The Story Of The Sleepy Man


There was once a good man by the name of Amyn. He had spent his whole life cultivating qualities which would eventually take him to Paradise. He gave freely to the poor and he loved his fellow creatures and served them. Remembering the need to have patience, he endured great and unexpected hardships, often for the sake of others. He made journeys in search of knowledge. His humility and exemplary behavior were such that his reputation as a wise man and good citizen resounded from the East to the West, and from the North to the South.

Amyn exercised all these qualities whenever he remembered to do so, but his one shortcoming was heedlessness. This tendency was not strong in him, and he considered that balanced against the other things which he did practice. It could only be regarded as a small fault.

Amyn was fond of sleep, and sometimes when he was asleep, opportunities to seek knowledge, or to understand it, or to practice real humility, or to add to the sum total of good behavior, passed him by and did not return. Just as the good qualities left their impress upon his essential self, so did the characteristic of heedlessness.

And then one day, Amyn died. Finding himself beyond this life, and making his way toward the doors of Paradise, he paused to examine his conscience. He felt that his opportunity of entering Paradise were enough.

The gates were shut, and then a voice addressed Amyn saying: "Be watchful, for the gates will open only once every hundred years!"

So, Amyn settled down to wait, excited at the prospect, but deprived of chances to exercise virtues towards humankind, he found his capacity of attention was not enough for him. After watching for what seemed like an age, his head nodded in sleep. For an instant his eyelids closed, and at that moment the gates yawned open. Before his eyes were fully open again, the doors closed, with a roar loud enough to wake the dead!

Note: Originally called, "The Parable of Heedlessness," this version is by a 17th century dervish, Amil-Baba. He wrote, "The real author is one whose work is anonymous, for in that way nobody stands between the learner and that which is learned."