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.

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

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:04 am

Discourse 31

The policeman is always in search of thieves to capture them, and the thieves are running away from him. It happens rarely indeed that a thief should be in search of a policeman, and want to capture the policeman and get him into his hands.

God most High said to Ba Yazid, 'What do you desire, Ba Yazid?' He answered, 'I desire not to desire.'

Now mortal man can be in one of two states: either he desires, or he does not desire. To be wholly without desire -- that is not a human attribute for then a man has become empty of himself, and wholly ceased to be; for had he continued to be, that human attribute would have remained in him, to desire and not to desire. But God most High desired to perfect Ba Yazid and to make him a complete shaikh, so that thereafter a state should supervene in him wherein there was no room for duality and separation, and complete union and unity should prevail.

For all pains arise out of the fact that you desire something, and that is not attainable. When you no more desire, the pain no more remains.

Men are divided into various classes, and have different ranks on this Way. Some labour and strive to the end that what they desire in their hearts and thoughts they should not bring into action. That is within the scope of men. But that within the heart no itch of desire and thought should enter -- that is not within the scope of man; only God's drawing can take that out of him.

Say: 'The truth has come, and falsehood has vanished away.'


'Enter, O believer, for thy light has extinguished My fire: When the faith of the believer is perfect and true, he does what God does, whether it be himself or God drawing.

When it is stated that after Muhammad and the other prophets, upon whom be peace, revelation is not sent down upon any others, the fact is that it is sent down, only it is not called revelation. This is what the Prophet meant when he said, 'The believer sees with the Light of God: When a man sees with God's Light he descries all things, the first and the last, the absent and the present; for how can anything be hidden from God's Light? If anything is hidden, then that is not God's Light. So the true meaning is revelation, even though they do not call it revelation.

When 'Uthman, God be pleased with him, became caliph he went into the pulpit. The people waited to see what he would say. He kept silent and said nothing; he looked steadily at the people, and caused a state of ecstasy to descend upon the people so that they had no power to go out, and knew not where one another were sitting. Not by a hundred preachings and sermons and predications would have such an excellent state been brought about in them; precious lessons were imparted to them and secrets were revealed, that could not have been communicated by so much labour and preaching. To the end of the assembly he continued to look at them thus, saying not one word. When he desired to descend from the pulpit, he said, 'It is better for you to have a working Imam than a speaking Imam.'

What he said was the truth. If the purpose of speaking is to communicate instruction delicately and to effect a change of character, that had been accomplished without words many times better than might have been achieved by words. So what 'Uthman said was perfectly correct. To resume: with reference to his description of himself as a 'working' Imam, during the time he was in the pulpit he did no external 'work' such as might have been visible; he did not pray, he did not go on the pilgrimage, he did not give in alms, he did not commemorate God, he did not even pronounce the caliph's address. We therefore realise that 'work' and 'action' are not confined to this form only; rather, these forms of work are merely the form of that true 'work' which is of the soul.

The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, said: 'My Companions are as stars. Whomsoever of them you follow, you will be guided aright.' When a man looks at a star and finds his way by it, the star does not speak any word to that man; yet by merely looking at the star the man knows the road from roadlessness and reaches his goal. In the same way it is possible that by merely looking at God's saints they exercise control over you; without words, without questioning, without speech the purpose is achieved and you are brought to the goal of union.

So let who will regard me: my regard
Warns him who deems desire an easy thing.


In God's world there is nothing more difficult than enduring the ridiculous. Suppose for instance that you have read a certain book, corrected, emended, and fully vocalised it. Then someone sitting beside you reads that book all wrongly. Can you endure that? No, it is impossible. If however you have not read the book, it makes no difference to you whether the other man reads it wrongly or reads it right, you cannot distinguish wrong from right. So enduring the ridiculous is a great discipline.

The saints do not shirk discipline. The first discipline in their quest has been to slay the self and to eschew all desires and lusts. That is the 'greater struggle.' When they achieved and arrived and abode in the station of security, wrong and right became revealed to them. They know and see right from wrong. Still they are engaged in a great discipline; for these mortals do all things wrongly, and they see this and endure it. For if they do not so, and speak out and declare those mortals to be wrong, not one person will stay before them or give them the Muslim salute. But God most High has bestowed on them a great and mighty power and capacity to endure: out of a hundred wrongnesses they mention one, so that it will not come difficult to the man. His other wrongnesses they conceal; indeed they praise him, saying, 'That wrong of yours is right,' so that by degrees they may expel from him these wrongnesses, one by one.

So, a teacher is teaching a child how to write. When he comes to writing a whole line, the child writes a line and shows it to the teacher. In the teacher's eyes that is all wrong and bad. The teacher speaks to the child kindly and cajolingly: 'That is all very good, and you have written well. Bravo, bravo! Only this letter you have written badly, this is how it ought to be. That letter too you have written badly.' The teacher calls bad a few letters out of that line, and shows the child how they ought to be written; the rest he praises, so that the child may not lose heart. The child's weakness gathers strength from that approval, and so gradually he is taught and assisted on his way.

God most High willing, we are hopeful that God most High will grant the Amir realisation of his designs and of all that he has in his heart. Those good fortunes too which he has not in his heart, knowing not what: thing that is so as to desire it -- we hope that those too will be realised; so that when he sees that, and those gifts of God come to him, he will be ashamed of these former wishes and desires. 'Such a thing lay before me. With the existence of such a fortune and such a grace, good gracious, how did I desire those things?' So he will feel ashamed.

That is called a 'gift' which does not enter the imagination of a man and does not pass by that way at all. For whatever passes into a man's imagination is the measure of his ambition and the measure of his capacity. But God's gift is the measure of God's capacity. Therefore that is a 'gift' which is worthy of God, not worthy of man's imagination and ambition. 'What eye has not seen, neither ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of a man'; what you expect of My bounty, that the eyes have seen and the ears have heard the like of it, and the like of it has been conceived in the hearts. But My bounty transcends all that.

Discourse 32

The attribute of certainty is the perfect shaikh; good and true thoughts are his disciples according to their different degrees -- first thought, then prevailing thought, then most prevailing thought, and so forth. Every thought as it expands becomes nearer to certainty and farther from doubt. 'If the faith of Abu Bakr were weighed'; all thoughts suck milk at the breast of certainty, and increase. That milk-sucking and increase is a sign of the acquiring of an augmentation of thought through theory and practice, until each thought becomes certainty and all pass away entirely into certainty. For when they become certainty, thought no longer remains.

This shaikh and his disciples manifested in the physical world are forms of that shaikh of certainty. His disciples are a proof that those forms become changed age after age and generation after generation; whilst that shaikh of certainty and his sons, which are right thoughts, abide constant in the world, unchanging through the succession of ages and generations.

Again, erroneous, erring, doubting thoughts are the rejected of the shaikh of certainty. Every day they become farther away from him and more debased; for every day they increase in the acquisition of that which increases the evil thought.

In their hearts is a sickness,
and God has increased their sickness.


The masters eat dates, and the prisoners eat thorns. God most High says:

What, do they not consider how the camel was created?
Save him who repents, and believes, and
does a righteous deed.
Those, God will
change their evil deeds into good deeds.


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.

Discourse 33

They said, 'Keep away from us and approach us not':
How shall I keep away, seeing you are my need?


It must of course be realised that everyone, wherever he is, is inseparably alongside of his own need. Every living creature is alongside of his own need and constantly attached to it. 'His need is closer to him than his father and mother and cleaves to him.' That need is his fetter, drawing him in this direction and that just like a nose-ring or toggle. Now it is absurd that anyone should make a fetter for himself; for he is seeking to escape from his fetters, and it is absurd that one who seeks to escape should seek the fetter. So it necessarily follows that someone else has made the fetter for him. For instance, he seeks after health; so he would not have made himself sick, for it would be absurd for him to be both a seeker after sickness and a seeker after his own health.

If a man is alongside of his own need, he will also be alongside of the one who gives him that need; if he is constantly attached to his own toggle, he will be constantly attached 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.'

They say, 'When a man is past eighty, shall he play?'
I said, 'Shall he play before he is eighty, pray?'


God most High bestows of His grace upon elders a youthful passion whereof youths have no knowledge. For youthful passion brings a freshness and causes a man to leap and laugh and gives him the desire to play, because he sees the world as new and has not grown weary of the world. When such an elder sees the world as new, he is given a desire to play, and he bounds, and his skin and flesh augment.

Great is the glory of age, if the white grey hairs
Appear, the steed of playfulness runs amok.


So the glory of old age is greater than the glory of God! For it is in the spring that the glory of God appears, and in autumn old age prevails over that, not abandoning its autumnal nature. So the frailty of spring is the bounty of God; for with every shedding of teeth the smile of God's spring diminishes, and with every white hair the freshness of God's bounty is lost; with every weeping of autumnal rain the garden of Realities is despoiled. God is exalted above what the evildoers say!

Discourse 34

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. Doubtless he was formed of meteor fragments and the like, and his heart was drenched, and he desired to apprehend everything. He set out upon that road which he struggled hard to keep to and took refuge in, but that he could not do. For the gnostic is in such a case that he is not to be snared with those nets, nor is this game apt to be captured with these nets. If he is sound and straight, the gnostic is completely free to determine who shall capture him; no one can capture him except with his free consent.

You sat in your covert, watching for that prey, whilst that prey beheld you and your hidyhole and your cunning, a free agent. The ways by which he may pass are not restricted; he passes not by your covert, he only passes by ways which he has himself laid down.

And God's earth is wide.
And they comprehend not anything of His knowledge
save such as He wills.


Moreover when those subtleties fell upon your tongue and comprehension, they were subtleties no more; on the contrary, they were corrupted because of connexion with you. So everything, be it corrupt or sound, when it falls in the mouth and comprehension of the gnostic remains no more as it was but becomes something other, wrapt up and swathed in graces and miracles. Do you not see how the rod was wrapt up in the hand of Moses and did not remain as it was in the quiddity of a rod? So too with the Moaning Pillar and the Stick in the hand of the Prophet, and prayer in the mouth of Moses, and iron in David's hand, and the mountains with him -- they did not remain in their quiddity but became something other, different from what they were. So too with subtleties and invocations, when they fall into the hand of the creature of darkness and brute body they remain not as they were.

The Kaaba is a tavern at your prayers,
So long as it is yours, your essence shares.


The unbeliever eats in seven stomachs; and that ass chosen by the ignorant houseboy eats in seventy stomachs. Even if he had eaten in one stomach, he would have been an eater in seventy stomachs; for everything that is of the hateful is hateful, just as everything that is of the beloved is beloved. If the houseboy had been here, I would have gone into him and counselled him and not left him until he drove him out and put him far away. For he is a corrupter of his faith, his heart, his spirit and his reason. Would that he had induced him to corrupt practices other than this, such as drinking wine and singing girls; for that would have been put right when treated by a man of Divine grace. But he filled the house with prayer rugs -- would that he were rolled up in them and burned, so that the houseboy might escape from him and his mischief! For he corrupts his faith in the man of Divine grace and backbites him in his presence, while he holds his tongue and destroys himself. He has snared him with rosaries and litanies and prayer carpets.

Perchance one day God will open the eyes of the houseboy, and he will see what ruined him and drove him far from the compassion of the man of Divine grace. Then he will strike his neck with his own hand, saying, 'You destroyed me, so that there were gathered upon me my heavy loads of sin and my evil acts, even as they saw in their revelations the foulness of my deeds and my corrupt and sinful beliefs, gathered together behind my back in the corner of the house. I myself was concealing them from the man of Divine grace and putting them behind my back, whilst he was looking down on what I was hiding from him and saying, "What are you hiding? By Him in whose hand my soul rests, if I had summoned those foul forms they would have come forward unto me one by one and visibly, uncovering themselves and telling of their true state and of what was concealed in them."' May God save all those who are wronged from the like of these highwaymen, who bar from the path of God by way of 'devotion'!

Kings play with the polo-stick in the maidan, to show the inhabitants of the city who cannot be present at the battle and the fighting a representation of the sallying forth of the champions and the cutting off of the enemies' heads, and their rolling about just as the balls roll in the maidan, their frontal charge and attack and retreat. This play in the maidan is as the astrolabe for the serious business in the fighting. In like manner, with the people of God prayer and spiritual concerts are a manner of showing the spectators how in secret they accord with God's commandments and forbiddings special to them. The singer in the concert is as the Imam at the ritual prayer. The people follow his lead. If he sings slowly, they dance slowly; if he sings briskly, they dance briskly -- a representation of how in their inner hearts they follow the summons of commandment and forbidding.

Discourse 35

I am amazed how these who have the Koran by heart understand nothing of the spiritual states of the gnostics. As the Koran states,

And obey thou not every mean swearer,


(The slanderer is precisely the man who says, 'Do not listen to So-and-so, whatever he may say, for he is just like that with you.')

backbiter, going about with slander,
hinderer of good.


The Koran is indeed a marvellous magician and a jealous, so contriving that he recites clearly into the ear of the adversary in such wise that he understands, but is no whit wiser and has no inkling of the delight thereof, or he snatches it away himself.

God has set a seal --


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.

Beware, do not suppose that I am sick and dying. That is by way of a veil. My slayer will be this grace of His, and His incomparableness. That dagger or sword which flashes forth is in order to repel the eyes of strangers, so that no ill-omened, profane, defiled eyes may perceive this slaying.

Discourse 36

Form came as a branch of Love; for without Love this form would have no worth. A branch is that which cannot exist without the root. Therefore God is not called a form: since form is the branch, He cannot be called the branch.

One said: Love too cannot take form and be compacted without form. Hence it is the branch of form.

We say: Why cannot Love take form without form? On the contrary, Love is the artificer of form. A hundred thousand forms are raised up by Love, pictured alike and realised. Though the picture does not exist without the painter, neither the painter without the picture, yet the painting is the branch and the painter is the root. It is like the moving of the finger with the moving of the ring.

So long as there exists no love for a house, no architect makes the form and conception of the house. In like manner one year corn is at the price of gold, another year it is at the price of dust. The form of the corn is the same; therefore the worth and value of the form of the corn came through love. Again, that science which you pursue with such love -- in your eyes it is valuable, but: in times when no one pursues any science no one learns and professes that science.

They say that Love is after all the want and need for a certain thing; hence the need is the root, and the thing needed is the branch. I say: After all, these words which you speak you speak out of need. After all, these words came into existence out of your need. When you had the inclination for these words, these words were born. Therefore the need was prior, and these words were born from it. Therefore the need existed without, the words. Therefore love and need are not a branch of the words.

One said: After all, the object or that need was these words, so how can the object be the branch?

I said: The object is always the branch. For the object or the root of the tree is the branch of the tree.

Discourse 37

The Master said: The allegation which they made against this girl is a lie and will not go farther. But something settled in the imagination of this company. The human imagination and heart are like a vestibule -- first they enter the vestibule, then they go into the house. This whole world is like one house: everything that comes into the interior of it, which is the portico, must necessarily appear and become visible in the house. For instance, this house in which we are seated -- the form of it became visible in the heart of the architect, then this house came into being. So we said that this whole world is one house. Imagination and cogitation and thought are the vestibule of this house. Whatever you saw appearing in the vestibule, be sure that it becomes visible in the house. And all these things, good alike and evil, which appear in the world, all first appeared in the vestibule, then here.

When God most high wishes to produce in this world all manner of rare and wonderful things, orchards, gardens, meadows, sciences, compositions of various kinds, He first implants the desire and demand for them in the inward hearts, so that thence they may become visible. Similarly every thing which you see in this world, be sure that it exists in that world. For instance, whatever you see in the dew, be sure that it will be in the ocean, for this dew is of that ocean. In the same way this creation of heaven and earth, Throne and Footstool, and the other marvels -- God implanted the demand for that in the spirits of the ancients, and so of course the world became visible accordingly.

People who say that the world is eternal -- how should their words be listened to? Some say it is created in time: they are the saints and the prophets, who are more ancient than the world. God most High implanted the demand for the creation of the world in their spirits, and then the world appeared. So they know for a fact, and report on their own high authority, that the world is created in time. For instance, we who have dwelt in this house, our age is sixty or seventy. We have seen that this house did not exist; it is now a number of years since this house has existed. If living creatures are born in this house out of the doors and walls of this house, such as scorpions and mice and snakes and other mean creatures which live in this house, they were born and saw the house already constructed. If they should say, 'This house is eternal,' that would be no proof for us, since we ourselves have seen that this house is created in time. Just like those living things which have sprung out of the doors and walls of this house and neither know anything nor see anything apart from this house, so there are mortal creatures who have sprung out of this house of the world. They have no true essence within them; they have grown out of this place, and likewise they go down into this world. If they say that the world is eternal, that will be no proof against the prophets and saints, who existed millions of years before the world: why speak of years and numbers of years, when they are infinite and innumerable? They have seen the creation of the world in time, just as you have seen the creation in time of this house.

After that, the philosophaster says to the theologian, 'How do you know that the world was created in time?' You donkey, how do you know that the world is eternal? After all, your statement that the world is eternal simply means that it is not created in time, and that is testimony based upon a negative. Yet testimony based upon a positive is easier than testimony based upon a negative. For the meaning of testimony based upon a negative is this: this man has not done such and such a deed. Information regarding this is difficult. The person making such a statement must have been closely attached to the other from the beginning to the end of his life, night and day, sleeping and waking, for him to be able to say he never did this deed at all. Even so it may not be true: it is possible that the man making the statement has once been overtaken by sleep; or the other person may have gone to the privy, where the first man could not keep close to him. For this reason testimony based upon a negative is not admissible, since it goes beyond the bounds of possibility. But testimony based upon the positive is both possible and easy. A man simply says, 'I was with him for a moment, and he said this and did that.' Undoubtedly such testimony is acceptable, because it is within the bounds of human possibility. So now, you dog, it is easier to testify to creation in time, than for you to testify to the eternity of the world. For the upshot of your testimony is this, that the world is not created in time; therefore you will have given testimony based upon a negative. Now inasmuch as neither can be actually proved, and you have not yourselves seen that the world is created in time or eternal, you say to him, 'How do you know that it is created in time?' And he rejoins, 'You wittol, how do you know that it is eternal? After all, your claim is the more difficult and the more unlikely.'

The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, was seated with his Companions. The unbelievers began to cavil with him. He said, 'Well, you are all agreed that there is one person in the world who is the recipient of revelation. Revelation descends on him; it does not descend upon everyone. That person has certain marks and signs, in his actions and in his words, in his mien and in every part of him the token and mark may be seen. Since you have seen those tokens, turn your faces towards him and hold firmly to him, that he may be your protector.'

They were all confounded by his argument and were left with nothing more to say. They put their hands to the sword and continued to come and vex and molest and insult his Companions. The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, said, 'Be patient, so that they may not say that they have prevailed over us. They desire by force to make the religion manifest. God will make manifest this religion.'

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!'

Muhammad, upon whom be peace, is called 'unlettered'; not because he was incapable of writing and learning. He was called 'unlettered' because with him writing and learning and wisdom were innate, not acquired. He who inscribes characters on the face of the moon, is such a man unable to write? And what is there in all the world that he does not know, seeing that all men learn from him? What thing, pray, should appertain to the partial Intellect that the Universal intellect does not possess? The partial intellect is not capable of inventing anything of its own accord which it has not seen.

The fact that men compose books and set up new skills and buildings is no new composition. They have seen the likeness of that, and merely make additions to it. Those who invent something new on their own account, they are the Universal Intellect. The partial intellect is capable of learning, and is in need of teaching; the Universal Intellect is the teacher, and is not in need. So, when you investigate all trades, the root and origin of them was revelation; men have learned them from the prophets, and they are the Universal Intellect. There is the story of the raven: when Cain slew Abel and did not know what to do, the raven slew a raven and dug the earth and buried that raven and scattered dust on its head. Cain learned from the raven how to make a grave and how to bury. So it is with all the professions. Everyone who possesses a partial intellect is in need of teaching, and the Universal Intellect is the founder of every thing. It is the prophets and saints who have effected union between partial intellect and Universal Intellect so that they have become one.

For instance, the hand and foot, the eye and ear and all the human senses are capable of learning from the heart and the intellect. The foot learns from the intellect how to walk, the hand learns from the heart and the intellect how to grasp, the eye and ear learn how to see and hear. If the heart and intellect did not exist, would these senses function or be able to operate?

Just as this body in comparison with the intellect and the heart is coarse and gross whilst they are subtle, and the gross subsists through the subtle; if it has any subtlety and freshness, it derives it from the subtle, and without the subtle it is useless and foul and gross and unseemly; so the partial intellect in comparison with the Universal Intellect is a tool, learning from it and deriving instruction from it, coarse and gross in comparison with the Universal Intellect.

Someone said: Remember us in your intention. Intention is the root of the matter. If there be no words, let there be no words; words are the branch.

The Master said: Well, this intention existed in the world of spirits before the world of bodies. So we were brought into the world of bodies without a good purpose! This is surely absurd; therefore words have their function and are full of utility. If you plant in the earth only the kernel of an apricot stone, nothing will grow; if you plant it along with its husk, then it will grow. From this we realise that the form also has a function. Prayer too is an inward matter. 'There is no prayer without the heart being present.' But it is necessary for you to bring the prayer into form, by making outward genuflection and prostration; then you derive benefit and attain your desire.

And they continue at their prayers.


This refers to the prayer of the spirit. The prayer of form is temporary and will not be continual. For the Spirit of the world is an infinite ocean; the body is the shore, finite and limited dry land. So continual prayer belongs only to the spirit. So the spirit also has its genuflection and prostration, but that genuflection and prostration must be manifested in form. For there is a union between meaning and form; until the two come together, they are of no benefit.

When you say that form is the branch of meaning, that form is the subject and the heart the monarch, after all these are only relative terms. When you say that this is a branch of that, until the branch exists how does the term 'root' become applicable to the other? So it became root out of this branch; if the branch had not existed, it would not even have had a name. When you speak of woman, there must necessarily be man; when you speak of Master, there must be one mastered; when you speak of Ruler, there must be one ruled.

Discourse 39

Husam al-Din Arzanjani before entering the service and society of the dervishes was a great disputer. Wherever he went and seated himself, he engaged vigorously in disputation and controversy. He used to do it well and spoke excellently; but when he took up the company of dervishes his heart turned completely against that.

It takes another love
The end of one to prove


'Whoever desires to sit with God most High, let him sit with the people of Sufism.' These intellectual sciences are a game and a waste of life, compared with the spiritual experiences of dervishes.

The Present life is naught but a sport.


When a man has reached the age of discretion and is intelligent and completely formed, he no longer plays; or if he does, he keeps it secret out of exceeding shame so that no one may see him. This intellectual science and discussion and worldly whims are as the wind, and man is dust; when the wind tangles with the dust, wherever it reaches it makes the eyes sore, and nothing but conturbation and protestation accrues from its existence. But although man is dust, with every word he hears he weeps, and his tears are as running water.

Thou seest their eyes
overflowing with tears.


