nasrudin, and the story of the zen quest story


Richard Moore

Bcc: contributors


The responses to the Zen quest story have been remarkable. 
Several people asked permission to publish it in
newsletters, and Theresa Hawks will be putting it up on the
The Oracular Tree website.  David Jones will be considering
it for publication in New Dawn magazine.  In this way, the
response reminds me of the experience with "Escaping the
Matrix".  In both cases, people felt the material was worth
sharing more widely.  As a writer, I couldn't ask for more.

But this time, with the quest story, something new has been
happening as well.  It's not so much about the content of
the dialog, it's more about the place that people are coming
from when they respond.  Let me give you an example.


Tom Atlee and I have been in dialog for the past few years. 
Our visions and ideas overlap a good deal, but there are
also important differences between us at the level of
'program' and 'movement'.  He and I spent a whole weekend in
Eugene seeking 'agreement' at that level.  It was a very
frustrating experience - although Tom's delightful
personality assured that it was enjoyable nonetheless.  But
'agreement' remained unattainable, and our ideas on programs
& movements remained at loggerheads.

Consider now, how Tom introduced the quest story when he 
published it to his own list:

    >  Here is a remarkable essay by Richard K. Moore.  Some of
    you may have trouble with some of the things he says.  I
    recommend that you hear him out.
    >  Coming from a strong progressive activist stance, he
    presents a compelling argument -- or is it a vision? or a
    path? -- for moving beyond adversarial stances altogether.
    After offering useful insights into the conflict between
    "the people" and "the elites," he suggests that it may be
    most productive to turn to inclusive practices that bridge
    differences. Recalling the lessons of Zen Buddhism, he
    points to a path that promotes self-realization and
    self-organization by we, the people in our own communities.
    He claims that just travelling that path may ultimately give
    us the world we want. ---<snip>---
    >  The sooner we get started, the better.  Most of us have
    noted that things are heating up, in all sorts of ways.

From these remarks, I sensed that Tom and I now had a
different relationship, a transformed relationship.  I
expressed that to Tom in this way...

    >...I find myself now in the position of fully supporting
    your wisdom council project and related efforts.  They are
    the 'right walk', regardless of the motivations of yourself
    & your collaborators.  My beliefs are such that I don't
    fully agree with your strategic thinking, and that turns out
    to be irrelevant.
    >  I now feel that I am 'in community' with you and that we
    are now working together to deal with 'problems' of mutual

It turns out my feeling was not one-sided... 
Tom responded this way...

    >  It is so delightful to be walking alongside you again...
    This transcend-(dis)agreement-and-work-together formula
    seems to apply even to this work!


I've had similar experiences since with a few other people
as well.  Psychotherapy teaches us that if people start
responding to you differently, then ~you~ are probably the
one who has changed.  And I do feel I've changed. 
Discovering that path was a 'mind changing' experience. Only
after the experience was I able to articulate what I had found
as a quest story.

Here's how it happened.  Janet McFarland sent in a
contribution to the "rkm ruminations" thread which included
these comments:

    >  I consider Quinn's analysis: the needed change is going
    to come from changed minds, not new programs.  I'm impressed
    with your persistence in spelling out your reasoning again
    and again.  But I think I "got it".
    >  So what is worth talking about?  How we can change
    people's minds?  Is that really our only leverage point that
    makes sense?  Maybe hearing from people on their efforts and
    success in changing people's minds. Also, how do we keep
    from going crazy?

I began answering Janet with one of my typical rkm
responses.  She had said the magic words "What is worth
talking about?", which to a list moderator is like waving a
red flag at a bull.  Of course I had to rise to that
challenge.  So I asked myself, "What ~is~ worth talking

Several times I deleted what I had written and started
again.  I kept getting stuck by the other things Janet had
mentioned.  Is "changing people's minds" something we should
be doing?  Wouldn't that be a propaganda activity?  And what is
Quinn talking about?  How can you change people's minds
without a program to offer them?  I felt that these
questions needed to be dealt as well in order to respond
adequately to Janet.

I found that these particular questions haunted my
attempts to respond. They kept challenging my usual
analysis, they forced me to view my ideas from a new
perspective.  Janet had asked just the right questions -
posed the perfect koans - for me at that time.  It was as if
she was my very own Zen teacher.  "Answering" her koans
became a process of discovery, a quest.

The quest happened as I drafted responses, and each time I
started over it was because I had discovered something. 
What had been said before was now off the mark.  Finally, I
found myself writing some words that brought all the threads
together.  I found myself in a place that felt like the
completion of a quest.

