The night's departed; yet, my friend,
Our story's not yet at an end.
Some one said: Here is something I have forgotten.
The Master said: There is one thing in this world which must never
be forgotten. If you were to forget everything else, but did not
forget that, then there would be no cause to worry; whereas if
you performed and remembered and did not forget every single thing,
but forget that one thing, then you would have done nothing whatsoever.
It is just as if a king had sent you to the country to carry out
a specified task. You go and perform a hundred other tasks; but
if you have not performed that particular task on account of which
you had gone to the country, it is as though you have performed
nothing at all. So man has come in this world for a particular
task, and that is his purpose; if he does not perform it, then
he will have done nothing.
We offered the trust to the
heavens and the earth
and the mountains, but they refused to carry it
and were afraid of it; and man carried it. Sure
he is sinful, very foolish.
'We offered that trust to the heavens,
but they were unable to accept it.' Consider ho may tasks are
performed by the heavens, whereas the human reason is bewildered.
The heavens convert common stone into rubies and cornelians; they
make mountain into mines of gold and silver; they cause the herbs
of the earth to germinate and spring into life, making a veritable
Garden of Eden. The earth too receives the seeds and bears fruit;
it covers up blemishes; it accepts and reveals a hundred thousand
marvels such as can never be told in full. The mountains too give
forth all those multifarious mines. All these things they do,
yet that on thing is not performed by them; that task is performed
And We honoured the Children
God id not say, 'And We honoured
heaven and earth.' So that task which is not performed by the
heavens and the earth and the mountains is performed by man. When
he performs that task, 'sinfulness' and 'folly' are banished from
If you say, 'Even if I do not perform
that task, yet so many tasks are performed by me,' you were not
created fore those other tasks. It is as though you were to procure
a sword of priceless Indian steel such as is to be found only
in the treasuries of kings and were to convert it into a butcher's
knife for cutting up putrid meat, saying, 'I am not letting this
sword stand idle, I am putting it to so may useful purposes.'
Or it is as though you were to take a golden bowl and cook turnips
in ti, whereas for a single grain of that gold you could procure
a hundred pots. Or it is as though you were to take a dagger of
the fines temper and make of it a nail for a broke gourd, saying,
'I am making good use of it. I am hinging the gourd on it. I am
not letting this dagger stand idle.' How lamentable and ridiculous
that would be! When the gourd can be perfectly well served by
means of a wooden or an iron nail whose value is a mere farthing,
how does it make sense to employ for the task a dagger valued
at a hundred pounds?
God most High has set a great price
on you , for He says:
God has bought from the believers
and their possessions against the gift of Paradise.
The poet says;
You are more precious than both
heaven and earth:
What can I more? You know not your own worth
Sell not yourself at little price,
Being so precious in God's eyes.
God says, 'I have bought you, your
moments, you breaths, you possessions, your lives. If they are
expended on Me, if you give them to Me, the price of them is everlasting
Paradise. This is your worth in My sight.'If you sell yourself
to Hell, it is yourself you will have wronged, just like the man
who hammered the dagger worth a hundred pounds into the wall and
hung a jug or a gourd up it.
To return: you put forward your excuse,
saying, 'I expend myself upon lofty tasks. I am studying jurisprudence,
philosophy, logic, astronomy, medicine and the rest.' Well, for
whose sake but your own are you doing all these things? If it
is jurisprudence, it is so that nobody shall steal a loaf out
of your hands or strip you of your clothes or kill you, in short
it is for your won security. If it is astronomy, the phases of
the sphere and its influence upon the earth, whether it is light
or heavy, portending tranquillity or danger, all these things
are connected with your own situation and server your ends; if
the star is lucky or unlucky, it is connected with your won ascendant
and likewise serves your own ends. When you consider the matter
well, the root of the whole business is yourself; all these other
things are but branches of yourself.
If these things, which are a branch
of yourself, are so multifarious and comprise so may marvels,
phases and worlds both wonderful and without end, consider what
phases you may pass through, who are the root! If you branches
have their ascensions and descensions, their lucky and unlucky
aspects, consider what may transpire to you who are the root,
what ascension and descension in the world of spirits, what luck
and unluck, what profit and loss! Such a spirit possesses this
property and produces that; such as one is suitable for such a
For you there is other food, besides
this food of sleep and eating. The Prophet said, 'I pass the night
in the presence of my Lord, He giving me to eat and drink.' In
this lower world you have forgotten that heavenly food, being
occupied with this material sustenance. Night and day you are
nourishing your body. Now this body is your horse, and this lower
world is its stable. The food of the horse is not the food of
the rider; the rider has his own kind of sleeping and eating and
taking enjoyment. But because the animal and the bestial have
the upper hand over you, you have lagged behind with your horse
in the stable for horses and do not dwell in the ranks of kings
and princes of the world eternal. Your heart is there, but inasmuch
as the body has the upper hand you are subject to the body's rule
and have remained its prisoner.
Even so when Majnun was making for
Laila's dwelling-place, so long as he was fully conscious he drove
his camel in that direction. But when for a moment he became absorbed
in the thought of Laila and forget his camel, the camel which
had a foal in a certain village profited of the opportunity to
return in its tracks and came to that village. On coming to his
senses Majnun found that he had gone back a distance of two days'
journeying. For three months he continued on this way thus. Finally
he exclaimed, 'this camel is the ruin of me!' So saying, he jumped
off the camel and continued on foot, singing:
My camel's desire is behind me,
and my desire is before:
She and I are at cross purposes, and agree no more.
