Monday, June 11, 2007

Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.

This is a saying that I really like, and it's widely attributed to me on the Web. But it's far from original with me, so I took some trouble to track its source.

The earliest credible source I can find is the great Sufi sage/fool Mulla Nasrudin, born circa 1208 (books).


Comment by Blogger Mark Saltveit:

Would you please pass on where Nasruddin is quoted on the Experience nugget, if you have it handy? I'd like to quote it directly.

Amazon's search tool for the Idries Shah book you linked to indicates that it's not actually in that one.

12:54 AM  
Comment by Blogger Jim Horning:

@ Mark:

You are correct that it is not in the Idries Shah book, which I linked to because it has a lot of good material on Mulla Nasrudin.

I stumbled on the story by accident in The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel Ben Izzy, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003. Ben Izzy's version of the story goes as follows:

The Secret of Happiness

Nasrudin is known as much for his wisdom as his foolishness, and many are those who have sought out his teaching.

One devotee tracked him down for many years before finding him in the marketplace sitting atop a pile of banana peels--no one knows why.

"Oh great sage, Nasrudin," said the eager student. "I must ask you a very important question, the answer to which we all seek: What is the secret to attaining happiness?"

Nasrudin thought for a time, then responded. "The secret of happiness is good judgment."

"Ah," said the student. "But how do we attain good judgement?"

"From experience," answered Nasrudin.

"Yes," said the student. "But how do we attain experience?"

"Bad judgment."

1:37 PM  
Comment by Blogger Andy Hanson:

I'm impressed! Thanks for all the work. Andy

10:44 PM  
Comment by Blogger scott:

Thank you so much for tracking down the original source. I love knowing the true source of good quotes. And I've already had a blast reading about Nasreddin! What a character!

11:32 PM  

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