What is Matter Made Of?


All the philosophers, divines and doctors of the law were assembled for the trial of Mulla Nasruddin. The accusation was a serious one: he had been going from town to town saying, “Your so called religious leaders are ignorant and confused.” So he was charged with heresy, the penalty for which was death.

“You may speak first,” said the Caliph.

The Mulla was perfectly self possessed. “Have paper and pens brought in,” he said, “and give them to the ten wisest men in this august assembly.”

To Nasruddin’s amusement a great squabble broke out among the holy men as to who was the wisest among them. When the contention died down and each of the chosen ten were equipped with paper and pen, the Mulla said, “Have each of them write down the answer to the following question: What is matter made of?”

The answers were written down and handed to the Caliph who read them out. One said, “It is made up of nothing.” Another said, “Molecules.” Yet another, “Energy.” Others, “Light.” “I do not know.” “Metaphysical Being” and so on.

Said Nasruddin to the Caliph, “When they come to an agreement on what matter is made up of, they will be fit to judge questions of the spirit. Is it not strange that they cannot agree on something that they themselves are made up of, yet they are unanimous in their verdict that I am a heretic?

It is not the diversity of our dogmas, but our dogmatism that does the damage.

Thus, if each of us did what we are firmly persuaded is the will of God the result would be utter chaos and violence.

Certainty is the culprit.

The spiritual person knows uncertainty—

a state of mind unknown to the religious fanatic.

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