Now when instead of wind, water descends upon the dust, undoubtedly the exact opposite comes to pass. When dust gets water, fruit and grass and fragrant herbs and violets and roses grow.

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. When you have chosen the way of poverty, all these things come to you. No man has ever travelled on this way and had cause to complain; contrary to other ways, for whoever has travelled on such a way and toiled, out of a hundred thousand only one objective has been gained, and that too not in such a manner that his heart should be happy and find repose. For every such way has its subsidiary means and paths to the attainment of that objective, and the objective cannot be attained save by way of those subsidiary means. That way is a distant way, and full of pitfalls and obstacles; it may be that those subsidiary means will fall short of the objective.

When however you have entered the world of poverty and practised it, God most High bestows upon you kingdoms and worlds that you never imagined; and you become quite ashamed of what you longed for and desired at first. 'Ah!' you cry. 'With such a thing in existence, how could I seek after such a mean thing?' But God most High says, 'If only you had risen above such a thing, not desiring it and disdaining it, all would have been well. But at the time when it entered into your thoughts, you eschewed it for My sake. My goodness is infinite, so of course I make that thing attainable to you too.'

So it happened with the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace. Before he attained his goal and became famous, observing the elegant speech and eloquence of the Arabs he always wished that he too might be endowed with the like elegance and eloquence. When the unseen world became revealed to him and he became drunk with God, his heart turned completely against that desire and longing. God most High declared, 'I have given thee that elegance and eloquence which thou soughtest.' The Prophet answered, 'Lord, of what use are they to me? I am indifferent to them and do not desire them.' God most High replied, 'Do not grieve. That too shall come to pass, and yet thy indifference shall still obtain and it will harm thee nothing.' God most High bestowed on him such speech that all the world, from his time down to the present day, have composed and still compose so many volumes expounding it, and still men fall short of comprehending it entirely. God most High also declared, 'Thy Companions out of weakness and fear for their lives and because of the envious, used to pronounce thy name secretly into the ear. I will publish thy greatness abroad to such a point that men will shout it aloud in sweet intonations five times daily on the high minarets in all regions of the world, so that it will be famous in the east and the west.'

So every man who has gambled himself upon this way, to him all objectives whether religious or mundane have become attainable, and none has ever had cause to complain of this way.

Our words are all the true coin, and the words of other men are but imitation. This imitation is a branch of the true coin. The true coin is like the foot of a man, and the imitation is as a wooden mould in the shape of a human foot; that wooden foot has been filched from the original foot and shaped to its measure. If no foot had existed in the world, whence would they have known of this imitation? Some speech therefore is true coin, and some imitation. They resemble each other, and there is need of a discriminator to recognise the true coin from the imitation. That discrimination is faith, and unbelief is lack of discrimination.

Do you not see how in the time of Pharaoh, when Moses' rod became a serpent and the rods and ropes of the magicians also became serpents, he who lacked discrimination saw all to be of the same kind and made no distinction between them; but he who possessed discrimination understood the magic from the true, and through discrimination became a believer? Hence we realise that faith is discrimination.

After all, the root of our jurisprudence is Divine revelation. But when it became mingled with the thoughts and senses and application of mortal men, that original grace vanished. In this moment, in what respect does it resemble the delicacy of the revelation?

Consider likewise this water which flows in Turut towards the city. There, where its fountainhead is, see how pure and fine it is! But when it enters the city and passes through the gardens and various quarters and the houses of the inhabitants, so many people wash their hands and faces and feet and other parts in it, and their clothes and carpets, and the urine of all the quarters and dung of horses and mules are poured into it and mixed up with it. Look at it when it passes out of the other side of the city! Though it is still the same water, turning the dust to clay, slaking the thirsty, making the plain verdant, yet it requires a discriminator to discover that the water has not retained its former clarity and that disagreeable things have been mingled with it. 'The believer is sagacious, discriminating, understanding, intelligent.'

The elder is not intelligent if he is preoccupied with playing; though he be a hundred years old, he is still raw and a child. A child, if he is not preoccupied with playing, is in reality an elder. Here age is of no consideration. Water unstaling -- that is what is required. Water unstaling is that which cleanses all the impurities of the world, and they leave no trace in it. It remains limpid and clear as it was, not dwindling away in the stomach and not becoming adulterated and fetid. That is the Water of Life.

'Aman shouted out when at prayer and wept. Is his prayer void or not?'

The answer to this question differs according to the circumstances. If he wept because he was shown another world beyond sensible things, that after all is called 'water of the eyes'; when he has seen a thing which is a congener and perfecter of prayer, that is the object of prayer and his prayer is in order and even more perfect. If on the other hand he wept on account of worldly things, or out of wrath because an enemy prevailed over him, or envy of another man because he possessed such abundance whilst he himself possessed none, then his prayer is docked and defective and void.

So we realise that faith is discrimination, distinguishing between truth and falsehood, true coin and imitation. Whoever is without discrimination remains deprived. These words which we speak are enjoyed by every man of discrimination, but are wasted on him who is without discrimination.

Two intelligent and well qualified townsmen out of compassion go and give testimony for the benefit of a countryman. But the countryman out of ignorance says something at variance with those two, so that their testimony yields no results and their labours are wasted. In this sense they say that the countryman has his testimony with him, but being overcome by a state of drunkenness and intoxicated he does not consider whether there is any discriminator present worthy and deserving of these words, so that he pours them out at random. In like manner a woman whose breasts are very full and painful will collect the dogs of the quarter and pour out her milk upon them.

Now these words have fallen into the hands of one without discrimination. It is as though you have given a precious pearl into the hand of a child who does not know its value. When he goes farther on, an apple is placed in his hand and the pearl is taken from him since he has no discrimination. So discrimination is a great possession.

Abu Yazid when a child was taken by his father to school to learn jurisprudence. When he brought him before the schoolmaster he said, 'This is the jurisprudence of God.' They said, 'This is the jurisprudence of Abu Hanifa.' He said, 'I want the jurisprudence of God.' When he brought him before the grammar-teacher he said, 'This is the grammar of God.' The teacher said, 'This is the grammar of Sibawaihi.' Abu Yazid said, 'I do not want it.' So he spoke wherever his father took him. His father could do nothing with him, and let him be. Later he came to Baghdad upon this quest, and as soon as he saw Junaid he shouted, 'This is the jurisprudence of God!'

How can it happen that a lamb should not recognise its own mother on whose milk it has been suckled? That is born of reason and discrimination. So let the form go.

There was a certain shaikh who used to leave his disciples standing with their hands folded in service. They said to him, 'Shaikh, why do you not let this class sit down? This is not the practice of dervishes, this is the custom of princes and kings.' He replied, 'No. Be silent. I desire that they should respect this way, so that they may derive full benefit. Though respect lies within the heart, yet "the outward is the frontispiece of the inward." What is the meaning of "frontispiece"? The meaning of the frontispiece is that by it men may know for whom and to whom the letter is written. From the frontispiece of a book people may know what chapters and sections it contains. From outward respect, bowing the head and standing on the feet, it may be realised what respect they have inwardly, and in what manner they respect God. If they do not show respect outwardly, it becomes known that inwardly they are impudent and do not respect the men of God.'

Discourse 40

Jauhar the Sultan's servant asked: During his lifetime a man is five times made to repeat the Muslim credo. He does not understand the words and does not memorise them correctly. After death what questions will he be asked, seeing that after death he forgets even the questions which he has learned?

I answered: If he forgets what he has learned, then of course he becomes tabula rasa and suitable for questions which have not been learned. You now this minute -- from that minute to the present moment you are listening to me. Some part of what I say you accept, because you have heard the like of it before and accepted it; some you half accept; regarding some you hesitate. No one hears this rejection and acceptance and inward disputation on your part, for there is no instrument. Though you are listening, no sound comes to your ear from within you. If you search inwardly, you will find no speaker. This coming of yours to visit me is itself a question without throat and tongue, namely, 'Show me a way, and make clearer that which you have shown.' My sitting with you, whether silent or speaking, is an answer to your hidden questions. When you go back from here to wait upon the king, that is a question addressed to the king and an answer. Every day the king questions his servants without tongue: 'How do you stand? How do you eat? How do you look?' If anyone has a wry look within him, his answer inevitably comes awry and he cannot manage to give a straight answer. In the same way a man who stammers, however much he wishes to speak straight, is unable to do so. A goldsmith who rubs gold against the stone is questioning the gold, and the gold answers, 'This is I. I am pure,' or, 'I am alloyed.'

The crucible tells you itself, when you have been strained,
That you are gold, or mere copper with gold stained.


Hunger is a questioning of nature: 'There is a crack in the body's house. Give a brick. Give clay.' Eating is an answer: 'Take.' Not eating is also an answer: 'Now there is no need. That brick is not dry yet; it is not suitable to tap that brick.' The physician comes and takes the pulse. That is a question; the throbbing of the vein is the answer. Examination of the urine is an unostentatious question and answer. To cast a seed into the ground is a question: 'I want such and such fruit.' The growing of the tree is an answer without ostentation of tongue. Because the answer is wordless, the question must be wordless. Though the seed decays, the tree does not grow: that too is a question and an answer. 'Do you know not that the refusing of an answer is itself an answer?'

A king read a letter thrice, and did not write an answer. The subject wrote a complaint, saying, 'Thrice now I have petitioned your majesty. Let your majesty at least say whether my petition is accepted or rejected.' The king wrote on the back of the letter, 'Do you not know that the refusing of an answer is itself an answer, and that the answer to a fool is silence?'

The tree's not growing is a refusal to answer, therefore it is an answer. Every motion that a man makes is a question; whatever occurs to him, be it sorrow or joy, is an answer. If he hears a pleasant answer, he must show his thanks. Thanks is expressed by repeating the same kind of question to the one which received this answer. If he hears an unpleasant answer, he quickly asks God's forgiveness and does not repeat that kind of question.

If only, when Our might came upon them, they
had been humble! But their hearts were hard.


That is to say, they did not understand that the answer corresponds with their question.

And Satan decked out fair to them
what they were doing.


That is to say, they saw the answer to their question and said, 'This ugly answer is not appropriate to this question.' They did not realise that the smoke came from the fuel, not the fire: the drier the fuel, the less the smoke. You have entrusted a garden to a gardener: if a disagreeable odour is emitted there, suspect the gardener and not the garden.

A man said, 'Why did you kill your mother?' The other answered, 'I saw a thing that was not seemly.' The first man said, 'You ought to have killed the stranger.' The second man said, 'Then every day I would be killing someone.'

Now therefore, whatever happens to you, school your own soul, for then you will not have to fight with someone every day. If they say, Everything is from God, we reply: Then of necessity to reproach one's own self, and to let the world go, is also from God.

That is like the story of the man who shook down apricots from a tree and ate them. The owner of the orchard demanded of him, saying, 'Are you not afraid of God?' The man said, 'Why should I fear? The tree belongs to God, and I am God's servant. God's servant ate God's property!' The owner said, 'Wait and see what answer I shall give you. Fetch a rope, and tie him to this tree and beat him, till the answer is made dead' The man said, 'Are you not afraid of God?' The owner answered, 'Why should I be afraid? You are God's servant, and this is God's stick. I am beating God's servant with God's stick!'

The moral is, that the world is like a mountain; whatever you say, whether it be good or evil, you hear the same from the mountain. If you conceive the idea, 'I spoke prettily and the mountain gave an ugly answer,' this would be impossible. When the nightingale sings in the mountain, does there return from the mountain the voice of a raven or the voice of a man or the voice of a donkey? Know for certain then that you have spoken like a donkey!

Speak pleasantly, when by the mountain you pass;
Why do you bray at the mountain like an ass?

The azure sky sends back the note
Of sweetness issued by your throat.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:10 am

Part 1 of 2

Discourse 41

We are like a bowl on the surface of the water. The movement of the bowl on the surface of the water is controlled not by the bowl but by the water.

Someone said: This statement is of general application. But some people know that they are on the surface of the water, whereas some do not know.

The Master said: If the statement were of general application, then the particular specification that 'The heart of the believer is between two fingers of the All-Merciful' would not be correct. God also said:

The All-Merciful has taught the Koran.


It cannot be said that this is a general statement. God taught all sciences so what is this particularisation of the Koran? Similarly:

Who created the heavens and the earth.


What is this particularisation of the heavens and the earth, since He created all things in general? Undoubtedly all bowls travel on the surface of the water of Omnipotence and the Divine Will. But it is unmannerly to relate to It a despicable thing, such as 'O Creator of dung and farting and wind-breaking'; one only says, 'O Creator of the heavens' and 'O Creator of the minds.' So this particularisation has its significance; though the statement is general, yet the particularisation of a thing is an indication of the choiceness of that thing.

The upshot is, that the bowl travels on the surface of the water. The water carries one bowl in such a manner that every bowl gazes upon that bowl. The water carries another bowl in such a manner that every bowl runs away from that bowl instinctively and is ashamed of it. The water inspires them to run away and implants in them the power to run away, so that they say, 'O God, take us farther away from it'; whilst in the former case they say, 'O God, bring us nearer to it.'

The person who regards the situation as general says, 'From the standpoint of subjection, both kinds of bowl are equally subject to the water.' In reply one may say, 'If you only saw the grace and beauty and pretty sauntering of this bowl on the water, you would not have had such care for that general attribute.' In the same way a beloved person is a co-partner with all dungs and every manner of filth from the standpoint of existing. But it would never occur to the lover to say, 'My beloved is a co-partner with all manner of filth in the general description that both are bodies contained in a certain space and comprised in the six directions, created in time and subject to decay' and the rest of the general descriptions. He would never apply these terms to the beloved; and anyone who described the beloved in this general manner he would take as an enemy and deem his particular devil.

Since therefore you find it in you to regard that general attribute, not being worthy to look upon our particular beauty, it is not proper to dispute with you; for our disputations are commingled with beauty, and it is wrong to disclose beauty to those who are not worthy of it. '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.'

This is the science of speculation, it is not the science of disputation. Roses and fruit- blossoms do not bloom in the autumn, for that would be disputation; that is, it would be confronting and competing with the opponent autumn. It is not in the nature of the rose to confront autumn. If the regard of the sun has done its work, the rose comes out in an equable and just atmosphere; otherwise, it draws in its head and retires within its stem. The autumn says to it, 'If you are not a barren branch, confront me, if you are a man!' The rose says, 'In your presence I am a barren branch and a coward. Say whatever you will!'

O monarch of all truthful men,
How think you me a hypocrite?
With living men I am alive,
And with the dead as dead I sit.


You, who are Baha' al-Din -- if some old crone without any teeth, her face all wrinkles like the back of a lizard, should come and say, 'If you are a man and a true youth, behold, I have come before you! Behold, horse and the fair one! Behold, the field! Show manliness, if you are a man,' -- you would say, 'God be my refuge! I am no man. What they have told you is all lies. If you are the mate, unmanliness is most comely!' A scorpion comes and raises its sting against your member, saying, 'I have heard that you are a man who laughs and is gay. Laugh, so that I may hear you laugh.' In such a case one would say, 'Now that you have come, I have no laugh and no gay temperament. What they have told you is lies. All my inclinations to laugh are preoccupied with the hope that you may go away and be far from me!'

Someone said: You sighed, and the ecstasy departed. Do not sigh, so that the ecstasy may not depart.

The Master answered: Sometimes it happens that ecstasy departs if you do not sigh, according to the various circumstances. If that had not been so, God would not have said

Abraham was a man who sighed, a clement man.


Nor would it have been right to display any act of obedience to God; for all display is ecstasy.

What you say, you say in order that ecstasy may ensue. So, if someone induces ecstasy, you attend that person in order that ecstasy may ensue. That is like shouting to a sleeper, 'Arise! It is day. The caravan is off.' Others say, 'Don't shout. He is in ecstasy. His ecstasy will start away.' The man says, 'That ecstasy is destruction, this ecstasy is deliverance from destruction.' They say, 'Don't make a confusion, for this shouting hinders thought.' The man says, 'This shouting will make the sleeper think. Otherwise what thinking will he do, whilst he is here asleep? When he has awakened, then he will start to think.'

So shouting is of two kinds. If the shouter is above the other in knowledge, his shouting will cause an increase of thought. For since his awakener is a man of knowledge and of wakefulness, when he awakens the other out of the slumber of heedlessness he informs him of his own world and draws him thither. So his thought ascends, since he has been called out of a high estate. When on the contrary the awakener is below the other in intellect, when he awakens him his gaze drops. Since his awakener is lower down, inevitably his gaze drops downwards and his thought goes to the lower world.

Discourse 42

Those persons who have made or are in the course of making their studies think that if they constantly attend here they will forget and abandon all that they have learned. On the contrary, when they come here their sciences all acquire a soul. For all sciences are like images; when they acquire a soul, it is as though a lifeless body has received a soul.

All knowledge has its origin beyond, transferring from the world without letters and sounds into the world of letters and sounds. In yonder world, speaking is without letters and sounds.

And unto Moses God spoke directly.


God most High spoke with Moses, upon whom be peace. Well, He spoke not with letters and sounds, with throat and tongue. Letters require a throat and lips in order to be audible; God most High is exalted far above lips and mouth and throat. So prophets in the world without letters and sounds converse with God in a manner that the imaginations of these partial intelligences cannot attain or understand. But the prophets come down from the world without letters into the world of letters, and become children for the sake of these children; for 'I was sent as a teacher.' Now though this mass of people who have remained all the time in letters and sounds do not reach the spiritual states of the prophet, yet they derive strength from him, and wax and grow, and find comfort in him. Similarly the infant, though not knowing and not recognising his mother in detail, yet finds comfort in her and derives strength from her. So too the fruit finds comfort on the branch and becomes sweet and ripe, though knowing nothing of the tree. So with regard to that great saint and his letters and sounds, though the mass of men do not know him and do not attain to him, yet they derive strength from him and are nourished.

It is fixed in every soul that beyond reason and letter and sound there is something, a macrocosm. Do you not see how all men have a hankering after the demented and go to visit them? They say, 'It may be that this is in fact that, and true. Such a thing exists; but they have mistaken the place. That thing is not contained within the reason.' But not everything that is not contained in the reason exists. 'Every nut is round, but not every round thing is a nut' is a sign of that.

We say: Though such a man has a state which cannot be expressed in words and writing, yet from him reason and spirit derive strength and are nourished. This is not found in these demented ones around whom they circle; those who visit them are not transformed out of their own state and do not find repose in such a man. Even though they may think that they have found repose, that is not what we call repose. Thus, a child parted from his mother finds comfort for a moment in another; that is not what we call comfort, for the child has made a mistake.

Physicians say that whatever is agreeable to the temperament and is hankered after by it gives strength to a man and purifies his blood. This is true however only so long as a man is without disease. For instance, chalk is agreeable to the chalk-eater, but we do not say that it is good for his temperament, though he finds it agreeable. The bilious man finds sour things agreeable and sugar disagreeable. But that is no criterion of what is truly agreeable, because such a taste rests upon a distemper. The truly agreeable is what is agreeable to a man in the first place, before he falls sick. For instance, a man has his hand cut or broken and hung in a sling, so that it becomes all crooked. The surgeon makes it straight and sets it in its original place. That is not agreeable to the man, and indeed it pains him, just as much as its being crooked is agreeable to him. The surgeon says, 'First of all it was agreeable to you that your hand was straight, and you found comfort in that. When they made it crooked you felt pain and suffered. Though now its being crooked is agreeable to you, this agreeableness is false and is of no account.'

Similarly the spirits in the world of holiness found agreeable the commemoration of God and absorption in God, like the angels. If they fall sick and distempered through connexion with the body, and chalk-eating becomes agreeable to them, the prophet and the saint, who are physicians, say, 'This is not truly agreeable to you. This agreeableness is a lie. Something other is agreeable to you which you have forgotten. What is agreeable to your original and sound temperament is that which was in the first place agreeable to you. This sickness is now agreeable to you; you think this is agreeable, and do not believe the truth.'

A gnostic was seated before a grammarian. The grammarian said, 'A word must be one of three things: either it is a noun, a verb, or a particle.' The gnostic tore his robe and cried, 'Alas! Twenty years of my life and striving and seeking have gone to the winds. For I laboured greatly in the hope that there was another word outside of this. Now you have destroyed my hope.' Though the gnostic had in fact attained that word which was his purpose, he spoke thus in order to arouse the grammarian.

It is related that Hasan and Husain, God be well pleased with them, once in the state of childhood saw a person who was making his ablutions all wrong and contrary to the law. They desired to teach him to make ablution in a better way. So they came to him and said, 'This tells me that you make your ablutions wrong. We will both make our ablutions before you, then you can see which of the two kinds of ablution accords with the law.' And they both made ablution before him. He said, 'Children, your ablution is very lawful and right and good. My ablution, wretch that I am, was wrong.'

The greater the number of guests become, the larger they make the house; the more the furnishings, and the more food prepared. Do you not see that since the stature of a little child is small, his thoughts too, which are as it were guests, are appropriate to the house of his body? He knows nothing apart from milk and his nurse. When he grows older the guests, his thoughts, also increase, and his house of reason and perception and discrimination becomes enlarged. When the guests of passionate love arrive they are too much for the house and demolish the house, and he builds anew. The King's veils and the King's outriders and troops and attendants cannot be contained in his house. Those veils are not appropriate to this door; to accommodate those infinite attendants an infinite station is required. When the King's veils are hung, they provide all brightnesses and remove all coverings, so that the secret things become manifest -- contrary to the veils of this present world, which augment the covering. These veils are the opposite of those veils.

I suffer wrongs which I'll not specify
That men may nothing know of my excuse
Or my reproach; even as the candle weeps
And no man knows whether the tears it sheds
Are of its close companionship with fire
Or for its being parted from the sweet.


Someone said: These verses were spoken by Qadi Abu Mansur Haravi.

The Master said: Qadi Mansr speaks obscurely and is hesitant and variable. But Mansur could not contain himself and spoke out bluntly. The whole world is the prisoner of destiny, and destiny is the prisoner of the beauty; the beauty reveals and does not conceal.

Someone said: Recite a page of the Qadi's words.

The Master recited, and after that he said: God has certain servants who whenever they see a woman in a chaddur command, 'Raise the veil, so that we may see your face, what manner of person and thing you are. For when you pass by veiled and we do not see, disquietude will ensue, as to how this person was and what she was. I am not the sort of person to be tempted by you and enslaved by you if I see your face. It is a long time now that God has made me innocent and indifferent to you. I am quite secure that if I see you, you will not disturb me and tempt me. It is when I do not see you that I am disturbed, wondering what sort of a person it was.' These men are very different from that other party, the men of carnal passion. If they see the faces of the beautiful, they are captivated by them and become disturbed. So it is better in their case for them not to show their faces, so as not to tempt them. In regard to the spiritualists it is better to show their faces, so that they may be delivered out of temptation.

Someone said: In Khvarizm nobody is a lover, because in Khvarizm there are many beautiful women. No sooner do they see a beauty and fix their hearts on her than they see another still better than she, so that she no longer appeals to them.

