Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:27 am

DISCOURSES OF RUMI
translated by A. J. Arberry
First published 1947

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Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Introduction
• Discourses 1-10
• Discourses 11-20
• Discourses 21-30
• Discourses 31-40
• Discourses 41-50
• Discourses 51-60
• Discourses 61-71
• Notes

Jalal al-Din Rumi, surely the greatest mystical poet in the history of mankind.

***

[ON PROSE]

I am affectionate to such a degree that when these friends come to me, for fear that they may be wearied I speak poetry so that they may be occupied with that. Otherwise, what have I to do with poetry? By Allah, I care nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes than that. It has become incumbent upon me, as when a man plunges his hands into tripe and washes it out for the sake of a guest's appetite, because the guest's appetite is for tripe.

***

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 to the 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 draw him against his will, since without a toggle he does not come towards Us.

***

How wonderfully gracious He is! He sets a seal on him, who listens and does not understand, argues and does not understand. God is gracious, and His wrath is gracious, and His lock is gracious, but not like His lock is His unlocking, for the grace of that is indescribable. If I break myself into pieces, that will be through the infinite grace and will of His unlocking and incomparable opening.

***

So it is not necessary to become wholly preoccupied with worldly affairs. One must take them easily, and not be in bondage to them, lest this should fret and that should fret. The treasure must not fret; for if these things should fret, that will transform them; whereas if that frets (we seek refuge with God!) who then will transform that? If for instance you have many kinds of cloth of every sort, when you are absorbed, why, which of them will you clutch? Though all are indispensable, yet it is certain that in the bundle you will lay hands on something precious and to be treasured; for with one pearl and a single ruby one can make a thousand decorations.

***

Though they are powerful, pluck out their beards politely;
Firmly break their necks, though they are high and mighty.

[ON MISOGYNY]

By enduring and putting up with the tyranny of women it is as though you rub off your own impurity on them. Your character becomes good through forbearance, their character becomes bad through domineering and aggression. When you have realised this, make yourself clean. Know that they are like a garment; in them you cleanse your own impurities and become clean yourself.

If you cannot succeed with yourself, deliberate with yourself in a rational way as follows. 'Let me pretend that we have never been married. She is a whore. Whenever lust overmasters me I resort to her.' Thus rid yourself of manly pride and envy and jealousy, until such time that beyond such deliberation you experience pleasure in struggling and enduring, and in their absurdities discover spiritual joy.

***

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 master. The dervish ate the food. That night he experienced nocturnal emission.
'From whom did you bring that food?' he asked the disciple.
'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 her morsel.'

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.

***

The Koran is as a bride who does not disclose her face to you, for all that you draw aside the veil. That you should examine it, and yet not attain happiness and unveiling, is due to the fact that the act of drawing aside the veil has itself repulsed and tricked you, so that the bride has shown herself to you as ugly, as if to say, 'I am not that beauty.'

[ON ANTI-SEMITISM]

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.

***

[ON WARFARE, MURDER AND TORTURE]

The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, had defeated the unbelievers, slaying and plundering and taking many prisoners whom he had fettered hand and foot. Amongst the prisoners was his uncle 'Abbas, may God be well pleased with him. They were weeping and wailing all the night through in their chains and helpless humiliation and had given up all hope of their lives, expecting the sword and slaughter. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, looked at them and laughed.

'Did you see?' the prisoners exclaimed. 'He has the attributes of a man after all. That claim of his, that he was superhuman, was contrary to the truth. There he is; he looks at us and sees us prisoners in these chains and fetters, and rejoices. So it is with all men governed by their passions -- when they get the victory over their enemies and see them vanquished to their will, they rejoice and make merry.'

'Not so,' answered the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, perceiving what was in their hearts. 'Far be it from me that I should laugh because I see my enemies vanquished to my will, or because I see you come to grief. It is for this reason that I rejoice, indeed I laugh, because I see with the inward eye that I am dragging and drawing a people by main force, by collars and chains, out of the fiery furnace and black smoke of Hell unto Paradise and Ridwan and the Eternal Garden of Roses; while they lament and cry aloud, saying, "Why are you drawing us out of this pit of destruction into that rose-bower and place of security?" So laughter overcomes me. For all that, inasmuch as you have not yet been given the vision to discover and behold this that I say, God commands me: "Say to the prisoners: First you gathered together your hosts and mustered much might, trusting completely in your virtue and valour and panoply. You said amongst yourselves, so we will do; we will conquer the Muslims so, and will vanquish them. You did not see One Omnipotent who is more powerful than yourselves, you did not know of One All-forceful above your force. So inevitably all that you planned to do turned out opposite to your designs. Even now that you are in fear, you have not repented of your old distemper; you are in despair, and do not see One Omnipotent over you. Therefore it behoves you forthwith to behold My might and strength, and to know yourselves to be vanquished to My will, so that all things may be made easy for you. Do not despair of Me, even in your present fear; for I am able to deliver you out of this fear and to make you secure. He who is able to produce out of a white bullock a black bullock is also able to bring forth out of a black bullock a white bullock. [He] brings forth the dead from the living.

***

Therefore the Prophet, God's blessings 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.

***

For some time the Companions prayed secretly and pronounced in secret the name of Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace. Then after a while the revelation came: 'You too unsheathe the sword and make war!'

***

So realise that in this world things happen as He wills, that His is the design and that the purpose is subject to Him....

'Umar was a mighty and powerful and manly man; any army he marched against he surely vanquished, exposing their decapitated heads; so much so, that the Prophet declared always, God bless him and give him peace, 'God, succour my religion by means of 'Umar or Abu Jahl.' For those two were famous in his time for strength and manliness and heroism....

Having become a Muslim, ['Umar' said, 'Now, in thanksgiving for having come against you with a naked sword and in expiation therefor, henceforward I will give quarter to no man whom I hear speaking improperly of you. With this sword I will strike his head apart from his body.' Coming out of the mosque, he suddenly encountered his father. His father said, 'You have changed religion.' Immediately he struck off his head, and walked on holding in his hand the bloodstained sword.

***

This way of poverty is a way in which you attain all your desires. Whatsoever thing you have longed for will certainly come to you on this way, whether it be the shattering of armies, victory over the enemy, capturing kingdoms, reducing people to subjection, excelling your contemporaries, elegance of speech, eloquence, and all that is like to this.

***

Just now we have been discussing this question: if one man has a family and another man has none, should one cut away from the former and give to the latter? Literalists say that you cut away from the poor family man and give to the other; when you consider the matter well, he himself in reality is a poor family man. It is the same with the spiritualist who possesses a jewel. He strikes a man and breaks his nose and jaw. Everyone says that the latter is the wronged party. But in reality the wronged party is the one striking the blow; the man doing wrong is he who does not act in his best interests. The one who has been punched and got his head broken is the wrongdoer, and the striker is assuredly the wronged party. Since he is the owner of the jewel, since he is consumed in God, his actions are God's actions. God is not called a wrongdoer. The Prophet too, God bless him and give him peace, killed and spilled blood and raided; yet they were the wrongdoers, and he was the wronged.

***

[ON SADISM AND MASOCHISM]

The Master said: It is good if you are helpless all the time and at every moment, and see yourself helpless in the state of capacity just as in the state of incapacity. For above your capacity there is a greater Capacity, and you are vanquished to God's will in every state. You are not divided into two halves, now capable and now helpless. Pay regard to His Capacity, and know yourself to be helpless always, without hand and foot, poor and utterly incapable.

***

'Love continues so long as reproof continues': one reproves friends, but one does not reprove a stranger....When a carpet is beaten to get rid of the dust, men of sense do not call that a 'reproof'; but if a man beats his own child and darling, then that is called a 'reproof' and is a proof of love. Therefore so long as you perceive pain and regret within yourself, that is a proof that God loves you and cares for you.

***

If the saints seek worldly rank and elevation, it is for this purpose: they desire to snare the worldlings, who have not the vision to behold their true elevation, in the trap of worldly rank so that they may find their way to that other elevation and fall into the trap of the world to come....The saints beguile men in order to bestow gifts on them, not in order to take anything from them.....

When a man lays a trap and by cunning catches little birds in his trap so as to eat them and sell them, that is called cunning. But if a king lays a trap so as to capture an untutored and worthless hawk which has no knowledge of its own true nature, and to train it to his own forearm so that it may become ennobled and taught and tutored, that is not called cunning. Though to outward seeming it is cunning, yet it is known to be the very acme of rectitude and bounty and generosity, restoring the dead to life, converting the base stone into a ruby, making the dead sperm into a man and far more than that. If the hawk knew for what reason men seek to capture it, it would not require any bait; it would search for the trap with soul and heart and would fly on the king's hand.

***

Those infidels who are fixed in unbelief -- after all, they suffer because of their unbelief. Yet when we look at the matter again, that suffering too is itself a Divine grace. When the unbeliever is left at ease he forgets the Creator; so God reminds him by means of suffering. Therefore Hell is a place of worship, and is the mosque of the infidels, for there the unbeliever remembers God; just as in prison and suffering and toothache -- when the pain comes, it tears away the veil of forgetfulness. The sufferer acknowledges God and makes lamentation, saying, 'O Lord, O Compassionate One, a God!' He is healed; then the veils of forgetfulness descend again and he says, 'Where is God? I cannot find him. I cannot see Him. What should I look for?'

How is it that when you were suffering you saw and found, and now you do not see? Since therefore you see when you suffer, suffering is made to prevail over you to the end that you may recollect God. The inmate of Hell was forgetful of God in the time of his ease and did not remember God; in Hell he recollects God night and day. God created the world, heaven and earth, moon and sun and stars, good and evil, that they might remember Him and serve Him and proclaim His praise. Inasmuch as the unbelievers in the time of their ease do not do this, and since their purpose in being created was to recollect God, therefore they go to Hell in order that they may remember Him. Believers however have no need to suffer; in their time of ease they are not unmindful of that suffering and see that suffering constantly present. In the same way once an intelligent child has had its feet put in the stocks that is enough, he never forgets the stocks. The stupid child however forgets, and must therefore be put in the stocks every moment. So too the clever horse, once it has felt the spur, does not require the spur again; he carries the rider for many leagues and does not forget the sting of the spur. The stupid horse however requires the spur every moment; he is not fit to carry a man, so they load him with dung.

***

Evil character and wickedness of soul and the vilenesses which are in man are according to a secret essential element which is in him. Those characteristics and vilenesses and evil are a veil over that element. The more precious and venerable and noble that element is, the greater are its veils.

***

[ON NIHILISM]

In God's presence two I's cannot be contained. You say 'I' and He says 'I': either do you die before Him, or He will die before you, so that duality may not remain. But as for God's dying, that is both impossible and inconceivable; for He is the Living, the Immortal. So gracious is He, that if it were at all possible He would die for your sake, so that duality might vanish. Now since it is not possible for Him to die, do you die so that He may reveal Himself to you and so that duality may vanish.

Tie two birds together, and despite their congeneity and the fact that their two wings have been changed to four they will not fly. That is because duality persists. But if you tie a dead bird to a living bird it will fly, because duality no longer remains.

The sun is so gracious that it would gladly die before the bat. But as that is not possible the sun says, 'O bat, my grace is universal. I desire to favour you too. So do you die, since it is possible for you to die, so that you may partake of the light of my glory and be metamorphosed out of your bathood and become the Simurgh of the Mount Qaf of propinquity.'

There was a servant of God who had the power to destroy himself for the sake of a friend. He prayed to God for such a friend, but God did not accept his petition. 'I do not wish that you should see him,' came a voice. That servant of God persisted, and would not refrain from his petition, saying, 'O God, Thou hast implanted this desire for him, and it does not depart out of me.' Finally a voice came saying, 'Do you desire that this should come to pass? Sacrifice your self, and become nothing. Do not tarry, and depart out of the world.' 'Lord, I am well content,' that servant cried. So he did: he gambled away his life for the sake of that Friend, so that his desire was accomplished.

***

Shaikh Sar-razi, God's mercy be upon him, was seated one day amongst his disciples. One of the disciples had a longing for some roasted sheep's head. The Shaikh signalled, saying, 'You must bring him some roasted sheep's head.'

'How did you know that he wanted some roasted sheep's head?' the disciples asked.

'Because it is now thirty years that no desire has remained in me,' the Shaikh answered. 'I have cleansed and purified myself of all desires and have become clear as an unscratched mirror. When the thought of roasted sheep's head entered my mind and whetted my appetite and became a desire, I knew that that belonged to our friend yonder. For the mirror is without any image of itself; if an image shows in the mirror, it is the image of another.'

***

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.

***

Do you not see that when a man is awakened, he becomes indifferent to the world also and grows cold; he also melts and perishes.

***'

The human being is like a dunghill, a heap of manure.

***

Why now do you regard this body? What connexion have you with this body? You subsist without it. You are always without it. If it is night, you have no care for the body; while if it is day, you are preoccupied with your affairs. You are never with the body. So why do you tremble over this body, seeing that you are not with it for a single hour, but are always elsewhere? Where are you, and where is the body? 'You are in one valley, and I am in another.' This body is a great deception; it thinks that it is dead, and it is dead too. Why, what connexion have you with the body? It is a great hoodwink. Pharaoh's magicians, inasmuch as they had paused like a mote, sacrificed their bodies, for they perceived themselves to be subsisting without this body and that the body had no connexion with them. In the same way Abraham and Ishmael and all the prophets and the saints, having paused, were indifferent to the body and whether it existed or no.

***

[W]hen Mansur's friendship with God reached its utmost goal, he became the enemy of himself and naughted himself. He said, 'I am God'; that is, 'I have passed away, God alone has remained.' This is extreme humility and the utmost limit of servanthood, for it means 'He only is.' Pretension and arrogance consists in your saying, 'Thou art God, and I am Thy servant.' For by saying this you have affirmed your own existence, and dualism ensues necessarily. If you say, 'He is God,' that too is duality; for until 'I' exists 'He' is impossible. Therefore it was God who said, 'I am God,' since other than He was not in existence and Mansur had passed away. Those words were God's words.

***

Die before you die'

***

Why indeed should I speak only of things that have being? Not-being too is in commotion, expectant that He will give them being. Non-entities are just like four persons ranged before a king. Each one desires and expects that the king will confer on him a special rank, and each one feels shy of the other because his expectation is contrary to the other. So the non-entities, being ranged in expectation of being brought into being by God -- 'Make me to be!' -- and desiring of the Creator each to be the first to be brought into being, therefore feel shy of one another. If the non-entities are in such a case, how should the things which have being be?

***

There is no doubt that this world is a world of winter. Why is the name 'solid' given to inanimate things? Because they are all solidified. These stones and mountains, and the garments worn by the entity, are all solidified. If this world is not a world of winter, why are they solidified? The inner substance of this world is elementary; though itself invisible, by its effects it can be known that it is wind and bitter cold.

It is like the season of winter, when all things are solidified. What manner of winter is it? Winter of the reason, not of the senses. When that Divine zephyr comes along the mountains begin to melt, the world turns to water; just as when the warmth of July comes along, all things solidified begin to liquefy. On the resurrection day when that zephyr blows, all things will melt away.

***

Now all these other men are as bodies in relation to the saints and the prophets, who are the heart of this world. First they journeyed to the other world, coming out of their human attributes, the flesh and the skin. They surveyed the depths and heights of that world and this and traversed all the stages, so that it became known to them how one must proceed on that way. Then they came back and summoned mankind, saying, 'Come to that original world! For this world is a ruin and a perishing abode, and we have discovered a delightful place, of which we tell you.'

***

'This world is as the dream of a sleeper.' This world and its delights is as though 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'.

***

God has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise.

***

Intelligent men fly on the wings of their aspirations away from all directions.

***

[ON ANIMALS]

I saw him in the form of a wild animal, upon him the skin of a fox. I made to seize him, and he was on a small balcony, looking down the stairs. He raised his hands, leaping about like this and that. Then I saw Jalal al-Tibrizi with him in the form of a stoat. He shied away, and I seized him, while he was making to bite me. I put his head under my foot and squeezed it hard, until all its contents came out. I looked at the fineness of his skin and said, 'This deserves to be filled with gold and precious stones, pearls and rubies, and things even more excellent than that.' Then I said, 'I have taken what I wanted. Shy away, shy one, where you will, and leap in whatever direction you see fit!'

He leaped about because he feared to be mastered; and in being mastered his true happiness resided.

***

Many a man there is who is outwardly a wreck, who has neither good looks nor elegance of speech nor eloquence, yet there is in him that vital element which is immortal. It is by that element that man is ennobled and honoured, and by means of that he is superior to all other creatures. Leopards and crocodiles, lions and the rest of creatures, all have their peculiar skills and accomplishments; but that vital element which will survive for ever is not in them.

***

In man are many things. There is mouse, and there is bird. The bird carries the cage upwards, while the mouse drags it downwards. A hundred thousand different wild beasts are together in man, except that they are proceeding to the point when the mouse will renounce its mousehood and the bird its birdhood and all become one.

***

Outside this world of which we are speaking there is another world for us to seek. This world and its delights cater to the animality of man; these all feed his animality, whilst the root principle, man, goes into a decline. After all, they say, 'Man is a rational animal.' So man consists of two things. That which feeds his animality in this material world is these lusts and desires. But as for that which is his true essence, its food is knowledge and wisdom and the sight of God. The animality in man flees away from God, whilst his humanity flees away from this world.

***

[ON GRACE]

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 pain 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 go after it.'

***

Since therefore God's bountifulness is so renowned and all the world is aware of His graciousness, why do you not beg of Him and hope to receive from Him a robe of honour and a rich gift? You sit in indolence saying, 'If He wills, He will give to me'; and so you importune Him not at all. The dog, which is not endowed with reason and comprehension, when it is hungry and has no bread comes up to you and wags its tail as if to say, 'Give me bread, I have no bread and you have bread.' That much discrimination it possesses. After all, you are not less than a dog, which is not content to sleep in the ashes and say, 'If he wills, he will give me bread of himself,' but entreats and wags its tail. So do you wag your tail, and desire and beg of God; for in the presence of such a Giver, to beg is mightily required. If you have no good fortune, ask for good fortune from One who is not niggardly, One who possesses great wealth.

***

[ON GNOSTICISM, AUTHORITARIANISM & FIRE WORSHIP]

God most High is far too exalted to have kith and kin. He has not begotten, and has not been begotten. No man has ever found the way to Him save through servanthood. God is the All-sufficient; you are the needy ones. It is not feasible for you to say of the person who has found the way to God, 'He was more God's kin, more His familiar, more connected with Him than I.' So nearness to God is not to be attained save through servanthood.

***

If you cannot go by the Muhammadan way, at least go by the way of Jesus, that you may not remain altogether outside the pale.

***

Whoever says evil of the gnostic in 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.

******

God does not speak to everyone, just as the kings of this world do not speak to every weaver; they have appointed a vizier and a deputy to show the way to the king. God most High also has chosen a certain servant, so that whosoever seeks God, God is in him. All the prophets have come for this reason, that only they are the way.

***

'He created Adam in His likeness,' that is, in the likeness of His rules.

***

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 a 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 eats some food and it turns sour in his stomach, and he vomits it. If that food had turned sour and he had 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 a part of the man, and because it was sour he vomited it and cast it forth, so that disciple with the passage of time would have become the shaikh, and because of his displeasing conduct he cast him out of his heart.

Thy love made proclamation to the world
And every heart into confusion hurled,
Then burnt all up and into ashes turned
And 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 tidings and who is it that every 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?

***

Out of the fiery furnace roses and a rose-bower sprang up.

***

Into thy hands we have given the reins of our heart;
Whate'er thou declarest cooked, we declare it is burnt!

***

Every acquisition such a man has made in corrupting thought now becomes a power in reforming thought. Thus, a cunning thief repented and became a policeman. All the trickeries of thieving which he practised now became a power for beneficence and justice. He is superior to all other policemen who were not thieves to begin with; for the policeman who has committed acts of theft knows the ways of thieves; the habits of thieves are not hidden from him. If such a man becomes a shaikh, he will be perfect, the Elder of the world and the Mahdi of the age.

***

Thoughts have their effect, since through one feeble and muddled thought so many thousands of men and worlds are prisoners.... where do they stand, compared with thoughts mighty, infinite, weighty, holy, sublime?
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:32 am

Preface

Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273) has long been recognised as the greatest mystical poet of Islam, and it can well be argued that he is the supreme mystical poet of all mankind. Yet his prose utterances have hitherto lain neglected, and have only been rescued from the obscurity of forgotten manuscripts in recent years. The eminent Persian scholar of mysticism, Professor Badi' al-Zaman Furuzanfar, published in 1952 a masterly edition of Rumi's Discourses which I have now translated, drawing freely upon the editor's valuable annotations. In my version I have sought to be as faithful to the original as could be contrived, endeavouring to reproduce the actual style of Rumi as he uttered these impromptu conversations.

This is not an easy book to read, but I believe that its study will prove richly rewarding, both for its own sake and for the light which it frequently throws upon Rumi's poetry. It is in fact not too much to say, that the Discourses are a necessary introduction to the understanding of the poems. I am most grateful to the publishers for undertaking this book, and for the care which they have lavished upon it. My hearty thanks are also due to the Trustees of the Spalding Trust, who advanced a generous grant towards the costs of production.

A. J. ARBERRY
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:32 am

Introduction

The discourses of Jalal al-Din Rumi, Muslim saint, mystic and poet of the thirteenth century, here translated for the first time out of the original Persian, must be allowed to rank amongst the most remarkable documents of religious literature. Before describing and discussing their contents, it will be useful to summarise the history of the tumultuous times in which their author lived, an age of hitherto unparalleled violence and catastrophe; for it is only by recapturing the daily circumstances of the man who here speaks out of his heart to all humanity, that one can fairly measure the greatness of his spirituality and truly assess the sublimity of his detachment from the world of matter and events.

Jalal al-Din Muhammad, son of Baha' al-Din Valad of Balkh, was born on 30 September 1207. His father, whose full name was Muhammad ibn Husain al-Khatibi al-Bakri: al-Balkhi, claimed direct paternal descent from Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam; on his mother's side he is said to have been of the local ruling house of the Khvarizm-shahs, established about 1080 by a Turkish slave but none the less royal in its pretensions for all that, but this side of his lineage can be safely disregarded as legendary. Baha' al-Din Valad came of stock long esteemed in Khurasan as experts in theology and canon law; the province, for all its remoteness from the heartlands of Islam, had for centuries been a leading centre of Muslim learning and piety, and had produced notable schools of both philosophy and mysticism. In 1207 Khurasan was flourishing under the rule of the powerful and ambitious 'Ala' al-Din Muhammad Khvarizmshah, who had just captured Balkh the previous year from the Ghurids and would shortly master all Persia and Afghanistan and aspire to even greater dominion until halted by forces far more terrible than his own.

Baha' al-Din himself was born about 1148 of a father who was also a noted scholar and divine. Brought up in the traditional atmosphere of Sunni orthodoxy, he acquired such a reputation as a teacher and preacher that he had conferred upon him the title Sultan of the Ulema. He was additionally a Sufi mystic, thus following in the footsteps of the great Muhammad al-Ghazzali of Tus (died 1111) whose rigorous attacks on the philosophers had seriously undermined the influence of Avicenna and virtually put an end to free speculation in eastern Islam. It was, however, to al-Ghazzali's more ecstatic brother Ahmad (died 1123), author in Persian of a subtle metaphysical essay on Divine Love, that Baha' al-Din traced his spiritual descent. This combination of profound theological and theosophical learning won for him high repute as a religious preceptor and lends peculiar charm to his sermons and meditations, a large volume of which has recently for the first time become available in print. This book, called Ma'arif ('Gnoses'), afterwards fascinated and greatly influenced his son.

A not unexpected odium theologicum brought Baha' al-Din into collision with his contemporary Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (born 1149), an outspoken critic of al-Ghazzali and a skilful champion of scholasticism whose numerous and voluminous writings deserve far more attention than they have received hitherto. Echoes of the hostility between these two men, competitors for royal favour, are to be found in Baha' al-Din's Ma'arif and are loudly and exaggeratedly repeated by the Persian biographers. It is commonly asserted that Fakhr al-Din was the cause of the Khvarizmshah's turning against the Sufis, so that he drowned Majd al-Din Baghdadi, a prominent member of the circle to which Baha' al-Din himself belonged, in the river Oxus. It is further alleged that Fakhr al-Din's enmity led to Baha' al-Din's precipitate flight from Balkh; this report, however, involves an anachronism, for Fakhr al-Din died in 1210 whereas Baha' al-Din did not flee until 1219, and then under very different compulsion. For in that year the Mongol hordes under Chingiz Khan, storming down from the northeast, stood poised to ravage Balkh, a fearful holocaust which followed the city's surrender in 1220. Those who would and could ran headlong before the wrath to come; amongst the many thousands who preferred martyrdom was the aged Najm al-Din Kubra, founder of the Kubraviya Order of dervishes.

A graphic description of terrible events from which Baha' al-Din and his young son so narrowly escaped has been given by another famous Sufi, a disciple of Majd al-Din Baghdadi and Najm al-Din Kubra, who ran from those regions not long after Baha' al-Din himself. 'It was in the year 1220,' he writes, 'that the God-forsaken army of the Tartar infidels, may God forsake and destroy them, gained the mastery over those territories. The confusion and slaughter, the devastation and leading into captivity, the destruction and conflagration that followed at the hands of those accursed creatures were such as had never before been witnessed in any age, whether in the lands of heathendom or Islam. How could slaughter ever be vaster than this that they wrought from the gate of Turkistan to the gate of Syria and Rum, wherein they laid waste so many cities and provinces, so that in one city alone -- Raiy, where I myself was born and brought up -- it has been estimated that 700,000 mortals were slain or made captive: Where was any country to be found in which true believers still dwelt, uncontaminated by the blight of heresy and fanaticism, under the protection of a just and religious king? In every place Daya asked this question, and always he was given the same answer -- in Rum, those provinces of what is now Asiatic Turkey which were still ruled over by the western branch of the once immensely powerful Saljuq House. It was to Rum therefore that Daya betook himself, whither he had already been preceded by Baha' al-Din.

At the time of the flight Jalal al-Din was a boy of twelve, already well grounded in his father's learning and piety, old enough to remember in after years his childhood environment, reminiscences of which are to be found scattered here and there in his discourses. Baha' al-Din made his way first to Nishapur, all too soon to share the horrible fate of Balkh, and there called upon the venerable poet and mystic Farid al-Din 'Attar, another pupil of Majd al-Din Baghdadi. Farid al-Din recognising in Jalal al-Din the signs of spiritual greatness, presented him with a copy of his Asrar-nama ('Book of Secrets'), an important poem of the mystical life which Rumi studied deeply and from which he was delighted in later years often to quote. From Nishapur the fugitives pressed on to Baghdad, which still had some thirty-eight years of grace before Hulagu Khan would reduce the splendid capital city of Islam to a bloody shambles. They stayed in the metropolis only three days, being in a hurry to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. There is a pretty story that whilst in Baghdad Baha' al-Din predicted the imminent downfall of the caliphate, but not too much credence need be given to this typical piece of hagiography.

The rites of the pilgrimage duly completed, Baha' al-Din now led his spiritually refreshed party to Syria. A veil of obscurity covers the next period of the wanderers' adventures, but it is possible that the poet and hagiographer Jami (died 1492) was correct in saying that they stopped for four years in Arzanjan, a pleasant town in the province of Armenia having a considerable Christian population. Presently Baha' al-Din moved on to Laranda, a township some thirty-five miles to the south-east of Konia. There he arranged a marriage between his son Jalal al-Din, now eighteen years old, to Gauhar Khatun, daughter of one Lala of Samarqand, presumably a member of the fugitive party. To this union a son was born in 1226 named Sultan Valad, who would later compose a poetical biography of his father and in all likelihood edited his scattered discourses. From Laranda Baha' al-Din was invited by the Saljuq ruler to remove to his capital Konia, where he took up honourable appointment as preacher and teacher. In this office he died in 1230.

Konia, the ancient Iconium which St Paul thrice visited, and according to one Arab legend the resting-place of Plato's bones, had been in Muslim hands since about 1070 when the Saljuqs in their fiery prime wrested Anatolia from Byzantium. Well inland and some 5,000 feet above sea level, chosen as their capital by the Saljuqs of Rum, the city escaped recapture during the Crusades though the tide of battle ebbed and flowed not very far away. At the time of Baha' al-Din's arrival Konia had recently been adorned with a new royal palace and citadel; the great mosque founded by Kal-Ka'us I had been completed in 1220 by his successor Kal-Qubad I (reigned 1219-1236), whose invitation it was that brought Baha' al-Din and his family to the Saljuq capital. We may therefore picture the young scholar Jalal al-Din, stepping into his father's religious offices on the latter's death, as entering upon a sort of metropolitan life, preaching before the monarch and teaching the sons of the local notables, which must have recaptured for him the memory of Balkh in its prosperity.

Presently there arrived in Konia a new refugee who had of old been closely associated with Baha' al-Din and his family in Balkh. Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq, who is said to have been one of Jalal al-Din's teachers in those halcyon days, had fled from Balkh to his native Tirmidh during the first Mongol onslaught; now, hearing of the security and charity offered to learned and pious Persians by the ruler of Rum, he came to join his former friend only to find that he had been dead a year. He therefore devoted himself to the spiritual advancement of Jalal al-Din, and during the ensuing nine years initiated him into the high mysteries of the Sufi way and doctrine. In this period Jalal al-Din, at the direction and in part in the company of Burhan al-Din, journeyed into Syria and studied at Aleppo and Damascus. After some seven years' further education during which time he can hardly have failed to meet the great Andalusian mystic and theosophist Ibn 'Arabi (he died at Damascus in 1240), Jalal al-Din returned to Konia where Ghiyath al-Din Kai-Khusrau II was now on the throne. Shortly afterwards he learned that Burhan al-Din had died in Caesarea, whither he proceeded to take possession of his teacher's books and papers, doubtless including the manuscript discourses (Ma'arif) which are as yet unpublished.

