday night.  It was 18ft up in a bush in a nearby village – very late in the season for the first swarm because of all of the wet weather we have had in April.  I had to use an extension to my long pole (used for painting) to get the box up high enough.  Luckily Dennis (whose garden it was) had an additional 3 poles which I used both to extend my pole as well as get the smoker up there with a further two!  Very Heath Robinson!

The photo looks as though I am trying to catch the sun!

Here is a close-up of the contraption holding the box that I caught the swarm in – the sun was a bit out of reach!

Having inspected the hives on the previous Saturday, the hive called Faith is still very weak from over-wintering and I somehow doubt will survive – as I have now tried to re-queen her twice.  We therefore decided to call this swarm Hope to keep the spirit of our three first hives that we started back in 2004 – Faith, Hope and Charity.  The original Hope and Charity hives died off in 2005/06, but Faith has kept going since then and has produced some of the finest honey-crops.

Oh – and it was luck that the place that we caught the hive in started with an H – so we stuck to the Bee Law of naming the hives from the first letter of the place that they were caught!

Hence we are losing Faith (although not all is lost) and we are gaining Hope!  Not a bad place to bee!

More bee law and bee lore at one of my other blogs: http://beelore.com

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The Rainbow, Rug and Key

I have spent the past twelve days in the Alps on a spring retreat doing a bit of skiing.  Yesterday we had a enormous thunderstorm and the most beautiful rainbow – like the one above.  Somehow, it got me reflecting on a conversation I had with  John Varney, a reader of this blog, a few months ago.  He told me that he often intersperses his organisational change work with Sufi Teaching Stories.  So I went on the hunt for a good one and found the one below.  I am interested to know what readers think of using this approach to unlock new meaning to our work in the reductionist world we live in.

The Story of the Locksmith by Idries Shah

Once there lived a metalworker, a locksmith, who was unjustly accused of crimes and was sentenced to a deep, dark prison. After he had been there awhile, his wife who loved him very much went to the King and beseeched him that she might at least give him a prayer rug so he could observe his five prostrations every day.

The King considered that a lawful request, so he let the woman bring her husband a prayer rug. The prisoner was thankful to get the rug from his wife, and every day he faithfully did his prostrations on the rug. Much later, the man escaped from prison, and when people asked him how he got out, he explained that after years of doing his prostrations and praying for deliverance from the prison, he began to see what was right in front of his nose.

One day he suddenly saw that his wife had woven into the prayer rug the pattern of the lock that imprisoned him. Once he realized this and understood that all the information he needed to escape was already in his possession, he began to make friends with his guards. He also persuaded the guards that they all would have a better life if they cooperated and escaped the prison together.

They agreed since, although they were guards, they realized that they were in prison, too. They also wished to escape, but they had no means to do so. So the locksmith and his guards decided on the following plan: they would bring him pieces of metal, and he would fashion useful items from them to sell in the marketplace. Together they would amass resources for their escape, and from the strongest piece of metal they could acquire, the locksmith would fashion a key.

One night, when everything had been prepared, the locksmith and his guards unlocked the prison and walked out into the cool night where his beloved wife was waiting for him. He left the prayer rug behind so that any other prisoner who was clever enough to read the pattern of the rug could also make his escape. Thus, the locksmith was reunited with his loving wife, his former guards became his friends, and everyone lived in harmony.

Image of Rug from: Spongobongo

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