The Master said: Saiyid Burhan al-Din
Muhaqqiq, God sanctify his lofty spirit, declared: Someone came
and said, 'I heard your praises sung by So-and-so.' Burhan al-Din
replied: 'Wait until I see what sort of a man he is, whether he
is of sufficient rank to know me and to praise me. If he knows
me only by word of mouth, then he does not truly know me. For
these words do not endure; these syllable and sounds do not endure;
these lips and this mouth do not endure. All these things are
mere accidents. But if he likewise knows me by my works and if
he knows my essential self, then I know that he is able to praise
me and that that praise belongs to me.'
This is like the story they tell
of a certain king. This king entrusted his son to a team of learned
me. In due course they had taught him the sciences of astrology,
geomancy and so forth so that he became a complete master, despite
his utter dullness of wit and stupidity.
One day the king took a ring in his
fist and put his son to the test.
'Come, tell me what I am holding in my fist.'
'The thing you are holding is round, yellow and hollow,' the prince
'Since you have given all the signs correctly,
now pronounce what thing it is,' the king said.
'It must be a sieve,' the prince replied.
'What?' cried the king. 'You gave correctly all the minute signs,
such as might well baffle the minds of men. Out of all your powerful
learning and knowledge how is it that this small point has escaped
you, that a sieve cannot be contained in the fist?'
In the same way the great scholars
of the age split hairs on all manner of sciences. They know perfectly
and have a complete comprehension of those other matters which
do not concern them. But as for what is truly of moment and touches
a man more closely than all else, namely his won self, this your
great scholar does not know. He pronounces on the legality or
otherwise of every thing, saying. 'This is permitted and that
is not permitted, this is lawful and that is unlawful.' Yet he
knows not his own self, whether it is lawful or unlawful, permissible
or not permissible, pure or impure.
Now these attributes of being hollow
and yellow, inscribed and circular, are merely accidental. Cast
the object into the fire, and none of them will remain. It will
become its essential self, purified of all these attributed. So
it is with the 'sings' they give of any things, whether science,
act or word; they have no connexion with the substance of the
thing, which alone continues when all these 'signs' are gone.
That is how it is with their 'signs'; they speak of all these
things, expound them, and finally pronounce that what the king
has in his fist is a sieve, since they have no knowledge at all
of that which is the root of the matter.
I am a bird. I am a nightingale.
I am a parrot. If they say to me, 'Make some other kind of sound,'
I cannot. Since my tongue is such as it is, I cannot speak otherwise;
unlike one who has learned the song of the birds. He is not a
bird himself; on the contrary, he is the enemy of the birds and
their fowler. He sings and whistles so that they may take him
for a bird. Order him to produce a different kind of not and he
is able to do so since that not is merely assumed by him, and
is not truly his own. He is able to make other notes because he
has learned to rob men on their household goods and to show a
different kind of linen filched from every home.
The root of the matter is that Ibn
Chavish should guard against backbiting in regard to Shaikh Salah
al-Din. Perchance that would profit him, and these shadows and
this overcovering would be removed from him.
The root of the matter is that Ibn
Chavish should guard against backbiting in regard to Shaikh Salah
al-Din. Perchance that would profit him, and these shadows and
this overcovering would be removed from him.
What does this Ibn Chavish say regarding
himself? Men have left their own country, their fathers and mothers,
their households and kinsmen and families, and have journeyed
from Hind to Sind, making boots of iron until they were cut to
shreds, haply to encounter a man having the fragrance of the other
world. How may men have died of this sorrow, not succeeding and
not encountering such a man! As for you, you have encountered
such a man here in your own house, and you turn your back on him.
This is surely a great calamity and recklessness.
He used to counsel me regarding the
Shaikh of Shaikhs Salah al-Haqq wa'l-Din, God perpetuate his rule,
that he was a great and mighty man, as was manifest in his face.
'The least thing, from the day I entered the service of our Master,
was that I never heard him any day mentioning your name except
as Our Master, Our Lord, Our Creator. I never heard him change
this expression on a single day.' Is it not his evil ambitions
that have now inhibited him? Today he says of Shaikh Salah al-Din
that he is nothing.
What wrong has Shaikh Salah al-Din
ever done him? It is only that, seeing him falling into the pit,
he says to him, 'Do not fall into the pit.' This he says out of
compassion for him above all other men; and he detests that compassion.
For when you do something displeasing to Salak al-Din, you find
yourself in the midst of his wrath; and when you are plunged in
his wrath, how will you be cleared? But whenever you find yourself
shrouded and blackened by the smoke of Hell, and he counsels you
saying, 'Do not dwell in my wrath; move from the house of my wrath
and anger into the house of my grace and my compassion; for if
you do something pleasing to me, you will enter the house of my
love and my grace'-then your heart is cleared of darkness and
becomes full of light.
He counsels you for your won sake
and for your own good; and you impute that compassion and counsel
to some ulterior motive. What ulterior motive or enmity should
a man like that have towards you? Is it not the case, that whenever
you are excited by tasting forbidden drinks, or hashish, or by
listening to music, or by some other means, in that hour you are
pleased with your every enemy, forgiving him and longing to kiss
hi hands and feet? In that hour, unbeliever and believer are all
alike in your eyes. Now Shaikh Salah al-Din is the very root of
this spiritual joy; all the seas of joy are in him. How should
he hate any man, or have designs against him? I take pity for
God's servants. And even if it ere not so, what designs should
he have against such as locusts and frogs? How can he, who possesses
such empire and grandeur, be compared with these miserable pauper?
Is it not the case, that they say
that the Water of Live is to be found in darkness? That darkness
is the body of the saints, in whom is found the Water of Life.
The Water of Life can only be encountered in darkness. If you
abhor this darkness and fight shy of it, how will the Water of
Life ever come to you?
Is it not the case that if you seek
to learn sodomy from sodomites, or harlotry from harlots you cannot
that unless you put up with a thousand disagreeable things, beatings,
and thwarting of your desires? Only so can you attain what you
desire, and learn that thing. How then, if you desire to procure
eternal and everlasting life, which is the station of the prophets
and the saints, and nothing disagreeable ever occurs to yo, and
you never give up anything, how shall that come to pass?