From 1240 to 1244 Jalal al-Din taught and preached in Konia, wearing the traditional turban and gown of orthodox religious scholars. Konia had hitherto seemed a long way from the Mongol hordes; but now they were upon the eastern borders of Asia Minor, Erzerum capitulated to them, and in 1243 the defeat of Kozadagh reduced the Saljuq of Rum to the paltry status of a tribute- paying vassal. Jalal al- Din, however, still stood outside these tremendous events. He seemed destined for a career of modest distinction as an expositor of the faith and the sacred law. Presently he might be applying himself to writing a commentary on the Koran, or collecting choice Traditions of Muhammad, or publishing his elegant sermons. Certainly nothing seemed less likely than that he would turn poet. As he tells us in one revealing passage in his discourses, the trade of poet was held in little esteem amongst the religious in his native Khurasan, and 'I am affectionate to such a degree that when these friends come to me, for fear that they may be wearied I speak poetry so that they may be occupied with that. Otherwise, what have I to do with poetry? By Allah, I care nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes than that. It has become incumbent upon me, as when a man plunges his hands into tripe and washes it out for the sake of a guest's appetite, because the guest's appetite is for tripe.'

In 1244, when he was already thirty-seven years old and therefore well established in the religious society of Konia, Jalal al-Din went through a profound emotional and spiritual experience which changed the course of his life. In that year a wandering dervish called Shams al-Din, a native of Tabriz seemingly of artisan origin, suddenly arrived in the Saljuq capital and attracted attention by the wildness of his demeanour. The story of how Jalal al-Din reacted to his first encounter with the mysterious stranger and of the subsequent episodes of their passionate attachment fills many pages in the books of the hagiologists. Here it will suffice to quote the late Professor R. A. Nicholson's summary of the events of those four tremendous years.

'Jalal al-Din found in the stranger that perfect image of the Divine Beloved which he had long been seeking. He took him away to his house, and for a year or two they remained inseparable. Sultan Valad likens his father's all-absorbing communion with this "hidden saint" to the celebrated journey of Moses in company with Khadir (Koran, XVIII 64-80), the Sage whom Sufis regard as the supreme hierophant and guide of travellers on the Way to God. Meanwhile the Mevlevi disciples of Rumi, entirely cut off from their Master's teaching and conversation and bitterly resenting his continued devotion to Shams al-Din alone, assailed the intruder with abuse and threats of violence. At last Shams al-Din fled to Damascus, but was brought back in triumph by Sultan Valad, whom Jalal al-Din, deeply agitated by the loss of his bosom friend, had sent in search of him. Thereupon the disciples "repented" and were forgiven. Soon, however, a renewed outburst of jealousy on their part caused Shams al-Din to take refuge in Damascus for the second time, and again Sultan Valad was called upon to restore the situation. Finally, perhaps in 1247, the man of mystery vanished without leaving a trace behind.'

The intense excitement of these adventures transformed Jalal al-Din from the sober divine into an ecstatic wholly incapable of controlling the torrent of poetry which now poured forth from him. To symbolise, it is said, the search for the lost Beloved, now identified with Shams al-Din, he invented the famous whirling and circling dance of his Mevlevi dervishes, performed to the accompaniment of the lamenting reed-pipe and the pacing drum. Night was turned into day in the long mystical orgy, and from time to time under the impact of the passionate moment Jalal al-Din uttered extempore brief quatrains or extended lyrics which his disciples hastily transcribed and committed to memory. To confess the human source of his inspiration, he very often introduced into his lyrics the name of Shams al-Din as though he were the poet; at other times he signed his verses with the soubriquet Khamush, the Silent, a reference to the ineffable nature of the mysteries. Thenceforward, and for the remainder of his days, Jalal al-Din residing in his madrasa presided over his own Dervish Order, the Mevlevis, surrounded by an ever growing circle of disciples, visited by the greatest in the land who were eager to consult his wisdom, and thus enjoying, or at any rate occupying, a position of wide influence in the now declining Saljuq kingdom. The discourses are a record of many of the discussions which he led during those famous years.

Ghiyath al-Din Kai-Khusrau II died in 1245 leaving three sons, and a testament appointing as his successor the youngest, 'Ala' al-Din, seven-year-old child of the Georgian princess Tamara. The powerful vizier of the late king, Shams al-Din Isfahani, had a preference for the eldest of the three, 'Izz al-Din, whose mother was the daughter of a Greek priest; but Rukn al-Din, the middle of the trio, attended the convention at which Kuyuk was proclaimed Great Khan of the Mongols and returned with the coveted title Sultan of Rum, to purchase which he undertook to pay heavy tribute and to execute the vizier and his associates. This was duly effected in 1249. In 1251 Kuyuk was succeeded by Mangu Khan, who now recognised the three brothers as a triumvirate. Presently 'Ala' al-Din was murdered on his way to pay homage to the Great Khan, while 'Izz al-Din Kai-Ka'us II, who had thrown Rukn al-Din into prison, found himself embattled against the Mongol Baiju and constrained to take refuge with Theodore Lascaris in 1256. In those days Mongol soldiery occupied Konia and demolished its fortifications but spared the inhabitants, according to the hagiographer Aflaki out of high regard for Jalal al-Din. Rukn al-Din was freed and 'Izz al-Din obliged to accept him as equal partner of the Saljuq throne. In 1257, however, 'Izz al-Din was discovered to be boldly conspiring with the Egyptian Mamluks to resist Hulagu Khan, about to take and massacre Baghdad; he had to run for his life, which continued in precarious exile down to 1280.

Rukn al-Din was thus free at last to assume, of course under Mongol patronage, sole rule of Rum. The real authority, however, was exercised by his prime minister, the Parvana Mu'in al-Din, who allowed his master to wear the diadem from 1257 to 1267 and then arranged his execution. Baiju himself had promoted Mu'in al-Din to the chancellorship in 1256, and for twenty years he was the actual ruler, as Mongol vassal, of Anatolia. He extended his liberal patronage to Jalal al-Din, and it seems clear from the discourses, not a few of which are addressed to him personally, that he sincerely admired the Sufi master-poet. Jalal al-Din died in 1273, and was thus spared the sorrow of witnessing the downfall of his puissant protector. For in 1277 a party of Turk noblemen, in secret league with Baibars of Egypt, planned to rebel against the Mongol overlords and to join forces with the heroic Mamluk in Caesarea. However, the conspirators lost courage; the suspect Parvana fled with the boy Sultan Kai-Khusrau III; he was taken into custody by Abaqa Khan, put to death, and then eaten.

So much at least of the tangled historical background is necessary to the understanding of the circumstances attending Jalal al-Din's later years. The discourses show him as fully conscious of the tense drama of political events, which they do much to illuminate. Their value as a primary source of history is thus considerable; but this, of course, is merely incidental to their importance as first-hand documents illustrating the mystical doctrine of Jalal al-Din, and throwing light upon his thought processes. During the years covered by the discourses Jalal al-Din, who after Shams al-Din's disappearance had attached his affection successively to Salah al-Din Faridun Zarkuband, on Zarkut's death about 1261, to Husam al-Din Hasan, occupied a large part of his time with composing the Masnavi, his famous six-volume verse miscellany of the mystical life, available to English readers in R. A. Nicholson's luminous translation.

The Masnavi, which contains many passages of poetry of the highest order of excellence, is a notoriously difficult work to read and understand; not only, or even not so much on account of the intricacy and unfamiliarity of the doctrines therein enunciated, but still more because of the casual looseness, not to say anarchy, of its construction. Anecdotes of prophets and saints and legends of all sorts and conditions of men and women are well-nigh inextricably intertwined with long didactic passages abounding in learned and otherwise obscure allusion. The Discourses are now seen to be composed, if that is the right term, in very similar fashion and to be in no small measure the raw materials out of which the great poem was fashioned; and it has become abundantly evident that they, like the Masnavi, represent the impromptu outpourings of a mind overwhelmed in mystical thought, the multifarious and often arrestingly original and beautiful images welling up unceasingly out of the poet's overflowing unconscious. The title by which the discourses are traditionally known, Fihi ma fihi ('In it what is in it'), a quotation from a poem of the mystic Ibn 'Arabi, has been explained by some as meaning, 'There is to be found in this book what is contained in that book,' that is, the Masnavi. But publication of the Ma'arif of Baha' al-Din Valad has now enabled us to see that in his Discourses, the son was also following in his father's footsteps; and we were already aware from other sources that Jalal al-Din studied his father's writings assiduously, so much so that the jealous Shams al-Din of Tabriz took him to task. When the latter's Maqalat become available in print, they will prove likewise to have been an important source for the Discourses.

Further comment on the contents of the Discourses will be found in the notes appended to this volume, where summaries of each are provided together with explanations of the allusions and references. The translation, made as literal as could be contrived (and the original is by no means easy always to understand), has been based upon the fine and erudite edition (Teheran, 1952) of Professor Badi' al-Zaman Furuzanfar, whose learned and authoritative annotations have been fully consulted. This work is intended as a memorial to my own teacher and initiator into the Sufi mysteries, Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, and represents the first stage of an extensive exploration of the life and writings of Jalal al-Din Rumi, surely the greatest mystical poet in the history of mankind.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:39 am

Part 1 of 2

Discourse 1

The Prophet, on whom be peace, said: The worst of scholars is he who visits princes, and the best of princes is he who visits scholars. Happy is the prince who stands at the poor man's door, and wretched is the poor man who stands at the door of the prince.

People have taken the outward sense of these words to signify that it is not right for a scholar to visit a prince, lest he should become amongst the worst of scholars. That is not their true meaning, as they have supposed. Their meaning is rather this: that the worst of scholars is he who accepts help from princes, and whose welfare and salvation is dependent upon and stems from the fear of princes. Such a man first applies himself to the pursuit of learning with the intention that princes should bestow on him presents, hold him in esteem, and promote him to office. It was therefore on their account that he consented to better himself and converted from ignorance to knowledge. When he became a scholar, he was disciplined by the fear of them and was subject to their control. Willy-nilly, then, he comports himself in conformity with the way which they have mapped out for him. Consequently, whether it is the prince who formally visits him or he goes to visit the prince, he is in every case the visitor and it is the prince who is visited.

When, however, the case is otherwise, when the scholar has not become qualified with learning on account of princes but rather his learning from first to last has been for the sake of God; when his way and wont have been upon the path of rectitude because it is in his nature so to comport himself and he cannot do otherwise -- just as a fish can only live and thrive in water -- such a scholar is subject to the control and direction of reason. All men living in his time are held in check by the awe of him and derive succour from the reflection of his radiance, whether they are aware of the fact or no. If such a scholar goes formally to visit the prince, it is himself who is visited and the prince is the visitor, because in every case the prince takes from him and receives help from him. That scholar is independent of the prince. He is like the light-giving sun, whose whole function is giving and dispensing universally, converting stones into rubies and cornelians, changing mountains of earth into mines of copper and gold and silver and iron, making the earth fresh and verdant, bestowing upon the trees fruits of diverse kinds. His trade is giving: he dispenses and does not receive. The Arabs have expressed this in a proverb: 'We have learned in order to give, we have not learned in order to take.' Hence it is they who are in all circumstances the visited, and the princes who are the visitors.

It comes into my mind at this point to comment on a verse of the Koran, although it is not related to the present discourse. However, this thought comes now into my mind and I will express it so that it may go on record. God most High says:

O Prophet, say to the prisoners in your hands:
'If God knows of any good in your hearts
He will give you better than what has been taken
from you, and He will forgive you; surely
God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.'


This verse was revealed under the following circumstances. The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, had defeated the unbelievers, slaying and plundering and taking many prisoners whom he had fettered hand and foot. Amongst the prisoners was his uncle 'Abbas, may God be well pleased with him. They were weeping and wailing all the night through in their chains and helpless humiliation and had given up all hope of their lives, expecting the sword and slaughter. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, looked at them and laughed.

'Did you see?' the prisoners exclaimed. 'He has the attributes of a man after all. That claim of his, that he was superhuman, was contrary to the truth. There he is; he looks at us and sees us prisoners in these chains and fetters, and rejoices. So it is with all men governed by their passions -- when they get the victory over their enemies and see them vanquished to their will, they rejoice and make merry.'

'Not so,' answered the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, perceiving what was in their hearts. 'Far be it from me that I should laugh because I see my enemies vanquished to my will, or because I see you come to grief. It is for this reason that I rejoice, indeed I laugh, because I see with the inward eye that I am dragging and drawing a people by main force, by collars and chains, out of the fiery furnace and black smoke of Hell unto Paradise and Ridwan and the Eternal Garden of Roses; while they lament and cry aloud, saying, "Why are you drawing us out of this pit of destruction into that rose-bower and place of security?" So laughter overcomes me. For all that, inasmuch as you have not yet been given the vision to discover and behold this that I say, God commands me: "Say to the prisoners: First you gathered together your hosts and mustered much might, trusting completely in your virtue and valour and panoply. You said amongst yourselves, so we will do; we will conquer the Muslims so, and will vanquish them. You did not see One Omnipotent who is more powerful than yourselves, you did not know of One All-forceful above your force. So inevitably all that you planned to do turned out opposite to your designs. Even now that you are in fear, you have not repented of your old distemper; you are in despair, and do not see One Omnipotent over you. Therefore it behoves you forthwith to behold My might and strength, and to know yourselves to be vanquished to My will, so that all things may be made easy for you. Do not despair of Me, even in your present fear; for I am able to deliver you out of this fear and to make you secure. He who is able to produce out of a white bullock a black bullock is also able to bring forth out of a black bullock a white bullock.

He makes the night to enter into the day
and makes the day to enter into the night.
He brings forth the living from the dead,
and brings forth the dead from the living.


Image

In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker's] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' "

"What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

-- "Talk," by Tucker Carlson


Now, in this present state when you are prisoners, break not off hope of My Presence, that I may take you by the hand, for

of God's comfort
no man despairs, excepting the people
of the unbelievers."


Now God most High declares: "O prisoners, if you turn again out of your former ways, beholding Me alike in fear and hope and beholding yourselves as vanquished to My will in all circumstances, I will deliver you out of this present fear. I will likewise restore to you all the property that has been plundered from you and has become lost to you, nay, many times as much, and better than that. Moreover I will grant you absolution, and conjoin felicity in the world to come with prosperity in this world."

'I have repented,' said 'Abbas. 'I have returned from my former ways.'

The Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, said, 'God most High demands of you a token of this claim you now make.'

Easy it is to boast of love,
But other is the proof thereof.


'In Allah's name, what token do you demand?' asked 'Abbas.

'Give of the properties that remain to you for the army of Islam, that the army of Islam may be strengthened,' answered the Prophet. 'That is, if you have truly become a Muslim and desire the good of Islam and Muslimdom.'

'Prophet of God, what remains to me?' demanded 'Abbas. 'They have taken everything in plunder, leaving me not so much as an old reed-mat.'

'You see,' said the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, 'you have not become a righteous man. You have not given up your old ways. Tell me, how much property have you got? Where have you hidden it? To whom have you entrusted it? In what place have you concealed and buried it?'

'God forbid!' exclaimed 'Abbas.

'Did you not entrust so much property specifically to your mother?' the Prophet retorted. 'Did you not bury it under such and such a wall? Did you not enjoin your mother in detail, saying, "If I return, you will hand it back to me; and if I do not return safely, you will expend so much upon such and such an object, and give so much to So-and-so, and so much is to be for yourself"?'

When 'Abbas heard these words he raised his finger in token of complete acceptance of the Faith.

'Prophet of God,' he said, 'truly I always thought that you were under the special favour of heaven like the ones of old, kings such as Haman, Shaddad, Nimrod and the rest. Now that you have spoken these words I know of a truth that this favour is of the world beyond, divine and of the Lord.'

'Now you have spoken truly,' said the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him. 'This time I have heard the snapping of the girdle of doubt which you had within you, and the noise of that snapping has reached my ears. I have an ear hidden within my inmost soul, and with that hidden ear, I hear whenever any man breaks the girdle of doubt and polytheism and unbelief, and the sound of that breaking reaches the ear of my soul. Now it is true for a fact that you have become a righteous man and professed the Faith.'

The Master said in explanation of the foregoing: I have spoken thus to the Amir Parvana for this reason, that in the beginning you came forward as the champion of Muslimdom. 'I make myself a ransom,' you said. 'I sacrifice my reason, deliberation and judgement that Islam may survive and its followers multiply, so that Islam may remain secure and strong.' But inasmuch as you put your trust in your own judgement, not having God in sight and not recognising that everything proceeds from God, God therefore converted that very means and endeavour into a means bringing about the diminishment of Islam. Having made common cause with the Tartars, you are giving them assistance so as to destroy the Syrians and the Egyptians and to ruin the realm of Islam. God therefore made that very means which would have secured the survival of Islam into the means of its diminishment.

In this situation, turn your face to Almighty God, for things are in a parlous state. Bestow alms, to the end that God may deliver you out of this evil state of fear; and break not off hope of Him, even though He has cast you down out of such a state of obedience into such a state of disobedience. You saw that obedience as proceeding from yourself, and therefore it was that you fell into this disobedience. Now, even in this present state of disobedience, break not off hope, but turn to God in humble petition. He who disclosed disobedience out of your former obedience is also able to disclose obedience out of your present disobedience. He is able to grant you repentance, and to furnish the means whereby you may labour again for the increase of Muslimdom, and prove a tower of strength to Islam. Break not off hope, for

of God's comfort
no man despairs, excepting the people
of the unbelievers.


My object in speaking thus (the Master explained) was that the Parvana should understand the matter aright, and in this situation give alms and humble himself to God. He has fallen out of an exceedingly high state into a low state; yet even in this present state he may have hope. God most High is a great deviser; he shows forth fair forms, but in the maw of them are evil forms, lest a man should say in the delusion of his conceit, 'A good idea and a good action took shape in me and displayed itself.'

If everything were in truth as it appears to be, the Prophet, endowed as he was with a vision so penetrating, so illumined and illuminating, would never have cried, 'Lord, show me things as they are.' 'Thou showest a thing as fair, and in reality it is ugly; Thou showest a thing as ugly, and in reality it is lovely. Therefore do Thou show us every thing just as it is, that we may not fall into the snare and that we may not go astray perpetually.' Now your judgement, however good and luminous it may be, is certainly not better than the Prophet's judgement. He used to speak in this fashion; so do you now not put your trust in every idea and every notion. Be ever humble and fearful before God.

This (the Master concluded) was my object. The Parvana applied this verse and this interpretation to his own plans, saying, 'This hour when we move forward the legions we must not put our reliance in them; and if we are defeated, then in that time of fear and impotence we must likewise not break off hope of Him.' He applied my words to his own design, and my object was as I have stated.

Discourse 2

Someone was saying: Our Master does not utter a word.

I said: Well, it was the thought of me that brought this person to my presence. This thought of me did not speak with him, saying, 'How are you?' or 'How are things with you?' The thought without words drew him hither. If the reality of me draws him without words and transports him to another place, what is so wonderful in that? Words are the shadow of reality and the branch of reality. Since the shadow could draw, how much more the reality!

Words are the pretext. It is the element of congeneity that draws one man to another, not words. If a man should see a hundred thousand miracles and expositions and divine graces, if there is no element of congeneity in him connecting him with the prophet or the saint concerned, then all those phenomena will be profitless. It is that element which keeps him agitated and restless. If there were no element of amber in a straw, the straw would never move towards the amber. This congeneity between them is a hidden and not a visible thing.

It is the thought of a thing that brings a man to that thing. The thought of the garden brings him to the garden, the thought of the shop brings him to the shop. Within these thoughts, however, is a secret deception. Do you not see how you will go to a certain place and then repent of having done so, saying, 'I thought that it would be good. It was not so'? These thoughts then are like a shroud, and within the shroud someone is hidden. Whenever the thoughts vanish from the scene and the realities appear without the shroud of thought, there is a great commotion. Where such is the case, there remains no trace of regret. When it is the reality that draws you, there is nothing there other than the reality. It would be that same reality which drew you hither.

Upon the day when the secrets are tried.


What occasion is there then for me to speak?

In reality that which draws is a single thing, but it appears to be numerous. Do you not see how a man is possessed by a hundred different desires? 'I want vermicelli,' he says. 'I want ravioli. I want halwa. I want fritters. I want fruit. I want dates.' He enumerates these and names them one by one, but the root of the matter is a single thing: the root is hunger, and that is one. Do you not see how, when he has had his fill of one thing, he says, 'None of these things is necessary'? So it is proved that it was not ten or a hundred things but one thing that drew him.

And their number
We have appointed only as a trial.


This 'number' of creatures is a trial appointed by God. They say, 'This man is one and they are a hundred' -- that is, they say the saint is one and mankind are many, a hundred and a thousand. This is a great trial. This view and this thought that makes a man see them as many and him as one is a great trial.

And their number
We have appointed only as a trial.


Which hundred? Which fifty? Which sixty? A people without hands and feet, without mind and soul, quivering like a magic talisman, like quicksilver or mercury -- call them if you will sixty or a hundred or a thousand, and this man one, but on the contrary the truth is that they are nothing, whereas he is a thousand and a hundred thousand and thousands of thousands.

Few in the numbering, many in the charge.


A king had given a single soldier a hundred men's rations of bread. The army protested, but the king said within him, 'The day will come when I will show you, and you will know why I did this.' When the day of battle arrived they all fled from the field, and that soldier alone fought. 'There you are,' the king said. 'It was for this purpose.'

It behoves a man to strip his discriminative faculty of all prejudices and to seek a friend in the Faith. Faith consists in knowing who is one's true friend. When, however, a man has spent his life in the company of people who lack discrimination, his own discriminative faculty becomes feeble and he is unable to recognise that true friend of the Faith.

You have nurtured this substance in which there is no discrimination. Discrimination is that one quality which is hidden in a man. Do you not see that a madman possesses hands and feet but lacks discrimination? Discrimination is that subtle essence which is within you. Day and night you have been occupied with nurturing that physical substance without discrimination. You put forward as a pretext that that subsists through this. Yet this likewise subsists through that. How is it that you have devoted all your energies to looking after the physical substance, and have entirely neglected the subtle essence? Indeed, the physical subsists through the other, whereas the other is by no means dependent upon the physical for its subsistence.

That light which shines abroad through the windows of the eyes and ears and so forth -- if those windows did not exist, it would nevertheless shine through other windows. It is just as if you had brought a lamp in front of the sun, saying, 'I see the sun by means of this lamp.' God forbid! If you do not bring the lamp, still the sun will show itself: what need is there of a lamp?

It behoves us not to break off hope of God. Hope is the head of the road to security. If you do not travel upon that road, at least guard the head of that road. Do not say, 'I have done crooked things'; choose the way of straightness, and no crookedness will remain. Straightness is like the rod of Moses, and those crookednesses are as the tricks of Pharaoh's magicians: when straightness comes, it will swallow up all those tricks. If you have done evil, you have done it to yourself; how should your wickedness reach out to affect God?

The bird that perched on yonder mount,
Then rose into the sky --
Tell me, what gain was there to count?
What lost the mount thereby?


When you become straight, all those crookednesses will disappear. So beware, do not break off hope.

The danger of associating with kings consists not in the fact that you may lose your life: one must lose one's life in the end, whether it be today or tomorrow matters not. The danger arises from the fact that when kings enter upon the scene and the spell of their influence gains strength, converting so to speak into a dragon, the man who keeps company with them and lays claim to their friendship and accepts money from them will inevitably speak in accordance with their wishes. He will receive their evil views with the utmost attention and will not be able to gainsay them.

That is where the danger lies, in that it leads to the detriment of the true faith. When you cultivate their interest, the other interest, which is fundamental to the good life, becomes a stranger to you. The more you proceed in that direction, the more this direction, where the Beloved dwells, turns away from you. The more you make your peace with worldly men, the more the Beloved is angry with you. 'Whosoever assists an oppressor, God gives him power over him': your 'going in his direction' renders you subject to this rule. Once you have gone in that direction, in the end God gives him power over you.

It is a pity to reach the sea, and to be satisfied with a little water or a pitcher-full from the sea. After all there are pearls in the sea, and from the sea myriads of precious things may be produced. What worth is there in taking water? What pride can intelligent men have in that, and what will they have accomplished? Indeed, the world is a mere foam-fleck of that Sea; its water is the very sciences of the saints; where is the Pearl itself? This world is but foam full of floating jetsam; but through the turning about of those waves and the congruous surging of the sea and the constant motion of the billows that foam takes on a certain beauty.

Decked out fair to men is the love of lusts --
women, children, heaped-up heaps of gold
and silver, horses of mark, cattle
and tillage. That is the enjoyment of
the present life.


Since therefore God has called it decked out fair, it is not truly beautiful; rather its beauty is a borrowed thing, coming from elsewhere. It is false coin gilded; that is to say, this world which is a fleck of foam is false coin, valueless and without worth, but we have gilded it so that it is decked out fair to men.

The day is not far off when, if not through religion then by science, the people in the West will realize the oneness of the whole being, and that individuals are nothing more than bubbles in the sea.

-- Journal Review of Religions, by Hazrat Inayat Khan


Image

[Dama] The daylight is fading. In the blink of an eye, it's night. There's nothing better than rolling out of bed straight into dinner. It's been so cold that a bath hardly warms me up. People are less than flies, much less. They have a certain resistance, at least, but we are nothing but bubbles.

-- Satyricon, directed by Federico Fellini


Man is the astrolabe of God; but it requires an astronomer to know the astrolabe. If a vegetable-seller or a greengrocer should possess the astrolabe, what benefit would he derive from it? With that astrolabe what would he know of the movements of the circling heavens and the stations of the planets, their influences, transits and so forth? But in the hands of the astronomer the astrolabe is of great benefit, for 'He who knows himself knows his Lord.'

Just as this copper astrolabe is the mirror of the heavens, so the human being -- We have honoured the Children of Adam -- is the astrolabe of God. When God causes a man to have knowledge of Him and to know Him and to be familiar with Him, through the astrolabe of his own being he beholds moment by moment and flash by flash the manifestation of God and His infinite beauty, and that beauty is never absent from his mirror.

God has servants who cloak themselves in wisdom and gnosis and grace; though other men have not the vision to behold them truly, yet out of the excess of jealousy these servants cloak themselves, even as Mutanabbi says:

Figured silks they wore, not their bodies to beautify
But to guard their beauty against the lustful eye.


Discourse 3

The Parvana said: Night and day my heart and soul are intent upon serving God, but owing to my preoccupations with Mongol affairs I am not able to discharge that service.

The Master replied: These works too are work done for God, since they are the means of procuring peace and security for Muslimdom. You have sacrificed yourself, your possessions and your body, to bring their hearts to a point that a few Muslims are occupied peaceably in obeying God's will. So this too is a good work. God has inclined you towards such good work, and your exceeding ardour is a proof of Divine favour; just as when this inclination flags it is a sign of the denial of Divine favour, God most High not willing that such a momentous good should be realised by means of such a man, so that he should earn the right to that reward and high preferment.

Take the case of a hot bath. Its heat derives from the fuel utilised in the stove, such as dry hay, firewood, dung and the like. In the same way God most High discovers means which, though to outward appearance evil and nasty, yet in reality are the instruments of the Divine favour. Like the bath, the man fired by such means becomes hot and promotes the benefit of all the people.

At this point some friends arrived. The Master excused himself, saying: If I do not attend to you and do not address you or ask after you, this is really a mark of respect. Respect for any thing is what is appropriate to the occasion. When a man is at prayer he should not enquire after his father and brother or make a fuss of them. His inattention to his friends and kinsmen while engaged in prayer is the very acme of attention and courtesy, since he does not on their account break away from his religious performance and absorption and does not become distracted. In that way they do not lay themselves open to Divine punishment and reproach. It is therefore the acme of attention and courtesy when he has guarded against what would involve them in Divine chastisement.

Someone asked: Is there any way nearer to God than prayer?

He replied: Also prayer, but prayer which is not merely this outward form. This is the 'body' of prayer, since formal prayer has a beginning and an end; and everything which has a beginning and an end is a 'body.' The words Allahu akbar are the beginning of formal prayer, and its end is the salutation 'Peace.' Similarly the profession of faith is not merely the formula uttered on the tongue, for that formula too has a beginning and an end. Everything which is expressed in words and sounds and has a beginning and an end is 'form' and 'body'; its 'soul' is unconditioned and infinite, and has neither beginning nor end.

Moreover this formal prayer was invented by the prophets. Now our Prophet, who invented the Muslim prayer, spoke as follows: 'I have a time with God when I am not contained by any prophet sent by God, neither by any angel set near to God.' Hence we realise that the 'soul' of prayer is not this 'form' alone. Rather it is a complete absorption, a state of unconsciousness excluding and not finding room for all these outward forms. Gabriel himself, who is pure reality, is not contained therein.

It is related of our Master, the Sultan of the Learned, Pole of the World, Baha' al-Haqq wa'l-Din (God sanctify his great soul), that one day his companions found him in a state of complete absorption. The hour of prayer arriving, some of his disciples called out to our Master, 'It is time for prayer.' Our Master did not heed their words, so they rose up and occupied themselves with the prayer.

Two disciples, however, bore the Shaikh company and did not stand up to pray. Now one of the disciples who was praying was named Khvajagi. It was shown to him clearly in his inward heart that all those companions who were at prayer were standing behind the imam with their backs turned on Mecca, whereas the two disciples who had borne the Shaikh company had their faces turned towards Mecca. Inasmuch as the Shaikh had passed away from the sense of personal identity so that his self no longer remained, having been consumed in the Light of God -- 'Die before you die' -- he (the inward voice explained) had become the Light of God.

Whoever turns his back on the Light of God and faces the wall of the prayer-niche has assuredly turned his back on Mecca. For God's Light is the 'soul' of the Mecca-ward direction. After all, these people who turn their faces to Mecca -- it was the Prophet who made the Kaaba to be the place of turning in prayer for all the world. How much the more is He the place of turning, for whose sake Mecca was appointed.

The Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, once reproached a friend, saying, 'I called you. How is it that you did not come?' The friend replied, 'I was occupied with prayer.' The Prophet said, 'Well, did I not call you?' The friend answered, 'I am helpless.'

The Master said: It is good if you are helpless all the time and at every moment, and see yourself helpless in the state of capacity just as in the state of incapacity. For above your capacity there is a greater Capacity, and you are vanquished to God's will in every state. You are not divided into two halves, now capable and now helpless. Pay regard to His Capacity, and know yourself to be helpless always, without hand and foot, poor and utterly incapable. What indeed is the plight of feeble man, seeing that lions and tigers and crocodiles, all are helpless and tremble before Him? The heavens and the earths likewise are helpless and subject to His decree.

He is a mighty Emperor. His Light is not as the light of the moon and the sun, in the presence of which a thing abides in its place. When His Light shines forth unveiled, neither heaven remains nor earth, nor sun nor moon; nothing remains but that King.

