The following is a parable from ‘Echoes of an Autobiography’ by the Nobel Laureate Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz.


Sheikh Abd-Rabbih al-Ta’ih said:

I stood before the holy tomb as I asked God for health and long life. An old beggar with tattered clothes approached me. “Do you really want a long life?” he asked me.

“Who does not wish it ?” I said, with the terseness of someone not wanting to talk to him.

He presented me with a small, closed receptacle and said, “Here you have the flavor of eternity-whoever tastes of it will not endure death.” I smiled disdainfully, and he said, “I have dealt with it for thousands of years and I am still weighed down by the burdens of life, generations after generations.”

I mumbled in derision, “What a happy man you are!”

“Those,” he said despondently, “are the words of someone who has not suffered the passing of the ages, the succession of circumstances, the growing of knowledge, the demise of loved ones, and the burying of grandchildren.”

Adjusting to his strange appearance, I inquired, “Who could you be among the men of the age?”

he answered sadly, “i was the master of existence-have you not seen my great statue? With the setting of each sun I lament my wasted days, my declining countries, and my transitory gods.”

-Naguib Mahfouz.

Furthermore wish to append & connect with excerpt from his equally spiritual and profound: Nobel speech

In spite of all what goes on around us I am committed to optimism until the end. I do not say with Kant that Good will be victorious in the other world. Good is achieving victory every day. It may even be that Evil is weaker than we imagine. In front of us is an indelible proof: were it not for the fact that victory is always on the side of Good, hordes of wandering humans would not have been able in the face of beasts and insects, natural disasters, fear and egotism, to grow and multiply. They would not have been able to form nations, to excel in creativeness and invention, to conquer outer space, and to declare Human Rights. The truth of the matter is that Evil is a loud and boisterous debaucherer, and that Man remembers what hurts more than what pleases. Our great poet Abul-‘Alaa’ Al-Ma’ari was right when he said:

“A grief at the hour of death
Is more than a hundred-fold
Joy at the hour of birth.”

I finally reiterate my thanks and ask your forgiveness.


1 Response to “Eternity”

  1. January 12, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I am humbled by this wisdom, recognize it.

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