Selling the Bearskin

Ali and Hasan went out bear hunting. For four days they saw nothing. Each night they slept in a nearby village, pledging part of the bear’s skin against the cost of their lodging. On the fifth day a huge bear appeared, and Ali said nervously to his friend, “I don’t mind confessing that I’m afraid to take this bear.” Hasan laughed, “Just leave it to me.”

So Ali scrambled like lightning up the nearest tree, and Hasan stood with his gun at the ready. The bear came lumbering on, and Hasan began to grow more and more scared. At length he raised his gun to his shoulder, but by now he was trembling so much that, before he could take proper aim, his gun went off and missed the target.

Hasan, remembering that bears never touch a dead body, threw himself flat and held his breath. The bear came up, sniffed all around him and finally made off. Ali, who had been watching the whole affair from his tree, now came down and, congratulating Hasan on his escape asked him, “What did the bear whisper in your year?”

“Don’t sell the bearskin before you have caught the bear.”

This Sufi spiritual story is from the book Essential Sufism by James Fadiman and Robert Frager. In addition to excellent information about Sufism, there are also several more Sufi spiritual stories in it.

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