A certain king said to a dervish. 'In the moment when you are granted revelation and propinquity in the Court of God, remember me.'

The dervish answered, 'When I come into that Presence and the light of the sun of that Beauty shines upon me, I shall no more remember myself. How then should I remember you?'

When, however, God has chosen out a servant and caused him to be utterly absorbed in Him, if any man takes him by the skirt and makes a request of him, even without that worthy mentioning him before God and representing his need God fulfils his request.

It is related that there was once a king who had a favourite and highly confidential servant. Whenever that servant set out for the royal palace, people who had a request to make presented him with their histories and their letters, begging him to submit them to the king. He would place the documents in his wallet. On coming into the king's presence he could not endure the splendour of his beauty, and would fall down dumbfounded. The king would then in a loving manner put his hand into his purse and pocket and wallet, saying, 'What has this dumbfounded servant of mine, who is utterly absorbed by my beauty?' In this way he found the letters and would endorse the petitions of every man and then return the documents into the wallet. So he would attend to the needs of every one of them, without that servant ever submitting them, in such manner that not a single one was rejected; on the contrary their demands were granted many times over, so that they attained far more than they had asked for. But in the case of other servants who retained consciousness, and were able to present and indicate to the king the histories of people in need, out of a hundred affairs and a hundred needs only one perchance would be fulfilled.

Discourse 4

Someone 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 forgot 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 into 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. Surely
he is sinful, very foolish.


'We offered that trust to the heavens, but they were unable to accept it.' Consider how many tasks are performed by the heavens, whereat the human reason is bewildered. The heavens convert common stones into rubies and carnelians; they make mountains 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 one thing is not performed by them; that task is performed by man.

And We honoured the Children of Adam.

God did 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 him.

If you say, 'Even if I do not perform that task, yet so many tasks are performed by me,' you were not created for 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 many useful purposes.' Or it is as though you were to take a golden bowl and cook turnips in it, 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 finest temper and make of it a nail for a broken gourd, saying, 'I am making good use of it. I am hanging 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 their selves
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, your breaths, your 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 upon 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 own 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 serve your ends; if the star is lucky or unlucky, it is connected with your own 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 many marvels, phases and worlds both wonderful and without end, consider what phases you may pass through, who are the root! If your 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 a one is suitable for such a task.

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 forgot 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 his 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 Mubaqqiq, 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 syllables 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 men. 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 answered.

'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 own 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 attributes. So it is with the 'signs' they give of any thing, 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 note and he is able to do so since that note 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 of their household goods and to show a different kind of linen filched from every home.

Discourse 5

He said: How gracious it was of our Master to honour me in this manner! I never expected, and the thought never entered my mind, that I should be worthy of such an honour. By rights I should have been standing night and day with hands folded in the ranks and company of his servants and attendants. Now I am not worthy even of that. How gracious it was!

The Master said: That is all because you have such lofty aspirations. The higher and greater your rank and the more you are occupied with important and exalted affairs, the more you consider yourself to have fallen short of your lofty aspirations and are not satisfied with what you have achieved, reckoning that you have many other obligations. Though my heart was always intent on serving you, for all that I wanted to pay you formal honour as well. Form too possesses great importance, its importance residing in the fact that it is associated with substance. Just as a thing fails if it lacks a kernel, so too it fails without a skin. If you sow a seed in the earth without its husk, it fails to germinate, whereas if you bury it in the earth with its husk it does germinate and becomes a great tree. So from this viewpoint the body too is a great and necessary principle, and without it the task fails and the purpose is not attained. Yes, by Allah! The principle is the reality in the eyes of him who knows the reality and has become a reality. The saying, 'Two inclinations in prayer are better than the world entire and all that is in it,' does not apply to everyone. It is true only of the man to whom the failure to perform two inclinations means more than the world entire and all that is in it. To miss two inclinations is for him harder to bear than to lose the empire of the world which is entirely his.

A dervish once entered the presence of a king. The king addressed him, 'O ascetic.'

'You are the ascetic,' the dervish answered.

'How should I be an ascetic,' the king demanded, 'seeing that the whole world belongs to me?'

'Ah, you see things the opposite of what they are,' replied the dervish. 'This world and the next and all that there is to possess, these all belong to me. I have seized the whole world. It is you who have become satisfied with a mouthful and a rag:

Whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God.


That is a 'face' which runs and extends infinitely and for ever. True lovers have sacrificed themselves for the sake of that 'face'; they look for no compensation. The rest of men are like cattle.

The Master said: Though they are cattle, yet they are deserving of favour. Though they are in the stable, yet they are acceptable to the Lord of the stable. If He so desires, He transfers them from this stable and brings them into His private pen. So in the beginning when man was non-existent God brought him into existence, then transferred him from the pen of existence into the world inanimate, then from the pen of the world inanimate into the vegetable, then from the vegetable to the animal, then from the animal to man, then from man to angel, and so ad infinitum. Therefore He manifested all these things to the end that you may be sure that He has many such pens loftier one than the other.

You shall surely ride stage after stage:
then what ails them, that they believe not?


God revealed this present world in order that you may acknowledge the other stages which yet lie ahead. He did not reveal it so that you should disbelieve and say, 'This is all that there is.' A master craftsman demonstrates a craft and an art in order that the apprentices may have faith in him, and acknowledge and believe in the other arts which he has not yet demonstrated. A king bestows robes of honour and presents and lavishes kindness on his subjects so that they may look forward to receiving other gifts from him and may hang hopefully upon future purses of gold. He does not give them these things for them to say, 'This is all that there is. The king is not going to confer any other blessings,' and so make do with that amount. If the king knows that any subject is going to say that and take that for granted, he will never confer any blessing whatsoever upon him.

The ascetic is one who sees the hereafter, while the worldling sees only the stable. But the elect ones of God who have true knowledge see neither the hereafter nor the stable. Their eyes are fixed on the first thing, and they know the beginning of every matter. When the expert sows wheat he knows that wheat is going to grow; in short, he sees the end from the beginning. So it is with barley and rice and so forth; since he sees the beginning his eyes are not fixed on the end; the end is known to him in the beginning. Such men are rare. Those who see the end are of the middling kind; while those who are in the stable are the cattle.

It is pain that guides a man in every enterprise. Until there is an ache within him, a passion and a yearning for that thing arising within him, he will never strive to attain it. Without pain that thing remains for him unprocurable, whether it be success in this world or salvation in the next, whether he aims at being a merchant or a king, a scientist or an astronomer. It was not until the pains of parturition manifested in her that Mary made for the tree:

And the birthpangs surprised her by
the trunk of the palm-tree.


Those pangs brought her to the tree, and the tree which was withered became fruitful.

The body is like Mary. Every one of us has a Jesus within him, but until the pangs manifest in us our Jesus is not born. If the pangs never come, then Jesus rejoins his origin by the same secret path by which he came, leaving us bereft and without portion of him.

The soul within you is needy, the flesh without is well fed: The devil gorges to spewing, Jamshid lacks even for bread. See now to the cure of your soul while Jesus is yet on earth; When Jesus returns to heaven all hope of your cure will have fled.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:39 am

Part 2 of 2

Discourse 6

These words are for the sake of that person who is in need of words in order that he may understand. But as for the man who understands without words, what need has he of words? The heavens and earth indeed are words to him who understands aright, being themselves engendered by words, namely Be! and it is. The man therefore who hears a low sound, what need has he of shouting and screaming?

An Arabic-speaking poet once came into the presence of a king. Now the king was a Turk, and did not even know Persian. The poet had composed in his honour some brilliant verses in Arabic and had brought these with him. When the king had taken his seat on the throne and the courtiers were all present and duly stationed, commanders and ministers each in his place, the poet rose to his feet and began to recite his poem. At every passage meriting applause the king nodded his head, while at every passage provoking astonishment he looked amazed; similarly he took note of every passage expressing submission. The courtiers were astounded.

'Our king did not know a word of Arabic,' they murmured amongst themselves. 'How is it that he nodded his head so appositely? He must have known Arabic all these years and kept it secret from us. If we have ever uttered any incivilities in Arabic, then woe betide us!'

Now the king had a favourite slave. The courtiers therefore assembled together and gave him a horse and a mule and a sum of money, and engaged to present him with as much again.

'Just inform us whether or no the king knows Arabic,' they said to him. 'If he does not, how was it that he nodded just at the right places? Was it a miracle? Was it divine inspiration?'

Finally one day the slave found his opportunity. The king was out hunting, and he perceived that he was in a good humour because much game had been taken. He therefore asked the king point blank. The king burst out laughing.

'By Allah, I don't know Arabic,' he said. 'As for my nodding and applauding, I knew of course what his object was in composing that poem and so I nodded and applauded.'

So it was realised that the root of the matter was the object in view; the poem itself was merely the branch of that object. If it had not been for the object, the man would never have composed that poem.

If the object is kept in view, duality vanishes. Duality characterises the branches: the root is one. So it is with the Sufi shaikhs. Though to outward form they are of various kinds and differ widely in their states and acts and words, from the standpoint of the object it is one thing only, namely the quest of God.

Take the case of the wind. When it blows through a house it lifts the edge of the carpet, and the rugs all flap and move about. It whisks into the air sticks and straws, ruffles the surface of the pool until it looks like a coat of mail, sets trees and twigs and leaves a- dancing. All those states appear distinct and different, but from the standpoint of the object and root and reality they are one thing only inasmuch as they are all set in motion by the one wind.

Someone said: I have been remiss.

The Master replied: When this thought enters a man's mind and he reproaches himself, saying, 'Ah, what am I about, and why do I do these things?' -- when this happens, it is a sure proof that God loves him and cares for him. 'Love continues so long as reproof continues': one reproves friends, but one does not reprove a stranger.

Now there are degrees in kind of such reproof. When a man is hurt by it and is thus made aware of it, that is a proof that God loves him and cares for him. But if the reproof flows over him and does not hurt him, then this is no proof of love. When a carpet is beaten to get rid of the dust, men of sense do not call that a 'reproof'; but if a man beats his own child and darling, then that is called a 'reproof' and is a proof of love. Therefore so long as you perceive pain and regret within yourself, that is a proof that God loves you and cares for you.

If you perceive a fault in your brother, the fault which you perceive in him is within yourself. The learned man is like a mirror in which you see your own image, for 'The believer is the mirror of his fellow believer.' Get rid of that fault in you, for what distresses you in him distresses you in yourself.

He went on: An elephant was led to a well to drink. Perceiving himself in the water, he shied away. He supposed that he was shying away from another elephant, and did not realise that it was from himself that he shied away.

All evil qualities -- oppression, hatred, envy, greed, mercilessness, pride -- when they are within yourself, do not pain you. When you perceive them in another, then you shy away and are pained. A man feels no disgust at his own scab and abscess; he will dip his affected hand into the broth and lick his fingers without turning in the least squeamish. But if he sees a tiny abscess or half a scratch on another's hand, he shies away from that man's broth and has no stomach for it whatever. Evil qualities are just like scabs and abscesses; when they are within a man himself he is not pained by them, but when he perceives them even to a small degree in another he is pained and disgusted.

Just as you shy away from your brother, so you should excuse him if he shies away from you and is pained. The pain you feel is his excuse, because your pain comes from perceiving those faults, and he perceives the same faults. 'The believer is the mirror of his fellow believer': that is what the Prophet said, he did not say, 'The unbeliever is the mirror of the believer.' The unbeliever does not possess that quality, for he is not a mirror to another and only knows what he sees in his own mirror.

A certain king was seated dejected on the bank of a river. The generals were nervous and afraid of him. His face would not clear up by any means whatsoever. Now he had a jester whom he treated as a great favourite. The generals engaged with him that if he should make the king laugh they would give him a certain sum. The jester therefore approached the king, but despite all the efforts the fellow made the king did not so much as look at him, so that he might make a face and cause the king to laugh. The king kept staring into the river and did not lift his head at all.

'What do you see in the water?' the jester asked the king.

'I see a cuckold,' the king replied.

'King of the world,' the jester said, 'your slave is also not blind.'

So it is in your own case. If you see something in your fellow which pains you, after all he also is not blind; he sees exactly what you see.

In God's presence two I's cannot be contained. You say 'I' and He says 'I': either do you die before Him, or He will die before you, so that duality may not remain. But as for God's dying, that is both impossible and inconceivable; for He is the Living, the Immortal. So gracious is He, that if it were at all possible He would die for your sake, so that duality might vanish. Now since it is not possible for Him to die, do you die so that He may reveal Himself to you and so that duality may vanish.

Tie two birds together, and despite their congeneity and the fact that their two wings have been changed to four they will not fly. That is because duality persists. But if you tie a dead bird to a living bird it will fly, because duality no longer remains.

The sun is so gracious that it would gladly die before the bat. But as that is not possible the sun says, 'O bat, my grace is universal. I desire to favour you too. So do you die, since it is possible for you to die, so that you may partake of the light of my glory and be metamorphosed out of your bathood and become the Simurgh of the Mount Qaf of propinquity.'

There was a servant of God who had the power to destroy himself for the sake of a friend. He prayed to God for such a friend, but God did not accept his petition. 'I do not wish that you should see him,' came a voice. That servant of God persisted, and would not refrain from his petition, saying, 'O God, Thou hast implanted this desire for him, and it does not depart out of me.' Finally a voice came saying, 'Do you desire that this should come to pass? Sacrifice your self, and become nothing. Do not tarry, and depart out of the world.' 'Lord, I am well content,' that servant cried. So he did: he gambled away his life for the sake of that Friend, so that his desire was accomplished.

If a servant of God can possess such grace as to sacrifice such a life, one day's portion of which is worth the life of all the world from first to last, shall not the Creator of grace also possess this grace? It would be absurd to suppose otherwise. But since it is not possible for Him to pass away, at least do you pass away.

A bore came and sat himself down above one of the great saints. The Master said: What difference does it make to them whether they are above or below the lamp? If the lamp seeks to be on high, it does not seek that for its own sake. Its purpose is to be of benefit to others, so that they may enjoy their share of its light. Otherwise, wherever the lamp may be, whether below or above, it is the lamp, which is the Sun Eternal. If the saints seek worldly rank and elevation, it is for this purpose: they desire to snare the worldlings, who have not the vision to behold their true elevation, in the trap of worldly rank so that they may find their way to that other elevation and fall into the trap of the world to come.

In like manner the Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, did not conquer Mecca and the surrounding lands because he was in need of that. He conquered them in order that he might give life and vouchsafe light to all men. 'This is a hand which is accustomed to give, it is not accustomed to take.' The saints beguile men in order to bestow gifts on them, not in order to take anything from them.

When a man lays a trap and by cunning catches little birds in his trap so as to eat them and sell them, that is called cunning. But if a king lays a trap so as to capture an untutored and worthless hawk which has no knowledge of its own true nature, and to train it to his own forearm so that it may become ennobled and taught and tutored, that is not called cunning. Though to outward seeming it is cunning, yet it is known to be the very acme of rectitude and bounty and generosity, restoring the dead to life, converting the base stone into a ruby, making the dead sperm into a man and far more than that. If the hawk knew for what reason men seek to capture it, it would not require any bait; it would search for the trap with soul and heart and would fly on the king's hand.

Men pay regard only to the outward significance of the words of the saints and say, 'We have heard plenty of this. Our hearts are stuffed full of words of this kind.'

And they say, 'Our hearts are uncircumcised.'
Nay, but God has cursed them for their unbelief


The unbelievers would say, 'Our hearts are a foreskin for words of this kind. We are stuffed full of them.' God most High answers them, 'God forbid that they should be full of them! They are full of whisperings and vain conceits, they are full of evil and doubt, nay, they are full of cursing.'

Nay, but God has cursed them for their unbelief.


Would that they were empty of those ravings! Then they would be open to receive these words. But they are not open to receive them; God has set a seal upon their ears and eyes and hearts. Their eyes see things other than as they truly are; they see Joseph as a wolf. Their ears hear things other than as they truly are; they count wisdom for gibberish and raving. Their hearts have been transformed into a lodging for whisperings and vain conceits. A winter's tangle of dark shapes and vain conceits has possessed them; they are congealed with ice and frost.

God has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing,
and on their eyes is a covering.


How likely is it indeed that they should be full of these true words? They have never caught so much as a whiff of them; they have never heard them in all their lives, neither themselves nor those in whom they glory, nor their miserable household. It is a pitcher which God most High shows to men. To some He shows it full of water, and they drink of it till they are sated; but to some He shows it empty. What thanks shall the latter sort render for the pitcher? He renders thanks for it to whom God shows this pitcher full.

When God most High fashioned Adam out of earth and water -- 'He kneaded the clay of Adam forty days' -- He fashioned his body complete and perfect. For some while he remained thus upon the earth. Then Iblis, God's curse be upon him, came down and entered Adam's body. He went about all his veins and examined them, and perceived those veins and sinews to be full of blood and diverse humours.

'Ah!' he exclaimed. 'It would not be surprising if this were the Iblis whom I saw at the foot of the Throne was to be manifested. If Iblis exists, he must be this.'

And peace be upon you.

Discourse 7

The son of the Atabeg entered.

The Master said: Your father is always occupied with God. His faith is overmastering, and reveals itself in his words. One day the Atabeg said: The Rumi infidels have urged me to give my daughter in marriage to the Tartars, so that the religion may become one and this new religion which is Muslimdom may disappear. I said: Why, when has this religion ever been one? There have always been two or three, and war and fighting have always gone on between them. How do you want me to make the religion one? It will be one only in the next world, at the resurrection. As for this present world, here it is not possible, for here each one has a different desire and design. Here unity is impossible; it will be possible only at the resurrection, when all men will be one and will fix their eyes on one place, and will all have one ear and one tongue.

In man are many things. There is mouse, and there is bird. The bird carries the cage upwards, while the mouse drags it downwards. A hundred thousand different wild beasts are together in man, except that they are proceeding to the point when the mouse will renounce its mousehood and the bird its birdhood and all become one. For the objective is neither above nor below; when the objective becomes manifest, it will be neither above nor below.

A man has lost something. He keeps on seeking left and right, in front and behind. When he has found that thing he no more seeks above or below, left or right, before or behind, for he becomes tranquil and collected. Similarly, on the resurrection day all men will be one of eye and tongue and ear and understanding. When ten men share a garden or a shop in common their speech is one, their concern is one, their preoccupation is with one thing, since their objective has become one. So on the resurrection day, since the affair of all will be with God, they will all be one in this real sense.

In this world every man is preoccupied with a separate affair. One is in love with women, one is in love with wealth, one is engaged in acquiring possessions, one in acquiring knowledge. Every single one of them believes that his cure, his joy, his pleasure and his repose consist in that one thing. And that is a Divine mercy. When he proceeds thither and seeks, he does not find; so he returns. When he has tarried for a little he says, 'That joy and mercy must be sought after. Perhaps I have not sought well. I will seek again.' When he seeks again, still he does not find. So he continues, until such time as Mercy shows its face without a veil. Then he knows that that was not the right way.

But God most High has certain servants who are like that even before the resurrection: they see truly. 'Ali, God be well pleased with him, said: 'Even were the veil removed, I would not be increased in certain faith.' That is to say, 'When the body is removed and the resurrection appears, my certain faith will not become greater.' The like of this is a group of people on a dark night, within a house, at prayer: they have turned their faces in every direction. When day comes they all turn themselves about, save for that one man who through the night was facing towards Mecca: why should he turn himself about? For all are now turning towards Him. So those special servants of God keep their faces towards Him even in the night and have turned their faces away from all else. Hence with regard to them the resurrection is already manifest and present.

There is no end to words, but they are imparted according to the capacity of the seeker.

Naught there is, but its treasuries are with Us,
and We send it not down
but in a known measure.


Wisdom is like the rain. In its store it is unlimited, but it comes down according to what the occasion requires, in winter, in spring, in summer, in autumn, always in due measure, greater and less; but there whence it descends, there it is unbounded. Druggists put sugar or drugs in a screw of paper; but the sugar is not the amount which is in the paper. The stocks of sugar and the stocks of drugs are unlimited and unbounded; how are they to be contained in a piece of paper? Certain men uttered taunts, saying, 'Why does the Koran come down upon Muhammad word by word? Why not chapter by chapter?' Muhammad (God's blessings be upon him) answered, 'What do these fools say? If it were to come down upon me all at once I would dissolve and vanish away.'

For he who is truly apprised of a little understands much; of one thing, many things; of one line, whole volumes. It is like when a company of men are seated listening to a story, but one of them knows all the circumstances, having been present at the event. From a single hint that man understands it all; he turns pale and crimson, changes from state to state. The others understand only as much as they have heard, for they are not apprised of all the circumstances. But he who is apprised understands much from the amount that he hears.

To return: when you come to the druggist he has sugar in abundance. But he sees how much money you have brought, and gives accordingly. By 'money' is here meant resolution and faith. The words are imparted according to one's resolution and faith. When you come seeking sugar, they examine your bag to see what its capacity is, then they measure out accordingly, one bushel or two. But if a man has brought strings of camels and many bags, they order the weighmen to be fetched.

So one man comes along whom oceans do not satisfy; another man finds a few drops enough, and more than that would be harmful to him.

This applies not only to the world of ideas and sciences and wisdom. It is true of every thing. Property, gold, mines -- all are unbounded and infinite; only they are imparted according to the capacity of the individual, since he would be unable to support more and would be driven mad. Do you not see how Majnun and Farhad and the other famous lovers took to mountain and desert for the love of a woman when they were loaded with passion beyond their power to control? Do you not see how Pharaoh, when empire and wealth were showered upon him excessively, laid claim to divinity?

Naught there is, but its treasuries are with Us.


'Naught there is, whether good or evil, but treasures of it unlimited are with Us and in Our treasuries, but We send only according to the capacity appropriate.' Yes indeed: this person has faith, but he does not know what his faith is in. In the same way a child has faith in bread, but he does not know what thing he has faith in. So with all things that grow: a tree turns yellow and dry of thirst, but it does not know what thirst really is.

The substance of man is like a flag. He first sets the flag fluttering in the air, and then sends troops to the foot of that flag from every direction as God alone knows -- reason, understanding, fury and anger, forbearance and liberality, fear and hope, states without end and qualities unbounded. Whoever looks from afar sees only the flag, but he who beholds from close at hand knows what essences and realities reside in it.

Someone came in and the Master said: Where have you been? We have been longing to see you. Why have you kept away?

The man replied: So things conspired.

The Master said: We for our part have been praying that this conspiracy of things might change and cease to be. A conspiracy of things that produces separation is an improper conspiracy. Yes, by Allah, it too comes from God, only in relation to God it is good. It is a true saying, that all things in relation to God are good and perfect, only in relation to us it is not so. Fornication and purity, not praying and prayer, unbelief and Islam, polytheism and unitarianism -- with God all these are good; in relation to us fornication and thieving, unbelief and polytheism are bad, while unitarianism and prayer and good works in relation to us are good. But in relation to God all are good.

A king has in his realm prison and gallows, robes of honour and wealth, estates and retinue, feasting and making merry, drums and flags. In relation to the king all these things are good. Just as robes of honour are the perfect ornament of his kingdom, so too gallows and slaying and prison are the perfect ornament of his kingdom. In relation to him all these things are the perfect ornament; but in relation to his people how should robes of honour and the gallows be one and the same?

Discourse 8

Someone asked what there was that was superior to prayer. One answer is what I have already said, that the 'soul' of prayer is better than prayer, as I then explained. The second answer is that faith is better than prayer.

Prayer consists of five times' performance, whereas faith is continuous. Prayer can be dropped for a valid excuse, and may be postponed by licence: there is this other advantage which faith has over prayer, that faith cannot be dropped for any excuse and may not be postponed by licence. Again, faith without prayer is beneficial, whereas prayer without faith confers no benefit. Another point: the prayer of hypocrites and the prayer of every religion is of quite a different kind, whereas faith does not change in any religion; its states, its locus and the rest are invariable.

There are also other differences; according to the attractive power of the listener they become evident. The listener is like flour in the hands of a dough-maker; words are like water, which is sprinkled on the flour according to what is required in the circumstances. The poet says:

'Mine eye is fixed on another; what shall I do?'
'Complain of yourself, for that eye's light is you.'


'Mine eye is fixed on another'; that is, it is seeking another listener apart from you. 'What shall I do? For that eye's light is you': because you are with yourself; you will not have escaped from yourself until your light is a hundred thousand times you.

There was once a skinny person, feeble and contemptible as a sparrow, exceedingly contemptible to behold, so much so that even contemptible forms looked on him with contempt and gave thanks to God, though before seeing him they used to complain of their own contemptible form. For all that he was very rough in his speech and bragged enormously. He was in the court of the king, and his behaviour pained the vizier; yet for all that he swallowed it down. Then one day the vizier lost his temper.

'Men of the court,' he shouted, 'I picked this creature out of the gutter and nourished him. By eating my bread and sitting at my table and enjoying my charity and my wealth and that of my ancestors he became somebody. Now he has reached the point of saying such things to me!'

'Men of the court,' cried the man, springing up in his face, 'and nobles and pillars of the state! What he says is quite true. I was nourished by his wealth and charity and that of his ancestors until I grew up, contemptible and ignominious as you see me. If I had been nourished by someone else's bread and wealth, surely my form and stature and worth might well have been better than this. He picked me out of the gutter; all I can say is, O would that I were dust. If someone else had picked me out of the gutter, I would not have been such a laughing stock.'

Image Image

[Trimalchio] Throw him into the oven. You vagrant! I fed you. I lifted you out of the gutter. I am the poet here! Throw this ingrate into the oven! I'll put you to shame in front of all those people. I don't want to see him anymore, that dog, that venomous snake! He's bad luck!

[Eumolpus] I'm a philosopher! Clown, thief! Let me go!

-- Satyricon, directed by Federico Fellini


The disciple who is nourished at the hands of a man of God has a clean and chaste spirit. But he who is nourished at the hands of an impostor and a hypocrite and learns the science from him is just like the man in the foregoing story, contemptible and feeble, weak and with no way out, unable to make up his mind about anything, deficient in all his senses.

And thee unbelievers -- their protectors are idols, that bring them forth from the light into the shadows.


In the composition of man all sciences were originally commingled, so that his spirit might show forth all hidden things, as limpid water shows forth all that is under it -- pebbles, broken sherds and the like -- and all that is above it, reflected in the substance of the water. Such is its nature, without treatment or training. But when it was mingled with earth or other colours, that property and that knowledge was parted from it and forgotten by it. Then God most High sent forth prophets and saints, like a great, limpid water such as delivers out of darkness and accidental coloration every mean and dark water that enters into it. Then it remembers; when the soul of man sees itself unsullied, it knows for sure that so it was in the beginning, pure, and it knows that those shadows and colours were mere accidents. Remembering its state before those accidents supervened, it says:

This is that wherewithal we were provided before.


The prophets and the saints therefore remind him of his former state; they do not implant anything new in his substance. Now every dark water that recognises that great water, saying, 'I come from this and I belong to this,' mingles with that water. But the dark water that does not recognise that water and deems it other than itself and not of its own kind takes refuge with the colours and shadows, so that it mingles not with the sea and is even farther off from mingling with the sea. It was for this reason that the Prophet said: 'Those spirits which recognise one another associate together, and those which recognise not one another fall into variance.' It was on this account that God declared:

Now there has come to you a Messenger from among
yourselves.


That is to say, the great water is congener of the little water, and is of itself and its own substance. That which deems it not of itself, that failure to recognise springs not of the water itself but is an evil associate of the water. The reflection of that associate impinges upon such a water, and the water does not know whether its shying away from the great water, and the sea, springs from itself or from the reflection of that evil associate, so closely are they mingled together. In like manner mean clay does not know whether its inclination towards clay springs from its own nature or from some fault mingled with its character.

Know that every line of poetry that they adduce, every tradition, every verse of the Koran, is like a pair of witnesses bearing testimony, apprised of various kinds of testimony; they bear witness in every situation according to the nature of the situation. In the same way there are two witnesses to the bequest of a house, two witnesses to the sale of a shop, two witnesses to a marriage; they bear witness according to the nature of every case at which they are present. The form of the testimony is always the same; it is its meaning that differs. I pray that God may cause these words to be of benefit to us and you alike. 'The colour is the colour of blood, and the scent is the scent of musk.'

Discourse 9

We said: The man had the desire to see you. He kept saying, 'I wish I could have seen the Master.'

The Master said: He does not see the Master at this moment in truth because the desire which filled him, namely that he might see the Master, was a veil over the Master. So he does not see the Master at this moment without a veil. So it is with all desires and affections, all loves and fondnesses which people have for every variety of thing -- father, mother, heaven, earth, gardens, palaces, branches of knowledge, acts, things to eat and drink. The man of God realises that all these desires are the desire for God, and all those things are veils. When men pass out of this world and behold that King without these veils, then they will realise that all those were veils and coverings, their quest being in reality that One Thing. All difficulties will then be resolved, and they will hear in their hearts the answer to all questions and all problems, and every thing will be seen face to face.

It is not God's way to answer every difficulty singly, but by one answer all questions will be made known all at once and the total difficulty will be resolved. In the same way in winter every man puts on warm clothes and a leather jacket and creeps for shelter from the cold into an oven, into a warm hollow. So too all plants, trees, shrubs and the like, bitten by the venomous cold remain without leaves and fruit, and store and hide their goods and chattels inwardly so that the malice of the cold may not reach them. When spring in a single epiphany answers their requests, all their various problems, whether they be living, springing or lying fallow, will be resolved, and those secondary causes will disappear. All will put forth their heads, and realise what was the cause of that misery.

God has created these veils for a good purpose. For if God's beauty should display itself without a veil, we would not have the power to endure and would not enjoy it. Through the intermediary of these veils we derive succour and benefit.

You see yonder sun, how in its light we walk and see and distinguish good from bad and are warmed. The trees and orchards become fruitful, and in the heat of it their fruits, unripe and sour and bitter, become mature and sweet. Through its influence mines of gold and silver, rubies and cornelians are made manifest. If yonder sun, which through intermediaries bestows so many benefits, were to come nearer it would bestow no benefit whatsoever; on the contrary, the whole world and every creature would be burned up and destroyed.

When God most High makes revelation through a veil to the mountain, it too becomes fully arrayed in trees and flowers and verdure. When however He makes revelation without a veil, He overthrows the mountain and breaks it into atoms.

And when his Lord revealed Him to the mountain
He made it crumble into dust.


Someone interposed the question: Well, is there not the same sun too in the winter?