The Master said: If there are no lovers for the beauties of Khvarizm, yet Khvarizm must have its lovers, seeing that there are countless beauties in that land. That Khvarizm is poverty, wherein are countless mystical beauties and spiritual forms. Each one you alight upon and are fixed on, another shows its face so that you forget the former one, and so ad infinitum. So let us be lovers of true poverty, wherein such beauties are to be found.

Discourse 43

Saif al-Bukhari went to Egypt. Everyone likes a mirror, and is in love with the mirror of his attributes and attainments, while not knowing the true nature of his face. He supposes the veil to be a face, and the mirror of the veil to be the mirror of his face. As for you, uncover your face, so that you may find me to be the mirror of your face, and that you may know for sure that I am a mirror.

A man said: I know for a fact that the prophets and saints are all victims of a false presumption. There is nothing in it but mere pretence.

The Master said: Do you say this at random, or do you see and then speak? If it is the case that you see and then speak, vision is certainly proven as existing; indeed, it is the most precious and noblest thing in existence. The proof of the message of the prophets is merely their claim to vision; and that you have acknowledged. Moreover vision manifests only through an object of vision. Vision is a transitive; for vision to take place there must be an object and a subject of vision. The object of vision is the thing sought, and the viewer is the seeker; or the other way round. Your very denial establishes the existence of a seeker and a thing sought, and vision. The God-man relationship is a case where negation necessarily proves the positive.

They say, 'That crowd are disciples of that dimwit, and venerate him.' I say: That 'dimwit' of a shaikh is not inferior to a stone and an idol. Those who worship stones venerate and magnify them, and to them direct their hopes and longings, their petitions and needs and tears. The stone neither knows nor feels anything of this. Yet God most High has made stones and idols to be a means to this devotion in them, of which the stones and idols are entirely unaware.

A lawyer was once beating a boy. 'Why are you beating him?' he was asked. 'What crime has he committed?'

'You don't know this whoreson,' he answered. 'He spoils everything.'

'What does he do? What sin is he guilty of?' someone demanded.

'He runs away at the moment of emission,' the lawyer replied. 'That is, at the time of friction his phantom runs away, and my emission is nullified.'


There is no doubt that the lawyer was in love with the boy's phantom, and the boy was quite unaware of the fact. In the same way these disciples are in love with the phantom of this foolish shaikh, and he was oblivious of their 'banishment' and 'union' and all the phases of their love-life.

If misguided and misdirected love for a phantom produces ecstasy, yet it is nothing like the mutual love enjoyed with a real beloved who is aware and wide awake to the lover's condition. Similarly the man who embraces in the dark a pillar, thinking it to be a beloved, weeping and complaining, cannot be compared, in regard to the pleasure he enjoys, with one who is embracing his living and conscious friend.

Discourse 44

Everybody on setting out and journeying to a certain place does so with a rational idea in mind: 'If I go there I shall be able to secure many advantages and attend to many affairs, my business will be set in order, my friends will be delighted, I shall defeat my enemies.' Such is the idea he has in mind; but his true objective is something other. He has made so many plans and thought out so many ideas, and not one has turned out according to his desire; for all that he continues to rely upon his own planning and choice.

Ignoring Fate, man plots his little plan;
God's Will consorts not with the plots of man.


This is illustrated by the experience of a man who sees in a dream that he has chanced into a strange city where he has no acquaintances; there is no one who knows him and he knows nobody. He becomes bewildered, vexed and sorrowful, regretting and saying to himself, 'Why did I come to this city where I have neither friend nor acquaintance, no one to shake me by the hand and press me on the lip?' On awaking he sees neither city nor people, and realises that all his anguish and sorrow and regret were to no purpose. So he repents of that state he found himself in, realising that it was quite wasted. Next time he falls asleep he sees himself by chance in exactly such a city again, and begins to feel the same sorrow and anguish and regret. He repents of coming to such a city and does not think or remember, 'When I was awake I repented of fretting so and realised that my grief was quite wasted, that it was a dream and to no purpose.'

That is exactly how things are. Men have seen a hundred thousand times their intentions and plans coming to nothing; nothing has proceeded in accordance with their desires. But God most High appoints oblivion to take charge of them so that they forget all that has happened, and once more follow their own ideas and wills. God stands between a man and his heart.

Ibrahim son of Adham, upon whom be God's mercy, at the time when he was a king had gone out hunting. He galloped in the track of a deer, until he became entirely separated from his soldiers and chanced far away. His horse was covered with sweat and weary, but still he galloped on. When he had passed beyond bounds in that wilderness, the deer suddenly began to speak. Turning back its face, it said, 'You were not created for this. This being was not fashioned out of not-being so that you might hunt me. Even supposing you catch me, what will be the result of that?'

When Ibrahim heard these words he cried aloud, and flung himself from the horse. There was no one in that desert apart from a shepherd. Ibrahim entreated him, saying, 'Take from me my royal robes encrusted with jewels, my arms and my horse, and give me your gown of coarse cloth, and tell no one, neither hint to any man what has passed with me.' He put on that rough gown and set out on his way. Now consider what his design was, and what his true objective proved to be! He desired to catch the deer; God most High caught him by means of the deer. So realise that in this world things happen as He wills, that His is the design and that the purpose is subject to Him.

Before becoming a Muslim, 'Umar, God be well pleased with him, entered his sister's house. His sister was chanting from the Koran in a loud voice

TA HA: We have not sent down ...


When she saw her brother she hid the Koran, and became silent. 'Umar bared his sword saying, 'Surely tell me what you were reading and why you hid it, or this very instant I will chop off your head without quarter with the sword!' His sister feared greatly. Knowing his temper when angry and his fearfulness, in terror for her life she confessed, 'I was reading from these words which God most High revealed in this time to Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace.'

'Read on, so that I may hear,' said 'Umar. And she recited the whole of the Sura of Taha. 'Umar became furiously angry, his rage being such that he said, 'If I kill you this instant, that will be a killing of the defenceless. First I will go and cut off his head, then I will attend to you.'

In the extremity of his anger, holding a naked sword 'Umar set off for the Prophet's mosque. The chieftains of Quraish, seeing him on the way, exclaimed, 'Ha, 'Umar is after Muhammad. Assuredly if anything is to be done, it will be done in this way.' For '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. Afterwards, when 'Umar became a Muslim, he always used to weep and say, 'O Messenger of God, woe for me if you had given Abu Jahl precedence over me and said, "God, succour my religion by means of Abu Jahl or 'Umar." What then would have happened to me! I would have continued in error.'

In short, he was on the way, with naked sword, making for the Prophet's mosque. Meanwhile Gabriel, upon whom be peace, revealed to Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace, 'Lo, Messenger of God, 'Umar is coming to convert to Islam. Take him to your bosom.' Just as 'Umar entered the door of the mosque, he saw as clear as clear that an arrow of light flew from Muhammad, upon whom be peace, and pierced his heart. He uttered a loud cry and fell down insensible. Love and passionate attachment manifested in his soul, and he would that he might dissolve into Muhammad in the extremity of his affection, and become effaced. He said, 'Now, Prophet of God, offer me the faith and speak that blessed word, that I may hear.' Having become a Muslim, he 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. The chieftains of Quraish, seeing the bloodstained sword, said, 'Well, you promised that you would bring his head. Where is his head?' Said 'Umar, 'Here it is!' One of them said, 'You fetched his head from here?' He answered, 'No. This is not that head. This is of the other side.'

Now see what 'Umar proposed, and what God most High designed thereby. So you may realise that all affairs turn out as He desires.

Omar, the Prophet for to slay,
Comes sword in hand upon the way;
He falls into God's trap, and through
Good fortune finds the vision true.


So if they say to you also, 'What have you brought?' Say, 'We have brought the head.' If they say, 'We had seen this head,' say, 'No, this is not that head, this is another head.' The true head is that in which is a secret; otherwise, a thousand heads are not worth a penny.

They chanted the following verse.

And when We appointed the House to be
a place of visitation for the people,
and a sanctuary,
and: 'Take to yourselves Abraham's station
for a place of prayer.'


Abraham said, 'O God, since Thou hast honoured me with the robe of Thy approval and hast chosen me, vouchsafe this distinction to my seed also.' God most High declared:

'My covenant shall not reach
the evildoers.'


That is to say, 'Those who are evildoers, they are not worthy of My robe of honour and distinction.' When Abraham realised that God most High extends not His loving care to the evildoers and the insolent, he made a bargain. He said, 'I God, those who believe and are not evildoers -- give them a portion of Thy provision and withhold it not from them.' God most High declared, 'My provision is common to all men, and all men shall have a share of it. All creatures enjoy their portion of the benefits of this guesthouse. But the robe of My approval and acceptance and the honour of ennoblement and distinction are the special portion of the elect and the chosen ones.'

The literalists say that what is intended by this 'House' is the Kaaba. For all who take refuge in the Kaaba find security from all mischief; there it is forbidden to hunt for game, there malice may not be done to any man. God most High singled out that House for Himself. That is all perfectly true and excellent; but that is the literal interpretation of the Koran. The spiritualists for their part say that the 'House' is the inward part of a man; that is to say, 'God, free my inward part of temptation and carnal occupations and cleanse it of passions and corrupt and idle thoughts so that no fear may remain in it and security may ensue, so that it may become wholly the locus of Thy revelation, and no demon or devil or temptation may find a way into it.' Just as God most High has appointed meteors to watch over heaven, so as to prevent the accursed Satans from listening to the secrets of the angels, that none may become apprised of their secrets and that they may be far from all mischief. So this means, 'O God, do Thou likewise appoint the guardian of Thy loving care to watch over our inward part, to drive away from us the temptation of the Satans and the tricks of the carnal soul and desire.' Such is the statement of the esotericists and the spiritualists.

Every man stirs from his own place. The Koran is a double-sided brocade. Some enjoy one side, and some the other. Both are true, inasmuch as God most High desires that both peoples should derive benefit from it. In the same way a woman has a husband and a suckling child; each enjoys her in a different way. The child's pleasure is in her breast and her milk; the husband's pleasure is in intercourse with her. Some men are infants of the Way; they take pleasure in the literal meaning of the Koran, and drink that milk. But those who have reached years of full discretion have another enjoyment and a different understanding of the inner meanings of the Koran.

Abraham's station and place of prayer is a certain spot in the environments of the Kaaba where the literalists say two inclinations of prayer must be performed. This is excellent indeed, by Allah. But according to the spiritualists Abraham's station means you should cast yourself into the fire for God's sake, and bring yourself to this station by toiling and labouring in God's way, or nigh this station. A man has then sacrificed himself for the sake of God; that is to say, his self is no more of moment in his sight and he has ceased to tremble for himself. To perform two inclinations of prayer at Abraham's station is excellent; but let it be such a prayer that the standing is performed in this world, and the bowing in the other world.

The meaning of the Kaaba is the heart of the prophets and the saints, which is the locus of God's revelation. The physical Kaaba is a branch of that. If it were not for the heart, of what use would the Kaaba be? The prophets and the saints have wholly forsaken their own desire, and are following the desire of God. So whatever He commands, that they do. To whomsoever God denies His loving care, be it even father or mother, to them they are indifferent; indeed in their eyes such a one is an enemy.

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


All that I say is a comparison, it is not a likeness. Comparison is one thing, and likeness is another. God most High has likened His Light to a lamp for the sake of comparison; the saints are likened to the glass of that lamp, also for the sake of comparison. God's Light is not contained in phenomenal being and space; how then should it be contained in a glass and a lamp? How should the orients of the Lights of Almighty God be contained in the heart? Yet when you seek after it, you find it in the heart; not as being a receptacle wherein that Light resides, but that you find that Light radiating from that place. In the same way you discover your image in the mirror; yet your image is not in the mirror, only when you look in the mirror you see yourself.

When things appear unintelligible and are enunciated by means of a comparison, then they become intelligible; and when they become intelligible, they become sensible. Thus, you may say that when a man closes his eyes he sees wonderful things and observes sensible forms and shapes; when he opens his eyes he sees nothing. No man considers this intelligible or believes in it; but when you state the comparison then it becomes realised. How is this? It is like a man who sees in a dream a hundred thousand things, of which it is not possible that in his waking state he should see a single one. Or it is like an architect who conceives inwardly a picture of a house, complete with breadth and length and shape: this does not appear intelligible to anyone. But when he draws the plan of the house on paper, then it becomes visible; and being given definite form it becomes intelligible in every detail to anyone looking at it. Being intelligible, the architect then proceeds to build the house according to that design, and the house becomes sensible.

Thus it is realised that all unintelligibles become intelligible and sensible through use of a comparison. So it is that they say that in the other world books will fly, some into the right hand and some into the left. There too are the angels, the Throne, Hell and Heaven, the Balance, the Reckoning, and the Book: none of these can be realised save through the propounding of a comparison. Though in the present world there is no likeness to any of these things, yet through comparison they become certified. The comparison of those things in this world is the following. By night all men sleep, cobbler alike and king, judge and tailor, and all the rest. From all of them their thoughts take wing, and no thought remains to any one of them. Then at dawn it is as though the blast of Israfil's trumpet brings to life the atoms of their bodies; the thoughts of each one of them, like the books in the next world, fly headlong towards each man without any mistake being made -- the tailor's thoughts to the tailor, the lawyer's thoughts to the lawyer, the blacksmith's thoughts to the blacksmith, the oppressor's thoughts to the oppressor, the thoughts of the just to the just. Does any man sleep through the night as a tailor and by day rise as a cobbler? No; for that was his work and preoccupation before, and he becomes occupied with that again. From this you may realise that the like obtains in the other world too, and that this is not absurd; in this world it actually happens.

So if a man, by employing this comparison, reaches the end of the thread, he contemplates and sniffs out in this world all the circumstances which prevail in the other world; all are uncovered to him, so that he comes to realise that all things are comprised in God's omnipotence. Many are the bones you can see mouldering in the grave, yet enjoying a sweet repose and a drunken sleep, fully aware of that enjoyment and intoxication. These are no idle words, for men say, 'May the dust lie sweet on him!' If the dust had no awareness of sweetness, how would men say such a thing?

I pray that moon-faced idol
May live a hundred years,
My faithful heart a quiver
For the shafts of her tears.

In the dust of her door my heart
So happy, happy died,
Praying, 'Lord, may her dust
Forever happy abide!'

The comparison of this is actual in the world of sensible phenomena. Thus, two persons are sleeping on one mattress. One sees himself in the midst of a banquet, a rose-garden, Paradise; the other sees himself in the midst of snakes, the guardians of Hell, scorpions. If you investigate as between the two, you will see neither the one nor the other. Why then should it be thought so surprising that the parts of some men even in the tomb experience pleasure and repose and intoxication, whilst some are in pain and torment and agony, yet you can see neither this nor that? Hence it is realised that the unintelligible becomes intelligible through the use of a comparison.

Comparison does not resemble likeness. Thus, the gnostic gives the name 'spring' to relaxation and happiness and expansion, and calls contraction and sorrow 'autumn': what formal resemblance is there between happiness and the spring, sorrow and the autumn? Yet this is a comparison without which the intellect cannot conceive and grasp that meaning. So it is that God most High declares:

Not equal are the blind and the seeing man,
the shadows and the light,
the shade and the torrid heat.


God here has related faith to light and unbelief to shadows, or He has related faith to a delightful shade and unbelief to a burning and merciless sun boiling the brain. Yet what resemblance is there between the brightness and subtlety of faith and the light of this world of ours, or between the sordidness and gloom of unbelief and the darkness of our world?

If any man falls asleep during the time when we are speaking, that slumber is not out of heedlessness but security. Thus, a caravan is travelling along a difficult and dangerous road in a dark night; they drive on in fear, lest harm should befall them from the enemy. As soon as the voice of a dog or a cock reaches their ears and they have come to the village they are carefree, and stretch out their legs and sleep sweetly. On the road, where there was no sound or murmur, they could not sleep for fear; in the village, where security obtains, for all the barking of dogs and crowing of cocks they are carefree and happy and fall asleep.

Our words too come from habitation and security; they are the sayings of prophets and saints. When the spirits hear the words of their familiar friends they feel secure and are delivered from fear; for from these words is wafted to them the scent of hope and felicity. In like manner a man travelling along on a dark night in a caravan in the extremity of his fear thinks every moment that thieves have mingled with the caravan. He desires to hear the words of his fellow travellers, and to recognise them by their words. When he hears their words he feels secure. 'Say: O Muhammad, recite!' Because your essence is subtle, the glances do not attain you; when you speak, they discover that you are the familiar friend of their spirits and feel secure, and are at peace. So speak!

The leanness of my body suffices to witness I am a man
Who, but for my addressing you, would be invisible to you.


A certain creature inhabiting cornfields on account of its extreme smallness is invisible; but when it makes a sound, then people see it by means of the sound. That is, men are utterly immersed in the cornfield of this world, and your essence, because it is extremely subtle, is invisible. So speak, that they may recognise you.

When you wish to go to a certain place, first your heart goes and sees and informs itself of the conditions prevailing there; then your heart returns and draws your body along. 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.'

Hence it is realised that the heart in all circumstances is attached to the heart's beloved, and has no need to traverse the stages, no need to fear highwaymen, no need of the mule's packsaddle. It is the wretched body which is fettered to these things.

I said to my heart, 'How is it,
My heart, that in foolishness
You are barred from the service
Of Him whose name you bless?'

My heart replied, 'You do wrong
To misread me in this way,
I am constant in His service,
You are the one astray.'


Wherever you are and in whatever circumstances you find yourself, strive always to be a lover, and a passionate lover at that. Once love has become your property you will be a lover always, in the grave, at the resurrection, and in Paradise for ever and ever. When you have sown wheat, wheat will assuredly grow, wheat will be in the stook, wheat will be in the oven.

Majnun desired to write a letter to Laila. He took a pen in his hand and wrote these verses.

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


Your image dwells in my sight, your name is never off my tongue, your memory occupies the depths of my soul, so whither am I to write a letter, seeing that you go about in all these places? The pen broke, and the page was torn.

Many a man there is whose heart is full of these words, only he cannot express them in terms of speech though he is a lover in quest and longing for this. This is not surprising, and this is no impediment to love; on the contrary, the root of the matter is the heart, and yearning and passion and love. Even so a child is in love with milk and from it derives succour and strength; yet the child cannot describe or define milk or give expression to it, saying, 'What pleasure I find in drinking milk and how weak and anguished I become through not drinking it,' for all that his soul is desirous and ardent for milk. The grown man on the other hand, though he describe milk in a thousand ways, yet finds no pleasure and takes no delight in milk.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:17 am

Part 2 of 2

Discourse 45

What is the name of that youth? Saif al-Din ('Sword of the Faith').

The Master said: One cannot see a sword when it is in a scabbard. That man is truly the Sword of the Faith who fights for the faith and whose endeavours are wholly in God's cause, who reveals rectitude from error and distinguishes truth from falsehood. But first he fights with himself and improves his own character: 'Begin with yourself.' Likewise he directs all his moral counsels to himself, saying, 'After all, you are also a man. You have hands and feet, ears and understanding, eyes and a mouth. The prophets and saints too, who attained felicity and reached their goal -- they also were men and like me had reason and a tongue, hands and feet. Why then were they vouchsafed the way? Why was the door opened to them, and not to me?' Such a man boxes his own ears and night and day fights with himself, saying, 'What did you do, and what motion proceeded from you, that you are not accepted?' So he continues, until he becomes the Sword of God and the Tongue of Truth.

For example, ten persons desire to enter a house. Nine find the way, and one remains outside and is not given the way. Certainly this person reflects inwardly and laments, saying, 'Why now, what did I do that they did not let me in? What lack of manners was I guilty of?' That man must attribute the fault to himself and recognise himself as remiss and lacking in manners. He should not say, 'This is what God does with me; what can I do? Such is His will; had He willed, He would have vouchsafed the way.' Such words are tantamount to abusing God and drawing the sword against God; in that sense he would be a Sword Against God, not the Sword of God.

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. He is the Giver Absolute; He filled the skirt of the sea with pearls, He clothed the thorn in the raiment of the rose, He bestowed life and spirit upon a handful of dust, all out of pure disinterest and without any precedent. All the parts of the world have their share from Him.

When a person hears that in a certain city there lives a generous man who bestows mighty gifts and favours, he will naturally go there in the hope of enjoying his share of that man's bounty. 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.

God is mightily nigh unto you. Every thought and idea that you conceive, thereto God is closely attached, for it is He who gives being to that idea and thought and presents them to you. Only He is so exceeding near that you cannot see Him. What is so strange in that? In every act you perform your reason is with you and initiates that action; yet you cannot see your reason. Though you see its effect, yet you cannot see its essence. For instance a man went to the baths and became hot. Wherever he may be as he goes round the baths, the fire is with him and he feels hot through the effect of the heat of the fire; yet he does not see the fire itself. When he comes out of the baths and sees the fire actually, and knows that people become hot through fire, he realises that the heat of the baths also came from the fire. The human being is also a huge bath, having within itself the heat of reason and spirit and soul. But when you depart from heat and proceed to the other world, then you see actually the essence of the reason and behold the essence of the soul and the spirit. You realise then that this cleverness was determined by the heat of the reason, those fallacies and pretences were derived from the soul, and life itself was the effect of the spirit. So you see precisely the essence of all three; but so long as you are in the bath you cannot see the fire sensibly, except through its effect. Take similarly the case of a man who has never seen running water. He is flung into water with his eyes bandaged. Something wet and soft strikes against his body, but he does not know what it is. When his eyes are unbandaged then he knows precisely that that was water. In the first place he knew it by its effect, now he sees its actual essence.

Therefore beg of God, and demand what you need of Him, for your petition will not be in vain.

Call upon Me and I will answer you.


We were in Samarqand, and the Khvarizmshah had laid siege to Samarqand and deployed his army to the attack. In that quarter dwelt an exceedingly beautiful girl, so lovely that there was none the match of her in all the city. I heard her saying, 'O God, how canst Thou hold it allowable to deliver me into the hands of evildoers? Well I know that Thou wilt never permit that, and on Thee I rely.' When the city was sacked and all its inhabitants were taken into captivity, the maidservants of the woman were also taken into captivity. But she suffered no hurt; for all her extreme beauty, no man so much as cast eyes on her. From this you may realise that whosoever has once committed himself to God has become secure from all harm and remained in safety, and that the petition of no man in His presence was ever in vain.

A certain dervish had taught his son, that whatever he asked for, his father would say, 'Ask it of God.' When he wept, and asked that thing of God, then that thing would be brought to him. The years passed thus. Then one day the child chanced to be alone in the house, and presently he hankered for some pottage. In the accustomed way he said, 'I want some pottage.' Suddenly a bowl of pottage materialised out of the unseen world, and the child ate to repletion. When his father and mother returned they said, 'Don't you want anything?' The child answered, 'I just asked for pottage and ate.' His father said, 'Praise be to God, that you have got so far and your confidence and reliance upon God has grown so strong!'