What the Shaikh prescribes for you
is the same as what the Shaikhs of old prescribed, that you leave
your wife and children, your wealth and position. Indeed, they
used to prescribe for a disciple, 'Leave your wife, that we may
take her'; and they put up with that. As for you, when he counsels
you a simple thing, how is it that you do not put up with that?
Yet it may happen that you will hat a
which is better for you.
What do these people say? They are
overcome by blindness and ignorance, not considering how a person,
when he loves a youth or a woman, will fawn and grovel and sacrifice
all his wealth, seeking somehow to trick her by expending his
every effort, if only he may conciliate her, night and day not
wearying of this, wearying of all else. Then is the love of the
Shaikh and the love of God less than this?
As for him, at the least prescription
and counsel and boldness he objects and deserts the Shaikh. Hence
it is known that he is no lover or seeker. Were he a true lover
and seeker, he would put up with many times what we have described.
To his heart, dung would be honey and sugar.
This discourse, which is entirely
in Arabic, is a reproof to a disciple for backbiting against a
certain member of the circle.
Ibn Chavish: Najm al-Din ibn Khurram Chavish, addressee of a letter
from Rumi, , see his Maktubat (Teheran 1957), p. 56.
Salah al-Din: Faridun Zarkub, see Discourse 21.
'Yet it may happen': Koran II 213.
It is better not to question the
fakir, for that is as much as to urge an oblige him to invent
a lie. For when a materialist questions him, he has to reply.
He cannot answer him truthfully, since he is not worthy of or
receptive to such an answer, and his mouth and lips are not suitable
to take such a morsel. So the fakir must answer him appropriately
to his capacity and ruling start, namely by inventing a lie so
as to get rid of him, and though everything that the fakir says
is true and cannot be a le, yet in comparison with his former
answer and statement and truth that is a lie; except that to the
listener it is relatively right, and more than right.
A certain dervish had a disciple
who used to beg for him. One day out of the yield of his begging
he brought some food to his mater. The dervish are the food. That
night he experienced nocturnal emission.
'From whom did you bring that food?' he asked
'A lovely girl gave it to me,' the disciple answered.
'By Allah,' rejoined the dervish, 'it is twenty
years since I had a nocturnal emission. This was the effect of
This shows that the dervish must
be cautious and not eat the morsel of everyone. For the dervish
is delicate; things have their effect on him and become visible,
just as a little blackness shows on a clean white gown; as for
a black gown which has become black with grime for many years
and has lost all whiteness, if a thousand kinds of filth and grease
should trickle on it it would not appear on it to the people.
This being so, the dervish must not eat the morsel of sinners
and those who live on iniquity, and of materialists. For the morsel
of such a man has an effect on the dervish, and corrupt thoughts
manifest under the influence of that strange morsel - so that
the dervish had nocturnal emission through consuming the food
of that girl.
There is a head which is adorned
by a golden cap; and there is a head, the beauty of whose curls
in concealed by a golden cap and a jewelled crown. For the curls
of the lovely ones attract love; love is the throne-room of the
hearts; the golden crown is an inanimate thing, whereof the wearer
is the heart's beloved. We sought everywhere Solomon's ring, peace
be upon him; we found it in poverty. In this beauteous one likewise
took we our repose, and she was pleased with nothing so much as
Well, I am a whoremonger; since I
was little, this has been my trade. I know that this remove hindrances,
this consumes veils; this is the root of all acts of obedience,
the rest are mere branches. If you do not cut the throat of a
sheep, of what use is it to blow on its trotter? Fasting lead
to annihilation, where is the last of all pleasures
And God is with the patients
Whatever shop is in the bazaar, or
any potion, or merchandise, or trade, the end of the thread of
each one of these is the need of the human soul, and that end
of the thread is hidden; until the need for those things arises,
the end of the thread is hidden; until the need for those things
arises, the end of the thread does not stir or become visible.
Similarly with every religion, every faith, every grace, every
miracle, all the states of the prophets - the end of the thread
of every one of these is in the human spirit; until the need arises,
that end of the thread does not stir or become visible.
We have numbered in a clear register.
The Master said: Is the agent of
good and evil one thing or two things? The answer, from the point
of view that in the time of hesitation they are in dispute one
with the other, is categorically two; for one person cannot be
opposed to himself. From the point of view that evil is inseparable
from good - for good is the abandonment of evil and the abandonment
of evil is impossible without evil: that good is incitement of
evil, there would be no abandonment of good - from this point
of view they are not two. The Magians said that Yazdan is the
creator of good things and Ahriman is the creator of evil and
hateful things. To this we reply that desirable things are not
apart from hateful things. The desirable cannot exist without
the hateful, since the desirable is the cessation of the hateful,
and the cessation of the hateful without the hateful is impossible.
Joy is the cessation of sorrow; the cessation of sorrow without
sorrows is impossible. So they are one and indivisible.
I said: Until a thing passes away,
its use does not become manifest. So, until the letters of a word
pass away into speech, their use does not reach the listener.
Whoever says evil of the gnostic in reality says good reality
says good of the gnostic; for the gnostic shies away from that
quality, blame for which might settle on him. The gnostic is the
enemy of that quality; hence, he who speaks evil of that quality
speaks evil of the enemy of the gnostic and praises the gnostic;
for the gnostic shies away from such a blameworthy thing, and
he who shies away from the blameworthy is himself praiseworthy.
'Things become clear through their opposites.' Hence the gnostic
knows that the critic is not really his enemy and his dispraiser.
I am as a smiling garden set about
by a wall, and on that wall are all kinds of filth and thorns.