The Master answered: Our purpose here was to draw a comparison. There is neither 'camel' nor 'lamb.' Likeness is one thing, comparison is another. Although our reason cannot comprehend that thing however it may exert itself, yet how shall the reason abandon the effort? If the reason gave up the struggle, it would no more be the reason. Reason is that thing which perpetually, night and day, is restless and in commotion, thinking and struggling and striving to comprehend, even though He is uncomprehended and incomprehensible.

Reason is like a moth, and the Beloved is like a candle. Whensoever the moth dashes itself against the candle, it is consumed and destroyed. But the moth is so by nature, that however much it may be hurt by that consuming and agony it cannot do without the candle. If there were any animal like the moth that could not do without the light of the candle and dashed itself against that light, it would itself be a moth; whilst if the moth dashed itself against the light of the candle and the moth were not consumed, that indeed would not be a candle.

Therefore the man who can do without God and makes no effort is no man at all; whilst if he were able to comprehend God, that indeed would not be God. Therefore the true man is he who is never free from striving, who revolves restlessly and ceaselessly about the light of the Majesty of God. And God is He who consumes man and makes him naught, being comprehended of no reason.

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SOME OF US DO GO ON THIS JOURNEY
WE DIDN'T STAND UP AND SAY WE VOLUNTEER
(IT DIDN'T WORK THAT WAY AT ALL
IT'S NOT LIKE YOU HAD A CHOICE
OF VOLUNTEERING OR NOT VOLUNTEERING)
THAT ISN'T THE WAY IT WORKS.
IT'S AS IF YOU'RE PROPELLED INTO IT
LIKE THE MOTH INTO THE FLAME

-- Be Here Now, by Ram Dass


Discourse 10

The Parvana said: Before the Master arrived on the scene, our Master Baha' al-Din excused himself to me, saying, 'The Master has so ordained that the Amir should not come to visit him and put himself to trouble. I am subject to various states: in one state I speak and in another I do not speak, in one state I attend to the affairs of other men and in another state I withdraw and go into retreat, whilst in yet another state I am utterly absorbed and distraught. I would not wish that the Amir should come when I am in a state of being unable to be amiable to him, when I am not free to counsel him and converse with him. It is therefore better that when I am free and able to attend to my friends and do them some good, I should go out and visit my friends.'

The Amir went on: I answered our Master Baha' al-Din, saying, 'I do not come here in order that our Master may attend to me and converse with me. My purpose in coming is so that I may have the honour of being amongst the company of his servants.' One of the things that has just now happened is that our Master was preoccupied and did not show himself until he had kept me waiting for a long time. This was so that I might realise how difficult and disagreeable it is if I keep good Muslims waiting when they come to my door and do not quickly admit them. The Master has made me taste the bitterness of that and has given me a lesson, so that I may not act like that with others.

The Master answered: That is not so. On the contrary, my keeping you waiting was the acme of lovingkindness. It is related that God most High declares: 'O my servant, I would answer your petition and complaint forthwith, were it not that the voice of your complaint is sweet in my ears. My answer is delayed to the end that you may complain abundantly, for the voice of your complaint is sweet in my ears.'

For example, two beggars have come to the door of a certain person. One is much sought after and beloved, whilst the other is greatly hated. The master of that house says to his slave, 'Give that hated one a piece of bread quickly and without delay, so that he may quickly go abroad from my door.' To the other beloved beggar he makes promises, saying, 'The bread is not yet baked. Wait patiently until the bread is properly cooked and baked.'

My greater desire is to see my friends and to gaze my fill upon them, and they on me. For when many friends have seen very well into one another here below, when they come to be raised up in the other world, having become very familiar indeed they will quickly recognise one another. Knowing how they were together in the world of mortality, their reuniting will be with joy.

For a man all too quickly loses his friend. Do you not see how in this mortal world you have become the friend and darling of some person, and he is a very Joseph of beauty in your eyes, then on account of a single shameful action he vanishes from your sight and you lose him completely? That Joseph-like form is changed into a wolf, and the very same one you saw formerly as Joseph you now see as a wolf, for all that his actual form has not been changed but is still the same as you formerly saw it. By that one accidental motion you lost him. Tomorrow, when the mustering of men is re-enacted and this present essence is changed into another essence, since you never knew that person well and never penetrated thoroughly into his essence how are you going to recognise him?

The lesson to be learned from this is that men must see one another very well indeed. They must overpass the good and bad qualities which are present temporarily in every man, and must enter into the other's very essence, seeing exceedingly clearly that these qualities which men bestow upon one another are not their original qualities.

The story is told of a man who said, 'I know that fellow very well. I will give his distinguishing mark.' The others said, 'Pray do.' The man said, 'He was a muleteer of mine. He had two black cows.' People talk in this same fashion. 'I consider So-and-so my friend. I know him.' Every distinguishing mark that they give is just like the story of the two black cows. That is not his distinguishing mark, and that mark is of no use whatever.

So one must overpass the good and evil in a man and enter into his essence, to see what essence and substance he possesses. That is truly seeing and knowing.

It astonishes me how some men say, 'How do saints and lovers of God play at love in the eternal world beyond space and form and time? How do they derive help and strength? How are they affected?' After all, are they not engaged night and day in that very thing? This person who loves a certain person and derives help from him -- after all, he derives from him help and grace, kindness and knowledge, recollection and remembrance, happiness and sorrow. All these belong to the infinite world; yet moment by moment he derives help from these abstractions and is affected by them. This does not however surprise the doubters; yet they are amazed how the saints should be lovers in the infinite world and derive help therefrom.

Once there was a philosopher who denied this reality. One day he became sick and incapacitated, and his illness dragged on a long time. A certain theologian went to visit him.

'What are you seeking?' he asked.

'Health,' the philosopher replied.

'Tell me how this health is shaped,' said the theologian, 'so that I may get it for you.'

'It has no shape. It is indescribable,' said the philosopher.

'If it is indescribable, then how are you seeking it?' the theologian demanded. 'Tell me,' he added, 'what is health?'

'All I know,' answered the philosopher, 'is that when health supervenes there is an access of strength. I become plump and red and white, fresh and blooming.'

'I am asking you about the spirit of health. What is the essence of health?' asked the theologian.

'I do not know. It is indescribable,' said the philosopher.

'If you become a Muslim and turn away from your former views,' said the theologian, 'I will treat you and make you well and bring you back to health.'

The Prophet was asked, God's blessings be upon him, 'Though these truths are inscrutable, can a man derive benefit from them through the mediation of form?' He replied, 'See yonder the form of heaven and earth.'

Through the mediation of this form, derive benefit from that universal reality; inasmuch as you see the changing about of the wheel of the sky, the raining of the clouds in due season, summer and winter and all the transformations of time. You see all these things happening rightly and in accordance with wisdom. After all, what does yonder inanimate cloud know, that it is necessary to rain in due season? You see likewise this earth, how it receives seed and returns yield tenfold. Well, Someone does this; behold that Someone through the mediation of this world, and derive help. Just as you derive help from the body of a man to perceive his reality, even so derive help from the reality of the world through the mediation of the form of the world.

When the Prophet, may God bless him and give him peace, was transported out of himself and spoke, he used to say, 'God says.' From the standpoint of form it was his tongue that spoke; but he was not there at all, and the speaker in reality was God. Having at first perceived himself ignorant and knowing nothing of such words, now that such words are being born from him he realises that he is not now what he was at first. This is God controlling him. The Prophet, may God bless him and give him peace, reported about past men and prophets who lived so many thousands of years before him, and even unto the end of the world, what should come to pass; as likewise about the Throne and the Footstool, the Void and the Plenum. His being was a thing of but yesterday, and a being newly created but yesterday assuredly does not speak of such things. How should a creature born in time give information about the eternal? Hence it became realised that it was not he who was speaking; God was speaking.

Nor speaks he out of caprice.
This is naught but a revelation revealed.


God is wholly free of form and letters; His speech is beyond letters and voice. But He delivers His words by means of any letters and voice and tongue He desires.

Men have fashioned upon the highways, in caravanserais and on the banks of pools, men of stone or birds of stone, and out of their mouths the water comes and pours into the pool. All possessed of reason know that the water does not issue out of the mouth of a stone bird, it issues out of another place.

If you want to get to know a man, engage him in speech. By his words you will know him. If he is an impostor, and someone has told him that by their words men are recognised, and he keeps a watch on his words to the end that he may not be found out, even so in the end he is detected.

This is illustrated by the story of the child and his mother. A child in the desert said to his mother, 'On dark nights a horrible black demon appears to me, and I am terribly afraid.'

'Don't be afraid,' said his mother. 'The next time you see that form, attack it bravely. Then it will become clear that it is nothing but a fantasy.'

'But mother,' said the child, 'what if the black demon's mother has given him similar advice? What shall I do, if she has counselled him, saying, "Don't say a word, so that you won't be exposed"? How shall I recognise him then?'

'Keep silent and yield to him, and wait with patience,' his mother answered. 'It may be that some word may leap from his mouth. Or if it does not leap, it may be that from your tongue some word may leap involuntarily, or in your thoughts some words or some idea may spring up, so that out of that idea or those words you will know him for what he is. For then you will have been affected by him; that is the reflection of him and his feelings that has sprung up inside of you.'

Shaikh Sar-razi, God's mercy be upon him, was seated one day amongst his disciples. One of the disciples had a longing for some roasted sheep's head. The Shaikh signalled, saying, 'You must bring him some roasted sheep's head.'

'How did you know that he wanted some roasted sheep's head?' the disciples asked.

'Because it is now thirty years that no desire has remained in me,' the Shaikh answered. 'I have cleansed and purified myself of all desires and have become clear as an unscratched mirror. When the thought of roasted sheep's head entered my mind and whetted my appetite and became a desire, I knew that that belonged to our friend yonder. For the mirror is without any image of itself; if an image shows in the mirror, it is the image of another.'

A worthy man once shut himself up for a forty days' discipline, seeking after a particular object. A voice came to him, saying, 'Such a lofty object will never be attained by a forty days' discipline. Abandon your discipline, so that the regard of a great saint may fall upon you and your object will be realised.'

'Where shall I find that great one?' the man asked.

'In the congregational mosque,' came the answer.

'In such a throng of people how shall I recognise which man he is?' he enquired.

'Go,' he was told, 'and he will recognise you and will gaze upon you. The sign that his regard has fallen upon you will be that the pitcher will drop from your hand and you will become unconscious. Then you will know that he has gazed upon you.'

He acted accordingly. He filled a pitcher with water and went round the congregation in the mosque like a water-carrier. He was wandering between the ranks of the worshippers when suddenly he was seized with ecstasy. He uttered a loud cry, and the pitcher fell from his hand. He remained in a corner of the mosque unconscious. All the people departed. When he came to his senses he saw that he was alone. He did not see there that spiritual king who had gazed upon him, but he had gained his object.

There are certain men of God who because of their great majesty and jealousy for God do not show themselves openly; but they cause disciples to attain important objects and bestow gifts on them. Such mighty spiritual kings are rare and precious.

We said: Do the great ones come before you?

The Master answered: There is no 'before' left to me. It is a long time now that I have had no 'before.' If they come, they come before that imaged thing they believe to be me. Certain men said to Jesus, upon whom be peace, 'We will come to your house.' Jesus answered, 'Where is my house in this world, and how should I have a house?'

It is related that Jesus, upon whom be peace, was wandering in the desert when a great rainstorm broke. He went to take shelter in the den of a jackal in the corner of a cave, until the rain should cease. A revelation came to him, saying, 'Get you out of the jackal's den, for the jackal's whelps cannot rest on account of you.' He cried aloud, saying, 'Lord, the jackal's whelp has a shelter, but the son of Mary has no shelter, no place where he may dwell.'

The Master said: If the jackal's whelp has a home, yet he has no such Beloved to drive him out of his home. You have such a One driving you out. If you have no home, what does that matter? The loving-kindness of such a Driver, and the grace of such a robe of honour, that you should have been singled out for Him to drive you forth, is worth far and exceedingly more than a hundred thousand thousand heavens and earths, worlds here and beyond, Thrones and Footstools.

He said: The fact that the Amir came and I did not show my face quickly ought not to distress him. His purpose in coming was to pay honour either to me or to himself. If it was to pay honour to me, then the longer he sat and waited for me, the greater the honour to me that ensued. If on the other hand his object was to honour himself and to seek a reward, then since he waited and endured the pain of waiting his reward will be all the greater. On either supposition, his object in coming was realised many times over. So he ought to be delighted and happy.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:45 am

Part 1 of 3

Discourse 11

The saying 'Hearts bear witness one to another' refers to a statement or a narration that is not disclosed openly. Else what need would there be for words? When the heart bears witness, what need is there for the testimony of the tongue?

The Amir Na'ib said: Certainly the heart bears witness. But the heart plays one part by itself, the ear another, the eye another, the tongue another. There is need of each one, in order that the profit may be the greater.

The Master said: If the heart is totally absorbed, all the other members are obliterated in it and there is no need of the tongue. After all take the case of Laila. She was not a spiritual being, but corporeal and of the flesh, fashioned of water and clay. Yet passion for her produced such absorption and so utterly seized and overwhelmed Majnun that he had no need to see Laila with the eye, no need to hear her words by the voice, for he never saw Laila apart from himself, so that he cried:

Your name is upon my tongue,
Your image is in my sight,
Your memory is in my heart;
Whither then shall I write?


So the physical has such power that passion can bring a man into a state in which he never sees himself apart from the beloved. All his senses are absorbed in her, sight, hearing, smell and the rest. No member seeks a share apart, seeing all united and having all present. If each of these members I have mentioned plays its part in full, all are immersed in the experience of that one and seek no share apart. The seeking by the sense of another share apart proves that that one member has not taken its true and complete share. It has enjoyed a defective share and consequently has not been immersed in that share; another sense seeks its share, and all severally seek a share apart.

From the standpoint of reality the senses are a unity, but from the standpoint of form they are separate one from another. When one member is affected by absorption, all the members are absorbed in it. Thus, when a fly flies upwards it moves its wings, its head and all its parts; but when it is immersed in honey, all its parts are alike and not one makes any movement.

The nature of absorption is that the one absorbed is no longer there; he can make no more effort; he ceases to act and to move; he is immersed in the water. Any action that proceeds from him is not his action, it is the action of the water. But now if he strikes out in the water with his hands and feet he is not said to be submerged; if he utters a cry, 'Ah, I am drowning,' this too is not called absorption.

Take the famous utterance, 'I am God.' Some men reckon it as a great pretension; but 'I am Gael' is in fact a great humility. The man who says 'I am the servant of God' asserts that two exist, one himself and the other God. But he who says 'I am God' has naughted himself and cast himself to the winds. He says, 'I am God': that is, 'I am not, He is all, nothing has existence but God, I am pure non-entity, I am nothing.' In this the humility is greater.

It is this that ordinary men do not understand. If a man renders a service ad majorem Dei gloriam, his servanthood is still present there; even though it is for the sake of God, he still sees himself and his own action as well as God; he is not drowned in the water. That man is drowned in the water, in whom no movement, no action remains, all his movements being the movement of the water.

A lion was chasing a deer, and the deer was fleeing from the lion. There were two beings in being, one that of the lion and the other that of the deer. But when the lion caught up with the deer and the deer, being overpowered beneath the lion's clutch, in terror of the lion became unconscious and senseless and collapsed before the lion, in that moment the being of the lion remained alone, the being of the deer was effaced and remained no more.

True absorption is this, that God most High causes the saints to be in fear of Him, but not with the fear of men who are afraid of lions and leopards and oppressors; revealing to them that fear comes from God, and security, pleasure and joy, eating and sleeping -- all these are of God. God most High shows to the saint a form particular and sensible to the eye wide-awake and open, the form of lion or leopard or fire, so that it becomes known to him that the form of the lion and the leopard which he beholds in reality is not of this world at all but of the world unseen, imaged forth to him and displayed in mighty beauty. Likewise gardens and rivers, maids of Paradise and palaces, all manner of food and drink, robes of honour, fleet steeds, cities, dwelling-places, and every kind of marvel -- he knows that in reality these are not of this world. God displays them and informs them before his eyes. Thus he knows for a certainty that fear comes from God, and security, all comforts and all fine shows.

Now this fear of God does not resemble the fear of men, because it is an object of contemplation and not by proof, since God has shown to him expressly that all things are of Him. The philosopher knows this, but he knows it by proof; and proof is not permanent. That delight which ensues from proof has no permanence, that you should say of the proof that it is delightful and warm and fresh. When the memory of the proof passes, its warmth and delight remain no more.

Thus, a man knows by proof that this house had a builder. He knows by proof that this builder has eyes and is not blind, has power and is not impotent, had being and was not non-existent, was living and not dead, and existed before the house was built. All these things he knows, but he knows them by proof; and proof is not permanent and is soon forgotten. Lovers of God, however, having served the Lord have come to know the Builder and seen with the eye of certainty; they have eaten bread and salt together and mingled one with the other; the Builder is never absent from their apperception and their gaze. Such a man as this passes away in God. In regard to him sin is not sin, crime is not crime, since he is overwhelmed and absorbed in Him.

A certain king ordered his slaves everyone to take in his hand a golden cup, because a guest was coming. His favourite slave he also commanded to take a cup. When the king showed his face, that special slave on beholding the king lost control of himself and became distraught, so that the cup fell from his hand and was shattered. When the other slaves saw this they said, 'Perhaps this is what we ought to do'; and they cast down their cups deliberately.

'Why did you do that?' the king reprimanded them.

'He was your favourite, and he did so,' they replied.

'Fools!' the king cried out. 'He did not do that. I did it.'

To outward seeming all those forms were sinful. But that one sin was the very acme of obedience; indeed, it transcended obedience and sin. Of them all the true object was that one slave; the rest of the slaves were followers of the king; hence they are the slaves' followers, since he is the essence of the king, and he wears only the form of slavery. He is full of the beauty of the king.

God most High declares, 'But for thee I would not have created the heavens.' 'I am God' is the same thing, its meaning being, 'I created the heavens for Myself.' This is 'I am God' in another language and another idiom.

Though the words of the great saints differ a hundredfold in form, yet since God is one and the Way is one, how should there be two words? Though in form they appear contrary, in meaning they are one. Differentiation is in the form; in the meaning all is concord.

A prince orders a tent to be stitched. One man twists the rope, another strikes the pegs, another weaves the covering, another stitches, another rends, another sticks in the needle. Though to outward seeming they are diverse and different, from the standpoint of meaning they are united and are doing the same job.

So it is with the affairs of this world. When you look into the matter, all are doing God's service, reprobate and righteous, sinner and obedient, devil and angel. For example, the king desires to prove and make trial of his slaves by various means, so that the constant may be sorted out from the inconstant, the loyal from the disloyal, the faithful from the unfaithful. There is need for a tempter and a provoker, so that the slave's constancy may be established; if there were none, how would his constancy be established? Hence that tempter and provoker is doing the service of the king, since it is the king's will that he should so act. He sent a wind to differentiate between the stable and the unstable, to separate the gnat from the tree and the garden, that the gnat may vanish and the sparrow-hawk may remain.

A certain king ordered a slavegirl to adorn herself and offer herself to his slaves, so that their loyalty and disloyalty might be revealed. Though the girl's action appears outwardly sinful, in reality she is doing the king's service.

These true servants of God have seen themselves in this world not by proof and rote, but face to face and unveiled, that all men, good and evil alike, are obedient servants of God.

Nothing is, that does not proclaim His praise.


Therefore, in regard to them this world itself is the resurrection, in that the resurrection means in reality all serving God and doing no other work but His service. These men perceive this truth even here below, for 'Even were the veil removed, I would not be increased in certain faith.'

The knower, from the linguistic standpoint, is a man of higher degree than the gnostic. God is called the Knower, but must not be called the Gnostic. Gnostic means one who did not know, and then came to know; and this does not apply to God. From the standpoint of common usage however the gnostic is the greater; for gnostic is used to denote one who knows the world, transcending proof, by direct vision and face to face. By usage such a man is called a gnostic.

It has been said, 'The knower is better than a hundred ascetics.' How should the knower be better than a hundred ascetics? After all, the ascetic practises asceticism on the basis of knowledge; asceticism without knowledge is impossible. For what is asceticism? To forsake the world, and to turn one's face to obedience and the world to come. Well, it is necessary to know this world, its foulness and impermanence, to know the charm and permanence and everlastingness of the world to come, and to strive to obey, saying, 'How shall I obey, and what is obedience?' All these things are knowledge. Hence asceticism is impossible without knowledge. Hence the ascetic is both knower and ascetic.

This 'knower' who is better than a hundred 'ascetics' is nevertheless real, only its meaning has not been understood. There is another knowledge which God gives a man after this asceticism and the knowledge which he possessed at first. This second knowledge is the fruit of that knowledge and asceticism. Assuredly such a knower is better than a hundred thousand ascetics.

Let me cite a parallel. A man planted a tree, and the tree bore fruit. Assuredly, the tree that bore fruit is better than a hundred trees that have not borne fruit. For it may well be that the latter trees will never bear at all, since many diseases intervene. A pilgrim who reaches the Kaaba is better than the pilgrim who is still travelling in the desert. There is fear with regard to the latter, whether they will reach the Kaaba or no; whereas the former has really reached the Kaaba. One certainty is better than a hundred doubts.

The Amir Na'ib said: He who has not arrived still has hope.

The Master replied: What is the hopeful man compared with him who has arrived? There is a vast difference between fear and security. Why need we speak of such a difference, which is manifest to all? What I am speaking about is security; for there are great differences between security and security. It was in regard to security that Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, was superior to all the other prophets; otherwise, all the prophets are in security and have transcended fear. But there are stations in security.

And We have raised some of them above
others in rank.


It is possible to give some indication as to the world of fear and the stations of fear; but the stations of security have no indication. In the world of fear every man considers what he shall expend in the way of God. One man expends his body, another his wealth, another his life; one man expends by fasting, another by prayer, another by ten prostrations, another by a hundred. Hence their stages are distinct in form, and can be indicated. In the same manner the stages between Konia and Caesarea are distinct and known: Qaimaz, Uprukh, Sultan, and so forth. But the stages by sea from Antalya to Alexandria are without indication. The ship's captain knows them, but they are not told to landsmen since they are not able to understand.

The Amir said: Even to tell imparts some benefit. Though they may not know everything, still they will know a little and will find out and guess the rest.

The Master replied: Yes indeed, by Allah! A man sits wakeful through the dark night, resolved to travel towards the day. Though he does not know how he shall travel, yet since he is awaiting the day he is near to the day. Another man is travelling by caravan upon a dark night and in a storm of rain. He does not know where he has got, where he is passing, what distance he has covered; but when day comes he will see the result of that travelling and will get somewhere. Whoso labours for the glory of God, though he close both his eyes his labour is not lost.

And whoso has done an atom's weight of good shall see it.


Inasmuch as within he is dark and veiled, he does not see how far he has progressed; but in the end he will know. 'This world is the seedplot of the world to come.' Whatever he sows here, there he shall reap.

Jesus, upon whom be peace, laughed much; John, upon whom be peace, wept much. John said to Jesus, 'You have become exceedingly secure against the subtle deceits, that you laugh so much.' Jesus replied, 'You have become exceedingly unmindful of the subtle and mysterious and wonderful graces and lovingkindnesses of God, that you weep so much.' One of God's saints was present at this incident. He asked God, 'Which of these two has the higher station?' God answered, 'He who thinks better of Me' -- that is to say, 'I am where My servant thinks of Me. Every servant has an image and an idea of Me. Whatever picture he forms of Me, there I am. I am the servant of that picture wherein God dwells; I care nothing for that reality where God dwells not. Cleanse your thoughts, O My servants, for they are My abode and dwelling-place.'

Now make trial of yourself as to weeping and laughter, fasting and prayer, solitude and company, and the rest, which of these is more profitable to you. Whichever state brings you straighter on the road and secures your greater advancement, choose that task. 'Take counsel of your heart, even if the counsellors counsel you.' The truth is within you: compare with it the counsel of the counsellors, and where it accords with that, follow that counsel.

The physician comes to the sick man and questions the inward physician; for within you there is a physician, namely your natural temperament which rejects and accepts. Therefore the external physician questions it: 'Such and such a thing that you ate, how was it? Was it light? Was it heavy? How was your sleep?' From what the inward physician tells him, the external physician makes his prescription. Hence the root of the matter is that inward physician, the patient's temperament. When this physician is feeble and the temperament is corrupt, because of his feebleness he sees things all contrary and gives crooked indications. He says that sugar is bitter, vinegar is sweet. He therefore needs the external physician to succour him, so that his temperament may return to its original balance. After that he shows himself to his own physician and takes his counsel.

Man has a like temperament of the true self. When that is feeble, whatever his interior senses perceive and declare is contrary to the truth. So the saints are physicians who succour a man until his temperament is restored to its right balance and his religion and his heart have gathered strength.

'Show me things as they truly are.' Man is a mighty volume; within him all things are written, but veils and darknesses do not allow him to read that knowledge within himself. The veils and darknesses are these various preoccupations and diverse worldly plans and desires of every kind. Yet for all that he is wrapped in darkness and is veiled by so many veils, he can nevertheless read something and is thereof apprised. Consider when these darknesses and veils are removed, how then he will be apprised and what varieties of knowledge he will discover within him!

After all, all these trades and professions -- tailoring, building, carpentry, goldsmithery, science, astronomy, medicine and the rest of men's countless and innumerable callings -- all these were discovered from within man, they were not revealed by stones and clods. When it is said that a raven taught man to bury the dead, that too is a reflection of man which impinged upon his brain; man's own inner urge prevailed upon him to do that. After all, the animal is but a part of man: how should the part teach the whole? A man desires to write with his left hand; he takes the pen into his hand, but though his heart is strong his hand trembles as he writes; yet the hand writes at the command of the heart.

When the Amir comes, the Master utters mighty words. The words are never cut off; because he is a master of words, words all the time come to him without interruption.

If in the winter time the trees do not put forth leaves and fruit, let men not suppose that they are not working. They are continually at work. Winter is the season of gathering in, summer is the season of spending. Everyone sees the spending, but they do not see the gathering in. In the same way a person gives an entertainment and spends much upon it; this everyone sees, but no one sees the gathering in and collecting little by little for the sake of the entertainment, no one knows anything of that. Yet the ingathering is the root of the matter, for the expenditure comes out of the income.

With whatever person we are in unison, every moment we have words with him, even when we are silent, in absence and presence alike. Indeed we do battle with the other, and are intermingled; though we strike with our fists one against the other, yet we are speaking to him and are one and in unison. Do not regard that fist, in that fist there are raisins. Do you not believe it? Then open it, and see the difference between raisins and pearls of great price.

Other men speak fine and subtle sayings and high wisdom in verse and prose. The inclination of the Amir thiswards and towards us is not on account of high wisdom and subtle sayings and sermonising. Things of that kind are to be found everywhere, and are by no means in short supply. His loving me and his inclination towards me is not for those things. He sees something else; he sees a light transcending what he sees proceeding from others.

It is related that a certain king summoned Majnun before him.

'What has happened to you and what has befallen you?' he enquired. 'You have disgraced yourself, forsaken your hearth and home, become wasted and utterly destroyed. What is Laila? What beauty is hers? I will show you many beautiful and lovely girls, make them your ransom and bestow them upon you.'

When they had been brought to court, Majnun and the lovely girls were duly introduced. Majnun kept his head cast down, staring in front of him.

'Well now, lift up your head and look!' the king commanded.

'I am afraid,' Majnun replied. 'My love for Laila is a drawn sword. If I raise my head, it will strike it off.'

Majnun had become so immersed in his love for Laila. After all, the other girls also had eyes and lips and noses. What then had he beheld in her, to come to such a state?

Discourse 12

The Master said: I have been longing to call on you, but as I know that you are busy with the interests of the people I have been sparing you the trouble.

The Parvana said: This duty was incumbent upon me. Now that the emergency has ended, henceforward I will attend upon you.

The Master said: There is no difference. It is all the same thing. You are so gracious that all things are the same to you. How can one speak of troubles? But since I am aware that today it is you who are occupied with good deeds and charities, naturally I have recourse to you.

Just now we have been discussing this question: if one man has a family and another man has none, should one cut away from the former and give to the latter? Literalists say that you cut away from the poor family man and give to the other; when you consider the matter well, he himself in reality is a poor family man. It is the same with the spiritualist who possesses a jewel. He strikes a man and breaks his nose and jaw. Everyone says that the latter is the wronged party. But in reality the wronged party is the one striking the blow; the man doing wrong is he who does not act in his best interests. The one who has been punched and got his head broken is the wrongdoer, and the striker is assuredly the wronged party. Since he is the owner of the jewel, since he is consumed in God, his actions are God's actions. God is not called a wrongdoer.

The Prophet too, God bless him and give him peace, killed and spilled blood and raided; yet they were the wrongdoers, and he was the wronged. For example, an occidental dwells in the occident. An oriental has come to the occident. The occidental is a stranger; but what stranger is he who has come from the orient? For the whole world is but a house, no more. Whether he has gone from this house to that house, or from this corner to that corner, after all is he not in the same house? But that occidental who possesses the jewel has come out of the house. Why, the Prophet said, 'Islam began a stranger'; he did not say, 'The oriental began a stranger.' So the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, when he was defeated was the wronged party, and when he defeated his enemies he was still the wronged party. For in both cases he was in the right; and the wronged party is he who is in the right.

The Prophet's heart, God bless him and give him peace, ached for the prisoners. God most High, to comfort the Prophet, sent down a revelation saying: Say to them, 'In your present state of bondage and chains, if you resolve upon righteousness God will deliver you out of this, and will restore to you that which has gone, and many times as much, and will grant you forgiveness and benediction in the world to come -- two treasures, one that has gone from you, and one the treasure of the world to come.'

The Parvana asked: When the servant of God performs an action, does the grace and good arise from the action, or is it the gift of God?

The Master answered: It is the gift of God and the grace of God. But God out of His exceeding lovingkindness attributes to the servant both, declaring, 'Both are yours.'

No soul knows what comfort is laid up
for them secretly, as a recompense for that
they were doing.


The Parvana said: Since God is of such lovingkindness, then everyone who seeks in truth shall find.

The Master answered: But without a guide this does not come to pass. So, when the Israelites were obedient to Moses, upon whom be peace, ways were opened up to them even through the sea; dust was brought up out of the sea and they passed over. But when they began to be disobedient, they remained so many years in the wilderness. The leader of a given time is bound to secure the welfare of those whom he perceives to be bound to him and strictly obedient. For instance, when a group of soldiers are strictly obedient in the service of their commander, he too expends his intellect upon their welfare and is bound to work to secure it. But when they are not obedient, how should he expend his intellect to look after their interests?

