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The Lost Oasis

File:Oasis in Libya.jpg

When flying over the Niger bend you see a lot of water, lots of meandering rivers; the reflection of the sun in the water. The river is branching into a delta, but not anywhere near the sea. Later, further to the east, all those branches are flowing together, forming one big stream again.

Further to the north, the wetlands end and the lands turn into desert. You see a landscape of rocks and sand and sand and rocks and then, further north, an endless stretch of dunes. The sun is moving overhead and the winds are blowing and in the night there is the milky way above you but no way on the ground. The desert is where outer space penetrates the atmosphere and its lifelessness is plunging down to the ground coldly.

The Tuareg living in that land have a story about a lost oasis. If you search for it, you will never find it. You can only find it if you are not searching, not thinking of it. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, there is that lush and peaceful green place full of palms in the middle of the sands and a pool of fresh water.

If you search for it, you will never find it. It will be behind the next dune and you will pass, unknowingly.

Listen to the wisdom of your old stories. Don’t try to force your way, or that hidden peaceful place will elude you forever.

(The picture is from

6 thoughts on “The Lost Oasis

    • These stories are about keeping peace by not-acting. They are strong symbols of what the Chinese no as Wuwei (most of Chinese philosophy is about the right approach to government). I think that Nepalese story goes into the same direction.

    • What I had in mind here was the war in Mali. The colonial powers put extremely stupid borders on the map of Africa, pre-programming separatist and religious wars. But wars are no solution, they make the situation worse, as can be seen in this recent example, leading to killing, suppression and (in this case) destruction of part of the cultural heritage of Africa. I hope that the people of Africa learn from that lesson (although we human beings seem unable, as communities, to learn from our lessons).
      You may also read the text in an environmental sense.

  1. This is an archetype of sorts I think. Many cultures have this story, or something similar. Ben Okri speaks of it as well. Buddhism too. A good philosophy to follow. Even in daily, mundane, life.

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