The passer-by does not see the garden; he sees that wall and its
uncleanness, and speaks evil of it. Why then should the garden
by angry with him? Except that his evil speaking is to his own
detriment; for he must put up with the wall in order to reach
the garden. So by finding fault with the wall he remains far from
the garden; hence h has worked his own destruction. Therefore
the prophet, God's blessing be upon him, said, 'I laugh as I slay.'
That is, 'I have no enemy'-that he should be angry in chastising
him. He kills the unbeliever in one way, so that the unbeliever
may not kill himself in a hundred manners. So of course he laughs
as he slays.
The main topic of this discourse
is that good and evil are one and indivisible, being the creation
of the one God. This paradox leads, on to other paradoxes.
'And God is with the patient': Koran II 250.
'Everything We have numbered': Koran XXXVI 12.
'I laugh as I slay': also quoted in Discourse 48.
They said, 'Keep away from us
and approach us not':
How shall I keep away, seeing
you are my need?
It must of course be realised that
everyone, wherever he is, inseparably alongside of his own need.
Every living creature is alongside of his own need and constantly
attached to it. 'His need is closer to him that his farter and
mother and cleaves to him.' That need is his fetter, drawing him
in this direction and that just like a nose-ring or toggle. Now
it absurd that anyone should make a fetter for himself; for he
is seeking to escape from his fetters, and it is absurd that one
who seeks to escape should seek the fetter. So it necessarily
follows that someone else has made the fetter for hi. For instance,
he seeks after health; so he would not have made himself sick,
for it would be absurd for him to be both a seeker after sickness
and a seeker after his own health.
If a man is alongside of his own
need, he will also be alongside of the one who gives him that
need; if he is constantly attached to his own toggle, he will
be constantly attached tot he one who draws the toggle. Except
that his eyes are fixed on the toggle, so that he is without might
and strength; if his eyes were fixed on him who draws the toggle,
he would escape from the toggle, the toggle now being the one
who draws his toggle. For he was toggled so that he should not
proceed towards the toggle-drawer without the toggle. His eyes
are not fixed upon Him who draws the toggle, so of course
We shall brand him upon the muzzle.
'We shall fix a toggle upon his nose
and raw him against his will, since without a toggle he does not
come towards Us.'
They say, 'When a man is past
eighty, shall he play?'
I said, 'Shall he play before
he is eighty, pray?'
God most High bestows of His grace
upon elders a youthful passion whereof youths have no knowledge.
For youthful passion brings a freshness and causes a man to leap
and laugh and give him the desire to play, because he sees the
world as new and has not grown wear of the world. When such an
elder sees the world as new, he is given a desire to play, and
he bounds, and his skin and flesh augment.
Great is the glory of age, if
the while gray hairs
Appear, the steed of playfulness
the glory of old age is greater than the glory of God! For it
is in the spring that the glory of God appears, and in autumn
old age prevails over that, not abandoning its autumnal nature.
So the frailty of spring is the bounty of God; for with every
shedding of teeth the smile of God's spring diminishes, and with
every white hair the freshness of God's bounty is lost; with every
weeping of autumnal rain the garden of Realities is despoiled.
God is exalted above what the evildoers say!
Form came as a branch of Love;
for without love this form would have no worth. A branch is that
which cannot exist without the root. Therefore God is not called
a form; since form is the branch, He cannot be called the branch.
One said: love too cannot take form
and be compacted without form. Hence it is the branch of form.
We say: Why cannot Love take form
without form? On the contrary, Love is the artificer of form.
A hundred thousand forms are raised up by Love, pictured alike
and realised. Though the picture does not exist without the painter,
neither the painter without the picture, yet the painting is the
branch and the painter is the root. It is like the moving of the
finger with the moving of the ring.
So long as there exists no love for
a house, no architect makes the form and conception of the house.
In like manner one year corn is at the price of gold, another
year it is at the price of dust. The form of the corn is the same;
therefore the worth and value of the form of the corn came through
love. Again, that science which you pursue with such love - in
your eyes it is valuable, but in times when no one pursues any
science no one learns and professes that science.
They say that Love is after all the
want and need for a certain thing; hence the need is the root,
and the thing needed is the branch. I say: After all, these words
which you speak you speak out of need. After all, these words
came into existence out of your need. When you had the inclination
for these words, these words were born. Therefore the need was
prior, and these words were born from it. Therefore need existed
without the words. Therefore love and need are not a branch of
One said: After all, the object of
that need was these words, so how can the object be the branch?
I said: The object is always the
branch. For the object of the root of the tree is the branch of
Notes: Form is a
branch or derivative of love; need is the root, the thing need
is the branch. For similar discussion in the Masnavi, see IV,
Gratitude is a hunting and a shackling
of benefits. When you hear the voice of gratitude, you get ready
to give more. When God loves a servant He afflicts him; if he
endures with fortitude, he chooses him; if he is grateful, He
elects him. Some men are grateful to God for His wrathfulness
and some are grateful to Him for His graciousness. Each of the
two classes is good; for gratitude is a sovereign antidote, changing
wrath into grace. The intelligent and perfect man is he who is
grateful for harsh treatment, both openly and in secret; for it
is he whom God has elected. If God's will be the bottom reach
of Hell, by gratitude His purpose is hastened.
For outward complaining is a diminution
of inward complaining. Muhammad said, peace be upon him, 'I laugh
as I slay.' That means, 'My laughing in the face of him who is
harsh to me is a slaying of him.' The intention of laughter is
gratitude in the place of complaining.
It is related that a certain Jew
lived next door to one of the Companions of God's Messenger. This
Jew lived in an upper room, whence descended into the Muslim's
apartment all kinds of dirt and filth, the piddle of his children,
the water his clothes were washed in. Yet the Muslim always thanked
the Jew, and bade his family do the same. So things continued
for eight years, until the Muslim died. Then the Jew entered his
apartment, to condole with the family, and saw all the filth there,
and how it issued from his upper room. So he realised what had
happened during the past years, and was exceedingly sorry, and
said to the Muslim's household, 'Why on earth didn't you tell
me? Why did you always thank me? they replied, 'Our father used
to bid us be grateful, and chided us against ceasing to be grateful.'
