Depend on words and you are lost; refuse them and you live in delusion.

Where would we be without without stories? Storytelling does not teach us everything but it does enhance our capacity to comprehend and to absorb wisdom. Good stories told well will often reveal specific meanings to those who listen to them. A tale will often stimulate reflection in a way that would otherwise be unlikely.

Reflection upon self.

From the 10th century onwards, following the Golden Age of the four righteous caliphates, Persian poets turned their minds to the search for truth. Their poetry was influenced by Sufi thought and Eastern philosophy. They looked to the ancient stories for inspiration. Jalal-Al-Din Rumi, well known to modern readers, was greatly moved by such tales. He had not been alone.

Rumi wrote his greatest work, the Mathnawi-i Ma’nawi, in the second half of the 13th century but many poets, with names largely forgotten today, had written great works before him. Living in the Afghan city of Ghazna sometime around 1120 Sanai Ghaznavi wrote the Walled Garden Of Truth, a masterful collection of verse, anecdotes and stories. Adopting the same form for his masterpiece Rumi acknowledged Sanai and his poetry calling him ‘the eyes of the spirit’. The poets brought these ancient tales to a wider audience who in turn, being moved by them, have passed them on down through past generations to ours.

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Top:
European Green/EFA Conference,
Ostende. Belgium.
Above:
Socius OE-Tag. Berlin
Below:
Vapiano Franchise Convention,
Doha. Qatar.

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Such tales did not contain the dogmas of a monotheistic religion or simply speak of the love of a single god but they proposed philosophies for a better, kinder way of living with and as human beings. Above all they contained the desire for truth and for seeking the pathways to it. Many of them provoked questioning and further enquiry. They were a means to test the minds and reactions of the listener.

I see within these tales the cultural D.N.A. of mankind.

I have imagined a meeting of Sufism and Buddhism. Two Philosophies that came together and, despite lacking in a common tongue, found a way of talking to each other and engaging in debate through poetry, stories in a spirit of understanding.

As a professional storyteller I often recognise, and I do not use this word off-handedly, enlightenment come to the listener as the stories of those poets unfold before them. Often, the only way to understand these tales is to think deeply about them. The listener is, by travelling down the path of his own understanding, empowered.

There is only one pathway, ones own, but there is more than one truth.

“A poet should never be a lamp but rather, a mirror.” Jalal Al-Din Rumi