Philosophy is Like Bathing

A Middle Eastern king travelling with his retinue encounters Abdal, a dervish, on the road, and agrees to pay in advance for his advice, for a demonstration of the sufi’s wisdom.

The Dervish said to him: “My advice is this: Never begin anything until you have reflected what will be the end of it.”

At this, the nobles and everyone else present laughed, saying that Abdal had been wise to ask for his money in advance. But the king said, “You have no reason to laugh at the good advice this Abdal gave me. Nobody is unaware of the fact that we should think well before doing anything. But we are daily guilty of not remembering, and the consequences are evil. I very much value this Dervish’s advice. ”

— “The King, the Sufi and the Surgeon”, in “Caravan of Dreams” by Idries Shaw

True, the dervish’s advice is commonplace. And yet, how many of us are guilty of starting something without having pondered how far this action will take us? How many of us start a career, a relationship, a course, an adventure, without a definite goal – and as a consequence, never know how close or far away lies success?

We all know that we must have a goal in life, that the journey is what matters but there is value in having a destination in mind. But how easily do we forget this basic truth!

That’s why practicing philosophy is like bathing: you have to do it every day, lest you lose the benefits.

Painting: “Arabs on Horseback” by Massimo Taparelli, Marquis d’ Azeglio.