So the Jew became a believer.
The mentioning of virtuous men
Encourages to virtue then,
Just as the minstrel with his song.
Urges the wine to pass along.
For this reason God has mentioned
in the Koran His prophets and those of His servants who were righteous,
and thanked them for what they did unto Him who is All-powerful
Gratitude for sucking the breast
is a blessing. Though the breast be full, until you suck it the
milk does not flow.
Someone asked: What is the cause
of ingratitude, and what is that prevents gratitude?
The Master answered: The preventer
of gratitude is inordinate greed. For whatever a man may get,
he was greedy for more than that. It was inordinate greed that
impelled him to that, so that when he got less than what he had
set his heart upon his greed prevented him from being grateful.
So he was heedless of his own defect, and heedless also of the
defect and adulteration of the coin he proffered.
Raw and inordinate greed is like
eating raw fruit and raw bread and raw meant; inevitably t generates
sickness and begets ingratitude. When a man realises that he has
eaten something unwholesome, a purge becomes necessary. God most
High in His wisdom makes him suffer through ingratitude so that
he may be purged and rid of that corrupt conceit, lest that one
sickness become a hundred sicknesses.
And we tried them with good
things and evil, that
haply they should return.
That is to say: We made provision
for them from whence they had never reckoned, namely the unseen
world, so that their gaze shrinks form beholding the secondary
causes, which are as it were partners to God. It was in this sense
that Abú Yazid said, 'Lord, I have never associated any
with Thee.' God most High said, 'O Abú Yazid, not even
on the night of the milk? You said one night, "The milk has
done me harm." It is I who do harm, and benefit.' Abú
Yazid has looked at the secondary cause, so that God reckoned
him a polytheist and said, 'It is I know do harm, after the milk
and before the milk; but I made the milk for a sin, and the harm
for a correction such as a teacher administers.'
When the teacher says, 'Don't eat
the fruit,' and the pupils eats it, and the teacher beats him
on the sole of his foot, it is not right for the pupil to say,
'I ate the fruit and it hurt my foot.' On this basis, whoso preserves
his tongue from ascribing partners to God, God undertakes to cleanse
his spirit of the weeds of polytheism. A little with God is much.
The difference between giving praise
and giving thanks is that thanks given for benefits received.
One does not say, 'I gave thanks to him for his beauty and his
bravery.' Praisegiving is more general.
Notes: This discourse
which is partly in Arabic and partly in Persian touches on the
merits of gratitude to God and the causes of ingratitude.
'The mentioning of virtuous men': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa,
'And We tried them': Koran VII 166
A certain person was leading the
prayers, and he chanted:
The Bedouins are more stubborn in unbelief
By chance a Bedouin chieftain was
present. He gave the chanter a good box on the ears. In the second
genuflection he chanted:
Some of the Bedouins believe in God and
the Last Day.
The Bedouin exclaimed, 'Ha, that
slap has taught you better manners!'
Every moment we receive a slap from
the unseen world. Whatever we propose to do, we are kept away
from it by a slap and we take another course. As the saying goes,
'We have no power of our own, it is all a swallowing up and vomiting'.
It is also said, 'It is easier to cut the joints than to cut a
connexion.' The meaning of 'swallowing' is descending into this
lower world and becoming one of its people; the meaning of 'vomiting'
is dropping out of the heart. For instance, a man east some food
and it turns sour in his stomach, and he vomits it. If that food
had turned sour and he not vomited it, it would have become a
part of the man.
Even so a disciple courts and dances
service so as to find a place in the heart of the shaikh. Anything
issuing from the disciple (God be our refuge!) which displeases
the shaikh and is cast forth out of his heart is like the food
which the man eats and then vomits. Just as that food would have
become the shaikh, and because of his displeasing conduct he cast
him out of his heart.
love made proclamation to the world
every heart into confusion hurled,
burnt all up and into ashes turned
to the indifferent wind those ashes spurned.
In that wind of indifference the
atoms of the ashes of those hearts are dancing and making lament.
If they are not so, then who ever conveyed these tiding and who
is it that ever moment anew brings these tidings? And if the hearts
do not perceive their very life to consist in that burning up
and spurning to the wind, how is it that they are so eager to
be burned? As for those hearts which have been burned up in the
fire of worldly lusts and become ashes, do your hear any sound
or see any lustre of them?
well I know - and no wont of mine
he who is my soul's sustenance
Will come to see me.
I run after him, hard's the quest
My love to attain;
let me sit quiet, and he will come
Without my pain
well I know the rule of God's providing man's daily bread. It
is no rule of mine to run about hither and thither to no
purpose and so exert myself needlessly. Truly, when I renounce
all thought of silver and food and raiment and the fire of lust,
my daily portion will come to me. But when I run after those daily
portions, the quest of them pains and wearies me and distresses
me; if I sit in my own place with patience, that will come to
me without paint and distress. For that daily portion is also
seeking after me and drawing me; when it cannot draw me it comes
to me, just as when I cannot draw it I got after it.'
upshot of these words is this; occupy yourself with the affairs
of the world to come, that the world itself may run after you.
The meaning of 'sitting' in this context is sitting in application
to the affairs of the world to come. If a man runs, when he runs
for the sake of the world to come he is truly seated; if he is
seated, if he is seated for the sake of the present world he is
running. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, 'Whosoever makes
all his cares a single care, God will suffice him as to all his
others cares.' If a man is beset by ten cares, let him choose
the care for the world to come and God most High will put right
for him those other nine cares without any effort on his part.
prophets cares nothing for fame and daily bread. Their only care
was to seek God's approval; and they attained both daily bread
and bread. Whosoever seeks God's good pleasure, such men in this
world and the next will be with the prophets and be their bedfellows.
