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A Faith Beyond Belief

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Around the world, people tell stories of Nasrudin, a sometimes bumbling and often clever spiritual teacher of the ancient Middle East who was better at navigating the depths than the surface of life.In one story, an old friend tells Nasrudin that he has decided to go off on an adventure and discover the meaning of life. He’s going to miss him, the friend says, adding, “Nasrudin, why don’t you give me that lovely ring on your finger. I’ll wear it, and that way every time I look at it I’ll think of you and your wisdom.”Nasrudin, not one to part easily with a precious possession, replies, “I have a better idea. Why don’t I keep the ring, and then every time you look at your finger and notice that there’s no ring there, you’ll think of me.”This is one of many stories about spiritual emptiness—not the literal idea of nothingness as understood in a negative way but a valuable kind of lack that serves the spirit.Spiritual people often are obsessed with having something to believe in, something to be proud of, something that sets them apart. They want to attain a stage of understanding, a level of wisdom or per …

Thomas Moore is the New York Times best-selling author of Care of the Soul, as well as many other books on deepening soul and cultivating a mature spiritual life, three of which have received the Books for a Better Life Award. At turns he has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, a psychotherapist, and an S&H columnist. 


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