The intellect in the body of a man is like a commander. So long as the subject members of the body are obedient to it, all the body's affairs proceed well and perfectly; but when they are not obedient, all its affairs come to disorder. Do you not see how, when a man is drunk with taking wine, what disorders are effected by these hands and feet and this tongue, all subjects of his entity? Then on the following day, when he is sober again he cries, 'Alas, what have I done? Why did I strike? Why did I speak abusively?'

So things proceed in perfect order only when there is a leader in that village, and the villagers are obedient to him. The intellect takes thought for the welfare of these subjects in the time when they are at its command. Thus, the intellect thinks, 'I will go'; but it only goes when the foot is obedient to it, otherwise it does not conceive this thought.

Just as the intellect is commander in the midst of the body, so these different entities, who are humankind, together with their several intellects, knowledge, speculation, and learning, are in relation to the saint all unalloyed body, and he is the intellect in the midst of them. Now when these human kind, who are the body, are not obedient to that intellect their affairs all fall into confusion and ruefulness. Now when they are obedient, they must be obedient in such a fashion that whatever the saint does they are obedient, and do not have recourse to their own intellect. For it may well be that with their own intellect they do not understand his action; therefore they must obey him. Similarly when a child is apprenticed to a tailor he must obey his master; if he gives him a patch to sew he must sew that patch, if he gives him a hem he must sew that hem. If he wishes to learn his trade, he must surrender his own initiative completely and become entirely submissive to his master's orders.

We hope that God most High may bring upon us such a state, namely His providential care, which is superior to a hundred thousand strivings and strugglings.

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.


This statement and that statement are one and the same: 'One tugging from God most High is better than the service of all men and jinns.' That is to say, when His providential care intervenes, it does the work of a hundred thousand strugglings and more. Struggling is fine and good and mightily useful, but what is it compared with God's providential care?

The Parvana asked: Does God's providential care bestow struggling?

The Master answered: Why should it not? When providential care comes, struggling also comes. Jesus, upon whom be peace -- what a struggle he made! He spoke whilst yet in the cradle.

He said, 'Lo, I am God's servant;
God has given me the Book.'


John the Baptist described him whilst yet in his mother's womb. Speech came without struggling to Muhammad the Messenger of God:

In whose breast God has expanded ....


First comes grace. When out of error wakefulness enters into him, that is the grace of God and the pure gift of the Lord. If this were not so, how then did it not befall those other friends who were his associates? Grace and requiting are like a spark of fire that leaps. First it is a gift; but when you add cotton waste and nurse that spark, making it increase, then it is grace and requiting. First of all man is small and weak.

For man was created a weakling.


But when you have nursed that weakling fire it becomes a world and sets a universe aflame; that little fire becomes great and mighty.

Surely thou art upon a mighty morality.


I said: Our Master loves you very much.

The Master said: Neither my coming nor my speaking is commensurate with my love. I say whatever comes into me. If God wills, He makes these few words profitable and maintains them within your breast, bestowing mighty benefits. If God wills not, grant that a hundred thousand words are spoken, they will not lodge in the heart but will pass by and become forgotten. Similarly a spark of fire lights upon a burnt rag: if God wills, that one spark will take and become large; if He wills not, a hundred sparks will fall on that tinder and not remain, leaving no mark.

To God belong the hosts of the heavens.


These words are the host of God. By God's authority they open and seize fortresses. If He commands many thousands of horsemen to go and show their faces at such and such a fortress but not to capture it, so they will do; if He commands a single horseman to seize that fortress, that same single horseman will open its gates and capture it. He delegates a gnat against Nimrod, and it destroys him. 'Equal in the eyes of the gnostic are a dang and a dinar, a lion and a cat.' For if God most High bestows His blessing, one dang does the work of a thousand dinars and more; if He withholds His blessing from a thousand dinars, they do not the work of one dang. So too if He commissions the cat, it destroys the lion as the gnat destroyed Nimrod; if He commissions the Lion, all lions tremble before him or become his ass. Just so, certain dervishes ride on lions. Just so, the furnace became coolness and safety to Abraham, upon whom be peace, verdure and a rose-plot, since it was not God's authorisation that the fire should consume him. In short, when men realise that all things are of God, all things become one and the same in their eyes.

Of God I hope that you will hear these words too within your hearts, for that is profitable. If a thousand thieves come from without, they cannot open the door so long as they have no fellow-thief within to open from within. Speak a thousand words from without, yet so long as there is none to confirm them from within they are unprofitable. So too with a tree: as long as there is no freshness in its roots, though you pour a thousand torrents of water over it, it will nothing profit. First there must be a freshness in its roots for the water to succour it.

What though a man a myriad lights descry,
Except the eye be bright, those lights must die.


Though the whole world be ablaze with light, except there be light within the eye, that man will not behold that light. The root of the matter is that receptiveness which is within the soul.

The soul is one thing, and the spirit is another. Do you not see how in sleep the soul fares abroad? The spirit remains in the body, but the soul wanders and is transformed. When 'Ali said, 'He who knows his own self knows his Lord,' he was speaking of this soul.

The Master said: If we say that he was speaking of this soul, that is no small matter. If on the other hand we explain it as meaning that Soul, the listener will understand it as referring to this soul, since he does not know that Soul. For instance, you take a little mirror in your hand. The object shows clearly in the mirror: whether it shows large or small, it is still that object. Mere words cannot ensure understanding; words only reveal the inward impulse of the listener.

Outside this world of which we are speaking there is another world for us to seek. This world and its delights cater to the animality of man; these all feed his animality, whilst the root principle, man, goes into a decline. After all, they say, 'Man is a rational animal.' So man consists of two things. That which feeds his animality in this material world is these lusts and desires. But as for that which is his true essence, its food is knowledge and wisdom and the sight of God. The animality in man flees away from God, whilst his humanity flees away from this world.

One of you is an unbeliever,
and one of you a believer.


Two persons are warring within this one entity.

Who shall succeed? Whom Fortune makes her friend.


There is no doubt that this world is a world of winter. Why is the name 'solid' given to inanimate things? Because they are all solidified. These stones and mountains, and the garments worn by the entity, are all solidified. If this world is not a world of winter, why are they solidified? The inner substance of this world is elementary; though itself invisible, by its effects it can be known that it is wind and bitter cold.

It is like the season of winter, when all things are solidified. What manner of winter is it? Winter of the reason, not of the senses. When that Divine zephyr comes along the mountains begin to melt, the world turns to water; just as when the warmth of July comes along, all things solidified begin to liquefy. On the resurrection day when that zephyr blows, all things will melt away.

God most High makes these words our army round about you, to be a barrier for you against the enemy and to be the means of overmastering the enemy. For there are enemies, enemies within and enemies without. Yet they are nothing: what thing should they be? Do you not see how a thousand infidels are captive to one infidel who is their king, and that infidel is captive to his thoughts? Hence we realise that thoughts have their effect, since through one feeble and muddled thought so many thousands of men and worlds are prisoners. Consider then, where there are thoughts unbounded, what grandeur and splendour are theirs, and how they vanquish the enemy and what worlds they subdue! When I see distinctly what myriads of forms unbounded, what armies unending stretching through waste upon waste, all are prisoners of one person, and that person prisoner to a contemptible little thought! These who are all prisoners of one thought -- where do they stand, compared with thoughts mighty, infinite, weighty, holy, sublime?

Hence we realise that thoughts have their effect. The forms all are followers and mere instruments; without thought they are immobilised and 'solid.' So he who regards the form is also 'solid'; he cannot penetrate the meaning. He is a child and immature, even though in form he be aged and a centenarian. 'We have returned from the lesser struggle to the greater struggle': that is to say, we were at war with forms, and had drawn up our ranks against 'formal' adversaries; now we draw up our ranks against the armies of thoughts, so that good thoughts may defeat bad thoughts and drive them out of the kingdom of the body. This then is indeed the greater struggle and the greater battle.

So thoughts have their effect, for they work without the body's mediation; just as the Active Intellect without any instrument keeps the heavens turning. Therefore the philosopher says that thoughts require no instrument.

You are a substance, and the dual worlds
Are your accidents:
To seek the substance in the accident
Makes little sense.

The man who looks into the heart for knowledge
Deserves your tears;
The man who looks into the soul for reason
Has earned your jeers.


As it is accident, one must not dwell upon accident. For this substance is like a musk-pod, and this material world and its delights are like the scent of the musk. This scent of the musk is but transient, for it is mere accident. He who has sought of this scent the musk itself and has not been content with only the scent, that man is good. But he who has been satisfied to possess the scent, that man is evil; for he has grasped after a thing that does not remain in his hand. For the scent is merely the attribute of the musk. So long as the musk is apparent in this world, its scent comes to the nostrils. When however it enters the veil and returns to the other world, all those who lived by its scent die. For the scent is attached to the musk, and departs whither the musk reveals itself.

Happy then is he who reaches the musk through the scent and becomes one with the musk. Thereafter for him remains no passing away; he has become eternal in the very essence of the musk and takes on the predicament of the musk. Thereafter he communicates its scent to the world, and the world is revived by him. Only the name of what he was survives in him: as with a horse or any other animal that has turned to salt in a salt-pan, only the name of horse remains to it. In effect and influence it is that ocean of salt. What harm does that name do to it? It will not bring it out of its saltiness. And if you give some other name to this salt-mine, it will not lose its saltiness.

So it behoves a man to eschew these pleasures and delights, which are the ray and reflection of God. He must not become content with this much; even though this much is of God's grace and the radiance of His beauty, yet it is not eternal. With reference to God it is eternal, with reference to man it is not eternal. It is like the rays of the sun which shine into houses; for all that they are the rays of the sun and are light, yet they are attached to the sun. When the sun sinks, the light no more remains. Hence it behoves us to become the Sun, so that the fear of separation may no more remain.

There is giving, and there is knowing. Some have gifts and bounties, but not knowledge; some have knowledge, but not gifts. But when both are present, that man is mightily prosperous. Such a one is truly incomparable; yet for the purpose of example he may be compared. A man is going along the road, but he does not know whether this is the road or whether he is off the road. He goes on blindly, hoping that perchance a cock will crow or some other sign of habitation may appear. What is he compared with the man who knows the road and travels on, not needing sign or way mark? He has his set task. So knowing excels all else.

Discourse 13

The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: 'The night is long: do not shorten it by your sleeping. The day is bright: do not cloud it with your sins.'

The night is long for telling secrets and asking for one's needs without the distraction of other men, without the disturbance of friends and foes. Then is secured a privacy and a tranquillity; God draws down the veil, so that acts may be guarded and preserved from hypocrisy and done wholly for God. At night the hypocrite stands revealed from the sincere man; the hypocrite is exposed. At night all things are veiled, and by day they are exposed; but at night the hypocrite is exposed.

'As nobody sees,' he says, 'for whose sake should I do it?'

'Somebody sees,' they answer him. 'But you are not somebody, that you should see Somebody. 'That Somebody sees, in whose hand's clutch all men are. In the time of distress all call upon Him; in the time of toothache, earache, eyeache, in doubt and fear and insecurity. In secret all call upon Him, trusting that He will hear and will grant their request. Privily, privily they distribute alms, to ward off evil and restore from sickness, trusting that He will accept their gifts and alms. When He has restored them to health and peace of mind, that sure faith departs again and the phantom of anxiety returns.'

'O God,' they cry, 'what a state we were in, when in all sincerity we called upon Thee in that prison corner. For a hundred repetitions of Say, He is God unwearying Thou didst grant our requests. Now that we are outside the prison we are still as much in need as we were inside the prison, that Thou mayest bring us out of this prison of the world of darkness into the world of the prophets, which is the world of light. Why does not the same deliverance come without the prison and without the state of pain? A thousand phantoms descend, whether they do wonderful good or not, and the influence of those phantoms yields a thousand langours and wearinesses. Where is that sure faith which burns up all phantoms?'

God most High answers them, 'As I have said, the animal soul in you is your enemy and My enemy.

Take not My enemy and your enemy for friends.


Strive always against this enemy in prison; for when he is in prison and calamity and pain, then your deliverance appears and gathers strength. A thousand times you have proved that deliverance comes to you out of toothache and headache and fear. Why then are you chained to bodily comfort? Why are you ever occupied with tending the flesh? Forget not the end of the thread: constantly deny your carnal soul its desires, till you have attained your eternal desire and find deliverance out of the prison of darkness.

But as for him who feared the Station of his Lord
and forbade the soul its caprice,
surely Paradise shall be the refuge.'


Discourse 14

Shaikh Ibrahim said: Whenever Saif-al-Din Farrukh beat anybody, he would immediately occupy himself with someone else until the beating was over. In this way and fashion no one's intercession could succeed.

The Master said: Whatever you see in this world corresponds exactly with what is in the other world; rather, all these things are samples of the other world. Whatever exists in this world has been brought here from that world.

Naught there is, but its treasuries are with Us,
and We send it not down
but in a known measure.


The bald man of Baalbek carries on his head trays and various drugs, a pinch from every heap -- a pinch of pepper, a pinch of mastica. The heaps are infinite, but there is no room in his tray for more. Man is like the bald man of Baalbek, or a druggist's shop. He is loaded with pinches and pieces out of the treasuries of the attributes of God, all in boxes and trays, so that he may engage in this world in trade suitable to Him -- a piece of hearing, a piece of speech, a piece of reason, a piece of generosity, a piece of knowledge.

Men there are who are hawkers of God; they go about hawking, and night and day they fill the trays. You empty or fritter away to make your living; by day you empty, and by night they fill again and give replenishment.

For instance, you see the brightness of the eye. In that world there are eyes and sights and regards of various kinds. A sample of those has been sent to you, for you to look about the world. Sight is not confined to such dimensions, but a man cannot bear more than this. 'All these attributes are with Us unlimited; We send them to you in a known measure.'

So consider how many thousands of people, generation after generation, have come and filled themselves from this Sea, and become empty again. Consider what heaps those are. The longer a man stays upon that Sea, the colder his heart grows for the tray. You may suppose then that the world issues from that Mint, and returns to the Mint again.

Surely we belong to God, and
to Him we return.


Surely we: that is to say, all our parts have come from there and are samples of there, and again return there, small and great, and of all living creatures. But in this tray they soon become visible; without the tray they are not visible. For that world is a subtle world and comes not into sight; yet how wonderful it comes! Do you not see how the spring breeze becomes visible in the trees and grasses, the rose-beds and sweet herbs? Through the medium of these you gaze upon the beauty of spring. But when you look upon the spring breeze itself, you see nothing of these things. It is not because those spectacles and rosebeds are not in the breeze; after all, are these not its rays? Rather, within the spring breeze are waves of rose-beds and sweet herbs; but those waves are subtle and do not come into sight, only through some medium they are revealed out of their subtlety.

Likewise in man these qualities are hidden, and only become manifest through an inward or outward medium -- one man through speech, another through discord, another through war and peace. You cannot see the attributes of man: examine yourself, and you will not find anything. So you suppose yourself empty of these attributes. Yet it is not the case that you have changed from what you were, only these things are hidden in you, like the water in the sea. The waters leave not the sea save through the medium of a cloud; they do not become visible except in a wave. The wave is a commotion visible from within you, without an external medium. But so long as the sea is still, you see nothing. Your body is on the shore of the sea, and your soul is of the sea. Do you not see how many fishes and snakes and birds and creatures of all kinds come forth and show themselves, and then return to the sea? Your attributes, such as anger and envy and lust and the rest, come forth from this sea.

So you may say that your attributes are subtle lovers of God. You cannot perceive them save through the medium of the tongue; when they become naked, because of their subtlety they come not into sight.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:51 am

Part 2 of 3

Discourse 15

In man there is a passion, an agony, an itch, an importunity such that, though a hundred thousand worlds were his to own, yet he would not rest nor find repose. These creatures dabble successively in every trade and craft and office; they study astronomy and medicine and the rest, and take no repose; for they have not attained the object of their quest. Men call the beloved 'heart's ease' because the heart finds ease in the beloved. How then should it find ease and rest in any other?

All these pleasures and pursuits are as a ladder. Inasmuch as the steps of the ladder are not a place wherein to dwell and abide but are for passing on, happy is he who the quicker becomes vigilant and aware. Then the road becomes short for him, and he wastes not his life upon the steps of the ladder.

Someone asked the question: The Mongols seize property, and from time to time they give property to us. This is a strange situation. What is your ruling?

The Master answered: Whatever the Mongols seize has come as it were into the grasp and treasury of God. In the same way when you fill a jug or a barrel from the river and carry it away, that becomes your property so long as it is in the jug or barrel, and nobody has the right to interfere. Anyone who takes from the jug without permission is guilty of theft by violence. But once the water is poured back into the river, it passes out of your ownership and is lawful for all to take. So our property is unlawful to them, whereas their property is lawful to us.

'There is no monkhood in Islam: the congregation is a mercy.' The Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, laboured for solidarity, since the gathering of spirits has a great and momentous effect, whereas in singleness and isolation that is not achieved. That is the secret of why mosques were erected, so that the inhabitants of the parish might gather there and greater mercy and profit ensue. Houses are separate for the purpose of dispersion and the concealment of private relations: that is their use. Cathedral mosques were erected so that the whole city might be assembled there. The Kaaba was instituted in order that the greater part of mankind might gather there out of all cities and climes.

Someone said: When the Mongols first came to these parts they were naked and bare, they rode on bullocks and their weapons were of wood. Now they are sleek and well-filled, they have splendid Arab horses and carry fine arms.

The Master said: In that time when they were desperate and weak and had no strength, God helped them and answered their prayer. In this time when they are so powerful and mighty, God most High is destroying them at the hands of the feeblest of men, so that they may realise that it was through God's bounty and succour that they captured the world, and not by their own force and power. In the first place they were in a wilderness, far from men, without means, poor, naked and needy. By chance certain of them came as merchants into the territory of the Khvarizmshah and began to buy and sell, purchasing muslin to clothe their bodies. The Khvarizmshah prevented them, ordering that their merchants should be slain, and taking tribute from them; he did not allow their traders to go there. The Tartars went humbly before their king, saying, 'We are destroyed.' Their king asked them to give him ten days' grace, and entered a deep cave; there he fasted for ten days, humbling and abasing himself. A proclamation came from God most High: 'I have accepted your supplication. Come forth: wherever you go, you shall be victorious.' So it befell. When they came forth, by God's command they won the victory and captured the world.

Someone said: The Tartars also believe in the resurrection, and say that there will be a judgement.

The Master answered: They lie, desiring to associate themselves with the Muslims. 'We also know and believe,' they say. A camel was once asked, 'Where are you coming from?' It replied, 'From the baths.' The retort came, 'That is evident from your pads!' If they really believe in the resurrection, what evidence is there to prove it? The sins and wrongs and evils that they have committed are like snow and ice piled together heap on heap. When comes the sun of penitence and contrition, tidings of the other world and the fear of God, it will melt those snows of sinfulness as the sun in heaven melts the snow and ice. If some snow and ice should say, 'I have seen the sun, and the sun of summer has shone upon me,' and it still remained snow and ice, no intelligent man would believe it. It is not possible that the summer sun should come and leave the snow and ice intact.

Though God most High has promised that good and evil shall be rewarded at the resurrection, yet an ensample of that comes to pass every moment and at every instant. If happiness enters into a man's heart, that is his reward for making another happy; if he becomes sorrowful, it is because he has brought sorrow upon a fellow-man. These are presents from the other world and tokens of the day of recompense, so that by these little things men may come to understand those great matters, even as a handful of corn is offered as a token of the whole heap.

The Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, for all his majesty and greatness one night felt pain in his hand. It was revealed to him that that pain was the effect of the pain in the hand of 'Abbas. For he had taken 'Abbas captive and had bound his hands together with all the prisoners. Although that binding of his hands was done at God's order, yet it brought its recompense.

So you may realise that these gripes and depressions and dumps that come upon you are the effect of some injury and sin that you have committed. Though you do not remember in detail what and what you have done, yet from the recompense know that you have done many evil deeds. You do not know whether that evil resulted from negligence or ignorance, or because an irreligious companion made light of your sins so that you do not recognise them as sins. Consider the recompense, how much you are contracted and how much you are expanded: certainly contraction is the recompense of disobedience to God, and expansion is the recompense of obedience to Him. Why, the Prophet himself, God bless him and give him peace, because he turned a ring upon his finger was rebuked: 'We did not create you for idleness and play.'

What, did you think that We created you only for sport?


Estimate from this whether your day is passed in disobedience or obedience.

God occupied Moses, upon whom be peace, with the affairs of men. Though he was at God's command and altogether occupied with God, yet God occupied one side of him with men for the general good. Khadir He occupied with Himself wholly. Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, He occupied at first wholly with Himself; thereafter He commanded him, 'Call the people, counsel them and reform them.' Muhammad, God's blessings be upon him, wept and lamented, saying, 'Ah, my Lord, what sin have I committed? Why drivest Thou me from Thy presence? I have no desire for men.' God most High said to him, 'Muhammad, do not sorrow. I will not abandon you only to be occupied with men. Even in the midst of that occupation you shall be with Me. When you are occupied with men, not one hair of the head of this hour you spend with Me, not one will be taken from you. In whatever matter you are engaged, you will be in very union with Me.'

Someone asked: The eternal decrees and that which God most High has predestined -- do they change at all?

The Master answered: What God most High has decreed in eternity -- that there shall be good for good and evil for evil -- that decree will never change. For God most High is a wise God: how should He say, 'Do evil, that you may find good'? If a man sows wheat, shall he gather barley? Or if he sows barley, shall he gather wheat? That is impossible. All the saints and prophets have said that the recompense of good is good and the recompense of evil evil.

And whoso has done an atom's weight of good shall see it,
and whoso has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it.


If you mean by the eternal decree what we have stated and expounded, that never changes: God forbid! But if you mean that the recompense of good and evil increases and so changes, that is to say, the more good you do the greater good you will receive, and likewise the more wrong you do the greater evil you will see, there certainly change enters in; but the original decree does not change.

Some quibbler said: But we see how sometimes a wicked man turns virtuous, and a virtuous man turns wicked.

The Master answered: Well, that wicked man did some good, or meditated some good, so that he became virtuous. So too the virtuous man who became wicked did some evil or meditated some evil so that he became wicked. Consider how it was with Iblis when he protested to God regarding Adam.

Thou
createdst me of fire, and him Thou
createdst of clay.'


After having been supreme amongst the angels he was cursed to eternity, and banished from the Throne. So we say again that the recompense of good is good, and the recompense of evil evil.

Someone asked: A man has taken a vow to fast one day. If he breaks that vow, is there expiation?

The Master answered: According to the Shafi'i code expiation is required even in the case of a single statement, because Shafi'i holds that a vow is the same as an oath, and whoever breaks an oath is required to make expiation. According to Abu Hanifa however a vow does not carry the meaning of an oath and so expiation is not required.

There are two kinds of vows: one absolute, and the other restricted. An absolute vow is when a man says, 'It is incumbent upon me to fast one day'; a restricted vow is, 'Such and such is incumbent upon me if so and so comes.'

The Master added: A certain man had lost an ass. For three days he fasted with the intention that he should find his ass. After three days he found his ass dead. He was distressed, and in his distress he lifted his face to heaven and said, 'If in lieu of these three days that I have observed fast I should not eat six days in Ramadan I would not be a man at all, you would make a profit out of me!'

Someone asked: What is the meaning of 'greetings' and 'prayers' and 'blessings' upon the Prophet?

The Master answered: It means that these acts of adoration and service and worship and attention do not come from us and we are not free to perform them. The truth is that 'blessings' and 'prayers' and 'greetings' belong to God; they are not ours, they are wholly His and belong to Him. In the same way in the season of spring people sow seeds, go out into the wilderness, and make journeys. All these activities are the gift and bounty of spring; otherwise they would still he as they were, shut up in houses and caves. Hence this refreshment and enjoyment belong to spring, and spring is the dispenser of enjoyment.

Men regard the secondary causes, and do not distinguish between them and the actualities. But to the saints it has been revealed that secondary causes are no more than a veil, so that men do not see and recognise the Cre, liator. Thus, someone speaks from behind a curtain. People suppose that it is the curtain speaking, not realising that the curtain has nothing to do with it, and is a veil. When the man emerges from the curtain it is made known that the curtain was a pretext. God's saints see beyond the causes the actualities as they are discharged and eventuate. Thus, a camel came forth from a mountain; Moses' staff became a serpent; out of the hard rock twelve fountains flowed. Muhammad, God's blessings be upon him, without any instrument, by a mere sign split the moon asunder. Adam, upon whom be peace, came into existence without mother and father; Jesus, without a father. For Abraham, upon whom be peace, out of the fiery furnace roses and a rose-bower sprang up; and so on and so on.

Image
The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum, a notable member of the Theosophical Society, wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), which some see as an allegory of theosophical tenets. Many of the story's oft-cited parallels to mysticism -- the rainbow and the ruby slippers, for example - actually originated with the 1939 MGM musical adaptation. There are Theosophical elements in all fourteen Oz books, with Tik-Tok of Oz (1914) particularly strong in Theosophist symbolism.

-- Theosophy, by Wikipedia


Seeing these things, they have realised that secondary causes are a pretext, the effective cause being other. Causes are only a veil, to occupy the common people. God promised Zachariah, upon whom be peace, 'I will give you a son.' Zachariah cried, 'I am an old man, and my wife is old. My instrument of lust has become feeble, and my wife has reached a state in which it is not possible for her to conceive a child. Lord, from such a woman how shall a son be born?'

'Lord,' said Zachariah,
'how shall I have a son,
seeing I am an old man
and my wife is barren?'


The answer came, 'Take heed, Zachariah ! You have lost the clue. I have shown you a hundred thousand times that actualities are without causes. That you have forgotten, and you do not realise that causes are the pretext. I am able this very instant before your very eyes to produce out of you a hundred thousand sons, without wife and without pregnancy. Indeed if I make the sign, a whole people stand forth manifest in this world, completely formed, mature and possessing knowledge. Did I not cause you to be, without mother and father, in the world of spirits? Did you not receive graces and favours from Me aforetime, ere you came into this physical being at all? Why do you forget these things?'

The several states of the prophets and saints and of other men, good and evil, according to their ranks and substance, may be set forth in a parable. Slaves are brought out of heathen land into the realm of Muslimdom and are there sold. Some are brought at the age of five years, some at ten, some at fifteen years. Those who were brought as children, having been nurtured for many years amongst Muslims and now grown old, forget utterly that other country and no trace of it remains in their memory. Those brought a little older remember a little; those much older recollect much more.

Even so the spirits in the other world were in the Presence of God.

'Am I not your Lord?'
They said, 'Yes.'


Their food and sustenance was the speech of God, without letters and without sounds. When any one of these has been brought into this world as a child, when he hears that Speech he remembers nothing of his former state and sees himself a stranger to that Speech. That party of men are veiled from God, being wholly sunk in unbelief and error. Some remember a little bit, and ardour and yearning for the other side are quickened in them: they are the believers. Some, when they hear that Speech, their former state becomes manifest before their eyes even as it was so long ago; the veils are entirely removed and they are joined in that union; those are the prophets and the saints.

Now I will counsel my friends earnestly. When those brides of heavenly truth show their faces within you and the secrets are revealed, beware and beware that you tell not that to strangers, and describe it not to other men. Tell not to every man these words of mine that you hear. 'Impart not wisdom to those not meet for it, lest you do wisdom wrong; and withhold it not from those meet to receive it, lest you do them wrong.' If a fair and adorable one surrenders to you and is privily in your house, saying, 'Show me not to any man, for I belong to you,' never would it be proper and seemly for you to parade her in the bazaars and to call to every man, 'Come and see this beauty!' That would never be agreeable to the adorable one; she would turn to others, and be enraged against you.

God has made these words unlawful to them. Even so the dwellers in Hell lament to the dwellers in Paradise, saying, 'Well now, where is your generosity and your humanity? Out of those gifts and bounties which God most High has bestowed on you, if out of charity and common kindness you sprinkle and confer just a little upon us, what would that be?

The earth has its share of the cup
Of generous men when they sup.


We are burning and melting in this fire. Out of those fruits, or out of those limpid waters of Paradise if you sprinkle a drop or two upon our souls, what would that be?'

The inhabitants of the Fire shall
call to the inhabitants of Paradise:
'Pour on us water, or of that God
has provided you!'
They will say: 'God has forbidden them
to the unbelievers.'


The dwellers in Paradise give answer, saying, 'God has forbidden that to you. The seed of this bliss was in the abode of the world below. Since you did not sow and cultivate there, namely by faith and sincerity and good works, what should you gather here? Even if we confer upon you out of generosity, since God has forbidden that to you it will burn your throats and stick in your gullets. If you put it in your wallet, it will be torn and all will be spilled.'

A crowd of hypocrites and strangers came into the presence of Muhammad, God's blessings be upon him. They were expounding mysteries, and lauding the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace. The Prophet intimated to his Companions saying. 'Cover up your vessels.' He meant, 'Cover up and keep covered your bottles and cups and pots and pitchers and barrels, for there are creatures unclean and venomous; lest they fall into your bottles and unwittingly you drink water from those bottles and suffer injury.' He bade them, in this formal manner, 'Conceal wisdom from strangers, and in their presence stop your mouths and tongues, for they are mice and are not worthy of this wisdom and grace.'

The Master said: That Amir who has just left our company -- though he did not understand in detail what we were saying, yet he realised in summary that we were calling him to God. I take as a sign of understanding that supplication and wagging of the head and affection and passion. Well, the countryman who comes into the city hears the call to prayer; though he does not know in detail the meaning of the call to prayer, yet he understands its purport.

Discourse 16

The Master said: Whoever is loved is beautiful, but this statement is not reversible; it does not necessarily follow that whoever is beautiful is loved. Beauty is a part of lovableness, and lovableness is the root principle. If a thing is loved it is of course a beautiful thing; a part of a thing cannot exist apart from its whole, and is inherent in that whole.

In Majnun's time there were many girls more beautiful than Laila, but they were not loved of Majnun.

'There are girls more beautiful then Laila,' they used to tell Majnun. 'Let us bring some to you.'

