On a Sufi story: The Lamp shop

Acharya Prashant
8 min readAug 31, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

The Lamp Shop

One dark night two men met on a lonely road.

‘I am looking for a shop near here, which is called The Lamp Shop,’ said the first man.

‘I happen to live near here, and I can direct you to it, ‘ said the second man.

‘I should be able to find it by myself. I have been given the directions, and I have written them down,’ said the first man.

‘Then why are you talking to me about it?’

‘Just talking.’

‘So, you want company, not directions?’

‘Yes, I suppose that that is what it is.’

‘But it would be easier for you to take further directions from a local resident, having got so far; especially because from here onwards it is difficult.’

‘I trust what I have already been told, which has brought me thus far. I cannot be sure that I can trust anything or anyone else.’

‘So, although you once trusted the original informant, you have not been taught a means of knowing whom you can trust?’

‘That is so.’

‘Have you any other aim?’

‘No, just to find the Lamp shop.’

‘May I ask why you seek a lamp shop?’

‘Because I have been told on the highest authority that that is where they supply certain devices which enable a person to read in the dark.’

‘You are correct, but there is a prerequisite, and also a piece of information. I wonder whether you have given them any thought.’

‘What are they?’

‘The prerequisite to reading by means of a lamp is that you can already read.’

‘You cannot prove that!’

‘Certainly not on a dark night like this.’

‘What is the “piece of information”?’

‘The piece of information is that the Lamp Shop is still where it always was, but that the lamps themselves have been moved somewhere else.’

‘I do not know what a “lamp” is, but it seems obvious to me that the Lamp Shop is

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