They are with those whom God has blessed,
just men, martyrs, the righteous.
place indeed in there for this, seeing that they are sitting with
God Himself? 'I sit with him who remembers Me.' Did God not sit
with him, the yearning for God would never enter his heart. The
scent of the rose never exists without the rose; the scent of
musk never exists without the musk.
is no end to these words; if there were an end to them, yet they
would not be as other words.
The night's departed; yet, my friend,
story's not yet at an end.
night and darkness of this world passes away, and the light of
these words every moment becomes clearer. Even so the night of
the life of the prophets departed, peace be upon them, yet the
light of their discourse departed not and came not to an
end, nor ever will.
said about Majnún, 'If he loves Lailá, what is so strange in that,
seeing that they were children together and went to the same school?'
Majnún said, 'These men are fools, What pretty women is not desirable?'
Is there any man whose heart is not stirred by a lovely woman?
Women are the same. It is love by which a man's heart is bed and
finds savior; just as the sight of mother and father and brothers,
the pleasure of children, the pleasure of lust - all kinds of
delight are rooted in love. Majnún was an example of all lovers,
just as in grammar Zaid and 'Amr are quoted.
Feast on sweetmeats or on roast,
Drink the wine that you love most:
What's that savour on your lips?
Water that a dreamer sips!
When tomorrow you arise
great thirst upon you lies,
use will be that deep
you've taken whilst asleep.
world is as the dream of a sleeper.' This world and its delights
is as thought a man has eaten a thing whilst asleep. So for him
to desire worldly needs is as if he desired something whilst sleeping
and was given it; in the end, when he is awake, he will not be
profited by what he ate whilst asleep. So he will have asked for
something whilst asleep, and have been given it. 'The present
is proportionate to the request.'
The unseen world intervenes at every moment of our lives to keep
us from disaster. The mystic should surrender himself in confidence
to God's care and attend only to those things which appertain
to eternal life.
of the Bedouins believe': Koran IX 100
love mad proclamation': not traced.
well I know': Arabic verses by the Umayyad poet 'Urwa ibn Adhína,
see Abu 'I-Faraj, al-Aghani XXI, p. 107
makes all his cares': a favourite Tradition with the Sufis.
are with those whom God; Koran IV 71
sit with him who remembers Me': see al-Ghazzali, Ihya'
II, p. 141
night's departed': pat of a quatrain ascribed to Rumi, Ruba'iyat,
Until you seek you cannot find-
That's true, save of the Lover:
You cannot see Him, being blind,
Until you shall discover.
human quest consist in seeking a thing which one has not yet found;
night and day a man in engaged in searching for that. But the
quest where the thing has been found and the object attained,
and yet there is one who is seeking for that thing - that is a
strange quest indeed, surpassing the human imagination, inconceivable
to man. For man's quest is for something new which he has not
yet found; this quest is for something on has found already and
the one seeks. This is God's quest; for God most High has found
all things, and all things are found in His omnipotent power.
'Be and it is - the Finder, the Bountiful'; for God has
found all things, and so he is the Finder. Yet for all that God
most High is the Seeker: 'He is the Seeker, the Prevailer. The
meaning of the saying quoted above is therefore, 'O man, so long
as you are engaged n the quest that is created in time, which
is human attribute, you remain far from the goal. When your quest
passes away in God's quest and God's quest overrides your quest,
the you become a seeker by virtue of God's quest'.
said: We have no categorical proof as to who is a friend of God
and has attained union with God. Neither words nor deeds nor miracles
nor anything else furnishes such a proof. For words may have been
learned by rote: as for deeds and miracles, the monks have these
also. They are able to deduce a man's inmost thoughts, and display
many wonders by means of magic. The interlocutor enumerated a
number of examples.
The Master answered: Do you believe in anyone or not?
The mans said: Yes, by Allah,. I both believe and love.
The Master said: Is this belief of yours in that person founded
upon a proof and token? or did you simply shut your eyes and take
up that person?
The man said: God forbid that my belief should be without proof
The Master said: Why then do you say that there is no proof or
token leading to belief? What you said is self-contradictory.
Someone said: Every saint and great mystic asserts, 'This nearness
which I enjoy with God and this Divine favour which God vouchsafes
to me is enjoyed by no one and is vouchsafed to no one else'.
The Master answered: Who made this statement? Was it a saint,
or someone other that a saint? If it was a saint who stated this,
inasmuch as he knows that every saint has this belief regarding
himself, he cannot be the sole recipient of this Divine favour.
If someone other than a saint made this statement, then in very
truth he is the friend and elect of God; for God most High has
concealed this secret from all the saints and has not hidden it
person propounded a parable. Once there was a king who had ten
concubines. The concubines said, 'We wish to know which of is
dearest to thee king.' The king declared, 'Tomorrow this ring
shall be in the apartment of whomsoever I love best.' Next day
the king commanded then rings to be made identical with that ring,
and gave one ring to each maiden.
Master said: The question still stands, This is no answer, and
it is irrelevant to the issue. This statement was made either
by one of the ten maidens, or by someone apart from the ten maidens.
If it was one of the ten maidens who made the statement, then
since she knew that the ring was not heirs exclusively and that
each of the maidens had the like of it, it follows that she had
no superiority over the rest and was not the most beloved. If
however the statement was made by someone other than those ten
maidens, then that person was the king's favourite and beloved
said: The lover must be submissive and abject and long-suffering.
And he enumerated the like qualities.