'Well,' Majnun would reply, 'I do not love Laila after form. Laila is not form. Laila in my hand is like a cup; I drink wine out of that cup. So I am in love with the wine which I drink out of it. You have eyes only for the beaker, and are unaware of the wine. If I had a golden beaker studded with precious stones, and in the beaker there were vinegar or something else other than wine, of what use would that be to me? An old broken gourd in which there is wine is better in my eyes than such a goblet and a hundred like it.'

A man requires to be moved with passion and yearning, for him to tell the wine apart from the beaker. So it is with the man who is hungry, not having eaten anything for ten days, and the other man who is full and has eaten five times a day. Both see a loaf of bread. The full man sees the form of the bread, whereas the hungry man sees the form of the living soul. For this bread is like the goblet, and the pleasure it imparts is as the wine in the goblet. That wine cannot be perceived save by the regard of appetite and yearning. Therefore acquire appetite and yearning, so that you may not be merely a viewer of form, but in all being and space you may see the Beloved.

These creatures are as cups, and these sciences and arts and branches of knowledge are inscriptions upon the cup. Do you not see that when the cup is broken those inscriptions no more remain? The wine therefore is the thing, which is in the cup of the physical moulds, and he who drinks the wine sees that

The abiding things, the deeds of righteousness ...


The man who asks must first conceive two premisses. First, he must be certain that he is erring in what he says, and that something different is the case. Secondly he must reflect that over and above this, and better than this, there is a statement and a wisdom of which he knows nothing. Hence we realise the meaning of the saying, 'Asking is the half of knowing.'

Everyone has his face turned to somebody, and the ultimate object of all is God. In this hope all men expend their lives. But as between these two there must be one who discriminates and who knows, as between the two, which of them is hitting the mark; who is scarred with the blow of the polo-stick of the King, so that he declares and believes that there is One God.

A man is said to be absorbed when the water has absolute control of him and he has no control of the water. The man absorbed and the swimmer are both in the water; but the former is carried along and borne by the water, whereas the swimmer carries his own strength and moves at his own free will. So every movement made by the man absorbed, and every act and word that issues from him, all that proceeds from the water and not from him: he is present there as the pretext. In the same way when you hear words coming from a wall, you know that they do not proceed from the wall but that there is someone who has brought the wall into speech.

The saints are like that. They have died before physical death and have taken on the status of door and wall. Not so much as a hair's tip of separate existence has remained in them. In the hands of Omnipotence they are as a shield: the movement of the shield proceeds not from the shield. This is the meaning of the statement, 'I am the Truth': the shield says, 'I am not there at all, the movement proceeds from the Hand of God.' Regard such a shield as God, and do not use violence against God; for those who rain blows against such a shield have declared war against God and ranged themselves against God.

From the time of Adam down to the present day you hear what things have befallen such as have used violence against God -- Pharaoh, Shaddad, Nimrod, the peoples of 'Ad and Lot and Thamud, and so on and so on. And that shield stands firm till the resurrection, age after age; now in the form of prophets, now in the form of saints; to the end that the godfearing may be distinguished from the ungodly, God's enemies from His friends.

Therefore every saint is God's proof against men, whose rank and station are determined by the degree of their attachment to him. If they act hostilely against him, they act hostilely against God; if they befriend him, they have made friendship with God. 'Whosoever sees him has seen Me; whosoever repairs to him has repaired to Me.'

God's servants are confidants of the sanctuary of God. Just as God most High has cut away from His servitors every vein of separate existence and lust, every root of perfidy, inevitably they have become masters of a whole world and intimate with the Divine mysteries, which none but the purified shall touch.

The Master said: If that man has turned his back on the tombs of the great saints, he has done so not out of disavowal and neglect: he has turned his face towards their souls. For these words which proceed from my mouth are their soul. It does no harm to turn the back on the body and the face towards the soul.

It is a habit with me, that I do not desire that any heart should be distressed through me. During the seance a great multitude thrust themselves upon me, and some of my friends fend them off. That is not pleasing to me, and I have said a hundred times, 'Say nothing to any man on my account; I am well content with that.' I am affectionate to such a degree that when these friends come to me, for fear that they may be wearied I speak poetry so that they may be occupied with that. Otherwise, what have I to do with poetry? By Allah, I care nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes than that. It has become incumbent upon me; as when a man plunges his hands into tripe and washes it out for the sake of a guest's appetite, because the guest's appetite is for tripe.

After all, a man considers what wares are needed in such and such a city and what wares its inhabitants want to buy; those wares he buys, and those he sells, even though the articles be somewhat inferior. I have studied many sciences and taken much pains, so that I may be able to offer fine and rare and precious things to the scholars and researchers, the clever ones and the deep thinkers who come to me. God most High Himself willed this. He gathered here all those sciences, and assembled here all those pains, so that I might be occupied with this work. What can I do? In my own country and amongst my own people there is no occupation more shameful than poetry. If I had remained in my own country, I would have lived in harmony with their temperament and would have practised what they desired, such as lecturing and composing books, preaching and admonishing, observing abstinence and doing all the outward acts.

The Amir Parvana said to me, 'The root of the matter is acts.' I replied, 'Where are the people of action and the seekers of action, so that I may show them action? Now you seek after words, and have cocked your ears to hear something. If I do not speak, you become upset. Become a seeker of action, so that I may show you action! I am looking all over the world for action, so that I may show you action! I am looking all over the world for a man to whom I may show action. Since I find no purchaser of action but only of words, I occupy myself with words. What do you know of action, seeing that you are not a man of action? Action can only be known through action, science can only be understood through science; form through form, meaning through meaning. Since there is not one traveller upon this road and it is empty, how will they see if we are on the road and in action?'

After all, this action is not prayer and fasting. These are the forms of action; action is an inward meaning. After all, from the time of Adam to the time of Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, prayer and fasting were not in the form we know, but action was. So this is the form of action; action is a meaning within a man. Similarly you say, 'The medicine acted'; but that is no form of action, it is its meaning. Again they say, 'That man is agent in such and such a city'; they see nothing of mere form but call him agent in respect of the works which appertain to him.

Hence action is not what men have generally supposed. Men suppose that action is this outward show; but if a hypocrite performs that form of action it does not profit him, since the meaning of sincerity and faith is not in him.

Image

Count Rugen: [to Wesley] Come sir, we must get you to your ship.
Wesley: We are men of action, lies do not become us.
Count Rugen: Well spoken sir.

-- Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner


Psychological warfare was prominent in the operation. The CIA planned to make heavy use of rumor, pamphleteering, poster campaigns, and, most of all, radio, which had turned the tide at the critical moment in the Iran operation. Although relatively few Guatemalans personally owned a radio, the radio was considered to be an authoritative source, and the CIA hoped that word of mouth would assist in the dissemination of their propaganda to an audience greatly exceeding those with radios. The radio station, La Voz de la Liberacion (The voice of liberation), was set up in Miami but claimed to be operating from "deep in the jungle" and broadcast a mix of popular music, humor, and anti-government propaganda. While the broadcasts were overtly tailored to the general populace, they were specifically and subversively targeted at "men of action", particularly the officers in the Guatemalan military, whose complicity was essential to the success of the operation.

-- 1954 Guatemalan coup d'etat, by Wikipedia


Lovable wimps, Albee and his two best friends, are chosen by the CIA's top-operative, the smokin'-dangerous Jordan Bronski, for an unorthodox training program designed totransform them into confident men-of-action.

-- Semi-Dangerous Men, by Massify.com


The veteran spies and operatives of the old OSS were soon transferred to this new organization [Central Intelligence Group, "CIG"], operating under the designation of the Office of Special Operations (OSO). And these men of action soon wanted more elbow room in their restricted world of intelligence gathering.

-- Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, by Jim Marrs


Wilson was somehow not the same man when he returned to Congress. He was bigger now. He was in a world of men and women who operate only with words and in committee -- funding legislation or telling real men of action what they can't do.

-- Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of our Times, by George Grile


The change from bold Easterners to prudent professionals was first noted by Alsop, pp. 213 ff. Former CIA Office of Security man Tom Tripoldi blames that sea-change partly on the prevalence of ex-FBI agents in CIA's personnel-screening jobs. "The prevailikng attitude of the OS was that it carried the awesome responsibility of ensuring that the CIA conformed in all ways to Hoover's philosophy of morality and judicial propriety -- or, as they were more likely to put it, their job was 'to ride herd on the cowboys.' More often than not, the perceived 'cowboys' were the former OSS ... guys working covert operations in the DDP [Department of Plans]. The men of action who had distinguished themselves during World War II found themselves being restricted by the Hooveresque, bureaucratic mind-set of former FBI agents.

-- Wedge: from Pearl Harbor to 9/11: how the secret war between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security, by Mark Riebling


A former CIA man relies on his training to find his attractive virginal daughter when she's kidnapped during a trip to watch a U2 concert in Paris... Taken shouts an age-old message ... when young virgin girls are taken and the authorities are corrupt you need heroes like Mills ... men of action to fight back. If you like a little propaganda ... you'll love this film.

-- Taken -- Liam Neeson packs a punch in race-against-time thriller!, by idlethumb.com


Marine colonel Oliver North was put in charge of supplying the arms. North and McFarlane decided to exclude the CIA from their plans. Both were action-oriented me. Their push-and-shove mentality had served them well in Vietnam, and from all they had heard, Israelies were similar men of action. So, in North's words, "it was time to bring Israel into the fold."

-- Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, by Gordan Thomas


Homeland security is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council, which has also turned its attention on the threat of stolen technologies, including high-tech weapons that have found its way into the Homeland communities of the United States. Therefore, Frances Townsend as head of the council has authorized a small unit tech-force to locate and retrieve the loss or stolen technologies. These secret covert operatives known as the (SCO) implemented the MEN OF ACTION, or better known as...The M.O.A.

The M.O.A. (Men Of Action) are a highly skilled tech team. It's members consisting of Government trained men recruited from various areas of world governments connected branches associated with the SCO (secret covert offices) in in several US states. They are also watched by the IGA (internal government affairs) who are governed by NSC (National Security Council).

The MOA was started Mark Sloan (agent G4) through association with the SCO [Secret Covert Operatives] to retrieve lost or stolen data, technology, and special weapons that the government doesn’t want on the streets or in the hands of possible terrorist.

This includes Data disks, blueprints, hi-tech weapons, advanced power supplies, satellite and unexplained technology, bio technology, DNA altering designer drugs.

The MOA are not sanctioned to carry conventional hand weapons, but through combat, martial art skills, electronic weapons, and satellite technology they are able to stay a step ahead of their subjects. The weapons technology is created/designed by the SCO professor of logistics, whom the National Security Council thinks is a "quack". Never the less, the M.O.A. are not sanctioned to carry ballistic weapons. Because technically, The M.O.A. doesn't exist.

-- About MOA, by menofactionfilms.com


Where would Veciana find the support that he needed? In Miami, of course. That city contained the large reserve of killers and conspirators constituted by the CIA years back. And heading up that pack of terrorists were his Alpha 66 buddies, with offices on Flager Street. "I sent a coded telegram to Alpha 66 ... There are people here still who can back that up... To see if there were any men of action prepared to operate."

-- The CIA proposed that I assassinate Fidel in Chile, Veciana confesses, by rinf.com


An after action report (or AAR) is any form of retrospective analysis on a given sequence of goal-oriented actions previously undertaken, generally by the author himself.

-- After action report, by Wikipedia


The root principle of all things is speech and words. You have no true knowledge of speech and words, and consider them of little account. Speech is the fruit of the tree of action, for words are born of action. God most High created the world by a word.

His command, when He desires a thing, is to say to it
'Be,' and it is.


You may have faith in your heart, but unless you speak it in words it is nothing worth. Prayer too, which is an act, is not perfect unless you recite the Koran. When you say, 'In this present age words are of no account,' you negate this assertion also by means of words. If words are of no account, how is it that we hear you say that words are of no account? After all, you say that also by means of words.

Someone asked: When we do a good deed and perform a righteous act, if we entertain hopes and expectations of a good recompense from God, does that harm us?

The Master answered: By Allah, one must always entertain hope. Faith itself consists of fear and hope. Someone once asked me, 'Hope itself is goodly, so what is this fear?' I replied, 'Show me a fear that is without hope, or a hope without fear. Since the twain are never apart, how can you ask such a question?' For example, a man has sown wheat; he naturally hopes that wheat will come up, whilst at the same time he is afraid lest some impediment or blight may intervene. Hence it is realised that there is no such thing as hope without fear, nor can one ever conceive of fear without hope or hope without fear. Now if a man is hopeful and expectant of recompense and benefit, he will assuredly apply himself with greater diligence to that action. Expectation is a wing, and the stronger the wing the longer the flight. If on the other hand he is without hope he becomes slothful, and no more good and service proceeds from him. Similarly a sick man will drink a bitter medicine and will give up ten sweet pleasures, but if he has no hope of being restored to health how will he be able to endure this?

'Man is a rational animal.' Man is a compound of animal and speech; just as the animal is constant in him and inseparable from him, so too speech is constant in him. If he does not speak outwardly, yet he speaks inwardly; he is constantly speaking. He is like a torrent in which clay is mixed up; the pure water is his speech, whilst the clay is his animality; but the clay in him is accidental. Do you not see how those pieces of clay and material moulds have departed and rotted away, whilst their speech and narration and their sciences, bad and good, have remained?

The 'man of heart' is a plenum; when you have seen him, you have seen all. 'All game is in the belly of the wild ass.' All creatures in the world are parts of him, and he is the whole.

All, good and evil, parts of the dervish be,
And whoso is not so, no dervish is he.


Now when you have seen him who is the whole, assuredly you will have seen the whole world, and whomsoever you see after him is a mere repetition. Their speech is contained in the words of the whole; when you have heard their words, every word you may hear thereafter is a mere repetition.

Whoso beholds him, in whatever place,
Has seen all men and viewed the whole of space.


The poet says:

Thyself a true transcription art
Of the archetype Divine,
Or else a glass, wherein the King's
Own loveliness doth shine.

Whatever then in all the world
Without thyself doth lie,
Whatso thou cravest, in thyself
Seek, and declare, "Tis I!'
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:52 am

Part 3 of 3

Discourse 17

The Na'ib said: Before this, the unbelievers used to worship and bow down to idols. We are doing the selfsame thing in the present time. We go and bow down and wait upon the Mongols, and yet we consider ourselves Muslims. We have so many other idols in our hearts too, such as greed, passion, temper, envy, and we are obedient to all of them. So we act in the very same way as the unbelievers both outwardly and inwardly; and we consider ourselves Muslims!

The Master answered: But here is something different, in that it enters your thoughts that this conduct is evil and utterly detestable. The eye of your heart has seen something incomparably great which shows up this behaviour as vile and hideous. Brackish water discloses its brackishness to one who has drunk sweet water, and 'things are made clear by their opposites.' So God implanted in your soul the light of faith which sees these things as hideous. Confronted by beauty, this appears hideous. Else, since other men are not so affected, they are perfectly happy in their existing state, saying, 'This is absolutely fine.' God most High will grant you your heart's desire. Where your ambition is, that will be yours. 'The bird flies with its wings, the believer flies with his ambition.'

There are three kinds of creatures. First there are the angels, who are pure intelligence. Worship and service and the remembrance of God are their nature and their food: that they eat and by that they live. Just so the fish in the water lives by the water; its mattress and pillow is the water. Angels are not under any burden of obligation. Inasmuch as the angel is divested and pure of lust, what favour does he confer if he does not gratify his lust or conceive and indulge carnal desire? Since he is pure of these things, he has not to struggle against them. If he obeys God's will, that is not accounted as obedience; for that is his nature, and he cannot be otherwise.

Secondly there are the beasts, who are pure lust, having no intelligence to prohibit them. They too are under no burden of obligation.

Lastly there remains poor man, who is a compound of intelligence and lust. He is half angel, half animal; half snake, half fish. The fish draws him towards the water, the snake draws him towards the earth.

He is forever in tumult and battle. 'He whose intelligence overcomes his lust is higher than the angels; he whose lust overcomes his intelligence is lower than the beasts.'

The angel is saved by knowledge,
The beast by brute ignorance;
Midway between, and struggling --
Such a predicament is man's!


Now some men have so faithfully followed their intelligence that they have become entirely angels and pure Light. They are the prophets and the saints. They have been delivered out of fear and hope:

No fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.


In some men lust has overcome their intelligence, so that they have taken on entirely the status of animals. Some again are still struggling. These last are the people who feel within them an agony and anguish, a sorrow and a repining; they are not satisfied with their own manner of life. These are the believers. The saints are waiting for them, to bring them unto their own station and to make them as themselves; the satans too are waiting for them, to draw them to the lowest of the low, even towards themselves.

We desire this, others desire that end;
Who shall succeed? Whom Fortune makes her friend.

When comes the help of God, and victory,
and thou seest men entering God's religion in throngs,
then proclaim the praise of thy Lord, and seek His forgiveness;
for He turns again unto men.


The exoteric commentators interpret the foregoing Sura as follows. Muhammad, may God bless him and give him peace, had the high ambition, 'I would make all the world Muslims and bring them into the path of God.' When he saw his death approaching he cried, 'Ah, did I not live to call men unto God?' God most High answered, 'Do not grieve. In that very hour when you pass away, provinces and cities which you would conquer by armies and by the sword I will convert to obedience and to the Faith, every one of them, without armies. The sign of that is, that at the end when you are dying you will see men entering in throngs and becoming Muslims. When this sign comes, know that the time for your departure has arrived. Then give praise, and seek forgiveness, for thither you shall come.'

The esoteric commentators, however, explain the text otherwise. According to them it means, that man supposes that he will drive away from himself reprehensible qualities by labour and striving. Having struggled very hard and expended all his powers and means, he falls into despair. Then God most High says to him: You thought that that would come to pass through your own power and action and labour. This is the law which I have laid down, namely, whatever you possess, expend it in My way. After that, My grace will supervene. Upon this infinite road I command you to journey, with the feeble hands and feet that you possess. I know well that with feet so feeble you will never accomplish this journey; indeed, in a hundred thousand years you will not be able to accomplish a single stage of this journey. But when you are going along this road, even as you collapse and fall and have no strength left to struggle farther, then God's loving providence will carry you on. Even so a child, so long as it is a suckling, is carried in the arms, but when it is grown it is set free to walk. Now, in this hour when your powers no more remain -- in that time when you possessed these powers and struggled hard, from time to time, between sleeping and waking, I showed you grace whereby you derived strength to seek Me and were filled with hope; so in this hour, when your own means fail, behold My graces and gifts and lovingkindnesses! For men are coming unto you in throngs such that you would not have witnessed so much as an atom of that after a hundred thousand strivings.

Then proclaim the praise of thy Lord, and seek His forgiveness.


Seek forgiveness for these thoughts and conceits. For you conceived that that task would be accomplished by your own hands and feet, and did not see it would be brought about by Me. Now that you have seen it is brought about by Me, seek forgiveness --

for He turns again unto men.


I do not love the Amir on account of worldly considerations, for his rank and learning and activity. Other men love him for that sake, not seeing the Amir's face, but his back. The Amir is like a mirror, and these attributes are like precious pearls and gold inlaid on the back of the mirror. Those who love gold and pearls look at the back of the mirror; but those who love the mirror do not look at the pearls and the gold. Their faces are always upon the mirror, and they love the mirror for itself as a mirror. Because they see in the mirror fair beauty, they grow not weary of the mirror. But he who has a hideous face full of blemishes sees in the mirror only ugliness; he quickly turns the mirror and looks for those precious stones. Yet what does it harm the face of the mirror, if its back is studded with a thousand kinds of engravings and precious stones?

So God compounded animality and humanity together so that both might be made manifest. 'Things are made clear by their opposites.' It is impossible to make anything known without its opposite. Now God most High possessed no opposite. He says, 'I was a hidden treasure, and I wanted to be known.' So he created this world, which is of darkness, in order that His Light might become manifest. So too He manifested the prophets and the saints, saying, 'Go forth with My Attributes unto My creation.' They are the theatre of the Light of God, so that friend may be disclosed from foe, brother from stranger told apart.

That Reality, qua Reality, has no opposite, only qua form: as Iblis in comparison with Adam, Pharaoh in comparison with Moses, Nimrod in comparison with Abraham, Abu Jahl in comparison with Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, and so ad infinitum. So through the saints the opposite of God is disclosed; though in reality He has no opposite. Through the enmity and opposition they disclosed, their affairs prospered and acquired wider celebrity.

They desire to extinguish with their mouths the light
of God; but God will perfect His light, though
the unbelievers be averse.


The poet says:

The moon sheds light when all is dark;
The dog's reaction is to bark.
Is that the moon's fault? Tell me true:

'Tis the dog's nature so to do.
The moonlight fills all heaven with mirth;
The dog's a vapour belched by earth.


Many there are whom God most High chastises by means of plenty and wealth and gold and rulership, and their souls flee away from that. A dervish saw in Arabia a prince riding, on his brow the illumination of the prophets and saints. He said, 'Glory be to Him who chastises His servants by means of affluence!'

Discourse 18

Ibn Muqri recites the Koran correctly. Yes: he recites the form of the Koran correctly, but he has no knowledge of its meaning. This is proved by the fact that when its meaning is required, he refuses it. He recites blindly. He is like a man who holds a sable in his hand; he is offered another sable better than that, but he refuses it. So we realise that he does not know what sable really is; someone has told him that this is sable, and in blind compliance he has taken it into his hand. It is like children playing with walnuts; offer them the nut itself, or the oil of the walnut, and they will refuse it, saying, 'The walnut is the thing that goes spinning along. This makes no noise, and it doesn't spin along.' Yet God's treasuries are many, and God's sciences are many. If he recites this Koran with knowledge, why does he reject the other Koran?

I expounded to a Koran-teacher: The Koran says,

Say: 'If the sea were ink
for the Words of my Lord,
the sea would be spent before the Words of My Lord are spent.'


Now with fifty drams of ink one can transcribe the whole of this Koran. This is a symbol for God's knowledge, all knowledge belonging to God, not this only.

An apothecary puts a pinch of medicine in a piece of paper. You say, 'The whole of the apothecary's shop is in this paper.' That is foolishness. After all, in the time of Moses and Jesus and the other prophets the Koran existed. God's speech existed, but it was not in Arabic.

I expounded the matter thus, but I saw that it made no impression upon the Koran-teacher; so I let him go.

It is related that in the time of the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, any of the Companions who knew by heart one Sura or half a Sura was called a great man and pointed out -- 'He has a Sura by heart' -- since they devoured the Koran. To devour a maund of bread or two maunds is certainly a great accomplishment. But people who put bread in their mouths without chewing it and spit it out again can 'devour' thousands of tons in that way. 'Many a Koran-reciter there is whom the Koran curses': this was therefore said of the man who is not apprised of the meaning of the Koran.

Yet it is good that this should be so. God has closed in heedlessness the eyes of certain people so that they may cultivate this present world. If certain men were not made oblivious of the other world, the world would not be populated at all. It is heedlessness that gives rise to cultivation and population. Consider the child, now: he grows up quite heedlessly and becomes tall, but when his reason reaches maturity he ceases to grow. So the cause and reason of cultivation is heedlessness, and the cause of desolation is heedfulness.

What I am saying is motivated by one of two things: either I speak out of envy, or I speak out of compassion. God forbid that it should be envy! It is stupid to envy one who is worthy of envy; what then of one who is not worthy? No; I speak out of great compassion and mercy, for I wish to draw my dear friend on to the true meaning.

It is related that a certain person on the way to the pilgrimage fell into the desert, and was overcome by a mighty thirst. Presently he espied afar off a small and tattered tent. He pushed on to that place, and seeing a young girl cried aloud, 'I am a guest! My goal is gained!'

So saying, he alighted and sat down and asked for water. They brought him water, the consuming of which was hotter than fire and more brackish than salt; as it went down, from lip to throat it burned every part. The man out of extreme compassion addressed himself to counselling the woman.

'I am under an obligation to you for the degree of relief I have found at your hands,' he said. 'Compassion has welled up within me. Give good heed to what I say to you. Behold, Baghdad is nearby, and Kufa and Wasit and the rest. If you are sorely afflicted, by squatting here and there and by rolling along from place to place you can bring yourselves thither. For there are to be found plentiful sweet, cool water, foods of various kinds, baths, luxuries, rich delights.' And he enumerated the pleasures of those cities.

A moment later a Bedouin came on the scene who was the woman's husband. He had caught a few brace of desert rats, which he bade the woman to cook. They gave some to the guest, who being in such desperate straits partook of them. After that, in the middle of the night, the guest slept outside the tent. The woman spoke to her husband.

'Didn't you hear all the stories our guest had to tell?'

And she repeated to her husband the guest's entire narrative.

'Don't listen to these things,' the Bedouin answered. 'There are many envious people in the world. When they see some folk enjoying ease and plenty they envy them, and want to set them wandering and to deprive them of their fortune.'

So it is with these people. When anyone out of pure compassion offers them a piece of advice, they impute it to envy. But if there are roots in a man, in the end he will turn his face to the truth; if from the day of the Primordial Covenant a drop has been sprinkled upon him, in the end that drop will deliver him out of all confusion and misery. Come then! How long will you be remote from us and estranged? How long locked up in confusion and melancholy madness? Yet what is a man to say to a people who have never heard anything the like of it from anyone, neither from his own teacher?

Since greatness never once his forebears graced,
He cannot bear to hear the great ones praised.


Although it is not so attractive at first to face the truth, the farther one proceeds the sweeter it appears; contrary to the outward form, which appears attractive at first, but the longer you sit with it the chillier you become. What is the form of the Koran, compared with its meaning? Examine a man: what is his form, compared with his meaning? If the meaning of that form of a man departs, not for a single moment will he be let loose in the house.

Our Master Shams al-Din, God sanctify his spirit, once said: A great caravan was making its way towards a certain place. They found no sign of habitation, neither any water. Suddenly they came upon a well, but there was no bucket. So they took a kettle and some rope, and lowered this kettle into the well. They drew at the rope, but the kettle broke away. They sent down another, but it broke away too. After that they tied people from the caravan with a rope and sent them down into the well, but they did not come up again.

Now there was an intelligent man present. He said, 'I will go down.' They let him down, and he was nearly at the bottom of the well when a terrible black creature suddenly appeared.

'I will never escape,' the intelligent man remarked. 'But at least let me keep my wits about me and not lose my senses, so that I can see what is going to happen to me.'

'Don't make a long story of it,' the black creature said. 'You're my prisoner. You won't escape unless you give me the right answer. Nothing else will save you.'

'Ask on,' said the man.

'Where is the best place?' came the question.

'I am a prisoner, and helpless,' the man reflected. 'If I say Baghdad or some other place, it may be that I will have insulted his own hometown.' Then he spoke aloud, 'The best place to live in is where a man feels at home. If that is in the bowels of the earth, then that's the best place; if it's in a mousehole, then that's the best place.'

'Well said, well said!' cried the negro. 'You've escaped. You're a man in a million. Now I've let you go, and set free the others on account of your blessing. Henceforth I'll shed no more blood. I bestow on you all the men in the world for the love of you.'

Then he gave the people of the caravan water to satisfy their needs.

The purpose of this story is the inner meaning. One can tell the same meaning in another form, only the lovers of traditional forms accept this version. It is difficult to speak with them; if you speak these very same words in another parable they will not listen.

Discourse 19

The Master said: Someone said to Taj ai-Din Quba'i, 'These doctors of divinity come amongst us and deprive the people of their religious beliefs.' He answered, 'It is not the case that they come amongst us and deprive us of our beliefs. Otherwise, God forbid that they should be of us. For instance, suppose you have put a golden collar on a dog; you do not call it a hunting dog by reason of that collar. The quality of being a hunting dog is something specific in the animal, whether it wear a collar of gold or of wool.'

A man does not become a scholar by virtue of robe and turban; scholarship is a virtue in his very essence, and whether that virtue be clothed in tunic or overcoat, it makes no difference. Thus, in the time of the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, the hypocrites sought to waylay the Faith. So they used to put on the prayer-robe, in order to make those who imitated the ritual slack in the way of religion; for that they could not contrive until they made themselves out to be Muslims. Otherwise, if a Christian or a Jew impugned the Faith, how would people listen to him?

So woe to those that pray
and are heedless of their prayers,
to those who make display
and refuse charity.


This is merely words: you have that light, but you do not have humanity. Seek after humanity: that is the true purpose, the rest is mere longwindedness. When the words are elaborately decorated, the purport is forgotten.

A certain greengrocer was in love with a woman, and he sent messages by the lady's maid.

'I am like this, I am like that. I am in love, I am on fire. I find no peace. I am cruelly treated. I was like this yesterday. Last night such and such happened to me.' And he recited long, long stories.

The maid came into the lady's presence and addressed her as follows.

'The greengrocer sends you greetings and says, "Come, so that I may do this and that to you."'

'So coldly?' the lady asked.

'He spoke at great length,' answered the maid. 'But this was the purport.'

The purport is the root of the matter; the rest is merely a headache.

Discourse 20

The Master said: Night and day you are at war, seeking to reform the character of women and to cleanse their impurity by yourself. It is better to cleanse yourself in them than to cleanse them in yourself. Reform yourself by means of them. Go to them, and accept whatever they may say, even though in your view their words are absurd. And eschew jealousy; though it is a manly attribute, yet through that good attribute evil attributes enter into you.

It was on account of this truth that the Prophet said, God bless him and give him peace, 'There is no monkhood in Islam.' The way of monks was solitude, dwelling in mountains and not taking women, giving up the world. God most High and Mighty indicated to the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, a strait and hidden way. What is that way? To wed women, so that he might endure the tyranny of women and hear their absurdities, for them to ride roughshod over him, and so for him to refine his own character.

Surely thou art upon a mighty morality.


By enduring and putting up with the tyranny of women it is as though you rub off your own impurity on them. Your character becomes good through forbearance, their character becomes bad through domineering and aggression. When you have realised this, make yourself clean. Know that they are like a garment; in them you cleanse your own impurities and become clean yourself.

If you cannot succeed with yourself, deliberate with yourself in a rational way as follows. 'Let me pretend that we have never been married. She is a whore. Whenever lust overmasters me I resort to her.' Thus rid yourself of manly pride and envy and jealousy, until such time that beyond such deliberation you experience pleasure in struggling and enduring, and in their absurdities discover spiritual joy. After that, without suchlike deliberation you will desire to endure and struggle and to submit yourself to oppression, since you see definite advantage to yourself in that.