When the mother of Mary bore Mary, she vowed to God to dedicate her to the House of God and not to do anything for her; she left her in a corner of the Temple. Zachariah demanded to look after the child. Everyone requested to do the same. A dispute sprang up between them. Now in that time it was the custom that each party to a dispute should throw a stick into water; the one whose stick floated was deemed to prevail. It so happened that Zachariah's lot was the right one. They said, 'He has the right.' So every day Zachariah brought food to the child, and always found the very match of it in the corner of the mosque. He said, 'Mary, after all I am in charge of you. Whence do you get this?' Mary said, 'Whenever I feel the need of food, whatever I request God most High sends to me. His bounty and compassion are infinite; whosoever relies on Him, his trust is not in vain.' Zachariah said, 'O God, since Thou allowest every man's need, I also have a desire. Do Thou grant it me, and give me a son who shall be Thy friend, who without my prompting shall consort with Thee and be occupied with obedience to Thee.' God most High brought John into being, after his father was bent and feeble, and his mother too, who had not borne any child whilst she was young, being now of great age again had her course and became pregnant.

From this you may realise that all these things are but an occasion for the display of God's omnipotence; that all things are of Him, and that His decree is absolute in all things. The believer is he who knows that behind this wall there is Someone who is apprised of all our circumstances, one by one, and who sees us though we see Him not; of this the believer is certain. Contrary is the case of him who says, 'No, this is all a tale,' and does not believe. The day will come when God will box his ears; then he will be sorry, and will say, 'Alas, I spoke evil and erred. Indeed, all was He; and I denied Him.'

For instance, you know that I am behind the wall, and you are playing the rebeck. Undoubtedly you attend and do not stop, for you are a rebeck player. Prayer is not ordained so that all the day you should be standing and bowing and prostrating; its purpose is, that it is necessary that that spiritual state which possesses you visibly when you are at prayer should be with you always. Whether sleeping or waking, whether writing or reading, in all circumstances you should not be free from God's hand, so that They continue at their prayers will apply also to you.

So that speaking and keeping silent, that sleeping and eating, that being enraged and forgiving -- all those attributes are the turning of a water-mill which revolves. Undoubtedly this revolving of the mill is by means of the water, because it has made trial of itself also without any water. So if the water-mill considers that turning to proceed from itself, that is the very acme of foolishness and ignorance.

Now this revolving takes place within a narrow space, for such are the circumstances of this material world. Cry unto God, saying, 'O God, grant to me, instead of my present journey and revolving, another revolving which shall be spiritual; seeing that all needs are fulfilled by Thee, and Thy bounty and compassion are universal over all creatures.' So represent your needs constantly, and never be without the remembrance of Him. For the remembrance of Him is strength and feathers and wings to the bird of the spirit. If that purpose is wholly realised, that is Light upon Light. By the remembrance of God, little by little the inward heart becomes illumined and your detachment from the world is realised. For instance, just as a bird desires to fly into heaven, though it does not reach the heaven, yet every moment it rises farther from the earth and outsoars the other birds. Or for instance, some musk is in a box, and the lid of the box is narrow; you insert your hand into the box but cannot extract the musk, yet for all that your hand becomes perfumed, and your nostrils are gratified. So too is the remembrance of God: though you do not attain the Essence of God, yet the remembrance of Almighty God leaves its mark on you, and great benefits are procured from the recollection of Him.

Discourse 46

Shaikh Ibrahim is a noble dervish; when we see him, we are reminded of our beloved friends. Our Master Shams al-Din, who was greatly favoured by God, used always to say to the dervishes 'Our Shaikh Ibrahim,' relating him to himself.

Divine favour is one thing, and personal effort is something other. The prophets did not attain the degree of prophethood through personal effort; they found that felicity through Divine favour. But it is the way of the prophets, that whoso attains that station lives a life of personal effort and virtue; that moreover is for the sake of the common people, that they may put reliance on them and their words. For the gaze of ordinary men does not penetrate into the inward heart. They see only externals; and when the common folk follow after the external, through the mediumship and blessing of the external they find the way to the internal.

After all, Pharaoh too made a great personal effort in the way of bounty and charity and the dissemination of good; but since the Divine favour was not present, inevitably his obedience and personal effort and beneficence had no lustre and all his generous actions remained hidden. Similarly a military commander in charge of a fortress is kind and generous to the people in that fortress. His object is to throw off allegiance to the king and to become a rebel. Inevitably his beneficence is without all worth and lustre.

Nevertheless one cannot entirely deny God's favour to Pharaoh. It may be that God most High favoured him secretly, causing him to be rejected for a good purpose. For a king is both vengeful and gracious; he both bestows robes of honour and consigns to prison. The spiritualists do not deny God's favour to Pharaoh altogether. The literalists however consider him to be a man wholly rejected; and that is beneficial, for the proper maintenance of external proprieties.

The king puts a man on the gallows, and he is hung up in a high place in the presence of the assembled people. He could also suspend him indoors, hidden from the people, by a low nail; but it is necessary that the people should see and take warning, and that the execution of the king's decree and the carrying out of his order should be visible. After all, not every gallows consists of wood. High rank and worldly fortune are also a gallows, and a mighty high one. When God most High desires to chastise a man, he bestows on him high rank in the world and a great kingdom, as in the cases of Pharaoh and Nimrod and the like. All those eminent positions are as a gallows on which God most High puts them, so that all the people may gaze upon it.

For God most High declares, 'I was a hidden treasure, and I desired to be known': that is to say; 'I created all the world, and the object of all that was to reveal Myself, now gracious, now vengeful.' God is not the kind of king for whom one herald is sufficient. If every atom in the world should become a herald, they would be yet incapable of proclaiming His qualities adequately.

So all men day and night are forever revealing God; except that some are aware and know that they are revealing Him, whilst some are unaware. Whichever the case may be, the revelation of God is certain. It is like when a prince orders a man to be beaten and taught a lesson. The victim shouts and screams; yet both are manifesting the prince's authority. Though the man being punished shouts with the pain, everyone realises that both beater and beaten are under the prince's authority; through both of them the prince's authority is clearly revealed. The man who acknowledges God is revealing God continually; the man who denies God is also revealing God. For it is unimaginable to establish a thing without denial; moreover it would be wholly without pleasure and relish. Thus, a controversialist proposes a motion at a meeting; if there is no one to oppose him and to say 'I do not agree' what does his affirmation amount to, and what savour is there in his point? For affirmation is pleasant only in the face of negation. In the same way this world too is a meeting for the declaration of God. Without a proposer and an opposer the meeting would lack all lustre. Both serve to declare God.

The brothers attended on the Commandant. The Commandant flew into a rage against them, saying, 'What are you all doing here?' They answered, 'We do not jabber and crowd together in order to annoy anyone. We do this to help one another to carry our burdens patiently and to assist one another.' In the same way people gather together at a wake; their object is not to drive Death away, but to console the bereaved party and to make him forget his grief.

'The believers are as it were a single soul.' The dervishes are in the situation of a single body; if one of the members feels pain, all the other parts are distressed. The eye gives up its seeing, the ear its hearing, the tongue its speaking; all assemble in that one place. The condition of true friendship is to sacrifice oneself for one's friend, to plunge oneself into tumult for the friend's sake. For all are directed towards one and the same thing; all are drowned in one and the same sea. That is the effect of faith, and the condition of Islam. What is the load which they carry with their bodies compared with the load which they carry with their souls?

They said, 'There is no harm; surely
unto our Lord we are turning.'


When the believer sacrifices himself to God, why should he give a thought to distress and danger, to hand and foot? Since he is travelling to God, what need has he of hands and feet? God gave you hands and feet that you might travel from Him to these parts; but when you are travelling to Him who fashions feet and hands, if you lose control of your hands and stumble on your feet, and like Pharaoh's sorcerers go without hands and feet, what cause for grief is that?

Poison is right good to sup
When the fair one fills the cup;
Bitter words are sweet to hear
When the speaker is most dear.

Full of savour is my love,
Salt of wit, as I can prove;
Very pleasant is its smart
Rubbed into my wounded heart.


And God knows best.

Discourse 47

God most High wills both good and evil, but only approves the good. For He said, 'I was a hidden treasure, and I desired to be known.' God most High undoubtedly wills to command and to prohibit. Commandment is only valid when the person commanded is by nature averse to what he is commanded to do. One does not say, 'Hungry one, eat sweetness and sugar': if these words are said, that is called not a commandment but a benefaction. Prohibition too does not rightly apply in the case of a thing which the man dislikes on his own account. One does not say, 'Don't eat the stone, don't eat the thorn': if these words were said, that would not be called a prohibition.

For commandment to do good and prohibition against evil rightly to apply one cannot dispense with a soul desiring evil. To will the existence of such a soul is to will evil. But God does not approve of evil, otherwise He would not have commanded the good. This is parallel to the case of a man who desires to teach: he desires that the pupil should be ignorant, for one cannot teach except when the pupil is ignorant. To desire a thing is to desire the prerequisites of that thing. But the teacher does not approve of the pupil's ignorance, otherwise he would not teach him. Again, the doctor desires that people should be ill, since he desires to practise his medicine; and he cannot display his medical skill unless people are ill. But he does not approve of people being ill, otherwise he would not attend them and treat them. Similarly the baker desires that people should be hungry, so that he may ply his trade and earn his living; but he does not approve of their being hungry, otherwise he would not sell bread.

For the same reason commanders and cavalry desire that their king should have an opponent and an enemy; otherwise their manly virtue and their love for the king would not be manifested, and the king would not muster them, not having need of them. But they do not approve of the king's opponent, otherwise they would not fight. Similarly a man desires the provocations to evil within himself, because God loves him who is grateful, obedient and god fearing, and that is not possible without the existence of those provocations within himself; and to desire a thing is to desire its prerequisites. But he does not approve of those provocations, for he struggles hard to banish these things from himself.

Hence it is realised that God wills evil in one way, and does not will it in another way.

The opponent says, 'God does not will evil in any way whatever.' That is impossible, that He should will a thing and not will its prerequisites. Amongst the prerequisites of God's commandment and prohibition is this headstrong soul in man which by nature longs for evil, and by nature runs away from good. The prerequisites of such a soul are all the evils that exist in this material world. Did God not will these evils, He would not have willed the soul; and if He did not will the soul, He would not will the commandment and prohibition which are attached to the soul. If however God had approved those evils, He would not have issued commandments and prohibitions to the soul. This proves that evil is willed for the sake of something other.

The opponent then says, 'If God wills all good, and amongst such good things is the averting of evil, therefore He desires the averting of evil' -- and evil cannot be averted unless evil exists. Or he says, 'God wills faith' -- and faith cannot exist except after unbelief, so that unbelief is a prerequisite of faith. The upshot is that the willing of evil is only reprehensible when it is willed for its own sake; when it is willed for the sake of some good, then it is not reprehensible. God most High has said:

In retaliation there is life for you.


There is no doubt that retaliation is evil, being a destruction of the edifice of God most High. But this is a partial evil, whereas the guarding of the people from killing is a total good. To will the partial evil for the sake of willing the total good is not reprehensible; whilst the partial abandonment of God's will, whilst approving total evil, is reprehensible. This is like the mother who does not desire to chide her child, because she is regarding the partial evil; whereas the father approves of chiding the child, having regard to the total evil, to nip the trouble in the bud.

God most High is All-pardoning, All-forgiving, Terrible in retribution. Does He will that different epithets should be true of Him or not? The answer cannot be other than 'yes.' Now He cannot be All-pardoning and All-forgiving without the existence of sins; and to will a thing is to will its prerequisites. Similarly He has commanded us to be forgiving, and He has commanded us to make peace and ensue it; and this commandment has no meaning without the existence of enmity.

This is paralleled by the pronouncement of Sadr al-Islam, that God most High has commanded us to earn and to acquire wealth, because He has said

And expend in the way of God.


Now it is impossible to expend money except by means of money; therefore it is a commandment to acquire money. When a man says to another man, 'Arise and pray,' he thereby commands him to perform the ritual ablution, and to acquire water and all the prerequisites. Gratitude is a hunting and a shackling of benefits. When you hear the voice of gratitude, you get ready to give more. When God loves a servant He afflicts him; if he endures with fortitude, He chooses him; if he is grateful, He elects him. Some men are grateful to God for His wrathfulness and some are grateful to Him for His graciousness. Each of the two classes is good; for gratitude is a sovereign antidote, changing wrath into grace. The intelligent and perfect man is he who is grateful for harsh treatment, both openly and in secret; for it is he whom God has elected. If God's will be the bottom reach of Hell, by gratitude His purpose is hastened.

For outward complaining is a diminution of inward complaining. Muhammad said, peace be upon him, 'I laugh as I slay.' That means, 'My laughing in the face of him who is harsh to me is a slaying of him.' The intention of laughter is gratitude in the place of complaining.

It is related that a certain Jew lived next door to one of the Companions of God's messenger. This Jew lived in an upper room, whence descended into the Muslim's apartment all kinds of dirt and filth, the piddle of his children, the water his clothes were washed in. Yet the Muslim always thanked the Jew, and bade his family do the same. So things continued for eight years, until the Muslim died. Then the Jew entered his apartment, to condole with the family, and saw all the filth there, and how it issued from his upper room. So he realised what had happened during the past years, and was exceedingly sorry, and said to the Muslim's household, 'Why on earth didn't you tell me? Why did you always thank me?' They replied, 'Our father used to bid us be grateful, and chided us against ceasing to be grateful.' So the Jew became a believer.

The mentioning of virtuous men
Encourages to virtue then,
Just as the minstrel with his song
Urges the wine to pass along.


For this reason God has mentioned in the Koran His prophets and those of His servants who were righteous, and thanked them for what they did unto Him who is All-powerful and All-forgiving.

Gratitude for sucking the breast is a blessing. Though the breast be full, until you suck it the milk does not flow.

Someone asked: What is the cause of ingratitude, and what is it that prevents gratitude?

The Master answered: The preventer of gratitude is inordinate greed. For whatever a man may get, he was greedy for more than that. It was inordinate greed that impelled him to that, so that when he got less than what he had set his heart upon his greed prevented him from being grateful. So he was heedless of his own defect, and heedless also of the defect and adulteration of the coin he proffered.

Raw and inordinate greed is like eating raw fruit and raw bread and raw meat; inevitably it generates sickness and begets ingratitude. When a man realises that he has eaten something unwholesome, a purge becomes necessary. God most High in His wisdom makes him suffer through ingratitude so that he may be purged and rid of that corrupt conceit, lest that one sickness become a hundred sicknesses.

And we tried them with good things and evil, that
haply they should return.


That is to say: We made provision for them from whence they had never reckoned, namely the unseen world, so that their gaze shrinks from beholding the secondary causes, which are as it were partners to God. It was in this sense that Abu Yazid said, 'Lord, I have never associated any with Thee.' God most High said, 'O Abu Yazid, not even on the night of the milk? You said one night, "The milk has done me harm." It is I who do harm, and benefit.' Abu Yazid had looked at the secondary cause, so that God reckoned him a polytheist and said, 'It is I who do harm, after the milk and before the milk; but I made the milk for a sin, and the harm for a correction such as a teacher administers.'

When the teacher says, 'Don't eat the fruit,' and the pupil eats it, and the teacher beats him on the sole of his foot, it is not right for the pupil to say, 'I ate the fruit and it hurt my foot.' On this basis, whoso preserves his tongue from ascribing partners to God, God undertakes to cleanse his spirit of the weeds of polytheism. A little with God is much.

The difference between giving praise and giving thanks is that thanks are given for benefits received. One does not say, 'I gave thanks to him for his beauty and his bravery.' Praisegiving is more general.

Discourse 49

A certain person was leading the prayers, and he chanted:

The Bedouins are more stubborn in unbelief
and hypocrisy.


By chance a Bedouin chieftain was present. He gave the chanter a good box on the ears. In the second genuflection he chanted:

Some of the Bedouins believe in God and the
Last Day.


The Bedouin exclaimed, 'Ha, that slap has taught you better manners!'

Every moment we receive a slap from the unseen world. Whatever we propose to do, we are kept away from it by a slap and we take another course. As the saying goes, 'We have no power of our own, it is all a swallowing up and 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?

Right well I know -- and no wont of mine
Is hyperbole --
That he who is my soul's sustenance
Will come to me.

If I run after him, hard's the quest
My love to attain;
But let me sit quiet, and he will come
Without my pain.


'Right well I know the rule of God's providing man's daily bread. It is no rule of mine to run about hither and thither to no purpose and to exert myself needlessly. Truly, when I renounce all thought of silver and food and raiment and the fire of lust, my daily portion will come to me. But when I run after those daily portions, the quest of them pains and wearies me and distresses me; if I sit in my own place with patience, that will come to me without 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.'

The upshot of these words is this: occupy yourself with the affairs of the world to come, that the world itself may run after you. The meaning of 'sitting' in this context is sitting in application to the affairs of the world to come. If a man runs, when he runs for the sake of the world to come he is truly seated; if he is seated, if he is seated for the sake of the present world he is running. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, 'Whosoever makes all his cares a single care, God will suffice him as to all his other cares.' If a man is beset by ten cares, let him choose the care for the world to come and God most High will put right for him those other nine cares without any effort on his part. The prophets cared nothing for fame and daily bread. Their only care was to seek God's approval; and they attained both daily bread and fame. Whosoever seeks God's good pleasure, such men in this world and the next will be with the prophets and be their bedfellows.

They are with those whom God has blessed,
prophets, just men, martyrs, the righteous.


What place indeed is there for this, seeing that they are sitting with God Himself? 'I sit with him who remembers Me.' Did God not sit with him, the yearning for God would never enter his heart. The scent of the rose never exists without the rose; the scent of musk never exists without the musk.

There is no end to these words; if there were an end to them, yet they would not be as other words.

The night's departed; yet, my friend,
Our story's not yet at an end.


The night and darkness of this world passes away, and the light of these words every moment becomes clearer. Even so the night of the life of the prophets departed, peace be upon them, yet the light of their discourse departed not and came not to an end, nor ever will.

People said about Majnun, 'If he loves Laila, what is so strange in that, seeing that they were children together and went to the same school?' Majnun said, 'These men are fools. What pretty woman is not desirable?' Is there any man whose heart is not stirred by a lovely woman? Women are the same. It is love by which a man's heart is fed and finds savour; just as the sight of mother and father and brother, the pleasure of children, the pleasure of lust -- all kinds of delight are rooted in love. Majnun was an example of all lovers, just as in grammar Zaid and 'Amr are quoted.

Feast on sweetmeats or on roast,
Drink the wine that you love most:
What's that savour on your lips?
Water that a dreamer sips!

When tomorrow you arise
And great thirst upon you lies,
Little use will be that deep
Draught you've taken whilst asleep.


'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'. So he will have asked for something whilst asleep, and have been given it. 'The present is proportionate to the request.'

Discourse 50

Someone said: We have got to know all the circumstances of man one by one, and not so much as a single hair-tip of his temperament and nature, his hot and cold humours, has escaped our notice. Yet it has not become known, what thing it is in him that will survive.

The Master said: If the knowledge of that were attainable merely out of what other men have said, there would not be any necessity for such varied labours and efforts, and no one would put himself to such pains and sacrifice himself to the enquiry. Thus to illustrate: a man comes to the sea, and sees nothing but salt water, sharks and fishes. He says, 'Where is this pearl they speak about? Perhaps there isn't any pearl.' How should the pearl be attained merely by looking at the sea? Even were he to measure out the sea cup by cup a hundred thousand times, he will never find the pearl. A diver is needed to discover the pearl, and even then not every diver: a diver who is both lucky and nimble.

These sciences and arts are like measuring the ocean with a cup. To find the pearl calls for a different kind of approach. Many a man there is, adorned with every skill, wealthy and handsome to boot; yet this vital quality is not in him. 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. If a man discovers that element, he has attained the secret of his own pre-excellence; if not, he remains without portion of that pre-excellence. All these arts and accomplishments are like setting jewels on the back of a mirror. The face of the mirror is destitute of them. The face of the mirror must be crystal clear. He who has an ugly face is eager for the back of the mirror, for the face of the mirror tells out every dark secret. He who has a handsome face seeks the face of the mirror with all his soul, for the face of the mirror displays his own comeliness.

A friend of Joseph of Egypt came to him from a far journey. Joseph asked, 'What present have you brought for me?' The friend replied, 'What is there that you do not possess and of which you are in need? But inasmuch as nothing exists more handsome than you, I have brought a mirror so that every moment you may gaze in it upon your own face.'

What is there that God most High does not possess and of which He is in need? It is necessary to bring before God most High a heart mirror-bright, so that He may see His own face in it. 'God looks not at your forms, nor at your deeds, but at your hearts.'

A city where you found all your desire
And naught was wanting, save men generous!


'A city in which you find everything that you desire, handsome people, pleasures, all that the natural man craves for, ornaments of every kind, but you find not one intelligent man there. Would that it had been the very opposite of this!'

That city is the human being. If there be in him a hundred thousand accomplishments but not that essential element, better it were that that city were in ruins. But if that essential element is there, though there be no outward ornament, that matters not; his secret heart must be well furnished. In every state whatsoever his secret heart is occupied with God; and that outward preoccupation hinders not his inward occupation. In the same way, in whatever state a pregnant woman finds herself, at peace or at war, sleeping or eating, the child in her womb grows all the time and receives strength and sensation, whilst the mother is wholly unaware of that. Man too is carrying that secret.

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.


But God most High does not leave him in sin and foolishness. Out of the physical human burden, companionship and concord and a thousand familiar friendships come. If out of that secret which man is carrying friendships and acquaintanceships also come, what is there so strange in that? What things will rise out of him after death? The secret heart must be well furnished. For the secret heart is like the root of a tree; though it is hidden, its influence is apparent on the tips of the branches. If a branch or two is broken, when the root is firm they will grow again; but if the root is damaged, neither bough nor leaf remains.

God most High said, 'Peace be upon thee, Prophet!' That is to say, 'Peace is upon thee and upon everyone who is thy congener.' If this had not been the intention of God most High, Muhammad would not have countered Him and said, 'Upon us and upon all God's righteous servants.' For if 'peace' had been intended solely for him, he would not have assigned it to righteous servants; meaning, 'That peace which Thou gavest me rests on me and on all righteous servants who are my congeners.' So too the Prophet said at the time of making ablution, 'Prayer is not perfect save with this ablution.' The meaning is not that ablution specifically, otherwise it must follow that no man's prayer would ever be perfect; the condition of the soundness of the prayer would be solely the Prophet's ablution. The true intention is, that whoever performs the like of this ablution, his prayer is perfect. Similarly it may be said, 'This is a bowl of pomegranate flowers.' What does that mean? Does it mean, 'These only are pomegranate flowers'? No indeed; it means, 'This is the like of pomegranate flowers.'

