Nasrudin was walking along a lonely road one moonlit night when he heard a snore seemingly directly beneath his feet. Suddenly he experienced fear and was about to flee when he tripped over a dervish lying in a pit which he had dug for himself, partly underground.
“Who are you?” the Mulla stammered.
“I am a dervish, and this is my contemplation place.”
Nasrudin replied, “You will have to let me share it. Your snoring frightened me out of my wits, and I cannot continue any further this night.”
“Take the other end of this blanket, then,” said the dervish without much enthusiasm, “and lie down here. Please be quiet, because I am keeping a vigil. It is a part of a complicated series of exercises. Tomorrow I must change the pattern, and I cannot stand any interruption.”
Nasrudin fell asleep for a while. Then he woke up, very thirsty.
“I am thirsty,” he told the dervish.
“Then go back down the road, where there is a stream.”
“No,I am still afraid.” replied Nasrudin.
“I shall go for you then,” said the dervish. “After all, to provide water is a sacred obligation in the East.”
“No, please don’t go for I am still afraid to be alone!”
“Take this knife, to defend yourself then,” said the dervish.
While he was away Nasrudin frightened himself still more, working himself up into a frenzy, which he tried to counter by imagining how he would attack any demon who threatened him.
Presently the dervish returned.
“Keep your distance, or “I’ll kill you!” said Nasrudin.
“But I am the dervish,” said the dervish.
“I don’t care who you are-your maybe a demon in disguise. Besides, you have your head and eyebrows shaved!” The dervishes of that order shave their head and eyebrows.
“But I have come to bring you water! Don’t you remember-you are thirsty!”
“Don’t try and ingratiate yourself with me, Demon!”
“But that is my hole you are occupying!” said the dervish.
“That’s hard luck for you, isn’t it? You’ll just have to find another one.” replied Nasrudin.
“I suppose so,” said the dervish, “but I am sure I don’t know what to make of all this.”
“I can tell you one thing,” said Nasrudin, “and that is that fear is multidirectional.”
“It certainly seems stronger than thirst, or sanity, or other peoples property,” said the dervish.
“AND you don’t have to have it yourself in order to suffer from it!” said Nasrudin.