Master said: In that case the lover must be like that, alike when
the beloved wishes it or no. But if he is so without the desire
of the beloved, then he is not truly a lover but is following
his own desire. If he accords with the desire of the beloved,
then when the beloved does not wish him to be submissive and abject,
how should he be submissive and abject? Hence it is realised that
the states affecting the lover are unknown, only how the beloved
wishes him to be.
said, 'I wonder at a living creature, how it can eat a living
creature.' The literalist say that man eats the flesh of animals,
and both are animals. This is an error. Why? Because man it is
true eats flesh; but that is not animal, it is inanimate, for
when the animal was killed animality no longer remained in it.
The true meaning of the saying is that the shaikh mysteriously
devours the disciple. I wonder at a procedure so extraordinary!
propounded the following question. Abraham, upon whom be peace,
said to Nimrod, 'My God brings the dead to life and turns the
living into the dead.' Nimrod said, 'I too, when I banish a man,
as good as cause him to die, and when I appoint a man to a post
it is as though I bring him to life.' Abraham abandoned the argument,
being compelled to yield the point. He then embarked on another
line of reasoning, saying, 'My God brings the sun up from the
east and sends it down in the west. Do the opposite of at!' Is
not this statement manifestly at variance with the other?
Master answered: God forbid that Abraham should have been silenced
by Nimrod's argument and left without any answer to it! The truth
is that he used these words to represent another idea, namely
that truth is that he used these words to represent another idea,
namely that God most High brings the fetus out of the east of
the womb and sends it down into the west of the tomb. Abraham's
proof, peace be upon him, was thus presented with perfect consistency.
God most High created a man anew every moment, sending something
perfectly fresh into his inner heart. The first is in no way like
the second, neither is the second like the third. Only man is
unconscious of himself and odes not know himself.
Mahmúd, God have mercy on him, was brought a sea-horse, a fine
beat with a most lovely shape. Next festival day he rode out on
that horse and all the people sat on the rooftops to see him and
to enjoy that spectacle. One drunken fellow however remained seated
in his apartment. By main force they carried him up to the roof,
saying, 'You come too and look at the sea-horse!' He said,
'I am busy with my own affairs. I don't want and don't care to
see it.' In short, he could not escape. As he sat there on the
edge of the roof, extremely drunk, the Sultan passed by. When
the drunken fellow saw the Sultan on the horse he cried out, 'What
store do I set by this horse? Why, if this very moment some minstrel
were to sing a song and that horse were mine, immediately I would
give it to him.' Hearing this, the Sultan became extremely angry
and commanded that he should cast into prison. A week passed.
The this man sent a message to the Sultan, saying, 'After all,
what sin did I commit and what is my crime? Let the King of the
World command that his servant be informed.' The Sultan ordered
him to be brought into his presence. He said, 'You insolent rogue,
how did you come to utter those words? How dared you speak so?'
The man answered, 'King of the World, it was not I who spoke those
words. That moment a drunken mannikin was standing on the edge
of the roof and spoke those words, and departed. This hour I am
not that fellow; I am an intelligent and sensible man.' The Sultan
was delighted by his words; he conferred on him a robe of honour
and ordered his release from the prison.
takes up connexion with us and becomes drunk with this wine, wherever
he goes, with whomsoever he sits, with whatever people he converses,
in reality he is sitting with us and mingling with this tribe.
For the company of strangers is the mirror to the graciousness
of the friend's company, and mingling with one who is not a congener
stimulates love and commingling with the congener. 'Things are
made clear by their opposites'.
Bakr Siddíd, God be well pleased with him, gave the name of ummi
to sugar, that is to say, congenital sweet. Now men prize
other fruits above sugar, saying, 'We have tasted so much bitterness
until we attained the rank of sweetness.' What do you know of
the delight of sweetness, when you have not suffered the hardship
Notes: Man's quest
is for a thing not yet found, whereas God's quest is for that
which has already been found. What is the proof that a man has
attained union with God? The proof is that he is in perfect accord
with God's will. Rúmí answers a question about Abraham's argument
'Until you seek you
cannot find': quoted from Saná i, Divan, p. 466
'Be and it is': Koran
II 3, etc.
certain gnostic once said: I went into the bath-stove that my
heart might be dilated, for it had been the place of retreat of
certain of the saints. I saw that the master of the stove had
an apprentice who was working with girded loins. The master was
telling him, 'Do this and do that.' The apprentice was labouring
briskly, and the stove gave off a fine heat on account of the
nimbleness with which he obeyed his orders.
said the master. 'Be nimble like this. If you are always energetic
and mind your manners, I will give you my own position and appoint
you in my own place.'
was overcome with laughter, and my knot was resolved, for I saw
that the bosses of this world all behave like this with their
Some have said that love is the cause
of service. This is not so. Rather it is the inclination of the
beloved that is the requisite of service. If the beloved desires
that the lover should be occupied with service, then service proceeds
from the lover; if the beloved does not desire it, then the lover
abandons service. The abandonment of service is not contrary to
love; after all, even if the lover does no service, love does
service in him. No; on the contrary, the root of the matter is
love, and service is the branch of love.
If the sleeve moves, that happens
because the hand moves. On the other hand it does not necessarily
follow that if the hand moves the sleeve also moves. For instance,
a man has a large gown, so that he rolls about in his gown and
the gown does not move. that can happen; but what is not possible
is that the gown should move without the person himself moving.
Some people have deemed the gown
itself a person, have considered the sleeve a hand an imagined
the boot and breeches a foot. This hand and foot are the sleeve
and boot of another hand and foot. They say, 'So-and-so in under
the hand of So-and-so' and 'So-and-so has a hand in so many things,'
and 'You have to hand it to So-and-so when he speaks'. Certainly
what is meant by that hand and foot is not this hand and foot.
That prince came and assembled us,
and himself departed. In the same way the bee united the wax with
the honey and itself departed and flew away. Because his existence
was a condition, after all his continuance is not a condition.