A countryman came to town and became the guest of a townsman. The townsman brought him halwa, which the countryman ate with gusto. The countryman said, 'O townsman, night and day I have learned to eat carrots. Now that I have tasted halwa, the pleasure of eating carrots has shrunk away in my eyes. Now I shall not find halwa every time, and that which I formerly had has become unattractive to my heart. What am I to do?' When the countryman has tasted halwa, thereafter he yearns after the town; for the townsman has carried his heart away, so willy-nilly he comes looking for his heart.

Some men there are who, when they give greeting, the smell of smoke comes from their greeting. Some there are who, when they give greeting, the smell of musk comes from their greeting. It is the man with sensitive nostrils who smells the odour.

A man must make trial of his friend, that in the end he may not have cause to regret. This is God's rule also: 'Begin with yourself.' If the self makes claim to servanthood, do not accept its claim without making trial of it. In the act of ablution men first convey the water to the nose, and then they taste it; they are not satisfied simply to look at it. For it may be that the appearance of the water is perfectly good, but the taste and smell of it are infected. This is an examination to test the purity of the water. Then, after the test has been completed, men apply the water to their faces.

Whatever you keep hidden in your heart, be it good or evil, God most High makes it manifest in you outwardly. Whatever the root of a tree feeds on in secret, its effect becomes manifest in the bough and the leaf.

Their mark is on their faces.


God most High also says:

We shall brand him upon the muzzle!


If everyone is not to see into your thoughts, what colour are you going to make your face?
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:19 am

Part 1 of 2

Discourse 51

Until you seek you cannot find --
That's true, save of the Lover:
You cannot seek Him, being blind,
Until you shall discover.


The human quest consists in seeking a thing which one has not yet found; night and day a man is engaged in searching for that. But the quest where the thing has been found and the object attained, and yet there is one who is seeking for that thing -- that is a strange quest indeed, surpassing the human imagination, inconceivable to man. For man's quest is for something new which he has not yet found; this quest is for something one has found already and then one seeks. This is God's quest; for God most High is found all things, and all things are found in His omnipotent power. 'Be and it is -- the Finder, the Bountiful'; for God has found all things, and so He is the Finder. Yet for all that God most High is the Seeker: 'He is the Seeker, the Prevailer.' The meaning of the saying quoted above is therefore, 'O man, so long as you are engaged in the quest that is created in time, which is a human attribute, you remain far from the goal. When your quest passes away in God's quest and God's quest overrides your quest, then you become a seeker by virtue of God's quest.'

Someone said: We have no categorical proof as to who is a friend of God and has attained union with God. Neither words nor deeds nor miracles nor anything else furnishes such a proof. For words may have been learned by rote; as for deeds and miracles, the monks have these also. They are able to deduce a man's inmost thoughts, and display many wonders by means of magic. The interlocutor enumerated a number of examples.

The Master answered: Do you believe in anyone or not;

The man said: Yes, by Allah. I both believe and love.

The Master said: Is this belief of yours in that person founded upon a proof and token? Or did you simply shut your eyes and take up that person?

The man said: God forbid that my belief should be without proof and token?

The Master said: Why then do you say that there is no proof or token leading to belief? What you say is self-contradictory.

Someone said: Every saint and great mystic asserts, 'This nearness which I enjoy with God and this Divine favour which God vouchsafes to me is enjoyed by no one and is vouchsafed to no one else.'

The Master answered: Who made this statement? Was it a saint, or someone other than a saint? If it was a saint who stated this, inasmuch as he knows that every saint has this belief regarding himself, he cannot be the sole recipient of this Divine favour. If someone other than a saint made this statement, then in very truth he is the friend and elect of God; for God most High has concealed this secret from all the saints and has not hidden it from him.

That person propounded a parable. Once there was a king who had ten concubines. The concubines said, 'We wish to know which of us is dearest to the king.' The king declared, 'Tomorrow this ring shall be in the apartment of whomsoever I love best.' Next day the king commanded ten rings to be made identical with that ring, and gave one ring to each maiden.

The Master said: The question still stands. This is no answer, and it is irrelevant to the issue. This statement was made either by one of the ten maidens, or by someone apart from the ten maidens. If it was one of the ten maidens who made the statement, then since she knew that the ring was not hers exclusively and that each of the maidens had the like of it, it follows that she had no superiority over the rest and was not the most beloved. If however the statement was made by someone other than those ten maidens, then that person was the king's favourite and beloved concubine.

Someone said: The lover must be submissive and abject and longsuffering. And he enumerated the like qualities.

The Master said: In that case the lover must be like that, alike when the beloved wishes it or no. But if he is so without the desire of the beloved, then he is not truly a lover but is following his own desire. If he accords with the desire of the beloved, then when the beloved does not wish him to be submissive and abject, how should he be submissive and abject? Hence it is realised that the states affecting the lover are unknown, only how the beloved wishes him to be.

Jesus said, 'I wonder at a living creature, how it can eat a living creature.' The literalists say that man eats the flesh of animals, and both are animals. This is an error. Why? Because man it is true eats flesh; but that is not animal, it is inanimate, for when the animal was killed animality no longer remained in it. The true meaning of the saying is that the shaikh mysteriously devours the disciple. I wonder at a procedure so extraordinary!

Someone propounded the following question. Abraham, upon whom be peace, said to Nimrod, 'My God brings the dead to life and turns the living into the dead.' Nimrod said, 'I too, when I banish a man, as good as cause him to die, and when I appoint a man to a post it is as though I bring him to life.' Abraham abandoned the argument, being compelled to yield the point. He then embarked on another line of reasoning, saying, 'My God brings the sun up from the east and sends it down in the west. Do the opposite of that!' Is not this statement manifestly at variance with the other?

The Master answered: God forbid that Abraham should have been silenced by Nimrod's argument and left without any answer to it! The truth is that he used these words to represent another idea, namely that God most High brings the foetus out of the east of the womb and sends it down into the west of the tomb. Abraham's proof, peace be upon him, was thus presented with perfect consistency. God most High creates a man anew every moment, sending something perfectly fresh into his inner heart. The first is in no way like the second, neither is the second like the third. Only man is unconscious of himself and does not know himself.

Sultan Mahmud, God have mercy on him, was brought a sea-horse, a fine beast with a most lovely shape. Next festival day he rode out on that horse and all the people sat on the rooftops to see him and to enjoy that spectacle. One drunken fellow however remained seated in his apartment. By main force they carried him up to the roof, saying, 'You come too and look at the sea-horse!' He said, 'I am busy with my own affairs. I don't want and don't care to see it.' In short, he could not escape. As he sat there on the edge of the roof, extremely drunk, the Sultan passed by. When the drunken fellow saw the Sultan on the horse he cried out, 'What store do I set by this horse? Why, if this very moment some minstrel were to sing a song and that horse were mine, immediately I would give it to him.' Hearing this, the Sultan became extremely angry and commanded that he should be cast into prison. A week passed. Then this man sent a message to the Sultan, saying, 'After all, what sin did I commit and what is my crime? Let the King of the World command that his servant be informed.' The Sultan ordered him to be brought into his presence. He said, 'You insolent rogue, how did you come to utter those words? How dared you speak so?' The man answered, 'King of the World, it was not I who spoke those words. That moment a drunken mannikin was standing on the edge of the roof and spoke those words, and departed. This hour I am not that fellow; I am an intelligent and sensible man.' The Sultan was delighted by his words; he conferred on him a robe of honour and ordered his release from the prison.

Whoever takes up connexion with us and becomes drunk with this wine, wherever he goes, with whomsoever he sits, with whatever people he converses, in reality he is sitting with us and mingling with this tribe. For the company of strangers is the mirror to the graciousness of the friend's company, and mingling with one who is not a congener stimulates love and commingling with the congener. 'Things are made clear by their opposites.'

Abu Bakr Siddiq, God be well pleased with him, gave the name of ummi to sugar, that is to say, congenital sweet. Now men prize other fruits above sugar, saying, 'We have tasted so much bitterness until we attained the rank of sweetness.' What do you know of the delight of sweetness, when you have not suffered the hardship of bitterness?

Discourse 52

The Master was asked concerning the meaning of the following lines:

Yet when desire attains its utmost goal
Love turns entirely into enmity.


He explained: The world of enmity is narrow in relation to the world of friendship, for men flee away from the world of enmity in order to reach the world of friendship. The world of friendship too is narrow in relation to that world out of which friendship and enmity come into existence. Friendship and enmity, unbelief and faith -- these are all a cause of duality. For unbelief is denial, and the denier requires someone for him to deny; so too the confessor requires someone for him to confess. Hence, it is realised, concord and discord are a cause of duality; and that world transcends unbelief and faith, friendship and enmity. Since friendship is a cause of duality, and a world exists where there is no duality but only pure unity, when a man has reached that world he has come forth out of friendship and enmity. For there there is no room for two; so when he has arrived there, he has become separated from duality. Therefore that first world of duality, which is love and friendship, is degraded and inferior in relation to the world into which he has now transferred. Accordingly he does not want it, and is at enmity with it.

So, when 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.

The world of phantasy is broader than the world of concepts and of sensibilia. For all concepts are born of phantasy. The world of phantasy likewise is narrow in relation to the world out of which phantasy comes into being. From the verbal standpoint this is the limit of understanding; but the actual reality cannot be made known by words and expressions.

Someone asked: Then what is the use of expressions and words?

The Master answered: The use of words is that they set you searching and excite you, not that the object of the quest should be attained through words. If that were the case, there would be no need for so much striving and self-naughting. Words are as when you see afar off something moving; you run in the wake of it in order to see it, it is not the case that you see it through its movement. Human speech too is inwardly the same; it excites you to seek the meaning, even though you do not see it in reality.

Someone was saying: I have studied so many sciences and mastered so many ideas, yet it is still not known to me what that essence in man it is that will remain forever, and I have not discovered it.

The Master answered: If that had been knowable by means of words only, you would not have needed to pass away from self and to suffer such pains. It is necessary to endure so much for yourself not to remain, so that you may know that thing which will remain.

A man said, 'I have heard that there is a Kaaba, but however far I look I do not see the Kaaba. Let me go up on the roof and look at the Kaaba.' When he goes up on the roof and stretches out his neck, still he does not see the Kaaba; so he denies that the Kaaba exists. Sight of the Kaaba is not attained merely by doing that, since it is impossible to see it from one's own abiding-place.

Similarly in the winter time you hunted for a fur jacket with all your soul; when summer is come, you fling away the fur jacket and your thoughts are averted from it. Seeking the fur jacket was in order to procure warmth, for you were in love with warmth. In the winter because of some impediment you did not find warmth and were in need of the medium of the fur jacket; but when the impediment no more remained you flung away the fur jacket.

When heaven is rent asunder, and When earth is shaken with a mighty shaking are a reference pointing to yourself. It means, you have experienced the pleasure of being gathered together; but a day is now coming when you will experience the pleasure of these parts being separated, when you will behold the expanse of the other world and find deliverance out of this present straitness. For instance, a man has been fettered with four nails. He thinks that he is quite comfortable in that situation, and has forgotten the pleasure of being free. When he escapes from the four nails, then he realises in what torment he was. In the same way children are swaddled and put to rest in a cradle; they feel perfectly at ease with their hands bound. But if a grown man were cribbed in a cradle, that would be a torment and a prison.

Some feel pleasure when roses have come into bloom and put forth their heads from the bud. Some feel pleasure when the particles of the rose are all scattered and rejoin their origin. So some men desire that friendship and passion and love and unbelief and faith may no more remain, so that they may rejoin their origin. For these things are all walls and a cause of narrowness and duality, whereas the other world is a cause of broadness and absolute unity.

These words are not so mighty and have no power. How should they be mighty? After all, they are merely words. On the contrary, in themselves they are a cause of weakness. Yet they influence to the truth and excite to the truth. Words are an intervening veil. How can two or three letters compounded together be a cause of life and excitement? For instance, a man comes to visit you; you receive him politely and bid him welcome. That makes him happy and is a cause of affection. Another man you receive with two or three words of abuse; those two or three words are a cause of anger and pain. Now what connexion can there be between the stringing together of two or three words and an augmentation of affection and satisfaction, or the provocation of anger and enmity? But God most High has appointed these secondary means and veils so that no man's gaze may fall upon His beauty and perfection. Weak veils are appropriate to weak eyes. So He makes the veils as conditions and means. Bread in reality is not the cause of life; but God most High has made it the cause of life and strength. After all, it is inanimate, in the sense that it has no human life; how can it be the cause of an augmentation of strength? If it had had any life at all, it would have kept itself alive.

Discourse 53

The Master was asked concerning the meaning of the following lines:

You are that very thought, my brother:
Those bones and nerves are something other.


He said: You too consider this idea. 'That very thought' is a reference to that peculiar thought' which I have expressed by means of that word in an extended sense. In reality however that is not 'thought' at all, and if it is, it does not belong to the kind of thought which men understand by the term. By using the word 'thought' my intention was this idea or essential element. If anyone desires to interpret this 'idea' in a more humdrum way so that the common people may understand, let him say 'Man is a speaking animal.'

Speech is thought, whether concealed or expressed. The rest is animal. So it is perfectly correct to say that man consists of thought, and the rest is 'bones and nerves.' Speech may be compared with the sun. All men derive warmth and life from the sun, and the sun is always there, existing and present. All men are always warm through the sun; yet that sun is invisible, and they do not know that they derive life and warmth from it. However, when that thought is spoken through the medium of a word or an expression, be it of thanks or complaint, be it good or evil, then the sun becomes visible; just as the celestial sun which is always shining, but its rays are invisible until they shine upon a wall. Even so the rays of the sun of speech do not appear save through the medium of letters and sounds. Though it is always in being -- for the sun is subtle, and He is the All-subtle -- some element of grossness is required, through the medium of which it may become visible and apparent.

A certain man said that God had no meaning for him; the word left him bewildered and frozen. When they said, 'God did this, and God commanded this and forbade that,' he became warm and saw. So although God's subtlety existed and shone on that man, he did not see; until they explained it to him through the medium of command and prohibition, creation and omnipotent power, he was unable to see.

Some people there are who on account of infirmity cannot take honey; yet through the medium of some food, such as rice dressed with turmeric and halwa and the like, they are able to eat it, until their recovery reaches the point where they can eat honey without any medium.

So we realise that speech is a subtle sun shining continually and without ceasing; but you require some gross medium in order to see and enjoy the rays of that sun. When things reach the point where you are able to see those rays and that subtlety without the gross medium and you have grown accustomed to it, then you become bold in your inspection of it and wax strong. In the depths of that sea of subtlety you see marvellous colours and marvellous spectacles. Yet what is so marvellous in that? For that speech is always within you, whether you actually speak or no, even though at the moment no speech is even in your thoughts.

We say that speech is always in being, just as the philosophers have said that 'Man is a speaking animal.' This animality is always in you so long as you are living. Hence it follows necessarily that speech too is always with you. Thus, chewing is a means of manifesting animality and not a condition, and so speaking and chattering is a means of 'speech' but not a condition.

Man has three spiritual states. In the first he pays no heed to God at all, but worships and pays service to everything, woman and man, wealth and children, stones and clods; God he does not worship. When he acquires a little knowledge and awareness, then he serves nothing but God. Again, when he progresses farther in this state he becomes silent; he does not say, 'I do not serve God,' neither does he say, 'I serve God,' for he has transcended these two degrees. No sound from these people issues into the world.

'Your God is neither present nor absent, for He is the Creator of both' -- that is, of presence and absence. Hence He is other than both of these. For if He were present, it must be that absence does not exist. But absence exists, and He is not present, for 'in presence absence exists.' Therefore He is not qualified by either presence or absence; otherwise it would necessarily follow that opposite proceeds out of opposite. For in the state of absence it would follow that He created presence, and presence is the opposite of absence; and similarly with regard to absence. So it is not right to say that opposite proceeds out of opposite, or that God should create the like of Himself; for He says, 'No like has He.' For if it were possible for the like to create the like, then it would necessarily follow that there was a giving of precedence without any to be preferred, and it would likewise follow that a thing could create itself; and both of these propositions are untenable.

When you have reached this point, halt and apply yourself no more. Here reason has no further control. Once it reaches the margin of the sea it halts, notwithstanding that even to halt no more remains in its power.

All words, all sciences, all skills, all professions derive their flavour and relish from this speech. If that were not so, no flavour would remain in any employment or profession. The end of what is in the chapter is unknown, and knowing is not a condition. This is illustrated by the man who sought in marriage a wealthy woman possessing flocks of sheep and horses and other things. This man looks after the sheep and horses and waters the orchards. Though he is occupied with those services, the flavour of those tasks derives from the existence of the woman; for if the woman were to disappear, those tasks would lose their flavour and become cold and appear lifeless. Even so all professions and sciences in the world and so forth derive life and pleasure and warmth from the ray of the gnostic's 'relish'; but for his 'relish' in those things, all tasks would be utterly without relish and enjoyment.

Discourse 54

The Master said: When I first began to compose poetry it was a great urge that compelled me to compose. At that time the urge had much effect; now the urge has grown weaker and is declining, but still it has its effect. Such is the way of God most High. He fosters things in the time of their rising, and great effects and much wisdom are produced therefrom; in the state of declining his fostering still has its force. The Lord of the East and the West means, 'He fosters the urges both rising and declining.'

The Mu'tazilites hold that a man creates his own acts, and that every act that issues from him is of his own creation. That cannot be so. For each act that issues from man does so either through the medium of the instrument he possesses -- such as reason, spirit, faculty and body -- or without any medium. He cannot be the creator of acts performed through the medium of these things, for he is not capable of assembling them; therefore he is not the creator of acts performed through the medium of such an instrument, since the instrument is not subject to his control. It is also impossible that he should create an act without such an instrument, for it is out of the question that any act should come from him without such an instrument.

Hence we realise absolutely that the creator of man's acts is not man but God. Every act that proceeds out of a man, whether it be good or evil, he performs intentionally and with a purpose, but the wisdom of that deed is not limited to the extent that he conceives. The extent of the meaning and wisdom and advantage which appeared to him in that deed -- the advantage of that is limited to the extent that that action comes into being from him. Only God however knows the total advantage of that deed, what fruits he will discover therefrom. For instance, you pray with the intention that you shall be rewarded in the next world and acquire a good name and safety in the present world. But the advantage derived from that prayer will not be limited to that; it will confer a hundred thousand advantages which do not pass into your understanding. Those advantages are known only to God, who moves a man to perform such an act.

Man is like a bow in the hand of the grip of God's omnipotence. God most High employs him upon various tasks, and the agent in reality is God, not the bow. The bow is the instrument and the medium, but it is unaware and unconscious of God, that the world's order may be maintained. Mighty indeed is the bow that is aware in whose hand it is! What am I to say of a world whose maintenance and columns rest on heedlessness? 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. From his very childhood, when he first began to wax and grow, man has done so out of negligence; else he would never have grown up and become a man. Since therefore his growing into manhood has been accomplished through negligence, God most High imposes upon him willy-nilly many pains and labours that He may wash those acts of negligence away from him and make him clean. Only then is he able to become acquainted with the other world.

The human being is like a dunghill, a heap of manure. But if this manure-heap is precious, it is because in it is the seal-ring of the King. The human being is like a sack of corn. The King cries out, 'Where are you carrying that corn? For my cup is in it.' Man is heedless of the cup, being absorbed in the corn. If he were aware of the cup, how would he pay attention to the corn? Now every thought which draws you towards the supernal world, making you cold and indifferent to this lower world, is a reflection of the ray of that cup flashing out. So man comes to yearn for the other world. When contrariwise he yearns after this lower world, that is a sign that that cup has become hidden in the veil.

Discourse 55

Someone said: Qadi 'Izz al-Din sends his greetings, and always speaks of you in the most approving terms.

The Master said:

Whoso remembers us, and speaks us well,
Long may the world of his high merit tell.


If any man speaks well of another, that good appraisal reverts again to himself, and in reality it is himself that he is praising and applauding. It is like a man who sows round his garden flowers and aromatic herbs; whenever he looks out, he sees flowers and aromatic herbs and is always in Paradise, inasmuch as he has formed the habit of speaking well of other men. Whenever a man has engaged himself in speaking well of another, that person becomes his friend; when he remembers him, he brings to mind a friend; and bringing to mind a friend is like flowers and a flower-garden, it is refreshment and repose. But when a man speaks ill of another, that person becomes hateful in his eyes; whenever he remembers him and his image comes before him, it is as though a snake or a scorpion, a thorn or a thistle has appeared in his sight.

Now since you are able night and day to see flowers and a flower-garden and the meadows of Iram, why do you go about amidst thorns and snakes? Love every man, so that you may always dwell amongst flowers and a flower-garden. When you are a foe of every man, the image of your foes appears before you and it is as if day and night you are going about amidst thorns and snakes. It is for this reason that the saints love all men and think well of all men. They do that not for another but solely for themselves, lest haply a hateful or loathsome image should appear before them. Since in this world one cannot escape mentioning men and encountering their image, the saints strove their utmost that everything in their mind and memory should be amiable and desirable, so that the unpleasantness of a hateful image should not confound their way.

So it is that whatsoever you do unto other men, whenever you make mention of them whether for good or ill, all that reverts to yourself. It is of this that God most High declares:

Whoso does righteousness, it is to his own gain,
and whoso does evil, it is to his own loss.

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.


Someone proposed the following question. God most High declares:

I am setting in the earth a viceroy.


The angels said:

What, wilt Thou set therein one
who will do corruption there, and shed blood,
while we proclaim Thy praise and call Thee holy?


Now Adam had not as yet come into the world. How then did the angels judge beforehand that man would do corruption and shed blood?

The Master answered: There are two ways of explaining this matter, one traditional and the other rational. The traditional version is that the angels had read on the Preserved Tablet that a people would come forth whose description would be such, and so they made that statement. The rational version is that the angels deduced by reasoning that that people would come forth from the earth; they would necessarily be animals, and such conduct certainly comes from animals. Though this essential element would be in them, namely that they would be speaking, yet inasmuch as animality would also be in them, inescapably they would be ungodly and shed blood, these being the prerequisites of being human.

Other people offer still another explanation. They say that the angels are pure reason and goodness unalloyed, and have no choice in any matter. Just as when you do something in a dream you have no choice in the matter, so that of course you cannot be criticised, whether you utter unbelief in your sleep or declare God is One, or if you then commit adultery, the angels are in a like case in the waking state. Men are the reverse of that; they have freewill and are lustful and passionate and desire all things for themselves, being ready to shed blood to secure everything for themselves. That is the attribute of animals. So the state of those others, being angels, is the opposite of the state of men.

It is therefore perfectly feasible to report of them that they spoke in this fashion, even though in their case there was neither speech nor tongue. This is the suppositional situation, that if those two mutually opposite states were to be endowed with words and gave an account of themselves, this is how it would be. Similarly the poet will say, 'The pool said, I am full.' Pools of course do not really speak; the meaning is, that if the pool had had a tongue, in such a situation that is what it would have said.

