The boy, the Drum and the Sufi

There was once a small boy who banged a drum all day and loved every moment of it. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did.
Various people who called themselves Sufis, and other well-wishers, were called in by neighbours and asked to do something about the child.

The first so-called Sufi told the boy that he would, if he continued to make so much noise, perforate his eardrums; this reasoning was too advanced for the child, who was neither a scientist nor a scholar.

The second told him that drum beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only on special occasions.


The third offered the neighbours plugs for their ears; the fourth gave the boy a book; the fifth gave the neighbours books that described a method of controlling anger through biofeedback; the sixth gave the boy meditation exercises to make him placid and explained that all reality was imagination.

Like all placebos, each of these remedies worked for a short while, but none worked for very long.

Eventually, a real Sufi came along. He looked at the situation, handed the boy a hammer and chisel, and said, “I wonder what is INSIDE the drum?”

-A spiritual story from Tasawwuf (Islamic Spirituality)