Our mothers and fathers are like bees, uniting the seeker with
the sought and assembling together the lover and the beloved.
They then suddenly fly away. God most High has made them a means
for uniting the way and the honey, and then they fly away; but
the way and honey remain, and the garden. They themselves do not
go out of eh garden; this is not such a garden that it is possible
to go out of it; but they depart from one corner of the garden
to another corner of the garden.
Our body is like a beehive in which
are the way and honey of the love of God. Though the bees, our
mothers and fathers, are the means, yet they too are tended by
the gardener; the gardener also makes the beehive. God most High
gave those bees another form; at the time when they were doing
this work they had another garment appropriate to that work, but
when they departed into the other world they changed garment,
for there another work proceeds from them. Yet the person is the
same as he was in the first place. Thus for example: a man went
into battle, and put on battledress, girded on armour and placed
a helmet on his head, because it was the time of combat. But when
he comes to the feast he puts off those garments, for he will
be occupied with another business. Yet he is the same person.
But since you have seen him in that garment, whenever you bring
him to mind you will picture him in that shape and that garment,
even though he may have changed garments a hundred times.
A man has lost a ring in a certain
place. Though the ring has been transported from that place, nevertheless
he circles around that place, implying, 'It was here that I lost
it.' So a bereaved person circles around the grave and ignorantly
circumambulates about the earth and kisses it, implying, 'I lost
that ring here'; yet how should it be left there?
God most High has performed so may
wonderful works to display His omnipotence. It was here for the
sake of Divine wisdom that He composed for a day or two spirit
with body. If a man should sit with a corpse in a tomb even for
a moment, there is fear that he may go mad. How then, when he
escapes from the trap of form and the ditch of the bodily mould,
how should he remain there? God most High has appointed that to
strike fear into men's hearts and as a token to renew that striking
of fear again and again, so that a terror may be manifest in the
hearts of men because of the desolation of the tomb and the dark
earth. In the same way, when a caravan has been ambushed in certain
place on the road, two or three stones are placed together there
to act as a waysign, as much as to say, 'Here is a place of danger.'
These graves too are a visible waysign indicating a place of danger.
Fear makes its mark on men; though
it does not necessarily follow that it should be realised. For
instance if people say to you, 'So-and-so is afraid of you', without
any cat issuing form him, an affection manifests in you
in regard to him without doubt. If on the contrary they say, 'So-and-so
is not in the least afraid of you,' and 'There is no terror of
you in his heart,' by the mere fact of this being said an anger
towards him appears in your heart.
This running about is the effect
of fear. All the world is running; but the running of each one
is appropriate to his state. The running of a man is of one kind,
the running of a plant is of another kind, the running of a spirit
is of another kind. The running of the spirit is without step
and visible sign. After all, consider the unripe grape, how much
it runs until it attains the blackness of the ripe grape; the
moment it has become sweet, at once it reaches that station. Yet
that running is invisible and imperceptible; but when it reaches
that stage, it becomes realised that it has run very much until
it arrived there. Similarly a man enters the water, and nobody
has seen him go; when suddenly he brings his head out of the water,
then it is realised that entered the water, for he has reached
Notes: The lover's
service to the beloved springs not form love but from the inclination
of the beloved. So it is in the relationship between man and God.
God joined the soul with the body, which may be compared with
a beehive, in order to display His omnipotence. Physical death
was designed by God to strike fear into men's hearts.
Between a man and God there are just
two veils, and all other veils manifest out of these: they are
health, and wealth. The man who is well in body says, 'Where is
God? I do not know, and I do not see.' As soon as pain afflicts
him he begins to say, 'O God! O God!' communing and conversing
with God. So you see that health was his veil, and Go was hidden
under that pain. As much as a man has wealth and resources, he
procures the means to gratifying his desires, and is preoccupied
night and day with that. The moment indigence, appears, his spirit
is weakened and he goes round about God.
Drunkenness and emptyhandedness brought Thee to me;
I am the slave of Thy drunkenness and indigency!
God most High granted to Pharaoh
four hundred years of life and rule and kinship and enjoyment.
All that was a veil which kept him far from the presence of God.
He experienced to a single day of disagreeableness and pain, lest
he should remember God. God said 'Go on being preoccupied with
your own desire, and do not remember me. Goodnight!'
King Solomon grew weary of his reign,
But Job was never sated of his pain.
'King Solomon grew weary': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan,
The Master said: This that
men say, that in the human soul there is an evil which does not
exist in animals and wild beasts - it is not from the standpoint
that man is worse that they; it is explained by the fact the evil
character and wickedness of soul and vileness which are in man
are according to a secret essential element which is in him. Those
characteristics and vileness and evil are a veil over that element.
The more precious and venerable and noble that element is, the
greater are its veils. So vileness and evil and bad character
are the cause of the veil over that element; and these veils cannot
be removed save with grave strivings.
Those strivings are of various kinds.
The greatest of them is to mingle with friends who have turned
their faces to God and turned their backs on this world. For there
is no more difficult striving than this, so sit with righteous
friends; for the very sight of them dissolves and naughts that
carnal soul. It is for this reason that they say that when a snake
has not seen a man for forty years it becomes a dragon; that is,
because it sees no one who would be the means of dissolving it
s evil and vileness.
Wherever men put a big lock, that
is a sign that there is to be found something precious and valuable.
So you see, the greater the veil the better the element. Just
as a snake is over the treasure, so do you not regard our ugliness,
but regard the precious things of the treasure.
'On what,' My darling cried,
'Does so-and-so abide'?
The difference between birds and
their wings, and the wings of the aspirations of intelligent men,
is that birds fly on their wings towards a certain direction,
whereas intelligent men fly on the wings of their aspirations
away from all directions.
Every horse has its stable, every
beast its pen, every bird its nest. And God knows best.
Discourses of Rumi,
by A.J. Arberrys