It is related that the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, one night returned with his Companions from a raid. He bade them beat the drum saying, 'Tonight we will sleep at the gate of the city, and enter tomorrow.' They asked, 'Messenger of God, to what good purpose?' He said, 'It may be that you will see your wives cohabiting with strange men and you would be pained, and a commotion would arise.' One of the Companions did not hear; he entered and found his wife with a stranger.

The way of the Prophet now, God bless him and give him peace, was this. It is necessary to endure pain, ridding oneself of jealousy and manly pride, pain over extravagance and clothing one's wife, and a hundred thousand other pains beyond all bounds, that the Muhammadan world may come into being. The way of Jesus, upon whom be peace, was wrestling with solitude and not gratifying lust; the way of Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, is to endure the oppression and agonies inflicted by men and women. If you cannot go by the Muhammadan way, at least go by the way of Jesus, that you may not remain altogether outside the pale.

If you have the serenity to endure a hundred buffets, seeing the fruits and harvest of that, or believing in your hidden heart, 'Since they have spoken and told of this, then such a thing is true; let me be patient until the time when that whereof they have told comes to me also' -- after that you will see, since you have set your heart on this, saying, 'Though this hour I have no harvest of these sufferings, in the end I will reach the treasures,' you will reach the treasuries, aye, and more than you ever desired and hoped.

If these words have no effect upon you at this moment, after a while when you become more mature they will have a very great effect. That is the difference between a woman and a scholar. Whether you speak to a woman or do not speak, she remains still the same and will not abandon her ways; words have no effect on her, indeed she becomes worse.

For instance, take a loaf and put it under your arm, and deny it to other men, saying, 'I will not give this to anyone at all. Give it? Why, I won't even show it.' Though that loaf has been cast against the door and dogs even will not eat it because bread is so plentiful and cheap, yet the moment you begin to refuse it everybody is after it and set their hearts on it, pleading and protesting, 'Certainly we want to see that loaf which you refuse and keep hidden.' Especially if you keep that loaf in your sleeve for a year, insisting emphatically that you will neither give it away nor show it, their eagerness for the loaf passes all bounds; for 'Man is passionate for what he is denied.'

The more you order a woman, 'Keep yourself hidden,' the greater her itch to show herself; and people through her being hidden become more eager for that woman. So there you sit in the middle, augmenting eagerness on both sides; and you think yourself a reformer! Why, that is the very essence of corruption. If she has in her the natural quality not to want to do an evil deed, whether you prevent her or not she will proceed according to her good temperament and pure constitution. So be easy in mind, and be not troubled. If she is the opposite, still she will go her own way; preventing her in reality does nothing but increase her eagerness.

These fellows keep saying, 'We saw Shams al-Din Tabrizi, Master, we really saw him.' Fool, where did you see him? A man who cannot see a camel on the roof of a house comes along and says, 'I saw the hole of a needle and threaded it.' That is a fine story they tell of the man who said, 'Two things make me laugh -- a negro painting his nails black, and a blind man putting his head out of the window.' They are exactly like that. Blind inwardly, they put their heads out of the window of the physical body. What will they see? What does their approval or disapproval amount to? To the intelligent man both are one and the same; since they have seen neither to approve nor to disapprove, whichever they say is nonsense.

First it is necessary to acquire sight, then one must look. Moreover even when sight has been acquired, how can one see so long as they must not be seen? In this world there are so many saints who have achieved union; and other saints there are beyond those, the saints called the Veiled Ones of God. The former saints are ever pleading humbly, 'O Lord God, show unto us one of Thy Veiled Ones.' So long as they do not truly desire him, or so long as he must not be seen of them, however seeing their eyes may be they cannot see him. Now as for those tavern-haunting strumpets by whom none must be seen, of course they cannot reach them or see them. How can one see the Veiled Ones of God or know them without their will?

This is not an easy matter. The angels said:

While we proclaim Thy praise and call Thee Holy.


'We are full of love. We are spiritual beings. We are pure light. They, who are humans, are a gluttonous, blood-spilling handful who shed blood.' All this is in order that man may tremble for himself. For the spiritual angels, who had neither wealth nor rank nor any veil, pure light whose food was the Beauty of God, pure love whose eyes were keen and far- seeing, hovered between disavowal and confession, that man might tremble for himself: 'Woe, what am l? What do I know?' Likewise, that if some light shone upon his face and he felt a certain joy, he might give thanks a thousandfold to God, saying, 'How am I worthy of this?'

This time you will experience greater joy in the words of Shams al-Din. For the sail of the ship of man's being is belief. When there is a sail, the wind carries him to a mighty place; when there is no sail, all words are mere wind.

The lover-beloved relationship is very pleasant; everything between them is sheer informality. All these formalities are for the sake of others. This is prohibited to all other but love.

I would have given a great exposition of these words, but the hour is untimely, and one must labour very much and dig out rivers to reach the pool of the heart. The people are weary, or the speaker is weary and proffers an excuse. Else, that speaker who transports not the people out of weariness is not worth two pence.

One cannot call any lover proof of the beauty of the beloved, and one cannot establish in any lover's heart proof of the hatred of the beloved. Hence it is realised that in this matter proofs do not operate. Here one must be a seeker of love.

If in this verse I exaggerate the right of the lover, that is not true exaggeration. Moreover, I see that the disciple has expended all his own 'meaning' for the sake of the master's 'form';

Thou whose form is fairer far
Than a thousand meanings are.


For every disciple who comes to the master must first abandon his own 'meaning,' being in need of the master.

Baha' al-Din asked the question: Surely he does not abandon his own 'meaning' for the sake of the master's 'form' but for the sake of the master's 'meaning'?

The Master answered: It is improper that this should be so. If this were so, then both would be masters. Now you must labour to acquire an inward light, that you may escape and be secure from this fire of confusions. When a man has acquired such an inward light, all mundane circumstances appertaining to this world such as rank, command, vizierate, shining upon his inward heart pass like a lightning-flash; just as with worldlings the circumstances of the unseen world, such as the fear of God, and yearning for the world of the saints, shine upon their hearts and pass like a lightning-flash. The people of God have become wholly God's and their faces are turned on God; they are preoccupied with and absorbed in God. Worldly passions, like the lust of an impotent man, show briefly but do not take root and pass away. The worldlings are the opposite of this regarding the affairs of the world to come.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:03 am

Part 1 of 2

Discourse 21

The Master said: Sharif Pay-sukhta says:

He who dispenses of His grace,
Indifferent to time and space,
Himself the Spirit of the Whole
Is independent of the soul.

Whatever thing your ranging thought
Within its compass may have brought,
That thing adores, as only Lord,
Him who needs not to be adored.


These words are very shameful; they are neither praise of the King nor self-praise. Mannikin, what joy pray does it give you that He should be supremely independent of you? This is not the language of friends, this is the language of enemies. The enemy indeed may say, 'I am indifferent to you and independent.' Now consider the loving and ardent Muslim who when in a state of ecstatic joy addresses that Beloved, that He is independent of him! He would be like a stoker sitting in the baths and saying, 'The Sultan is indifferent and independent of me, a mere stoker, indeed he is indifferent to all stokers.' What joy would such a miserable stoker feel in the thought that the king was indifferent to him? No, the right words for the stoker to speak are the following: 'I was on the roof of the baths. The Sultan passed by. I hailed him. He looked well at me and then passed me by, still looking at me.' Such words might well give joy to that stoker. As for saying, 'The king is indifferent to stokers' -- what sort of praise for the king is that, and what joy does it give the stoker?

Whatever thing your ranging thought
Within its compass may have brought-


Mannikin, what thing indeed will pass within the compass of your thought, except that men are independent of your thought and fancy, and if you relate to them your thoughts they are bored and run away? What thought can there be of which God is not independent? The Verse of Self-sufficiency was revealed with reference to the unbelievers; God forbid that believers should be so addressed! His 'independence' is indubitable, mannikin; but if you have a spiritual state that is worth anything at all, He is not 'independent' of you, according to the degree of your greatness.

Shaikh-i Mahalla used to say, 'First see, then converse. Everyone sees the Sultan, but it is the favourite who enjoys converse with him.' The Master said: This is askew and shameful and topsy-turvy. Moses, upon whom be peace, enjoyed converse and afterwards sought to see. Moses' station was the station of converse; the station of Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, was the station of seeing. How then can the Shaikh's statement be correct at all?

The Master said: Someone said in the presence of Shams al-Din Tabrizi, may God sanctify his soul, 'I have established the existence of God by a categorical proof.' On the following morning our Master Shams al-Din said, 'Last night the angels came down and blessed that man, saying, "Praise be to God, he has established the existence of our God! God give him long life! He did no injury to the right of mortals!"'

Mannikin, God exists of a certainty; there is no need of a proof to establish His existence. If you do anything at all, establish yourself in some rank and station before Him; otherwise, He exists of a certainty without proof.

Nothing there is, that does not proclaim His praise.


Of this there is no doubt. The lawyers are clever men, a hundred per cent competent in their own speciality. But between them and the other world a wall has been built, to preserve their empire of licet and non licet. Did that wall not exist as a veil for them, no one would consult them and their work would be abolished.

This is like what our great Master said, God sanctify his great soul: 'The other world is like a sea, and this world is like foam. God most Great and Glorious desired to keep the foam in prosperous order. He therefore set certain people with their backs to the sea so as to keep the foam in order. If they were not occupied with that, men would destroy one another and the foam would inevitably fall into ruin. So a tent was pitched for the King, and he kept certain people occupied in constructing this tent. One says, "If I did not make the tent-rope how would the tent come out right?" Another says, "If I do not make the tent-pin where will they tie the rope?" Everybody knows that these are all servants of that King who will sit in the tent and gaze upon the Beloved. If the weaver gives up weaving and seeks to be a vizier, the whole world will remain naked and bare; so he was given a joy in that craft, so that he is content. Therefore that people was created to keep the world of foam in order, and the world was created for the maintenance of that Saint.'

Blessed is he for whose maintenance the world was created, not he for the maintenance of the world. God bestows on every man contentment and happiness in the work that is his, so that if his life should be a hundred thousand years he would still do the same work. Every day his love for that work becomes greater, and subtle skills are born to him in that craft, in which he takes infinite joy and pleasure.

Nothing there is, that does not proclaim His praise.


There is one praise for the rope-maker, another for the carpenter who makes the tent-poles, another for the maker of the tent-pins, another for the weaver who weaves the cloth for the tent, another for the saints who sit in the tent and contemplate in perfect delight.

Now these people who come to us, if we keep silent they are disgusted and hurt, whilst if we say something it must be appropriate to their attainment. We fret, and they go away and reproach us, saying, 'He is bored with us and runs away.' How should the fuel run away from the cook pot, unless the cook pot runs away? It cannot. So the running away of the fire and the fuel is not running away at all. The truth is, that when he sees that the vessel is weak he withdraws some distance from it; so in reality it is the pot that runs away in every case. Therefore our running away is their running away. We are a mirror: if there is a move in them to run away it appears in us; we run away on their account. A mirror is that in which people see themselves; if they see us as weary, that weariness is theirs. For weariness is an attribute of weakness. Here there is no room for weariness: what has weariness to do?

It happened to me in the baths that I showed exceeding submission to Shaikh Salah al-Din, and Shaikh Salah al-Din showed great submission to me. Confronted by that submission, I protested. The thought came into my mind, 'You are carrying submission beyond proper bounds. Submission is better by degrees; first you kiss the hand of the man, then his foot. Little by little you come to a point where it does not show any more, and he has become habituated. Of course he must not be incommoded, matching courtesy with courtesy, when you have habituated him gradually to that submission.'

You must behave in the same way with friends and enemies, doing things gradually. For instance with an enemy, first you offer him advice little by little; if he does not heed, you strike him; if he does not heed, you drive him away. God says in the Koran:

And those you fear may be rebellious
admonish; banish them to their couches,
and beat them.


The work of the world goes on after this fashion. Do you not see the peace and friendliness of spring? In the beginning it shows warmth little by little, then it becomes greater. Look too at the trees, how little by little they advance; first a smile, then they show their trappings of leaves and fruit, like dervishes and Sufis offering everything, gambling away all that they possess.

A man dispatches every task in this world and the next, exaggerating at the beginning of his task. That task is not attainable by him, if his proper way is discipline. It has been said, if a man eats one maund of bread, he should diminish it daily by a dram's weight, gradually. In that way, before a year or two is past he will have brought down that maund to half a maund, reducing it in such a manner that the body does not notice it. So it is with worship, withdrawing into solitude, attending to the service of God, and prayer. If a man prays with his whole heart, when he enters upon the Way of God first for a while he will observe the five prescribed prayers; after that he will add to them ad infinitum.

Discourse 22

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 many 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 Salah 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 own 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 lasting 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 his 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 were 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 paupers?

Is it not the case, that they say that the Water of Life 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 learn 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 you, 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 hate a thing
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 Godless 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.

Discourse 23

The Master said: I must go to Tuqat, for that region is warm. Although the climate of Antalya is warm, there the majority of the people are Rumis and do not understand our language; though even amongst the Rumis there are people who do understand it. I was speaking one day amongst a group of people, and a party of non-Muslims was present. In the middle of my address they began to weep and to register emotion and ecstasy.

Someone asked: What do they understand and what do they know? Only one Muslim in a thousand understands this kind of talk. What did they understand, that they should weep?

The Master answered: It is not necessary that they should understand the inner spirit of these words. The root of the matter is the words themselves, and that they do understand. After all, everyone acknowledges the Oneness of God, that He is the Creator and Provider, that He controls every thing, that to Him all things shall return, and that it is He who punishes and forgives. When anyone hears these words, which are a description and commemoration of God, a universal commotion and ecstatic passion supervenes, since out of these words comes the scent of their Beloved and their Quest.

Though the ways are various, the goal is one. Do you not see that there are many roads to the Kaaba? For some the road is from Rum, for some from Syria, for some from Persia, for some from China, for some by sea from India and Yemen. So if you consider the roads, the variety is great and the divergence infinite; but when you consider the goal, they are all of one accord and one. The hearts of all are at one upon the Kaaba. The hearts have one attachment, an ardour and a great love for the Kaaba, and in that there is no room for contrariety. That attachment is neither infidelity nor faith; that is to say, that attachment is not confounded with the various roads which we have mentioned. Once they have arrived there, that disputation and war and diversity touching the roads -- this man saying to that man, 'You are false, you are an infidel,' and the other replying in kind -- once they have arrived at the Kaaba, it is realised that that warfare was concerning the roads only, and that their goal was one.

For instance, if a bowl had a soul it would be the slave of the fashioner of the bowl and would make love to him. Now as for this bowl which hands have fashioned, some say it should be placed like this on the table; some say the inside of it needs to be washed, some say the outside of it needs to be washed; some say all of it; some say it needs not to be washed at all. The diversity of opinion is confined to these things; as to the fact that the bowl certainly had a creator and fashioner and did not come into existence of itself, on this all are agreed and none has a contrary view.

To resume: now all men in their inmost hearts love God and seek Him, pray to Him and in all things put their hope in Him, recognising none but Him as omnipotent and ordering their affairs. Such an apperception is neither infidelity nor faith. Inwardly it has no name. But when the water of apperception flows out of the heart towards the mill-race of the tongue and becomes congealed, it acquires form and expression; there it is given the name of infidelity and faith, good and evil. It is the same with plants growing out of the earth. At first they have no form at all; but when they make their appearance in this world, in the beginning they all look fine and delicate and are white. As they set foot farther into this world they become thick and coarse, and acquire a different colour.

When believer and infidel sit together and say nothing by way of expression, they are one and the same. There is no sequestration of thoughts, the heart is a free world. For the thoughts are subtle things, and cannot be judged. 'We judge by outward profession, and God is in charge of men's secret hearts.' God most High uncovers the thoughts in you, not with a hundred thousand labours and efforts are you able to get rid of them. As for the saying that God has no need of any instrument, do you not see how He uncovers those ideas and thoughts in you without any instrument, without any pen, without any pigment?

Those thoughts are like birds of the air, and wild deer. Until you catch them and imprison them in a cage, it is not allowable by law to sell them. It is not in your power to sell a bird on the wing; for delivery is a condition of sale, and since it is not in your power, how can you deliver it?

Thoughts then, so long as they are in the heart, are without name and token; they cannot be judged either for unbelief or for Islam. Would any judge say, 'In your heart you agreed on this, or you sold thus,' or 'Come, take an oath that in your heart you did not think thus'? No judge would say that, because no one can judge the heart. Thoughts are birds of the air. Once, however, they have been expressed, then immediately they can be judged as belonging to unbelief or Islam, good or evil.

There is a world of bodies, a world of ideas, a world of fantasies, a world of suppositions. God most High is beyond all worlds, neither within them nor without them. Consider then how God controls these ideas, forming them without material means, without pen or instrument. As for this fancy or that idea, if you were to tear open the breast and search particle by particle you would never find that thought within it; not in the blood, not in the vein, not above, not below, not in any part whatever would you find it, being immaterial and not in time or space; neither would you find it without the breast.

Since His control over these ideas is so subtle as to be without trace, consider how subtle and without trace is He who is the Creator of all these! Just as these physical bodies are gross in relation to the inner ideas of the persons, so these subtle and insubstantial ideas in relation to the subtlety of God are gross bodies and forms.

If out of the veil appeared
The Holy Spirit, then
As gross flesh would be reckoned
The minds and souls of men.


God most High is not contained within this world of ideas, nor in any world whatsoever. For if He were contained within the world of ideas, it would necessarily follow that he who formed the ideas would comprehend God, so that God would then not be the Creator of the ideas. Thus it is realised that God is beyond all worlds.

God has indeed fulfilled the vision He
vouchsafed to His Messenger truly:
'You shall enter the Holy Mosque,
if God wills.'


All men say, 'We will enter the Kaaba.' Some men say, 'If God wills, we will enter.' Those who use the expression 'if God wills' are the true lovers of God. For the lover does not consider himself in charge of things and a free agent; he recognises that the Beloved is in charge. Hence he says, 'If the Beloved wills, I will enter.'

Now the literalists take the Holy Mosque to be that Kaaba to which people repair. Lovers, however, and the elect of God, take the Holy Mosque to mean union with God. So they say, 'If God wills, we will attain Him and be honoured with the sight of Him.' But for the beloved to say 'If God wills' is rare indeed. It is the tale of a stranger, and it requires a stranger to hear and to be able to hear the tale of a stranger. God has certain servants who are beloved and well-loved, and God most High seeks after them, discharging on their behalf all the duties of a lover. Just as the lover would say 'If God wills I will enter,' so God most High says on behalf of that stranger 'If God wills.'

If I were to occupy myself with expounding that subtlety, even the saints who have attained God would lose the thread of the discourse. How then is it possible to speak of such mysteries and mystic states to mortal men? 'The pen reached thus far, and then its point broke.' One man does not see a camel on the top of a minaret; how then shall he see the thread of a hair in the mouth of the camel?

To resume the former exposition: those lovers who say, 'if God wills,' that is, 'The Beloved is in charge: if the Beloved wills, we will enter the Kaaba' -- such men are absorbed in God. There is no room for other, and the remembrance of other is unlawful. What place is there for other? For until a man has effaced himself, God is not contained there. 'There is none dwelling in the house but God.'

The vision He vouchsafed to his Messenger: now this vision is the dreams of lovers and true men of God, and the interpretation of that vision is revealed in the other world. When you see in a dream that you are riding on a horse, you will gain your goal; yet what connexion has the horse with the goal? If you dream that you have been given coins of good currency, the meaning is that you will hear true and good words from a learned man; in what respect does a coin resemble a word? If you dream that you have been hanged on a gibbet, you will become the chief of a people; how does a gibbet resemble chieftainship and leadership? So it is that we have said that the affairs of the world are a dream. 'This world is as the dream of a sleeper': their interpretation in the other world will be quite otherwise, not resembling this. That will be interpreted by a Divine Interpreter, for to Him all things are revealed.

Similarly a gardener on entering the orchard looks at the trees. Without seeing the fruit on the branches, he judges this tree to be a date, that a fig, that a pomegranate, that a pear, that an apple. Since the true man of God knows the science of trees, there is no need to wait for the resurrection for him to see the interpretations, what has transpired and what was the issue of that dream. Such a man has seen aforetime what the issue will be, just as a gardener knows aforetime what fruit this branch will surely yield.

All things in this world, wealth, wife and raiment, are sought after for something other, they are not sought for themselves. Do you not see that even if you had a hundred thousand dirhams and were hungry and could not find any bread, you would not be able to eat and feed yourself on those dirhams? A wife is for the sake of children, and to satisfy the passion. Clothes are to ward off the cold. In like manner all things are concatenated with God most Glorious: He is sought and desired for His own sake, not for any other thing. For inasmuch as He is beyond all and better than all and nobler than all and subtler than all, how should He be desired for less than Himself? So 'unto Him is the final end'; when they have reached Him, they have reached their entire goal, beyond there is no transcending.

This human soul is a forum of doubts and difficulties. By no means can it be rid of doubts and difficulties except it be truly in love; then all its doubts and difficulties vanish. 'Your love for a thing renders you blind and deaf.' When Iblis would not bow down before Adam and opposed the Divine command, he said:

Thou createdst me of fire, and him Thou
createdst of clay.


'My essence is of fire, and his essence is of clay. How is it seemly for the higher to bow down before the lower?' When God cursed Iblis on account of this sin and opposition and contending with God and banished him, he said, 'Alas, O Lord! You made all things. This was your tempting me; now you are cursing me and banishing me.' When Adam sinned, God most High expelled him from Paradise. God most High said to Adam, 'O Adam, when I egged you on and urged you to commit that sin why did you not dispute with Me? After all, you had a perfect case. You did not say, "All things proceed from Thee and Thou madest all. Whatever Thou desirest in the world comes to pass, and whatever Thou desirest not will never come to pass." You had such a right and clear and valid case; why did you not argue it?' Adam answered, 'I knew that well, Lord. But I did not forget my manners in Thy presence, and Love did not suffer me to reprove.'

The Master said: This sacred law is a watering-place, a fountainhead. It may be likened to the court of a king, wherein are the king's edicts, to command and prohibit, government, equity, justice for nobles and commons. All the edicts of the king are infinite and innumerable, very good and very beneficial, and on them the stability of the world rests. But the status of dervishes and fakirs is one of conversation with the King, and of knowing the science of the Ruler. What is knowledge of the science of the edicts, compared with knowing the science of the Ruler and conversation with the King? There is a vast difference.

My companions and their various estates are as a school in which there are many scholars. The headmaster pays each scholar according to his qualification, giving to one ten, one twenty, one thirty. We too dispense our words according to each man's degree and qualification. 'Speak to men according to the degree of their intelligence.'

Discourse 24

Every man puts up these sacred edifices with a particular intention: either to display his generosity, or for the sake of fame, or to gain a reward in heaven. God most High should be the true object in exalting the rank of the saints and honouring their tombs and graves. They themselves require not to be honoured, for they are honoured in themselves. If a lamp desires to be placed on high, it desires that for the sake of others, not for its own sake. What matters it to a lamp, whether it is below or above? It is still a lamp shedding light. But it desires that its light should reach others. The sun which is in the height of heaven -- if it were below it would still be the same sun, only the world would remain in darkness. So the sun is on high not for its own sake but for that of others. It follows then that the saints are exalted above and indifferent to such things as 'above' and 'below' and the reverence of men.

You yourself, being vouchsafed a fragment of ecstasy and a flash of grace from the other world, in that moment are indifferent to 'above' and 'below' and mastery and leadership, and self too which is nearer to you than all; these things do not enter your mind. So how should the saints, who are the seam and mine and source of that light and ecstasy, be fettered by 'below' and 'above'? Their glorying is in God; and God is independent of 'below' and 'above.' This 'below' and 'above' belongs to us who have feet and heads.

The Prophet, God's blessings be upon him, said: 'Do not prefer me above Jonah son of Matthew, in that his ascension was in the belly of the whale while my ascension was in heaven upon the Throne.' He meant, 'Do not assign preferment to me over him, if you prefer me at all, for the reason that his ascension was in the belly of the whale while mine was above in heaven. For God most High is neither above nor below; His epiphany is the same, whether above or below and in the belly of the whale. He is exalted far above 'above' and 'below'; all things are one to Him.'

There are many persons who perform works having a different aim, whilst God's purpose is other. God most Glorious desired that the religion of Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, should be high honoured and spread abroad and should abide for ever and ever. So consider how many commentaries have been made on the Koran, in how manifold volumes. The aim of the writers was to display their own virtuosity. Zamakhshari filled his Kashshaf with so many minutiae of grammar and lexicography and rhetoric in order to display his own learning; but it was also in order that God's purpose might be attained, namely the exaltation of the religion of Muhammad. So all men too are doing God's work, though ignorant of God's aim. God has another purpose for them; He desires that the world should remain in being. They are occupied with their lusts; they gratify their lust with a woman for the sake of their own enjoyment, but the result is the birth of a child. They labour similarly for their own pleasure and enjoyment, and that too is a means of maintaining the order of the world. In reality therefore they are serving God, only they do not act with that intention.

In the same way they build mosques at such great expense upon doors and walls and roof, but all with a view to the kiblah. The kiblah is the true aim and object of honour, and its honouring is all the greater for all that that was not their aim.

This greatness of the saints is not a formal matter. By Allah, indeed they have an elevation and a greatness, but it is beyond space and time. The dirham is above the copper-piece: what is the meaning of 'above the copper-piece'? From the standpoint of form it is not above. Suppose for instance that you place a silver dirham on the roof, and a gold piece under; assuredly the gold will be superior in all circumstances. Gold is above silver, and ruby and pearl are above gold, whether the one or the other is 'below' or 'above.' Similarly the chaff is 'above' the sieve and the corn remains 'under' it: how should the chaff be 'above' the corn? Assuredly the corn is 'above' though physically it is below. So you speak of the superiority of the corn not from the standpoint of form; in the world of realities, inasmuch as that substance is inherent in it, it is 'above' in all circumstances.

Discourse 25

A person entered. The Master said: He is beloved, and humble, this is due to his substance. Similarly if a branch is loaded with fruit, that fruit draws it down; whereas the branch which has no fruit raises its head on high, like the white poplar. When the fruit exceeds bounds, they put props under the branch so that it may not come down altogether.

The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, was extremely humble. All the fruits of this world and the next were gathered upon him, so of course he was humbler than all men. He said, 'No man ever preceded the Messenger of God in making a greeting.' No man was able to precede the Prophet in offering greetings because the Prophet would outstrip him out of extreme humility and so would greet him first. Even supposing that he did not greet the other first, even so he was humble and preceded the other in speaking, for they learned the greeting from him and gave heed to him. All that men of former and latter times possess, they possess it all as a reflection of him, and are his shadow. Though a man's shadow may enter the house before him, in reality the man precedes, though in form the shadow precedes. Grant that the shadow precedes the man, yet it is a derivative of the man.

These characteristics are not a product of the present moment; these particles existed from that primeval time in the particles and parts of Adam -- some bright, some half-bright, some dark. In this hour they become apparent, but this splendour and brightness is of aforetime; its particle in Adam was altogether purer and brighter and more humble.

Some men look at the beginning, and some men look at the end. These who look at the end are great and mighty men, for their gaze is fixed on the issue and the world beyond. But those who look at the beginning, they are the more elect. They say, 'What need is there for us to look at the end? If wheat is sown at the beginning, barley will not grow at the end, if barley is sown, wheat will not grow.' So their gaze is fixed on the beginning. There are other people still more elect who look neither at the beginning nor at the end, the beginning and the end do not enter their minds; they are absorbed in God. And there are yet other people who are absorbed in worldly things; they look neither at the beginning nor at the end, being exceeding heedless; these are the fodder of Hell.

So it is realised that Muhammad was the foundation. 'But for thee I would not have created the heavens.' Every thing that exists, honour and humility, authority and high degree, all are of his dispensation and his shadow, for all have become manifest from him. Even so, whatever this hand does it does in the shadow of the Mind, for the Mind's shadow is over it; though in truth the Mind has no shadow, yet it has a shadow without a shadow, just as 'meaning' has an entity without an entity. Were not the shadow of Mind over a man, all his members would become atrophied; the hand would not grasp in due manner, the foot could not go straight upon the road, the eye would not see anything, whatever the ear heard it would hear awry. So these members in the shadow of Mind perform all their various tasks duly, well and appropriately. In reality all those actions proceed from the Mind; the members are the instrument.

In like manner there is a great man, the caliph of his time. He is like the Universal Mind, and the minds of other men are as his members. Whatever they do is in his shadow. If anything crooked issues from them, that is because the Universal Mind has lifted its shadow from his head. So it is that when a man begins to go mad and engages in unseemly activities, everybody realises that reason has departed from his head and no more casts its shadow over him; he is far exiled from the shadow and shelter of Mind.

Mind is a congener of the angel. Though the angel has a definite form and feathers and wings while Mind has not, in reality they are one and the same, act the same and are one in nature. One must not regard the form when in reality they act the same. For instance, if you dissolve their form they will all be Mind; nothing outward would remain of feathers and wings. So we realise that they were all Mind, but embodied; they are called embodied intelligences. Similarly a bird may be fashioned of wax complete with feathers and wings, but for all that it is wax. Do you not see that when you melt it, the bird's feathers and wings and head and feet altogether become wax? Nothing whatsoever remains that can be separated out; all turns to wax. So we realise that it is wax, and the bird that was fashioned of wax is the same wax, embodied and having taken on a certain shape but wax nevertheless. Ice likewise is nothing but water; therefore when you melt it it all becomes water. But before it became ice and was still water, you could not take it into your hand and it would not enter the hand; once it was frozen however you could take it in your hand and put it in your skirt. So there is no greater difference than this; the ice is still water, and they are one and the same thing.

The situation of man is like this. They took the feathers of an angel, and tied them to the tail of an ass, that haply the ass in the ray and society of the angel might become an angel. For it is possible that he may become of the same complexion as the angel.

Reason lent to Jesus pinions
And to heaven he flew and higher;
Had his ass had half a wing,
He would not have hugged the mire.


So what cause for wonder would it be, if his ass should become a man? God is able to do all things. After all, the child when it is first born is worse than an ass; it puts its hand into filth and carries it to its mouth to lick; the mother beats it and prevents it. The ass at least has some sort of discrimination; when it urinates, it opens its legs so that the urine may not trickle on them. Yet the child, which is worse than an ass, God most High is able to make into a man; if He should make the ass a man, what would be so astounding in that? Before God, nothing is a cause for astonishment.