By the time I understood what Quinn's 'changed minds'
was about, I found that my own mind had been 'changed' in
the process.  It was with a 'new voice' that I was able to
retrace the journey by a more direct route.  This voice 
didn't yet exist when rkm began a different journey,
one whose goal was to respond to Janet.


When I posted the story with the byline 'rkm', something
didn't feel right.  I felt the 'new voice' was being
plagiarized somehow.  I felt drawn to give the new voice an
identity of its own, as a pen name.  The story is that of a
seeker, and my favorite seeker is called 'Nasrudin'.  He
appears in lots of Sufi stories.  Many of those stories were
published by Idres Shah, and so the name "Nasrudin O'Shah"
popped into my head.  The "O'" part also hints something of

As a result, the author of 'The Zen of Global
Transformation' now goes by the name of Idres O'Shah.  Don't
get me wrong, I'm not changing my name. I'm still rkm.  I
still write about current events and elite power.  When this
other voice has something to say, he'll do so as Nasrudin,
from his own email address (•••@••.•••).  That's
also where you can reach him.  He even has a brief bio:

    About Nasrudin
    Don Juan taught Castenada that a warrior leaves his personal
    history behind.  In that same spirit, Nasrudin prefers not
    to elaborate on his own personal history. He tells us this
    much...  most of his life was spent working for
    corporations, exchanging his time and technical talents for
    the currency of the realm.  He left all that late in life,
    and began his quest.  His efforts to find a path to
    transformation were focused always on 'agreement' and on
    'programs'.  No matter how hard he tried, no matter how
    clever his programs, agreement remained always elusive -
    like the end of a rainbow. But by persisting in those
    efforts, he was led through the different lessons which make
    up the quest story.
    One day, as he was writing one of his agreement-seeking
    pieces, all those separate lessons suddenly came together. A
    new understanding emerged that was greater than the sum of
    its parts. Nasrudin found himself with a changed mind, and
    that changed mind knows that Nasrudin must shift his own
    personal path. What that means he has yet to  discover.

As a result of all the feedback that came in, the story has
been revised quite a bit.  The journey has not changed, but
the path has been made considerably clearer.  I will be glad
to send the final version to anyone who is interested, in a
choice of formats.  It'll be on the web, and I'll post the
URL when I know it.  I can send it as an MSWord attachment,
as a formatted email message, as HTML for a website, or as
an impoverished pure-text version.  And there's one more 
format available...

I tried printing out the story on size A5 (8"x6"), two
sided, and it looked really good.  It comes to about 40
pages, which in that format is a rather appealing length,
about pamphlet-size.  I stapled it together and it looked
like a real book.  And it seemed to be crying out "Publish
me!".   How could I refuse my own creation?  Like Gippetto, 
I caved in.

Publishers move at a slow pace, so I decided to go ahead and
do a first edition myself on a small scale - a kind of
'proof of concept' exercise.  Fortunately, a local friend is
really good at graphics, and he is very supportive of the
material.  He & I came up with a good cover concept, which
he is in the process of realizing with the help of a CD
image library. He also has ideas for a set of 'mandala'
images, one to go at the beginning of each stage of the

Since we aren't going for quantity with this edition, we
decided to go for quality instead.  The cover and paper
stock will have a hand-made sort of feel, and much of the
graphics will be in a hand-drawn style. On the copyright
page it will say:

    Copyright (C) 2002 by Quay Largo Productions, Wexford,
    Ireland. All rights reserved. This first edition is
    available in limited quantities from the author. Each copy
    is signed and numbered.  The author can be reached by email
    at: •••@••.•••.

The text layer of the cover looks like this

      The Zen of Global 

    how to change the world 
     without really trying

       Nasrudin O'Shah


We're looking only to recover the costs of the production
run and postage.  When we find out how many people want a
copy, then we can figure out what the price will need to be.
Depending on how this venture turns out, we might seek some
kind of publisher to handle a second printing, and we might
get the project linked into  We'll see.  I don't
want to push the material... I want to give it some
reasonable exposure, but to go further it must show that it
can generate a demand based on what it has to offer.

Please let me know if you want to reserve a first-edition
copy. You are also invited to send in comments that could be
used on the back cover, if you feel so inclined. You can
preview the book in any of the formats mentioned earlier.  If
anyone knows how to put it into .pdf format, please contact

There you have it.  The story of the quest story, from the
beginning and into the future. And you have been introduced
to nasrudin, who may feel inclined to post occasional
comments to our lists.  He may also get involved in some
network of his own, that remains to be seen.   In any case,
he's promised to stay in touch and to respond to email.

Sorry to present you with such a long rkm monologue.  Next
posting(s) will be reader's comments, some speaking to rkm and
some speaking to nasrudin.  I suspect each will post a

all the best,