Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey – Sufi Story and Explanation

Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey - A Sufi Spiritual Story by Idries ShahNuri Bey was a reflective and respected Albanian, who had married a wife much younger than himself. One evening when he had returned home earlier than usual, a faithful servant came to him and said:

“Your wife, our mistress, is acting suspiciously. She is in her apartment with a huge chest, large enough to hold a man, which belonged to your grandmother. It should contain only a few ancient embroideries. I believe that there may now be much more in it. She will not allow me, your oldest retainer, to look inside.”

Nuri went to his wife's room, and found her sitting disconsolately beside the massive wooden box. “Will you show me what is in the chest?” he asked.

“Because of the suspicion of a servant, or because you do not trust me?”

“Would it not be easier to just open it, without thinking about the undertones?” asked Nuri.

“I do not think it is possible.”

“Is it locked?”


“Where is the key?”

She held it up, “Dismiss the servant and I will give it to you.”

The servant was dismissed. The woman handed over the key and herself withdrew, obviously troubled in mind.

Nuri Bey thought for a long time. Then he called four gardeners from his estate. Together they carried the chest by night unopened to a distant part of the grounds and buried it.

The matter was never referred to again.

This Sufi spiritual story is from the book Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah. It is a delightful book full of Sufi spiritual stories.

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What Is the Spiritual Moral / Meaning of the “Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey” Story?

The story weaves a profound tale about trust and suspicion. It invites us to reflect on the balance between trust and doubt in our lives. Suspicion can cloud our judgment, causing us to question the intentions of those around us. However, it also raises the question: when is trust warranted, and when should one heed suspicion? This moral nudges us to contemplate the delicate interplay between trust and skepticism, urging us to navigate this balance with wisdom and discernment.

Additionally, the story emphasizes the complexity of human relationships and the challenges of communication. It highlights the need for open, honest dialogue in relationships, free from the shadows of suspicion. Misunderstandings and suspicions can strain even the most intimate connections. It encourages us to foster open lines of communication and understanding to prevent mistrust from overshadowing our relationships.

Furthermore, the narrative touches upon the theme of intuition and inner knowing. Nuri Bey's decision to bury the chest without ever opening it reflects an intuitive response to a situation fraught with suspicion. It suggests the significance of trusting one's instincts and inner guidance, even in situations where the truth remains veiled. This aspect of the story encourages us to honor our intuition, recognizing its wisdom in guiding us through uncertain circumstances.

Moreover, the tale sheds light on the power of silence and discretion. Nuri Bey's decision to bury the chest and never address the matter again underscores the potency of silence in resolving conflicts or suspicions. Silence can sometimes be a sanctuary, offering solace and resolution without escalating tensions or creating discord. It suggests that choosing silence in certain situations can be a dignified way to diffuse tensions and preserve harmony.

Ultimately, the story hints at the enigmatic nature of secrets and hidden truths. It acknowledges that some secrets are better left untouched, veiled in mystery. The decision to bury the chest unopened signifies a respect for privacy and a recognition that some truths may not need to be unraveled. It suggests that respecting boundaries and allowing certain mysteries to remain untouched can preserve peace and harmony in our lives.

In essence, this story, through its layers of trust, suspicion, intuition, communication, and secrecy, offers a reflective journey into the complexities of human relationships and the mysteries that often linger beneath the surface. It beckons us to contemplate the delicate dance between trust and doubt, the value of intuitive wisdom, and the significance of silence in maintaining peace and understanding. It serves as a gentle reminder to approach suspicions with discernment and to honor the sanctity of silence when necessary, embracing the mysteries that enrich our lives.