Every angel has within him a tablet, and from that tablet, according to the degree of his own powers, he reads aforetime all that is to happen in the world and everything that is going to transpire. When the time comes that what he has read and got to know actually comes into being, then his belief in God most High becomes all the stronger and his love and mystic intoxication increase. He marvels at God's majesty and clairvoyance. That increase of love and faith, that wordless and unexpressed wonder, is the angel's proclamation of God's praise.

Thus, a builder informs his apprentice, 'In this house which they are making so much wood will go, so many bricks, so many stones, so much straw.' When the house is completed and exactly that amount of materials has been used, neither less nor more, the faith of the apprentice increases. The angels too are in a like case.

Someone asked the Master: The Prophet Muhammad, with all his majesty -- so that God said, 'But for thee I would not have created the heavens' -- yet said, 'Would that the Lord of Muhammad had not created Muhammad.' How can this be?

The Master answered: The statement will become clear through a comparison. Let me propound to you a comparison for this, so that you may realise the meaning. In a certain village a man fell in love with a certain woman. The two dwelt close together and lived happily and pleasurably one with the other, so that they grew fat and thrived on one another. They lived by each other, just as a fish keeps alive in water. Some years they were together. Then suddenly God most High made them wealthy, bestowing on them many sheep and oxen and horses, wealth and gold and servants and slaves. Because of their extreme magnificence and prosperity they set out for the city. Each purchased a great royal palace and there took up residence with horse and retinue, she in one part of the city and he in another. When things had reached this pitch they were no longer able to enjoy each other's company as before; their hearts smouldered away within them and they uttered secret lamentations, being unable to speak. The consuming fire in them became so violent that they entirely perished in the flames of separation. The conflagration of their grief finally passed all bounds. Then their lamentation was heard by God. Their horses and sheep began to vanish; little by little they were restored to their former situation. So after a long while they were reunited in that village of old and resumed full enjoyment of their life together. Then they recalled the bitterness of their separation; and the cry went up, 'Would that the Lord of Muhammad had not created Muhammad.' So long as Muhammad's soul was dwelling apart in the world of holiness in union with God most High, it grew and thrived, plunging about in that sea of compassion like a fish. Though in this earthly world he was endowed with the rank of prophet and guide to men, greatness and majesty and fame and a large following, yet on returning to that former joyous life he says, 'Would that I had never been a prophet and never come into the world, which in comparison with that absolute union is all burden and torment and suffering.'

All these sciences and exertions and acts of devotion, in comparison with the merit and majesty of the Creator, are as though a man bowed to you, performed a service, and departed. If you were to set the whole earth upon your heart in serving God, it would amount to the same as bowing your head once to the ground. For God's merit and graciousness preceded your existence and your service. Whence did He bring you forth and give you existence and make you capable of service and worship, that you should boast of serving Him? These services and sciences are just as if you had made little shapes of wood and leather, then come and offer them up to God, saying, 'I like these little shapes. I made them; but it is Your business to give them life. If you give them life, You will have made my works to live; and if You give them not -- the command is Yours entirely.'

Abraham said, 'God is He who gives life, and makes to die.' Nimrod said, 'I give life and make to die.' When God most High gave him the kingship he deemed himself also omnipotent, not attributing the merit to God. He said, 'I too make alive and cause to die, and my desire out of this kingdom is knowledge.' When God most High bestows upon man knowledge and sagacity and shrewdness, he attributes all actions to himself, saying, 'I myself by means of this deed and this action give life to all actions and attain ecstatic joy.' Abraham said, 'No, it is He who gives life and makes to die.'

Someone said to our great Master: Abraham said to Nimrod, 'My God is He who brings up the sun out of the east and sends it down into the west. God brings the sun from the east. If you make claim to Godhead, do the reverse.' It follows necessarily from this that Nimrod compelled Abraham to abandon the point; for he abandoned his first argument and left Nimrod's rejoinder unanswered, embarking upon another proof.

The Master answered: Others have talked nonsense over this, and now you are also talking nonsense. This is one and the same argument presented in two forms. You are mistaken, and so are they. There are many meanings underlying this statement. One meaning is this, that God most High shaped you out of the concealment of non-entity in your mother's womb. Your 'east' was your mother's womb; from there you rose, and went down into the 'west' of the tomb. This is precisely the first statement, only expressed in another way: He gives life, and makes to die. 'Now, if you are able, bring forth from the west of the tomb and convey back to the east of the womb.' That is one meaning; another is the following. Inasmuch as through obedience and strenuous effort and noble actions the gnostic attains illumination and spiritual intoxication, refreshment and ease, and in the state of abandoning such obedience and effort that happiness goes down like the sinking sun, these two states of obedience and abandoning obedience have been for him his 'east' and 'west.' 'So if you are able, by bringing to life in this state of apparent setting, which is ungodliness and corruption and disobedience, now in this state of setting make manifest that illumination and ease which rose up out of obedience.'

That is not the business of the servant, and the servant will never be able to do it. That is God's business; for if He wishes He causes the sun to rise from the west, and if He wishes from the east; for

My Lord is He who gives life, and makes to die.


The unbeliever and the believer both proclaim the praises of God. For God most High has stated that every man who goes on the right road and practises righteousness, following the sacred law and the way of the prophets and the saints, shall be vouchsafed such happiness and illumination and life. If he does the reverse, he will be vouchsafed such darkness and fear, such pits and sufferings. Since both believer and unbeliever practise accordingly, and that which God most High has promised comes to pass precisely, neither more nor less, it follows then that both proclaim the praises of God, the one with one tongue and the other with another. How great is the difference between the one praiser and the other praiser!

For instance: a thief has committed a theft, and is hung on the gallows. He too is a preacher to the Muslims, saying, 'Whosoever commits a theft, such is what becomes of him.' Upon another man the king has bestowed a robe of honour on account of his righteousness and trustworthiness: he likewise is a preacher to the Muslims. But the thief preaches with that tongue, and the trusty servant with this tongue. Yet do you consider the difference between those two preachers!
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:20 am

Part 2 of 2

Discourse 56

The Master said: You are happy in mind. How is that? Because the mind is a precious thing; it is like a snare that must be properly set to catch the prey. If your mind is unhappy, the snare is torn and useless.

It therefore behoves one not to go to excess in one's love or enmity towards another, since by both of these the snare becomes torn. One must be moderate. Now this love which must not be excessive -- I mean by that love for other than God. As for what appertains to the Creator, God most High, excess there is inconceivable: the greater the love, the better. Because when love directed towards other than God is excessive -- and all men are subject to the wheel of heaven, and heaven is a circling wheel, and men's circumstances also revolve like a wheel -- when love for a certain person is excessive, one always desires that good fortune may attend him. But that is impossible, and so the mind becomes disturbed. Similarly when enmity is excessive one always desires that that person may be unlucky and unfortunate; but since the wheel of heaven is ever turning and his circumstances too are revolving, so that now he is lucky now unlucky, it is likewise impossible that he should always be unlucky; and so the mind becomes disturbed. But love for the Creator is latent in all the world and in all men, be they Magians, Jews or Christians, indeed in all things that have being. How indeed should any man not love Him who gave him being? Love is latent in every man, but impediments veil that love; when those impediments are removed that love becomes manifest.

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?

Nothing there is, that does not proclaim His praise.


This is not remarkable; what is remarkable is that 'there is not no-thing that does not proclaim His praise.'

Both unbelief and faith are seeking Thee
And shout Thy undivided Unity.


This house was built out of forgetfulness. All bodies and all the world are maintained in being by forgetfulness. This full-grown body too has grown out of forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is unbelief; and faith cannot exist without the existence of unbelief, for faith is the forsaking of unbelief. Therefore there must be an unbelief which can be forsaken. Therefore both of these are one and the same thing, since this does not exist without that and that does not exist without this. They are indivisible; and their Creator is one, for if their Creator had not been one they would have been divisible. Each creator would have created a separate thing, so that they would have been divisible. So since the Creator is One, He is alone and has no partner.

They said: Saiyid Burhan al-Din discourses very well, but he quotes Sana'i frequently in his discourse.

The Master answered: What they say is quite true: the sun is excellent, but it gives light. Is that a fault? Introducing Sana'i's words casts light on that discourse. The sun casts light on things, and in the light of the sun it is possible to see. The purpose of the light of the sun is to show things up. After all, this sun in heaven shows things which are of no use. That is the real sun, which shows things up that are of use. The sun in heaven is derivative and metaphorical; that sun is the true sun. Do you also, according to the degree of your partial intellects, yearn after this sun and seek the light of knowledge, that you may behold something other than sensibilia, and that your knowledge may ever increase. Be expectant of understanding and comprehending something from every teacher and every friend.

So we realise that there is another sun, apart from the sun of physical form, through which realities and inner truths are revealed. This partial knowledge to which you fly and in which you feel pleasure is a branch of that great knowledge, and a ray of it. This ray is calling you unto that great knowledge and original sun.

Those -- they are called from a far place.


You draw that knowledge towards yourself. It says, 'I cannot be contained here, and you are tardy in arriving there. It is impossible for me to be contained here, and it is difficult for you to come there.' To bring about the impossible is impossible; but to bring about the difficult is not impossible. So, though it is difficult, strive to attain the great knowledge; and do not expect that it will be contained here, for that is impossible. Even so the wealthy ones out of their love for the wealth of God collect penny by penny, grain by grain, so that they may attain the attribute of wealth from the ray of wealth. The ray of wealth says, 'I am calling to you out of that great wealth. Why are you drawing me here? For I cannot be contained here. Do you come unto this great wealth.'

In short, the root of the matter is the end: may the end be praiseworthy! What is the praiseworthy end? That the tree whose roots are fixed firm in that spiritual garden, and whose branches and boughs and fruits have become suspended in another place, and its fruits have scattered -- that in the end those fruits should be carried back into that garden, for there its roots are. If the contrary should be the case, though that tree in outward form proclaim God's praises and cry Him alleluia, inasmuch as its roots are in this world, all its fruits are carried back into this world. If however both are in that garden, that is Light upon Light.

Discourse 57

Akmal al-Din said: I love our Master and am desirous to see him. Even the world to come is blotted out of my mind. I find comfort in the image of the Master without these ideas and propositions; I take repose in his beauty, and pleasure accrues to me from his very mien, or from the mental picture of him.

The Master answered: Though the world to come, and God, do not enter your thoughts, yet all is implicit and remembered in love. A beautiful dancing-girl was once playing the castanets in the presence of the Caliph. The Caliph said, 'Your art is in your hands.' She replied, 'No, in my feet, Caliph of God's Messenger!' 'Excellence is in my hands because excellence of foot is implicit in it.' Though the disciple does not remember the world to come in every detail, yet his delight in seeing the shaikh and his fear of being separated from him comprehend all those details, and the whole of them are implicit in that. Similarly with a man who cherishes and loves a child or a brother, though the thoughts of sonship and brotherhood, the hope of fidelity, compassion and fondness and his love for himself, the issue of the affair, and all the other benefits which kinsmen hope for from kinsmen -- though these thoughts do not enter his mind, yet all these details are implicit in that degree of encounter and contemplation. In the same way, air is implicit in wood even though the wood be in earth or in water; were there not air in the wood, fire would never have any effect on it.

For air is the fuel of fire and the life of fire. Do you not see how a breath of air puts life into a fire? Though the wood may be in water or earth, yet air is latent in it. If air were not latent in it, it would never come to the surface of the water. So again with the words you speak: though many things are the prerequisites of these words, such as intelligence and brain, lips and mouth, throat and tongue and all the parts of the body which are the controllers of the body, as well as the elements and temperaments, the spheres, and the hundred thousand secondary causes on which the world depends, and so on until you come to the world of attributes, and then essence -- though all these realities are not expressed in words and are not disclosed, yet the whole of them are implicit in the words as I have already mentioned.

Every day five or six times something undesired and painful happens to a man without his free will. Certainly these things do not proceed from him, but from other than he. He is under the control of that other, and that other watches over him. For many an evil act gives him pain, if there is no opportune watcher watching over him when the act operates. Nevertheless despite these unwanted contingencies, his nature does not acknowledge and is not secure in the thought that 'I am under the control of somebody.'

'God created Adam in His own image.' In your attribute divinity, which is the opposite of servanthood, is deposited on loan. So often man is beaten about the head, yet he does not let go that borrowed obstinacy. He forgets these unwanted contingencies, but it profits him nothing. Until the time when that borrowed element becomes his very own, he will not escape from slapping.

A certain gnostic once said: I went into the bath-stove that my heart might be dilated, for it had been the place of retreat of certain of the saints. I saw that the master of the stove had an apprentice who was working with girded loins. The master was telling him, 'Do this and do that.' The apprentice was labouring briskly, and the stove gave off a fine heat on account of the nimbleness with which he obeyed his orders.

'Fine,' said the master. 'Be nimble like this. If you are always energetic and mind your manners, I will give you my own position and appoint you in my own place.'

I was overcome with laughter, and my knot was resolved, for I saw that the bosses of this world all behave like this with their apprentices.

Discourse 59

Someone said: That astronomer says, 'You claim that there is something without, apart from the heavens and the terrestrial ball which I see. In my view, apart from that nothing exists. If it exists, then show me where it is!'

The Master answered: That demand is invalid from the very start. For you say, 'Show me where it is'; and that Thing has no place. Come then, tell me, whence and where is your objection? It is not in the tongue, it is not in the mouth, it is not in the breast. Search through all of these; divide them piece by piece, atom by atom, and see that you will not find this objection and thought in all of these. So we realise that your thought has no place. Since you have failed to discover the place of your own thought, how will you discover the place of the Creator of thought?

So many thousands of thoughts and moods come over you without your having any hand in them, for they are completely outside your power and control. If you only knew whence these thoughts arise, you would be able to augment them. All these things have a passage over you, and you are wholly unaware whence they come and whither they are going and what they will do. Since you are incapable of penetrating your own moods, how do you expect to penetrate your Creator?

The whoreson says, 'That is not in heaven.' You cur, how do you know That is not? Yes, you have measured heaven span by span; you have gone about all of it, and you pronounce that That is not in it. Why, you do not know the whore you have in your own home; how then should you know heaven? Oh yes, you have heard of heaven, and the names of the stars and the spheres. You say that is something. If you really penetrated the depths of heaven or mounted a single span towards heaven, you would never utter such nonsense.

What do I mean when I say that God is not over heaven? My intention is not, that He is not over heaven; my meaning is, that heaven comprehends Him not, whilst He comprehends heaven. He has an ineffable link with heaven, even as He has established an ineffable link with you. All things are in the hand of His omnipotence and are His theatre and under His control. Hence He is not without heaven and the universe, neither is He wholly in them. That is to say, these comprehend Him not, and He comprehends all.

Someone said: Before earth and heaven and the Throne existed, pray where was He? We said: This question is invalid from the start. For God is He who has no place. You ask, 'Where was He before all this?' Why, all your things are without place. Have you discovered the place of these things which are in you, that you are searching for His place? Since your moods and thoughts have no place, how should a place for Him be conceivable? After all, surely the Creator of thought is subtler than thought. For instance, the builder who has constructed a house is subtler than this house, for that builder, a man, is able to make and plan a hundred such buildings other than this, each different from the other. Therefore he is subtler and more majestic than any fabric; but that subtlety cannot be seen save through the medium of a house, some work entering the sensible world, that that subtlety of his may display beauty.

This breath of yours is visible in winter, but in summer it is invisible. That does not mean that in summer the breath is cut off and there is no breath; but summer is subtle, and the breath is subtle and does not appear, contrary to the winter. In like manner all your attributes and essential elements are subtle and cannot be seen save through the medium of some act. For instance, your clemency exists, but it cannot be seen; only when you forgive an offender, then your clemency becomes visible. Similarly your vengefulness cannot be seen; only when you take vengeance upon a criminal and beat him, then your vengefulness is seen; and so on ad infinitum.

God most High by reason of His extreme subtlety cannot be seen. He created heaven and earth, so that His omnipotence and His handiwork might be seen. Therefore He declares:

What, have they not beheld heaven above them,
how We have built it?


My words are not in my control, and therefore I am pained: because I desire to counsel my friends, and the words do not come as I would have them come, therefore I am pained. But inasmuch as my words are higher than I and I am subject to them, I am happy; for the words which God speaks bring to life wherever they reach, and make a mighty impression.

And when thou threwest, it was not
thyself that threw, but God threw.


The arrow which leaps from the bow of God, no shield or breastplate can repel it. Therefore I am happy.

If all knowledge were within a man, and ignorance were wholly absent, that man would be consumed and cease to be. So ignorance is desirable, inasmuch as by that means he continues to exist; and knowledge also is desirable, in that it is a means to the spiritual knowledge of God. So each is an ally of the other, and both at the same time are opposites. Though night is the opposite of day, yet it is the ally of day and both do the same work. If night lasted forever, no work would ever be produced and result; while if day lasted forever, eye and head and brain would remain dazzled and would go mad and cease to function. Therefore men rest and sleep in the night, and all the implements -- brain, thought, hand and foot, hearing and sight -- all gather strength; and by day they expend those powers.

So all things, though appearing opposite in relation to their opposites, in relation to the wise man are all performing the same work and are not opposed. Show me the evil thing in this world wherein no good is contained and the good thing wherein no evil is contained! For instance, a man was intent on murder, then busied himself with fornication, so that he shed no blood. Inasmuch as it is fornication, it is evil; but inasmuch as it prevented murder, it is good. So evil and good are one and indivisible. That is the substance of our quarrel with the Magians. They say there are two Gods, one the creator of good and one the creator of evil. Now show me good without evil, that I may acknowledge that there is a God of evil and a God of good! This is impossible, for good does not exist apart from evil. Since good and evil are not two and there is no separation between them, therefore it is impossible that there should be two creators. Do we not confute you? By all means, be sure that it is so.

We have spoken few words, because the thought may occur to you that perhaps it is as the Magians say. Granted that you are not sure that it is as I have said, yet how can you be sure that it is not so? Wretched infidel, God declares:

Do those not think that they shall he raised up
unto a mighty day?


'Has not the thought also occurred to you that those threats which We have made may also come true, and that punishment will be visited upon the unbelievers in such wise as you have never imagined? Why then did you not take precautions and seek after Us?'

Discourse 60

'Abu Bakr was not deemed your superior on account of much praying and fasting and almsgiving, but on account of something that was fixed in his heart.' The Prophet says that Abu Bakr's superiority over others was not by reason of much praying and much fasting, but because God's special favour was with him, namely the love of God. On the resurrection day when men's prayers are brought, they will be put in the balance, and likewise their fastings and almsgivings; but when love is brought, it will not be contained in the balance. So the root of the matter is love

When therefore you perceive love to be in you, augment it that it may become greater. When you perceive the principal sum to be in you, namely the quest of God, increase it by ever questing, for 'In movement is blessing'; if you do not increase it, your principal will go away from you. You are not less than the earth. Men change the earth by movement: and by turning it with the hoe, and it yields crops; when they abandon it, it becomes hard. So when you perceive the quest to be in you, be always coming and going, and do not say, 'What use is there in this going?' Keep going, and the use will appear of itself. The use of a man going to the shop is simply to present his requirements. God most High bestows provisions; but if a man sits at home, pretending to be self-sufficient, then the provisions do not arrive.

Consider the little child who cries, and his mother gives him milk. If he were to think, 'What use is there in my crying, and what is the cause of her giving milk?' he would get no milk. So we see that the crying is the reason why he gets the milk. After all, if anyone is absorbed in asking, 'What use is there in this bowing and prostrating? Why should I do it?' -- when you do obeisance before a prince or a chieftain, bowing and kneeling, why, the prince has compassion on you and gives you a sop. What makes compassion in the prince is not the prince's skin and flesh. After death that skin and flesh are still there, as also when the prince is asleep and insensible, but then this obeisance before him goes to waste. So we realise that the compassion which is in the prince is not something that can be perceived and seen. So if it is feasible for us to do obeisance to something which we cannot see which is contained in skin and flesh, surely it is feasible also in the case of That which is without skin and flesh. If that thing which is contained in skin and flesh were not invisible, Abu Jahl and Muhammad would have been one and the same, and so there would have been no difference between them. The ear to outward appearance is just the same whether it is deaf or hearing, there is no difference; the one and the other are the same material shape; but that in which hearing is contained is invisible and cannot be seen.

So the root of the matter is that Divine grace. You, being a prince, have two slaves. One has performed many services and made many journeys on your behalf; the other is idle in your service. Yet we see that your love for the idle one is greater than for the active one; though you do not let the active one go unrewarded, yet such is the case. It is impossible to determine in the matter of God's grace. This right eye and this left eye are both one and the same from the external viewpoint; why, what service has the right eye performed which the left eye has not performed? And the right hand -- what work has it done that the left hand has not done, and so with the right foot? Yet the Divine favour has fallen on the right eye. So too Friday has been preferred over the rest of the days. 'God has certain portions to bestow other than those inscribed for a man on the Tablet, so let him seek for them on Friday.' Now what service has this Friday performed which the other days have not performed? Yet God bestowed His grace and special mark of honour upon Friday.

If a blind man should say, 'I was created blind like this, it is not my fault,' it will do him no good to say 'I am blind' and 'It is not my fault.' That will not relieve him of his suffering. 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.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:20 am

Discourse 61

Successive hearsay does the same work as actual seeing and exercises the same authority. Thus, you were born of your father and mother; you have been told that you were born of them; you have not seen with your own eyes that you were born of them, but by being stated so often it comes to be accepted by you as the truth, so that if you were now told that you were not born of them you would not listen.

Similarly you have heard successively from many people that Baghdad and Mecca exist; if they were now to say and swear an oath that they do not exist, you would not believe it. So we realise that when the ear has heard successively, it exercises the same authority as the eye. In the same way, from the external standpoint a statement when made successively is given the same authority as actual seeing. It may be that the statement of a certain person has the authority of being handed down successively, so that it is not a single statement but a hundred thousand; so one statement of his will be a hundred thousand statements. What is so surprising in this? The external king exercises the authority of a hundred thousand, though he is only one; if a hundred thousand should speak nothing would happen, but when he speaks something happens.

Since this happens in the external world, it follows all the more so in the world of spirits. Though you have gone about the world, inasmuch as you have not gone about it with God in mind, it is necessary for you to go about the world again.

Say: 'Journey in the land, then behold
how was the end of them that cried lies.'


'That journey was not on My account, it was for the sake of garlic and onions. Since you did not go about for His sake, it was for another purpose and that other purpose became a veil to you, not allowing you to see Me.' It is the same when you search earnestly for a person in the bazaar; you see nobody, or if you see people you see them as shadows. Or you are hunting up a problem in a book; your ears and eyes and mind are full of that one problem; you turn the pages, and you see nothing. Since therefore you had an intention and object in view other than this, wherever you went about you were full of that object and did not see this.