At the resurrection all the members of a man, scattered severally apart, hand and foot and the rest, will speak. The philosophers interpret this allegorically. They say: When the hand 'speaks,' perhaps some sign or token appears on the hand taking the place of speech, such as a scratch or an abscess. It is possible in this sense to say that the hand 'speaks'; it gives information, 'I ate something causing inflammation, so that my hand became like this.' Or the hand is wounded and has become black; men say that the hand 'speaks,' giving information that 'A knife struck me' or 'I rubbed myself against a black pot.' The 'speaking' of the hand and the other members is after this manner, So much for the philosophers. The Sunni theologians say: God forbid! No indeed! On the contrary, this sensible hand and foot will speak, just as the tongue speaks. On the day of resurrection a man will deny, saying, 'I did not steal.' His hand will say, 'Yes, you stole, I took' in plain language. That person will turn to his hand and foot, saying, 'You did not speak of old; how is it that you speak now?' It will say:

God gave us speech, as He gave everything speech.


'That Person gave me speech who gave everything speech. He gives speech to door and wall, stone and clod. That Creator who gives speech to everyone also gives me speech.' Your tongue causes you to speak; your tongue is a piece of flesh, the hand is a piece of flesh, speech is a piece of flesh. Is the tongue endowed with reason? From what you have seen in plenty, it does not appear impossible to you. Otherwise, the tongue is a pretext with God; when He commanded it to speak it spoke. Whatsoever He commands and decrees, that thing speaks.

Words come according to the attainment of a man. Our words are like water which a superintendent of water lets flow. What does the water know, into which plain the superintendent has let it flow, whether into a cucumber-bed, or an onion-bed, or a rose- bed? This I know: that when the water comes in abundance, there the lands are thirsty and extensive, whilst if it comes in small quantity I know that the land is small -- a little orchard, or a tiny courtyard. 'He inculcates wisdom by the tongue of the preachers according to the aspirations of the listeners.' I am a cobbler: the leather is plentiful, but I cut and stitch according to the size of the foot.

I am the shadow of a man,
I am his measure;
So much as his stature is,
So much my treasure.


In the earth there is an animalcule which lives under the earth and is in darkness. It has no eyes or ears, because in the place where it dwells there is no need for eyes and ears. Since it has no need of eyes, why should it be given them? It is not that God has a scarcity of eyes and ears, or that He is miserly; but He gives in need. A thing given needlessly would turn into a burden. God's wisdom and grace and bounty remove burdens; how should He impose a burden on anyone? For instance, to give a tailor the tools of a carpenter, adze, saw, a file and the rest, and to say 'Take these' -- that would prove a burden to him since he cannot work with them. So He gives a thing according to need, and that is all.

Just as those worms live in that darkness under the earth, so there are men who are content and satisfied to dwell in the darkness of this world, having no need of that world and yearning not for the Vision. Of what use to them would be the eye of clairvoyance and the ear of understanding? Their work in this world prospers with the sensible eye which they possess; since they have no design on the other side, why give them the clairvoyance which would be useless to them?

Do not suppose no travellers
Yet go upon the road,
Men perfect in all attributes,
The traceless men of God.

Because you are not privy to
The secrets of the skies,
You fancy in your vain conceit
None others gain that prize.


Now this world goes on by reason of heedlessness; if it were not for heedlessness, this world would not remain in being. Yearning for God, recollection of the world to come, intoxication, ecstasy -- these are the architects of the other world. If all these should supervene, we would to a man depart to the other world and would not remain here. God most High desires that we should be here, so that there may be two worlds. So he has appointed two sheriffs, one heedlessness and the other heedfulness, that both houses may remain inhabited.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:03 am

Part 2 of 2

Discourse 26

The Master said: If I appear to be remiss in gratitude and appreciation and offering thanks for the kindnesses and endeavour and support you show me both directly and indirectly, this is not out of arrogance or indifference, or because I do not know what it behoves the recipient of a favour to say and do by way of requital. But I was aware from the purity of your faith that you do those things sincerely for the sake of God; so I leave it to God to thank you Himself, since you have done these things for Him. If I were to concern myself with thanking you and doing you verbal honour and praising you, it would be as though some part of the reward which God is going to give you had already come to you, some part of your recompense had already been paid.

Humble attitudes, offering thanks and applause -- these are worldly pleasures. When you have gone to worldly pains, such as the sacrifice of wealth and position, it is better that the recompense should come entirely from God. Therefore I do not offer thanks because the offering of thanks is a worldly matter.

No one can eat wealth. Wealth is sought after for other than itself. With wealth horses, servant-girls and slaves are purchased and appointments are sought, so that men praise and applaud them. So it is the world itself that is held in high esteem, and to it the praise and applause is directed.

Shaikh Nassaj of Bukhara was a great and spiritual man. The learned and great ones used to come to visit him, kneeling before him. The Shaikh was unlettered. They desired to hear from his tongue the expounding of the Koran and Traditions of the Prophet. He would say, 'I do not know Arabic. You translate the verse of the Koran or the Tradition, so that I may tell you its meaning.' They would translate the verse, and then he would begin to expound and verify it. He would say, 'The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, was in such and such a situation when he uttered this verse. The circumstances were as follows.' Then he would explain in detail the level of that situation, the ways leading up to it, and how the Prophet ascended to it.

One day a descendant of 'Ali was praising in his presence a certain cadi, saying, 'There is no cadi like him anywhere in the world. He does not take bribes. He dispenses justice amongst men without partiality or favour, purely and sincerely for the sake of God.' Shaikh Nassaj replied, 'What you are saying, that he does not take bribes, is certainly a lie. You, a descendant of 'Ali, of the family of the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, praise and applaud him on the grounds that he does not take bribes. Is this not a bribe? What bribe could be better than this, that you should give such an account of him to his face?'

Shaikh al-Islam Tirmidhi once said. 'The reason why Saiyid Burhan al-Din, God sanctify his great soul, expounds truths so well is because he studies the books and secret writings and treatises of the masters.' Someone remarked, 'Well, you also study them. How is it that you do not speak as he does?' Tirmidhi answered, 'He is a man of suffering and striving and godly works.' The man said, 'Why do you not speak of this and mention this? You only repeat what you have read. That is the root of the matter. We speak of that; you too speak of that!'

They were not concerned with the other world at all; they had fixed their hearts upon this world entirely. Some had come for the sake of eating bread, some to inspect the bread. They desire to learn these words and then to sell them. These words are like a beautiful bride; if a beautiful maiden is purchased to sell again, how can that maiden love her purchaser or fix her heart on him? Since the pleasure of that merchant is in selling, he is as good as impotent; he buys the girl to sell her, not having the manhood and virility to purchase her for himself.

If a fine Indian sword falls into the hands of a hermaphrodite, he takes it in order to sell it; if a Pehlevi bow falls into his hands, that is also in order to sell it since he has not the strength of arm to draw the bow. He desires that bow for the string's sake, and he has not the aptitude for the string. He is in love with the string. When the hermaphrodite sells that, he gives the price of it for rouge and indigo. What else shall he do? Marvellous! When he sells it, what shall he buy better than that?

These words are Syriac! Beware, do not say, 'I have understood.' The more you have understood and grasped them, the farther you will be from understanding them. The understanding of this is in not understanding. All your trouble and misfortune and disappointment arise from that understanding. That understanding is a fetter for you; you must escape from that understanding, to be anything at all.

You say, 'I filled the sheep-skin from the sea, and the sea could not be contained in my sheep-skin.' This is absurd. Yes, if you say, 'My sheep-skin was lost in the sea,' that is excellent; that is the root of the matter. Reason is excellent and desirable until it brings you to the door of the King. Once you have reached His door, divorce reason; for in that hour reason is a sheer loss to you, a highway robber. When you have reached the King, surrender yourself to Him; you have no use then for the how and the wherefore.

For instance, you have an uncut cloth which you want to have cut into a tunic or a cloak. Reason has brought you a tailor. Until that moment reason was fine, for it brought the cloth to the tailor. Now in this very moment reason must be divorced and you must abandon yourself wholly to the control of the tailor. In the same way, reason is fine for the sick man until it brings him to the physician; when it has brought him to the physician, after that reason is no use to him, and he must surrender himself to the physician.

Your companions hear your clandestine cries. It becomes evident who of them has something, who has a true substance in him and a responsive soul. Amongst a train of camels, the camel that is in rut becomes evident from his eyes, his manner of walking, his foam and other things.

Their mark is on their faces, the trace of
prostration.


Though it is the root of the tree that drinks, it becomes evident on the head of the tree, through the branches and leaves and fruit. The tree that does not drink and is withered, how shall it remain concealed? These loud shouts which they utter -- the secret of this is that they understand many words from a single word, from a single letter realise all the overtones. It is like a man who has read the Wasit and the Mutawwal books; as soon as he hears a single word from the Tanbih, inasmuch as he has read its commentary he understands from one problem all the root principles and problems. He offers observations on that single letter as much as to say, 'Underlying this I understand many things and see many things. That is because I have laboured much on that subject, turning night into day, and I have found the treasures.'

Did We not expand thy breast for thee?


The expansion of the breast is infinite. Once that expansive commentary has been read, from a hint a man understands much. He who is still a beginner understands of that word only the meaning of that one word; what inner knowledge and ecstasy should be his? Words come according to the capacity of the hearer. If a man does not draw out, the wisdom also does not come out. According as he draws and sucks, so the wisdom descends. Else he says, 'Amazing! Why do the words not come?' The answer comes, 'Amazing! Why do you not draw?' He who gives you not the power to listen gives neither to the speaker the impulse to speak.

In the time of the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, a certain unbeliever had as a slave a Muslim, a man of true substance. One morning his master ordered him, 'Fetch basins. I am going to the baths.' On the way they went the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, was praying in the mosque with his Companions. The slave said, 'Master, for God's good sake take this bowl for a moment, so that I may make a couple of genuflections, then I will attend you.' Entering the mosque, he prayed. The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, came out, and his Companions also came out. The slave remained alone in the mosque. His master waited for him till midmorning, then he shouted, 'Come out, slave!' The slave answered, 'They won't let me go, as the work has got beyond bounds.' The master put his head inside the mosque to see who it was that would not let the slave go. But for a shoe and a shadow he saw nobody; nobody stirred. He said, 'Well, who is it that won't let you come out?' The slave replied, 'The same One who will not suffer you to come in, the very same One whom you do not see.'

Man is always in love with the thing which he has never seen nor heard nor understood; night and day he seeks after it. I am the slave of him whom I do not see, who is weary and runs away from what he has understood and seen. It is for this reason that the philosophers deny ocular vision, saying: If you see, it is possible that you will become satiated and weary, and this is not feasible. The Sunni theologians say: It is in the moment when He appears single-coloured. For in every instant He appears in a hundred colours.

Every day He is upon some labour.


If He should reveal Himself a hundred thousand times, not one will resemble another. You also this very moment see God; every instant in His works and acts you see Him multicoloured. Not one act of His resembles another act. In time of gladness is one epiphany, in time of weeping is another epiphany, in time of fear another, in time of hope another. Since the acts of God, and the epiphany of His acts and works, are infinitely various, not one being like another, therefore the epiphany of His Essence is likewise infinitely various as is the epiphany of His acts: judge of that by this analogy.

You yourself too, being a part of the Divine omnipotence, every moment take on a different form and are not constant in anyone.

There are certain servants of God who proceed from the Koran to God. Others more elect come from God, find the Koran here, and know that God has sent it down.

It is We who have sent down the Remembrance,
and We watch over it.


The commentators say that this refers to the Koran. This too is good; but it can also mean, 'We have placed in you a substance, a seeking, a yearning. We watch over that, not letting it go to waste but bringing it to a definite place.'

Once say 'God', then stand firm under all calamities that rain upon you. A certain man came to Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, and said to him, 'Truly I love you.' The Prophet said, 'Take heed what you say.' The man repeated, 'Truly I love you.' The Prophet said, 'Take heed what you say.' The man said, 'Truly I love you.' The Prophet said, 'Now stand firm, for with my own hand I am going to slay you, woe upon you!'

In the time of Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, a certain man said, 'I do not want this religion. By Allah, take back this religion, for I do not want it. Ever since I entered your religion I have not had peace for a single day. Wealth has gone, wife has gone, child has vanished, respect has vanished, strength has vanished, lust has vanished.' The Prophet answered, 'God forbid! Wherever our religion has gone, it comes not back without uprooting a man and sweeping cleaning his house.'

None but the purified shall touch it.


For it is as one beloved. So long as there remains in you a single trace of self-love, He will not show His face to you and you will not be worthy of union with Him, neither will He give you access to Him. You must become wholly indifferent to yourself and the world, become the enemy of yourself, so that the Friend may show His face. So our religion, in whatsoever heart it lodges, withdraws not its hand from that heart until it brings that heart to God and dissevers it from all that is unlawful.

The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, said to that man, 'For this reason you have not peace and do sorrow, because sorrowing is an evacuation of those first joys'. So long as that thing remains in our stomach, they do not give you anything to eat. At the time of evacuation a man eats nothing; when he has finished evacuating, then he eats food. You too be patient, and grieve; grieving is an evacuation. After the evacuation joy supervenes, a joy which has no sorrow, a rose without a thorn, a wine without crop-sickness.

Why, in this world night and day you seek quiet and rest. That cannot be attained in this world; yet not for one instant you give up seeking. Such comfort even as you find in this world is like a lightning-flash which passes and endures not. And then, which lightning is it? Lightning there is full of hail, full of rain, full of snow, full of suffering. For instance, a man has set out for Antalya. He goes towards Caesarea hoping to reach Antalya, and does not abandon his efforts for all that it is impossible for him by this route to reach Antalya. But the man who goes by the Antalyan road, though he is lame and feeble, yet will reach his goal, since that is the end of the road.

Inasmuch as no task in this world can be accomplished without suffering, neither likewise any task aimed at the next world, at all events devote this suffering with the next world in view, so that it may not be wasted! 'You say, O Muhammad, take away religion from me, for I cannot find rest. How should our religion let any man go, before it brings him to the goal?'

Men tell how a certain teacher out of indigence wore in the winter season a single garment of cotton. By chance the torrent had brought down a bear out of the mountains, carrying it along with its head hidden in the water. The children, seeing its back, cried, 'Teacher, look! A fur coat has fallen into the water, and you are cold. Take it!'

The teacher in the extremity of his need and coldness jumped in to catch the fur coat. The bear quickly plunged its claws into him. The teacher was thus caught by the bear in the water.

'Teacher,' the boys shouted, 'either fetch the fur coat, or if you cannot, let it go, and you come out!'

'I am letting the fur coat go,' answered the teacher. 'But the fur coat isn't letting me go. What am I to do?'

How should God's ardour let you go? Here is cause for thanks, that we are not in our own hands, we are in God's hands. Even so a child when it is small knows naught but milk and its mother. God most High by no means left the child there; He led it on to eat bread and to play, and in like manner drew it on from there till He brought it to the stage of reason. So too in this worldly state, which is infancy compared with the other world and another kind of breast-God does not leave you there, but brings you thither, so that you may realise that this was infancy and nothing at all. 'I am amazed at a people who are dragged to Paradise in chains and fetters. Take him, and fetter him, and then roast him -- in Paradise, then roast him in union, then roast him in Beauty, then roast him in Perfection.'

Fishermen do not drag out a fish all at once. When the hook has entered its throat they draw it a little, so that it may lose blood and become weak and feeble; they let it loose again, then again draw it in, until it becomes altogether weak. When the hook of Love falls into a man's throat, God most High draws him gradually so that those bad faculties and blood which are in him may go out of him little by little. God grasps, and outspreads.

'There is no God but God': that is the faith of the common folk. The faith of the elect is this: 'There is no He but He.' So, a man sees in a dream that he has become king, and is seated on the throne, servants and chamberlains and princes standing around him. He says, 'I must be the king, and there is no king other than I.' This he says in his sleep; when he awakens and sees nobody in the house but himself, then he says, 'I am, and there is nobody other than I.' For this a wakeful eye is necessary; a slumbrous eye cannot see this, for this is not its function.

Every sect denies every other sect. These people say, 'We are true and revelation belongs to us, and they are false.' Those people say exactly the same. So the two and seventy creeds deny one another, then say with one accord that all are without revelation. So all are in accord on there being no revelation to any of the others, and agree also that out of the lot of them only one has revelation. There is therefore a need for a believer having discrimination and sagacity to know which one that is. 'The believer is sagacious, discriminating, understanding, intelligent.' Faith is that same discrimination and perception.

Someone interjected: Those who do not know are many, and those who know are few. If we are to occupy ourselves with distinguishing between those who do not know and have no true substance and those who do possess that substance, it will be a long business.

The Master answered: Though it is true that those who do not know are many, when you know a few you have known them all. In the same way when you have known a single handful of corn, you know all the corn-stacks in the world. If you have tasted a piece of sugar, though halwa is made in a hundred different varieties, from the sugar you have tasted you know that sugar is in the halwa, since you have known the sugar. If a man who has eaten sugar from a sugar-cane (shakh) does not recognise sugar, maybe he has two horns (shakh)!

If these words appear repetitious to you, that is because you have not understood the first lesson, so it was necessary for me to say this every day. There was once a teacher, and a boy attended him for three months but did not go beyond 'A has nothing.' The boy's father came and said, 'I don't fail to pay your fees. If there has been any failure, tell me and I will pay more.' The teacher answered, 'The failure was not on your part, but the child doesn't go beyond this point.' He summoned the boy and said, 'Say, A has nothing.' The boy said, 'Has nothing'; he could not say 'A.' The master said, 'You see what the situation is. As he has not passed beyond this point and has not yet learned this, how can I give him a new lesson?' The father said, 'Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all being!'

We do not say 'Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all being' because there is a shortage of bread and blessing. Bread and blessing are without limit; but there is no more appetite, and the guests are sated. That is why 'Praise belongs to God' is said. This bread and this blessing do not resemble mundane bread and blessing, since even without appetite you can force yourself to eat mundane bread and blessing as much as you desire. Since it is inanimate, it follows you wherever you drag it; it has no spirit, to withhold itself from the unworthy. Very different is this Divine blessing, which is wisdom. It is a living blessing. So long as you have an appetite and exhibit utter desire, it comes towards you and becomes your food. But when appetite and inclination fail you cannot eat it and consume it by force. It hides its face in the veil and does not show you its face.

The Master was telling stories of the miracles of the saints. He said: It is not so wonderful or miraculous for a man to go from here to the Kaaba in a day or a moment. Such a miracle happens also to the simoon: in one day and in one moment the simoon travels wherever it wishes. What is a true miracle is this: that God should bring you from a lowly estate to a high estate, that you should travel from there to here, from ignorance to reason, from the inanimate to life. Just as at first you were earth and you were mineral, He brought you to the vegetable world; then you journeyed from the vegetable world to the world of clotted sperm and foetus, from the clotted sperm and the foetus to the animal world, from the animal world to the world of man.

These are the true miracles. God most High brought near to you such a journey. In these stations and ways that you came it never entered your thoughts and imagination that you would come, by which road you came, and how you came and were brought; yet you see most definitely that you have come. Even so you will be brought to a hundred other various worlds. Do not doubt it, and if you are told stories of that, believe them.

A bowl of poison was brought as a present to 'Umar, God be pleased with him.

'Of what use is this?' he asked.

'Its purpose,' they told him, 'is this, that when it is not thought in the public interest to kill a man openly, he is given a little of this and then he dies secretly. If it is an enemy who cannot be slain with the sword, with a little of this he may be killed clandestinely.'

'You have brought me a very good thing,' he said. 'Give it to me to drink; for within me is a mighty enemy whom the sword cannot reach. I have no greater enemy in the world than he.'

'There is no need for you to drink it all up in one gulp,' they told him. 'Just a dram is sufficient. This is sufficient for a hundred thousand persons.'

'He too, my enemy, is not one person,' said 'Umar. 'He is an enemy a thousand men strong, and has overthrown a hundred thousand.'

Thereupon he seized the cup and quaffed it all at one draught. At once the assembled multitude all became Muslims, crying, 'Your religion is true!'

'You have all become Muslims,' commented 'Umar, 'and this infidel has not yet become a Muslim.'

What 'Umar intended thereby was faith. This was not the faith of the common people. He had that faith, and more; indeed, he had the faith of the veracious. He was referring to the faith of the prophets and the elect and absolute certainty. That was what he hoped for.

The report of a lion spread abroad through all parts of the world. A certain man, marvelling at the rumour, made for that thicket from a far distance in order to see the lion. For a year he endured the rigours of the road and travelled from stage to stage. When he arrived at the thicket and espied the lion from afar, he stood still and could not advance closer.

'Why,' they said to him, 'you have set forth on such a long road out of love for this lion. This lion has a special quality: anyone who approaches him boldly, and lovingly rubs his hand upon him, is unharmed by the lion, but if anyone is afraid and timorous the lion is enraged against him. Some indeed he attacks, saying, "What is this bad opinion you have of me?" For such a creature you have trudged on for a year. Now you have reached near to the lion why do you stand still? Advance one step more!'

Not one had the courage to advance a further step. All said, 'The steps we took hitherto were all easy. We cannot take one step here.'

What 'Umar meant by that 'faith' was that step, to take one step in the presence of the lion towards the lion. That step is a great and rare matter, the concern only of the elect and intimate of God. This is the true step; the rest are mere footprints. That faith comes only to prophets, who have washed their hands of their own life.

A friend is a delightful thing. For a friend derives strength and life and increase even from the phantom of his friend. How marvellous! Laila's phantom used to give strength to Majnun and became his food. Since the phantom of a profane beloved has such strength and influence as to impart strength to his friend, why should you marvel that the phantom of the true Friend imparts strength to him in presence and absence alike? What place is this for a phantom? That is the very soul of all realities; that is not called phantom.

The world subsists on a phantom. You call this world real, because it can be seen and felt, whilst you call phantom those verities whereof this world is but an offshoot. The facts are the reverse. This world is the phantom world, for that Verity produces a hundred such worlds, and they rot and corrupt and become naught, and it produces again a new world and a better. That grows not old, being exempt from newness and oldness. Its offshoots are qualified by newness and oldness, but He who produces these is exempt from both attributes and transcends both.

An architect planned a house in his mind, forming the notion that its breadth would be so much, its length so much, its floor so much, its courtyard so much. People do not call that a 'fancy' since this concrete reality is born from the 'fancy' and is an offshoot thereof. But if someone who is not an architect conceives such a notion and idea in his mind, then people certainly call that a 'fancy.' In common parlance men say of one who is not a builder and has not studied building, 'You are fanciful!'

Discourse 27

It is better not to question the fakir, for that is as much as to urge and 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 star, 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 lie, 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 master. The dervish ate the food. That night he experienced nocturnal emission.

'From whom did you bring that food?' he asked the disciple.

'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 her morsel.'

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.

Discourse 28

The litanies of the questers and travellers is that they shall be occupied with labour and devotion, and have apportioned their time so that every labour is assigned to its particular time. It is as though they have an overseer who draws them to that specific labour by rule of habit. For example, when such a man rises in the morning, that hour is more apt for worship since the soul is quieter and clearer; every person then does and performs the kind of service which is suitable to him and comes within the scope of his noble soul.

We are the rangers,
we are they that give glory.


There are a hundred thousand ranks. The purer a man becomes, the higher up he is promoted; the lesser is assigned to a lower rank, for 'Postpone them even as God has postponed them.'

This story is inevitably a long one. Whoever abbreviates this story abbreviates his own life and soul, but for God's preservation. As for the litanies of those who have attained union, I speak within the limits of comprehension -- it is so, that in the morning the holy spirits and the pure angels, and those men whom none knows but God (whose names are hidden from men out of exceeding jealousy), come to visit them.

And thou seest men entering God's religion in throngs --
and the angels shall enter unto them
from every gate.


You are seated beside them, and do not see, neither do you hear their speech and greetings and laughter. Yet what is so marvellous in this? When a man is sick and nigh unto death, he sees phantoms of which one sitting beside him has no knowledge, neither hears what they say. Those realities are a thousand times subtler than these phantoms; the latter the average man does not see or hear until he is sick, whilst those realities he will not see before his death and demise. Such visitants, knowing the refined states of the saints and their majesty, and knowing that from earliest morn so many angels and pure spirits have come to wait upon the shaikh, hesitate infinitely; for they must not intervene in the midst of such orisons, lest the shaikh be disturbed.

Even so the slaves are present every morning at the door of the king's palace. It is their use that each should have a fixed station, a fixed service, a fixed devotion. Some serve from afar, and the king looks not upon them nor pays heed to them. But the slaves of the king see that a certain one has been in attendance; when the king has departed, his use is that the servants should attend on him from every part, for servitude is no more. 'Take on the characteristics of God' has been realised: 'I am for him hearing and sight' has been realised.

This is an extremely majestic station, ineffable indeed; the majesty of it cannot be comprehended by spelling out majesty. Even if a little of its majesty should penetrate, neither the letter m itself would abide, nor pronunciation of the letter m, nor hand, nor aspiration. The whole city is devastated by the hosts of Light.

Kings, when they enter a city, disorder it.


A camel enters a little house; the house is devastated, but in that ruin there are a thousand treasures.

Only in ruins may a treasure be found;
In thriving cities a hound is still a hound.


If I have expounded at such length the station of the travellers, how shall I expound the states of those who have attained? The latter has no end; the former has an end. The end of travellers is attainment; what should be the end of those who have attained to union, union to which there cannot be any separation? No ripe grape becomes again an unripe grape; no mature fruit ever again becomes raw.

I hold it unlawful to speak
Of these things to men;
But when Thy name is mentioned,
Many words I say then.


By Allah, I will not make it long, I make it short.

Blood I consume, and Thou deemest
That blood is wine;
Thou deemest Thou gavest, but takest
This soul of mine.


Whoever cuts this story short, it is as though he has abandoned the right road and is taking the road to the life-destroying wilderness, saying, 'Such and such a tree is near at hand.'

Discourse 29

The Christian al-Jarrah said: A number of the companions of Shaikh Sadr al-Din drank with me, and they said to me, 'Jesus is God, as you assert. We confess that to be the truth; but we conceal and deny it, intending thereby to preserve the Community.'

The Master said: The enemy of God has lied! God forbid! These are the words of one drunken with the wine of Satan the misguider, the humiliated, the humiliating, driven from the Presence of God. How could it be that a frail body, fleeing from the Jews' plotting from place to place, whose form was less than two cubits, should be the preserver of the seven heavens, the thickness of each of which is a distance of five hundred years and the thickness of each heaven to the next a distance of five hundred years, and every earth five hundred years, and from each earth to the next five hundred years? And under the Throne a sea whose depth is likewise, that sea the possession of God, reaching up to His ankles, aye, and many times the like of it? How could your reason acknowledge that the disposer and controller of all these is the feeblest of forms? Moreover, before Jesus is He who was the Creator of the heavens and the earth -- glory be to Him, above what the wrongdoers assert!

The Christian said: Dust went to dust, and pure spirit to pure spirit.

The Master said: If the spirit of Jesus was God, whither departed his spirit? The spirit departs only to its Origin and Creator. If he was himself the Origin and Creator, whither should he depart?

The Christian said: So we found it stated, and we took it as our religion.

I said: If you find and inherit of the leavings of your father false gold, black and corrupt, you will not change it for gold of sound assay, free of alloy and adulteration. No; you take that gold, saying, 'We found it so.' Or you inherited from your father a paralysed hand; and you found a physic and a physician to mend that paralysed hand. You do not accept, saying, 'I found my hand so, paralysed, and I desire not to change it.' Or you found saline water on a farm wherein your father died and you were brought up, then you were directed to another farm whose water is sweet, whose herbs are wholesome, whose people are healthy; you do not desire to move to that other farm and drink the sweet water, that would rid you of all diseases and ailments. No; you say, 'We found that farm with its saline water bequeathing ailments, and we hold on to what we found.' God forbid! That is not the action or the words of an intelligent man possessed of sound senses. God gave you an intelligence of your own other than your father's intelligence, a sight of your own other than your father's sight, a discrimination of your own. Why do you nullify your sight and your intelligence, following an intelligence which will destroy you and not guide you?

Yutash -- his father was a cobbler. Yet when he attained the Sultan's presence and learned the manner of kings and how to be Master of the Sword and the Sultan conferred on him the highest rank, never did he say, 'I found my father a cobbler, so I do not want this post; on the contrary, give me, O Sultan, a shop in the market that I may practise cobbling.' Indeed even a dog, for all its baseness, once it has learned to hunt and become a hunter for the Sultan, forgets what it found its sire and dam doing, skulking in rubbish-heaps and wastelands and craving for carrion. On the contrary, it follows the Sultan's horses and follows after the game. So it is with the hawk: when the Sultan has trained it, it never says, 'We inherited from our fathers desolate haunts in the mountains and the devouring of dead things, so we will not heed the Sultan's drum, neither his game.'

If the intellect of the beast holds fast to what it has found better than what it inherited from its parents, it is monstrous and horrible that a man, superior to all the inhabitants of the earth in reason and discrimination, should be less than a beast. We take refuge with God from that!

Certainly it is right that he should say that the Lord of Jesus, upon whom be peace, honoured Jesus and brought him nigh to Him, so that whoever serves him has served the Lord, whoever obeys him has obeyed the Lord. But inasmuch as God has sent a prophet superior to Jesus, manifesting by his hand all that He manifested by Jesus' hand and more, it behoves him to follow that Prophet, for God's sake, not for the sake of the Prophet himself.

Only God is served for His own sake. Only God is loved; other than God is loved for the sake of God most High. Unto your Lord is the end -- that is, the end that you should love a thing for other than that thing, seek it for other than it, until in the end you come to God and love Him for Himself.

To clothe the Kaaba is a vain caprice:
My House sufficient Kaaba-trapping is.


To apply eye-black to the eyes is not the same as blackness of the eyes.' Just as worn-out and ragged clothes conceal the elegance of wealth and grandeur, so excellent clothes and fine raiment conceal the mark and beauty and perfection of fakirs. When the fakir's clothes are in shreds and patches, then his heart is opened.

Discourse 30

There is a head which is adorned by a golden cap; and there is a head, the beauty of whose curls is 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 with this.

Well, I am a whoremonger; since I was little, this has been my trade. I know that this removes 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 leads to annihilation, where is the last of all pleasures.

And God is with the patient.


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 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.

Everything
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 the abandonment of evil is proved by the fact that, were it not for the 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 sorrow 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 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 be 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 he has worked his own destruction. Therefore the Prophet, God's blessings 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.
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