In the time of 'Umar, God be well pleased with him, there was a certain man who had grown so old that his daughter used to give him milk and looked after him like a child. 'Umar, God be well pleased with him, said to that daughter, 'There is no child to compare with you in these times in dutifulness to your father.' She replied, 'What you say is true. But there is a difference between me and my father. Though I fall not short in my service to my father, yet when my father was bringing me up and serving me he used to tremble for me, lest any harm should come to me; while I serve my father, and pray night and day asking of God that he may die, that the trouble he causes me may end. If I serve my father, whence can I get that trembling of his for me?' 'Umar said, 'This woman is wiser than 'Umar.' He meant, 'I judge by externals, whilst you spoke of the core.'

The truly wise and learned man is he who penetrates into the core of a thing so that he diagnoses the truth of it. God forbid that 'Omar should not have been apprised of the truth and secret of things; but such was the Companions' way, that they dispraised themselves and commended others.

There are many who have not the strength for 'presence'; they find 'absence' a pleasanter state to be in. In the same way, all the brightness of day is from the sun; but if a man stares at the sun's orb all day and every day it does him no good, and his eyes get dazzled. It is better for him to be occupied with some task or other, which is absence from staring at the sun's orb. Similarly, to mention tasty dishes in the presence of a sick person excites him to acquire strength and appetite, but the actual presence of those dishes does him harm.

Hence it is realised that trembling and passionate love are necessary in the quest for God. Whoever trembles not himself must wait upon tremblers. No fruit ever grows on the trunk of a tree, for trunks do not tremble; the tips of the branches tremble; yet the trunk of the tree strengthens the tips of the branches, and because of the fruit is secure from the blow of the axe. Since the trembling of the trunk of the tree will end in ruin, it is better for the trunk not to tremble, and it suits the trunk to be quiet so that it may serve the tremblers.

Since he is Mu'in al-Din, he is not 'Ain al-Din ('Essence of the Faith') because of the M which has been added to the 'Ain. 'Any addition to perfection is a diminution.' That addition of M is a diminution. In the same way, though six fingers are an addition, yet they are a diminution. Abad ('One') is perfection, and Ahmad is not yet in the station of perfection; when that M is removed it becomes complete perfection. That is to say, God comprehends all; whatever you add to Him is a diminution. The number one is in all numbers, and without it no number can be.

Saiyid Burhan al-Din was discoursing learnedly. A fool interrupted him as he was speaking to say, 'We need some words without likenesses.' The Saiyid answered, 'You who have no likeness, come and listen to words without likeness!' After all, you are a likeness; you are not this of your own self, this person is the shadow of you. When anyone dies, people say, 'So-and-so has departed.' If this body was he, then whither has he departed? So it is realised that your external form is the likeness of your internal being, that men may be guided by your external to your internal. Every thing that is visible is visible because of density. Thus, the breath in hot weather cannot be perceived; but when it is cold, it becomes visible out of density.

It is incumbent upon the Prophet, peace be upon him, to manifest the power of God, and by preaching to waken men. It is not incumbent upon him, however, to bring a man to the stage of being ready to receive God's truth; that is the work of God. God has two attributes: wrath and lovingkindness. The prophets are theatres of both; to believers they are a theatre of God's lovingkindness, and to unbelievers they are a theatre of God's wrath.

Those who acknowledge the truth see themselves in the prophet and hear their own voice proceeding from him and smell their own scent proceeding from him. No man denies his own self. Therefore the prophets say to the community, 'We are you, and you are we; there is no strangeness between us.' A man says, 'This is my hand'; nobody asks him to furnish proof, for it is a conjoined part of him. But if he says, 'So-and-so is my son,' proof is demanded of him, for that is a disjoined part.

Discourse 62

Some have said that love is the cause of service. This is not so. Rather it is the inclination of the beloved that is the requisite of service. If the beloved desires that the lover should be occupied with service, then service proceeds from the lover; if the beloved does not desire it, then the lover abandons service. The abandonment of service is not contrary to love; after all, even if the lover does no service, love does service in him. No; on the contrary, the root of the matter is love, and service is the branch of love.

If the sleeve moves, that happens because the hand moves. On the other hand it does not necessarily follow that if the hand moves the sleeve also moves. For instance, a man has a large gown, so that he rolls about in his gown and the gown does not move. That can happen; but what is not possible is that the gown should move without the person himself moving.

Some people have deemed the gown itself a person, have considered the sleeve a hand and imagined the boot and breeches a foot. This hand and foot are the sleeve and boot of another hand and foot. They say, 'So-and-so is under the hand of So-and-so,' and 'So-and- so has a hand in so many things,' and 'You have to hand it to So-and-so when he speaks.' Certainly what is meant by that hand and foot is not this hand and foot.

That prince came and assembled us, and himself departed. In the same way the bee united the wax with the honey and itself departed and flew away. Because his existence was a condition, after all his continuance is not a condition. Our mothers and fathers are like bees, uniting the seeker with the sought and assembling together the lover and the beloved. They then suddenly fly away. God most High has made them a means for uniting the wax and the honey, and then they fly away; but the wax and honey remain, and the garden. They themselves do not go out of the garden; this is not such a garden that it is possible to go out of it; but they depart from one corner of the garden to another corner of the garden.

Our body is like a beehive in which are the wax and honey of the love of God. Though the bees, our mothers and fathers, are the means, yet they too are tended by the gardener; the gardener also makes the beehive. God most High gave those bees another form; at the time when they were doing this work they had another garment appropriate to that work, but when they departed into the other world they changed garment, for there another work proceeds from them. Yet the person is the same as he was in the first place. Thus for example: a man went into battle, and put on battledress, girded on armour and placed a helmet on his head, because it was the time of combat. But when he comes to the feast he puts off those garments, for he will be occupied with another business. Yet he is the same person. But since you have seen him in that garment, whenever you bring him to mind you will picture him in that shape and that garment, even though he may have changed garments a hundred times.

A man has lost a ring in a certain place. Though the ring has been transported from that place, nevertheless he circles around that place, implying, 'It was here that I lost it.' So a bereaved person circles around the grave and ignorantly circumambulates about the earth and kisses it, implying, 'I lost that ring here'; yet how should it be left there?

God most High has performed so many wonderful works to display His omnipotence. It was here for the sake of Divine wisdom that He composed for a day or two spirit with body. If a man should sit with a corpse in a tomb even for a moment, there is fear that he may go mad. How then, when he escapes from the trap of form and the ditch of the bodily mould, how should he remain there? God most High has appointed that to strike fear into men's hearts and as a token to renew that striking of fear again and again, so that a terror may be manifest in the hearts of men because of the desolation of the tomb and the dark earth. In the same way, when a caravan has been ambushed in a certain place on the road, two or three stones are placed together there to act as a waysign, as much as to say, 'Here is a place of danger.' These graves too are a visible waysign indicating a place of danger.

Fear makes its mark on men; though it does not necessarily follow that it should be realised. For instance if people say to you, 'So-and-so is afraid of you,' without any act issuing from him, an affection manifests in you in regard to him without doubt. If on the contrary they say, 'So-and-so is not in the least afraid of you,' and 'There is no terror of you in his heart,' by the mere fact of this being said an anger towards him appears in your heart.

This running about is the effect of fear. All the world is running; but the running of each one is appropriate to his state. The running of a man is of one kind, the running of a plant is of another kind, the running of a spirit is of another kind. The running of the spirit is without step and visible sign. After all, consider the unripe grape, how much it runs until it attains the blackness of the ripe grape; the moment it has become sweet, at once it reaches that station. Yet that running is invisible and imperceptible; but when it reaches that stage, it becomes realised that it has run very much until it arrived there. Similarly a man enters the water, and nobody has seen him go; when suddenly he brings his head out of the water, then it is realised that he entered the water, for he has reached this point.

Discourse 63

Lovers have heartaches which no cure can mend, neither sleeping nor faring abroad nor eating, only the sight of the beloved. 'Meet the friend and your sickness will end'; this is true to such an extent, that if a hypocrite sits in the company of believers, under their influence he becomes a believer that very instant. So God most High declares:

When they meet those who believe, they say, 'We believe.'


How then, when a believer sits with a believer? Since that has such an effect on a hypocrite, consider what benefits it confers on the believer! Consider how wool, through being in the vicinity of an intelligent man, has become a figured carpet; and this earth, through the vicinity of an intelligent man, has become such a fine palace! The society of an intelligent man has had such an effect on inanimate things; consider then what effect the society of a believer has on the believer!

Through the society of a partial soul and a miniature intellect inanimate things have attained this rank, and these are all the shadow of a partial intellect. One can deduce a person from his shadow. Now deduce from this what manner of intellect and reason is required for yonder heavens, and the moon and sun, and the seven layers of the earth to become manifest through it, and all that lies between earth and heaven. All these existing things are the shadow of the Universal Intellect. The shadow of the partial intellect is proportionate to the shadow of its person; the shadow of the Universal Intellect, which is the whole of existing things, is proportionate to That.

The saints of God have beheld other heavens besides these heavens; for these heavens are disregarded by them and appear lowly before them; they have set their foot upon them and transcended them.

Heavens there are in the province of the soul
That hold our worldly heaven in their control.


What is there so wonderful in the fact that a certain man out of the whole of mankind should discover this particular quality, that he can set his foot upon the head of the seventh heaven? Were we not all congeners of the earth? Yet God most High implanted in us a faculty whereby we became distinguished from our genus, we in control of that and that under our control. We control that in whatever manner we desire, now lifting it up and now setting it down; now we fashion it into a palace, now we make it a cup and a goblet; now we stretch it out, now we shorten it. If in the first place we were this very earth and its congener, God most High distinguished us by means of that faculty. In like manner, what is there so wonderful in the fact that out of the midst of us, who are all congeners, God most High should distinguish a certain one, in relation to whom we are as some inanimate thing, he controlling us, we being unaware of him whilst he is aware of us?

When I say 'unaware,' I do not mean utterly unaware. On the contrary, everyone who is aware of one thing is unaware of another thing. Even earth, inanimate as it is, is aware of what God has given it. For if it were unaware, how would it have been receptive to water, and how would it have nursed and nourished every seed accordingly? When a person applies himself earnestly and attentively to a particular task, his attentiveness to that task means that he is unaware of any other. But by this inattention we do not mean total inattention. Some people wanted to catch a cat, but found it impossible to do so. One day that cat was preoccupied with hunting a bird, and became inattentive through hunting the bird; so they caught it.

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.

From a certain tree sweet fruit materialises; though that fruit is a part of it, yet God most High has chosen and distinguished that part above the whole, for in it He deposited a sweetness that He did not deposit in the rest; and by virtue of that, that part became superior to that whole, and proved the pith and purpose of the tree. So God most High declares:

Nay, out they marvel that a warner has come to
them from among them.


A certain man said, 'I have a certain state in which neither Muhammad nor the angel near the Throne is contained.' The shaikh replied 'Is it so amazing that a man should have a state in which Muhammad is not contained? Muhammad does not have a state in which a stinking creature like you is not contained!'

A certain jester desired to restore the king to his humour. Everyone engaged with him for a certain sum, for the king was greatly vexed. The king was walking angrily along the bank of a river. The jester was walking on the other side level with the king. The king paid not the slightest attention to the jester; he kept staring in the water. The jester, becoming desperate, said, 'O king, what do you see in the water, that you are staring so?' The king replied, 'I see a cuckold.' The jester said, 'Your slave is also not blind.'

So now, since you have a time when Muhammad is not contained, why, Muhammad does not have a state in which such a stinking creature is not contained! After all, this degree of spiritual state which you have discovered is due to his blessing and influence. For in the first place all gifts are showered on him, then they are distributed from him to other men. Such is the rule. God most High said, 'O Prophet, peace be upon thee, and God's mercy and blessings!' 'We have scattered all gifts upon thee.' Said Muhammad, 'And upon God's righteous servants!'

God's way is exceeding fearful, blocked and full of snow. He was the first to risk his life, driving his horse and pioneering the road. Whoever goes on this road, does so by his guidance and guarding. He discovered the road in the first place and set up way marks everywhere, posting pieces of wood to say, 'Do not go in this direction, and do not go in that direction. If you go in that direction you will perish, even as the people of 'Ad and Thamud; and if you go in this direction you will be saved, like the believers. All of the Koran expounds this, for therein are clear signs -- that is to say, upon these ways We have given waymarks. If any man attempts to break any of these pieces of wood, all attack him, saying, 'Why do you destroy the road for us, and why do you labour to accomplish our destruction? Perchance you are a highwayman.'

Know now that Muhammad is the guide. Until a man first comes to Muhammad he cannot reach unto Us. Similarly, when you wish to go to a certain place, first reason leads the way, saying, 'You must go to a certain place, that is in your best interests.' After that the eyes act as a guide, and then the limbs begin to move, all in that order; though the limbs have no knowledge of the eye, neither the eye of the reason.

Though a man is inadvertent, others are not unaware of him. If you labour strenuously in pursuit of the world, you become unaware of your real concern. It is necessary to seek God's approval, not the approval of men; for approval and love and affection are only on loan in men, being placed there by God. If God so wishes, He gives no composure or enjoyment; with all the means of ease and bread and luxury provided, everything becomes pain and affliction. Therefore all secondary means are as it were a pen in the hand of God's omnipotence; God is the mover and the writer. Until He wishes, the pen does not move. You fix your eye on the pen; you say, 'There must be a hand to this pen.' You see the pen, but you do not see the hand. You see the pen and remember the hand; where is that which you see, and that which you say? They however always see the hand, and they say, 'There must also be a pen'; but beholding the beauty of the hand, they do not care to behold the pen. They simply say, 'Such a hand cannot be without a pen'; whilst you are so delighted with beholding the pen that you do not care for the hand, they are so delighted with beholding the hand, how could they care for the pen? Whilst you find such pleasure in barley bread that you do not remember wheaten bread, since they have wheaten bread how could they remember barley bread? Since He has bestowed upon you such joy upon earth that you have no desire for heaven, which is the true place of joy, and since earth derives its life from heaven, how should the inhabitants of heaven remember earth?

So do not regard happiness and pleasure as coming from secondary causes, for those realities are merely on loan to the secondary causes. It is He who hurts and profits, for all hurt and profit come from Him. Why do you cling so to secondary causes?

'The best words are those which are few and telling.' The best words are those which convey a lesson, not those which are many. Though the Sura say, He is One is little in form, yet it is superior to the Sura of the Cow though that is very long, from the standpoint of conveying a message. Noah preached for a thousand years and forty persons rallied to him; it is well known how long Muhammad preached, yet so many climes believed in him, so many saints and 'pegs' appeared because of him. Much and little therefore are no criterion; the true object is the conveying of a lesson.

With some men it may be that few words convey the lesson better than many. In the same way, when the fire of a stove is extremely fierce you cannot derive any benefit from it and are unable to go near it; whereas you derive a thousand advantages from a feeble lamp. Hence it is realised that it is benefit gained which is the true objective. With some men it is beneficial not to hear any words at all; it is enough for them to see; that is what profits such a man, and if he hears any words it actually harms him.

A certain shaikh from India was seeking to come to a great saint. When he reached Tabriz and came to the door of the saint's cell, a voice came to him from within the cell, saying, 'Return! In your case the benefit is that you have come to the door. If you see the saint, that will harm you.'

A few words which convey a lesson are like a lit lamp which kissed an unlit lamp and departed. That is enough for him, and he has attained his purpose. After all, the prophet is not that visible form; that form is the steed of the prophet. The prophet is that true love and affection, and that is immortal; just as the she-camel of Salih, his form is the she-camel. The prophet is that true love and affection, and that is eternal.

Someone asked the question, 'Why do they not praise God only upon the minaret? Why do they also mention Muhammad?' He was answered, 'Well, praising Muhammad is praising God. It may be compared with a man saying, "God give the king a long life, and him who showed me the way to the king, or told me of the king's name and attributes!" Praising the man is in reality praising the king.'

This Prophet says, 'Give me something. I am in need. Either give me your cloak, or your wealth, or clothes.' What would he do with your cloak and wealth? He desires to lighten your garment, so that the warmth of the sun may reach you.

And lend to God a good loan.


He does not want wealth and cloak only. He has given you many things besides wealth -- knowledge, and thought, and wisdom, and vision. He means, 'Expend on Me a moment's regard and thought and consideration and reason; after all, you have acquired wealth by means of these instruments which I have given.' God desires alms alike from bird and snare. If you are able to go before the sun naked, that is better; for that Sun does not burn black, it makes a man white. Or at least make your clothes lighter, that you may enjoy the feel of the Sun. You have become accustomed for a while to bitterness; at least make trial of sweetness too!

Discourse 64

Every science that is acquired in this world by study and application is the science of bodies; that science which is acquired after death is the science of religions. To know the science of 'I am God' is the science of bodies; to become 'I am God' is the science of religions. To see the light of the lamp and the fire is the science of bodies; to burn in the fire or in the light of the lamp is the science of religions. Everything that is sight is the science of religions; everything that is knowledge is the science of bodies.

You may say that the only verity is seeing and vision; all the other sciences are the science of fantasy. For instance, an architect has thought and pictured the building of a school; however much that thought may be right and correct, yet it is a fantasy. It becomes reality when he actually raises and constructs the school.

Now there are differences between fantasy and fantasy. The fantasy of Abu Bakr and 'Umar and 'Uthman and 'Ali is superior to the fantasy of the Companions. Between fantasy and fantasy there is a great difference. The expert architect built a house, and a man who was not an architect also conceived a fantasy; the difference is great, because the architect's fantasy is closer to reality. Similarly on the other side, in the world of realities and vision, there are differences between vision and vision, and so on ad infinitum.

So when it is said that there are seven hundred veils of darkness and seven hundred of light -- all that belongs to the world of fantasy is a veil of darkness, and all that belongs to the world of realities is veils of light. But between the veils of darkness, which is fantasy, no difference can be made or seen because of their extreme subtlety; and despite a vast and enormous difference in realities, that difference also cannot be comprehended.

Discourse 65

The inhabitants of Hell will be happier in Hell than in the world, for in Hell they will be aware of God whereas in the world they are not aware; and nothing can be sweeter than the awareness of God. So their desire to return to the world is in order that they may do something whereby they may become aware of the manifestation of Divine grace, not because the world is a happier place than Hell.

Hypocrites are consigned to the lowest reach of Hell because faith came to the hypocrite, but his unbelief was strong and so he did nothing; his punishment will be more severe so that he may become aware of God. To the unbeliever faith did not come; his unbelief is weak, and so he will become aware through a less punishment. So as between the breeches with dust upon them and the carpet with dust upon it, in the case of the trousers it is sufficient for one person to shake them a little for them to become clean, whereas it takes four persons shaking the carpet violently for the dust to leave it.

When the inhabitants of Hell cry:

Pour upon us water, or of that God
has provided you --


God forbid that they should desire foods and drinks; it means, 'Pour upon us too of that thing which you have found and which shines on you.'

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.' The Koran is able to show itself in whatever form it pleases. But if you do not draw aside the veil and seek only its good pleasure, watering its sown field and attending on it from afar, toiling upon that which pleases it best, it will show its face to you without your drawing aside the veil.

Seek the people of God, for

Enter thou among My servants.'
Enter thou My Paradise.'


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.

Discourse 66

Siraj al-Din said: I spoke on a problem, but something within me ached.

The Master answered: That is something put in charge of you which does not allow you to speak. Though that controller is imperceptible to you, yet when you feel yearning and compulsion and pain you know that there is a controller. For instance, you enter the water; the softness of the flowers and fragrant herbs reaches you. When you go to the other side, thorns prick into you. It thus becomes known to you that on that side is a thorn-bed, and discomfort and pain, whilst on the other side is a flower-bed and ease; though you perceive neither. This is called emotion, and it is more apparent than anything perceptible. For instance, hunger and thirst, anger and happiness -- all these things are imperceptible, yet they are more apparent than anything perceptible. For if you close your eyes you do not see the perceptible, whereas you cannot by any device drive hunger away from yourself. Similarly hotness in hot dishes, and coldness, sweetness and bitterness in foods, these are imperceptible, yet they are more apparent than anything perceptible.

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.

Hajjaj, having taken being, had rested his head against the door and was shouting, 'Do not move the door or my head will fall off!' He had supposed that his head was separate from his body and only subsisted through the medium of the door. Our situation and that of all men is like this: they suppose that they are connected with the body or subsist through the body.

Discourse 67

'He created Adam in His likeness.' All men are seeking manifestation. There are many women who are veiled, but they uncover their faces to try the object of their desire, as you try a razor. The lover says to the beloved, 'I have not slept and I have not eaten, I have become like this and that without you.' The meaning of this would be, 'You are seeking a manifestation; I am your manifestation, to which you may vaunt your belovedness.' In the same way all scholars and learned men are seeking manifestation. 'I was a hidden treasure, and I desired to be known.'

'He created Adam in His likeness,' that is, in the likeness of His rules. His rules are manifest in all creation, because all things are the shadow of God, and the shadow is like the person. If the five fingers are spread out, the shadow too is spread out; if the body bows, the shadow also bows; if it stretches out, the shadow also stretches out. So all men are seeking after a sought-for and beloved One, for they desire all to be His lovers and humble ones, enemies to His enemies and friends of His friends. All these are the rules and attributes of God which appear in the shadow.

To sum up, this shadow is unaware of us, but we are aware. But this awareness of ours in relation to God's knowledge is in the predicament of unawareness. Not everything that is in the person shows in the shadow, only certain things. So not all the attributes of God show in this shadow, only some of them show, for

You have been given of knowledge nothing
except a little.


Discourse 68

Jesus, upon whom be peace, was asked, 'Spirit of God, what is the greatest and most difficult thing in this world and the next?' He replied, 'The wrath of God.' They asked, 'And what shall save a man from that?' He answered, 'That you master your own wrath and suppress your rage.'

That is the proper way: that when the soul desires to complain, a man should go contrary to it and give thanks and exaggerate the matter to such a degree that he acquires within himself a love of the other. For to give thanks lyingly is to seek love of God.

So says our great Master, God sanctify his spirit: To complain of the creature is to complain of the Creator. He also said: Enmity and rage in your unconsciousness are hidden from you. It is as if you see a spark leaping from a fire: extinguish it, so that it may return to non-existence whence it came. If you assist with the match of an answering word and the expression of a reprisal, it will find the way and move again and again out of non- existence, and then only with difficulty can you send it back to non-existence.

Repel thou the evil with that which is fairer


so that you may triumph over your enemy in two ways. One way is this: that your enemy is not his flesh and skin, it is the evil thought; when that is repelled from you by an abundance of thanks, it will inevitably be repelled from him also. The first way is in accordance with instinct, for 'A man is the slave of beneficence.' The second is that he sees no advantage. So it is with children: when they shout names at one of them and he calls bad names back, they are all the more encouraged, saying, 'Our words have had an effect.' But if the enemy sees no change and no advantage, no inclination remains in him. The second way is this: that when the attribute of forgiving appears in you, it becomes realised that the other man's reproaches were a lie and that he saw crooked, not seeing you as you truly are. It also becomes realised that he is the one to be reproached, not you; and no proof puts an adversary to shame more than that, that his lying should become manifest. So by praising and giving thanks to him you are administering poison to him; for whilst he is manifesting your deficiency, you have manifested your perfection. For you are beloved of God --

and pardon
the offences of their fellow-men; and God
loves the good-doers.


He who is loved by God can hardly be defective. Praise him, so that his friends may conceive the idea, 'Perhaps he is at odds with us, for there is so much agreement with him.'

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


May God assist us to that!

Discourse 69

Between a man and God there are just two veils, and all other veils manifest out of these: they are health, and wealth. The man who is well in body says, 'Where is God? I do not know, and I do not see.' As soon as pain afflicts him he begins to say, 'O God! O God!' communing and conversing with God. So you see that health was his veil, and God was hidden under that pain. As much as a man has wealth and resources, he procures the means to gratifying his desires, and is preoccupied night and day with that. The moment indigence appears, his spirit is weakened and he goes round about God.

Drunkenness and emptyhandedness brought Thee to me;
I am the slave of Thy drunkenness and indigency!


God most High granted to Pharaoh four hundred years of life and rule and kingship and enjoyment. All that was a veil which kept him far from the presence of God. He experienced not a single day of disagreeableness and pain, lest he should remember God. God said, 'Go on being preoccupied with your own desire, and do not remember me. Goodnight!'

King Solomon grew weary of his reign,
But Job was never sated of his pain.


Discourse 70

The Master said: This that men say, that in the human soul there is an evil which does not exist in animals and wild beasts -- it is not from the standpoint that man is worse than they; it is explained by the fact that that 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. So vileness and evil and bad character are the cause of the veil over that element; and these veils cannot be removed save with great strivings.

Those strivings are of various kinds. The greatest of them is to mingle with friends who have turned their faces to God and turned their backs on this world. For there is no more difficult striving than this, to sit with righteous friends; for the very sight of them dissolves and naughts that carnal soul. It is for this reason that they say that when a snake has not seen a man for forty years it becomes a dragon; that is, because it sees no one who would be the means of dissolving its evil and vileness.

Wherever men put a big lock, that is a sign that there is to be found something precious and valuable. So you see, the greater the veil the better the element. Just as a snake is over the treasure, so do you not regard our ugliness, but regard the precious things of the treasure.

Discourse 71

'On what,' My darling cried,
'Does So-and-so abide?


The difference between birds and their wings, and the wings of the aspirations of intelligent men, is that birds fly on their wings towards a certain direction, whereas intelligent men fly on the wings of their aspirations away from all directions.

Every horse has its stable, every beast its pen, every bird its nest. And God knows best.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:25 am

Part 1 of 2

Notes

Discourse 1


Is it permissible for a scholar to visit princes, in view of the fact that the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have condemned the practice? Rumi argues somewhat captiously that a true scholar, even if formally he goes to visit a prince, because of the independence of his outlook is in fact visited by the prince who wishes to consult him.

The discussion turns to a famous event in the early history of Islam, when the Prophet's uncle 'Abbas whilst yet an infidel was taken prisoner by the victorious Muslim forces and the Prophet laughed. Muhammad tests his uncle's profession of faith, and then accepts him as a true convert.

Rumi explains the relevance of his discourse to the situation of the Parvana of Rum, whom he had chided for siding with the Mongols against the Syrians and Egyptians and urged to make common cause with the latter in defence of Islam. He concludes with expressing gratification that the Parvana had accepted his advice, to be bold in God's cause and to have good hope in Divine assistance.

The final section enables us to assign this discourse to the last years of Rumi's life, in any case after 1268.

p. 13. 'The worst of scholars': this Tradition of the Prophet is given by al-Ghazzali in Ihya', vol. I, p. 51.

p. 14. 'We have learned': a similar saying is attributed to the Angel of Death in conversation with the Prophet Abraham, see al-Tirmidhi, Nawadir al-usul, p. 377.

'O Prophet, say': the quotation is from Koran VIII 70, a passage explained as referring to events which followed the victory of Badr in A.D. 624.

'And laughed': Rumi refers to this incident in the Masnavi III, lines 4473 ff.

p. 15. 'He makes the night': Koran XXXV 13.

'He brings forth': Koran XXX 18.

'Of God's comfort': Koran XII 87.

p. 16. 'Easy it is': the verses are in Persian, and of course are not meant to have been actually spoken by the Prophet.

p. 17. The Amir Parvana: for a brief account of his career, see the Introduction to this book.

p. 18. 'God is a great deviser': a reminiscence of Koran III 47, VIII 30.

'Lord, show me things as they are'; this Tradition, which is not to be found in the usual collections, was a great favourite with Rumi, who refers to it repeatedly in the Masnavi.

Discourse 2

The discourse opens with a topic often discussed by Rumi, the kind of telepathic communication between true mystics which renders speech superfluous. Thought is the attractive force, and not the expression of thought. Expressions are multitudinous, but the controlling thought is one. For thought to be pure and true it is necessary for a man to keep his discriminative faculty clear of all ulterior objects, and to concentrate his purpose on seeking a true friend in the Faith.

Rumi reverts to a subject treated in Discourse I, the placing of all one's hope in God. This leads him to speak of the danger inherent in associating with princes, that the desire to please them may corrupt the purity of the believer's faith and lure him away from the Divine Beloved. In the concluding section Rumi speaks of man as the astrolabe of God. Just as the astrolabe is useless save to an astronomer, so man's special relationship to god avails him nothing unless he knows his true self.

p. 19. 'The element of congeneity'; this is frequently referred to in the Masnavi, see especially IV 2671.

'A hundred thousand miracles'; the same point is made in Masnavi VI 1176.

'Upon the day'; Koran LXXXVI 9, a reference to the Last Day.

'And their number'; Koran LXXIV 31.

p. 20. 'Few in the numbering'; quoted inaccurately from the famous Arab poet al-Mutanabbi (d. 965), see his Diwan (Cairo 1930) I, p. 237.

p. 21. 'The bird that perched'; this quatrain occurs in Muhammad ibn al-Munawwar's Asrar al-tauhid, p. 122, a biography of the mystic Abu Sa'id ibn Abi 'l-Khair written before 1200.

'Whosoever assists an oppressor'; this Tradition of Muhammad is quoted in 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Munawi, Kunuz al-haqa'iq, p. 123.

p. 22. 'Decked out fair'; Koran III 13.

'Man is the astrolabe of God'; see Masnavi VI 3140 f.

'He who knows himself'; this famous Tradition, frequently cited by Sufi writers, is also sometimes assigned to the caliph 'Ali.

'We have honoured'; Koran XVII 72.

p. 23. 'Figured silks'; quoted from al-Mutanabbi, Diwan II, p. 158. Aflaki states that Rumi was particularly fond of reading al-Mutanabbi, and was reproved on that account by Shams al-Din of Tabriz. He quotes al-Mutanabbi a number of times in the Discourses.

Discourse 3

The theme of this discourse is preoccupation and absorption. The scene opens with an anonymous visitor, evidently the Parvana, excusing himself for remissness in his religious duties owing to preoccupation with Mongol affairs. Rumi replies that inasmuch as those preoccupations are in defence of Islam, the Parvana's work counts as religious service. Other visitors arrive, and Rumi now excuses himself for inattention to them, his plea being that he was preoccupied with prayer. This leads into a discussion of the nature of prayer, and Rumi distinguishes between the 'body' or 'form' (physical acts) of (formal) prayer, and the 'soul' of prayer which is a state of complete absorption with God.

p. 24. 'I have a time': this Tradition of Muhammad is a favourite of the Sufis though not admitted as genuine by the orthodox. For other discussions of 'absorption' see Masnavi VI 4630 ff. and below, Discourse II.

Baha' al-Haqq wa'l-Din: Rumi's father, for whom see the Introduction. This anecdote is also related in the Risala of Faridun Sipahsalar, p. 16.

Khvajagi: a disciple of Baha' al-Din Valad who accompanied him on his flight from Balkh.

'Die before you die': a Tradition beloved of the Sufis but rejected by the orthodox, quoted by Rumi several times in the Masnavi.

Discourse 4

Stimulated by the casual remark of a visitor that he had forgotten something, Rumi discourses on the one task which men must never forget to discharge, namely to fulfil the high trust which man in the beginning of the world accepted from God, to serve Him only in utter devotion.

Rumi quotes a remark of his teacher Burhan al-Din when he was told that a certain man had sung his praises; he declared himself indifferent until he should know whether his admirer applauded him out of true knowledge and not from mere hearsay. The only knowledge worth possessing is self-knowledge.

p. 26. 'We offered the trust': Koran XXXIII 72.

p. 27. 'And We honoured'; Koran XVII 72.

'God has bought'; Koran IX 112.

p. 28. 'You are more precious'; quoted from the Hadiqat al-haqiqa of Sana'i (fl. 1140), a poem on the mystical life which Rumi studied deeply and frequently quoted.

'Sell not yourself'; quoted from Rumi's own poetry, see his Ghazaliyat (Teheran 1956), p. 565.

'I pass the night'; a Tradition of Muhammad accepted as genuine by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

p. 29. 'Even so when Majnun'; the desert romance of Majnun and Laila is cited frequently by the mystics as a prototype of perfect devotion. The present anecdote is retold by Rumi in Masnavi IV 1533 ff.

'My camel's desire'; quoted from the Bedouin poet 'Urwa ibn Hizam, cited by Rumi again in Masnavi IV 1533.

Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq; for further details of Rumi's teacher see the Introduction. The same anecdote occurs in Faridun's Risala, p. 121.

Discourse 5

An unnamed admirer, doubtless the Parvana, thanks Rumi fulsomely for the honour of a visit. Rumi replies by applauding his lofty aspirations which move him to such humility and a sense of unworthiness. Form has its importance as well as spirit. Yet man's true destiny lies far beyond mere worldly things; the ascetic sees into the hereafter, but God's elect transcends both this world and the next, having his eyes fixed on the First Thing, God.

Rumi turns to discourse on pain, which is a spur to action. Unless there is a burning desire, an ache within the soul for higher things, those loftier aims will remain unattainable.

p. 31. 'Two inclinations'; this Tradition of Muhammad is given in al-Munawi, Kunuz, p. 67.

'A dervish entered'; this story is told of the ascetic al-Fudail ibn 'Iyad speaking to Haran al-Rashid, see Ibn Khallikan, Wafayat al-a'yan, no. 504. Other versions are given in 'Attar, Tadhkirat al-auliya', I, p. 251; Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 645.

p. 32. 'Whithersoever you turn'; Koran II 109.

'God brought him into existence': for the idea of the 'ascent of man' see Masnavi III 3901 ff, IV 3637 ff., and compare R. A. Nicholson, Rumi, Poet and Mystic, p. 187, n. l.

'You shall surely ride'; Koran LXXXIV 19-20.

p. 33. 'And the birthpangs'; Koran XIX 23.

'The soul within you': quoted from the poet Khaqani (d. about 1200).

Discourse 6

Words are spoken for the sake of those who need words; the man who understands without words hears the message of heaven and earth proclaiming God their Creator. Rumi tells a story of a Turkish king who applauded the work of an Arab poet though he knew no Arabic; it was not the words themselves but the purport of the words that really signified. Phenomena are many; the ultimate Object is one.

A bystander interrupts with a confession of remissness. This moves Rumi to discourse on the Divine purpose in reproach and self-criticism, and the sense in which one man is a mirror to another enabling him to see in the other his own faults. From this Rumi returns to the thesis that multiplicity and duality vanish in the presence of God; a man must sacrifice his own self in order that God may be revealed in all His glory.

Why do the saints and prophets seek worldly fame? So that the light which they brought may shine forth upon all men. Men reject their message, saying that they have heard plenty of such words before, but that is because they do not understand those words.

'Be! and it is'; Koran XXXVI 82.

p. 35. 'Love continues'; quoted from an unknown Arab poet.

'The believer is the mirror'; this Tradition of Muhammad is a favourite with the Sufis when they discuss clairvoyance. The theme is elaborated several times in the Masnavi, especially IV 2137 ff.

p. 37. 'Simurgh of the Mount Qaf'; the simurgh is a legendary bird nesting in Mount Qaf on the rim of the earth, used by the Sufi poets as a symbol of the Divine Presence.

'There was a servant of God': Aflaki tells a closely similar story of Shams al-Din of Tabriz.

'A bore came'; said to have been Shaikh Sharaf al-Din Haravi, one of the leading ulema of Konia. The 'great saint' is identified with Chelebi Husam al-Din, favourite disciple of Rumi and his successor.

p. 38. 'And they say, Our hearts'; Koran II 83.

'God has set a seal': Koran II 6.

p. 39. 'He kneaded the clay': a well known Tradition of Muhammad.

Discourse 7

The entry of the Atabeg's son causes Rumi to speak of the multiplicity of religions and of men, a multiplicity inherent in the nature of things and not to vanish until the resurrection. It is a Divine mercy that men are all occupied with their diverse interests. Nevertheless certain men, the mystics, have attained the vision of the One God already in this world.

Rumi resumes the topic of the use of words, enunciating the principle that they are measured to the capacity of the hearers; some men require a multitude of words, others penetrate the meaning from the merest hint.

'The son of the Atabeg': evidently Majd al-Din Atabeg, son-in-law of the Parvana, mentioned as a disciple of Rumi by both Faridun and Aflaki.

p. 40. 'Even were the veil removed': a saying frequently attributed to 'Ali.

p. 41. 'Naught there is': Koran XV 21.

p. 42. 'Majnun and Farhad': Majnun wandered in the desert for love of Laila, Farhad enamoured of Shirin haunted the mountains. Both romances are told by Nizami and other poets.

Discourse 8

Rumi resumes the topic of prayer, with which he had dealt in Discourse 3. Then he passes again to the theme of words and the hearer. A verse he quotes leads him to speak of the disciple and his dependence upon his preceptor. The prophets and saints are sent to remind men of their original purity when they were spirits; men recognise the truth of the message only if they are congeners of the prophets and saints.

p. 43. 'Someone asked'; said to be Nar al-Din Jicha, mentioned by Aflaki as a disciple of Rumi.

p. 44. 'O would that I were dust': Koran LXXVIII 41.

'And the unbelievers': Koran II 259.

p. 45. 'This is that wherewithal': Koran II 23.

'Those spirits which recognise': a Tradition of Muhammad recognised by both al-Bukhari and Muslim.

'Now there has come': Koran IX 129.

p. 46. 'The colour is the colour of blood': part of a Tradition of Muhammad describing the Last Day when the martyrs will be revealed by the fragrance of their blood.

Discourse 9

The report that a certain man desired to see Rumi leads to a discussion of the true nature of desire, that all human cravings spring from the one overriding desire, to see God. Mundane desires are veils over God's beauty to save man from the annihilation which would follow the unveiled epiphany of the Divine. The use made by Rumi of the parallel of the sun draws him on to explain the difference between 'likeness' and 'comparison'; comparisons are instituted to stimulate and assist the reason in its quest for truth.

p. 47. 'And when his Lord': Koran VII 139.

'Neither camel nor sheep': the Persian has jamal (camel) and hamal (sheep), a half-pun not reproducible in English.

'Likeness is one thing': the same point is made in Masnavi III 1155, 1942, 3407, III 419 ff.

Discourse 10

The Parvana reports to Rumi that the latter's son Baha' al-Din (Sultan Valad) had said that Rumi did not wish the Parvana to visit him since he was subject to varying moods and was not always available to see visitors; it was better that Rumi should himself go to visit his friends. The Parvana explains that he does not come in order that Rumi may converse with him, but just to have the honour of waiting on him. Rumi has kept him waiting so as to teach him what it feels like to be kept waiting.

Rumi answers that his purpose was quite otherwise. He kept the Parvana waiting not to teach him a lesson, but because he so loved him that he wished to enjoy his company as long as possible. This leads to a discourse on friendship and love; those who have been close friends in this world will at once resume their friendship in the next world. It is the essential substance of a man and not any accidental attributes which forms the basis of such friendship; and the substance survives death. Nevertheless form (as opposed to substance) has its own value, as giving a partial revelation of the nature of reality.

Rumi passes on to explain the meaning of 'God says' in the mouth of the Prophet Muhammad. God's speech is wordless and soundless, but through the mouths of the prophets and saints He gives it word and sound. A man may be known by his words. Rumi then illustrates the nature of clairvoyance. After touching on the mystery of the 'unseen' saints of God, he returns to the original topic and explains why the Parvana should be pleased to have been kept waiting.

p. 48. 'The Parvana said': Aflaki also reports this incident in very similar words.

Baha' al-Din: Rumi's eldest son SultanValad, born in 1226, married the daughter of Shams al-Din Faridun Zarkub, succeeded Chelebi Husam al-Din as head of the Mevlevi Order, and died in 1312.

p. 49. 'It is related that God Most High declares': this Tradition of Muhammad is close to one reported by al-Tirmidhi in his Nawadir al-usul. p. 368.

'That Joseph-like form is changed': because Joseph's brothers pretended to Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wolf, see Koran XII 17.

p. 51. 'The Prophet was asked': both question and answer are a pure invention.

'Nor speaks he out of caprice': Koran LIII 3-4.

p. 52. Shaikh Sar-razi: this person is mentioned in Masnavi V 2667, 2779. A similar story is told of him by Baha' al-Din Valad in his Ma'arif; p. 264.

p. 53. 'Certain men said to Jesus': this and the following story are reminiscences of Matthew 8:20, a favourite topic with Muslim writers, see Ibn Qutaiba, 'Uyan al-akhbar II, p. 271; al-Ghazzali, Ihya' III, p. 141.

Discourse 11

A discussion is initiated by the proverbial saying 'Hearts bear witness one to another.' Rumi explains that when the heart is absorbed (compare Discourse 3) all other parts of the body including the tongue are atrophied. In absorption the senses become a unity; the person absorbed loses his freedom of action. This explains Hallaj's famous utterance 'I am God' which, so far from being (as is alleged) a blasphemy, is in reality the acme of humility, being a confession that only God exists. Absorption is accompanied by a fear of God, which is different from all other fears; it is a realisation that all human states come from God, and is an actual experience and not a logical proof of God's existence. In absorption the mystic passes away into God. The terms obedience and disobedience, righteousness and sin then become irrelevant.

Rumi turns to discuss the difference between the 'knower' and the 'gnostic' and to compare the merits of knowledge and asceticism. Whereas primary knowledge (theory) is inferior to asceticism, secondary knowledge (direct cognition of God) is its superior. To arrive is better than to travel hopefully; the man who has arrived has transcended hope and fear.

Which is better, to laugh or to weep, to fast or to pray, to be alone or in company? The answer is that this depends upon the requirements of the individual soul, to know which calls for the assistance of a wise counsellor; though it remains true that self-knowledge and self-revelation lie at the roots of the matter.

The presence of the Amir stimulates Rumi to utter great truths. That is because of the unison between their hearts, which indeed dispenses with the need for uttered communication.

p. 54. 'Hearts bear witness': a proverb.

Amir Na'ib: presumably Amin al-Din Mika'il, deputy to the Sultan of Rum from 1260 to 1278.

p. 55. 'Your name is upon my tongue'; a similar verse is ascribed to the martyr-mystic al-Hallaj (executed in 922), see L. Massignon, Le Diwan d'al-Hallaj, p. 106.

'Take the famous utterance'; the much-discussed Ana 'l-Haqq of al-Hallaj which led to his execution.

p. 57. 'But for thee I would not have created': a well known Tradition of Muhammad.

p. 58. 'Nothing is, that does not': Koran XVII 46.

'Even were the veil': see Discourse 7.

p. 60. 'And We have raised some': Koran XLIII 31.

'And whoso has done an atom's weight': Koran XCIX 7.

'This world is the seed-plot': a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Munawi, Kunuz, p. 64.

p. 61. 'I am where My servant'; a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Tirmidhi, Nawadir al-usul, p. 85; al-Ghazzali, Ihya' III, p. 269.

'Take counsel of your heart': a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Sarraj, Kitab al-Luma', p. 16, 45; Abu Nu'aim, Hilyat al-auliya' VI, p. 255.

'Show me things': see Discourse I.

p. 62. 'A raven'; Koran V 34.

Discourse 12

Who is the wrongdoer in the case of a man justly striking another? The example of the Prophet Muhammad gives the clear answer: he was the wronged party even when he defeated his enemies. The Parvana then asks whether the good resulting from a human action is due to the action itself, or a gift of God. Rumi answers it is the latter, though God assigns the merit to man. The Parvana comments that in that case every seeker is bound to find; Rumi rejoins that for all that a guide is still needed. The body's guide is the intellect; humanity's guide is the saint.

God's providential care can draw a man to serve His will, nevertheless man is given the power to exert himself. First comes grace, which is like a spark setting afire a mass of tinder. Rumi compares his own words with such a spark, and prays that they may find response in the hearts of his hearers.

Rumi then defines the difference between soul and spirit, discoursing on the well known definition of man as a 'rational animal.' He returns to the theme of the preacher's words, and discusses the nature of thought. Thoughts exercise a tremendous influence for good or evil, and act independently of the body. Physical delights are mere accidents, the scent of the heavenly musk; it behoves a man to transcend the accidental and to reach after the substance, which is the eternal presence of God.

p. 64. 'Islam began a-stranger': this famous Tradition of Muhammad, which goes on 'and will return a stranger as it began,' is recognised by Muslim and other orthodox collectors.

'In your present state of bondage': a reference to Koran VIII 70, see Discourse 1.

p. 65. 'No soul knows': Koran XXXII 17.

'The Night of Power': Koran XCVII 3.

p. 66. 'One tugging from God': this saying is quoted anonymously in the Asrar al-tauhid, p. 247. Rumi discusses 'Divine tugging' several times in the Masnavi, see especially VI 1475 ff.

'He said, Lo': Koran XIX 31.

John the Baptist: see Masnavi II 3602 ff.

'Is he whose breast': Koran XXXIX 22.

p. 67. 'For man was created': Koran IV 32.

'Surely thou art upon': Koran LXVIII 4.

'To God belong the hosts': Koran XLVIII 4.

Nimrod: for his killing by a gnat see Masnavi I 1189.

Abraham: the miracle of the furnace turning into a rose-garden is based on Koran XXI 69.

p. 68. 'What though a man': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa.

p. 69. 'Who shall succeed': this verse, which is repeated in Discourse 17, is quoted by Rumi in his Majalis, p. 121.

p. 70. 'We have returned from the lesser struggle': a well known Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Munawi, Kunuz, 90. Rumi comments on this Tradition in Masnavi I 1373 ff.

Discourse 13

This discourse is a sermon on the text of a Tradition of Muhammad, the theme being the struggle against the inward enemy, the carnal soul.

p. 71. 'The night is long': this Tradition is not recorded in any of the canonical collections.

p. 72. 'Say, He is God': Koran CXII I.

'Take not My enemy': Koran LX I.

p. 73. 'But as for him who feared': Koran LXXXIX 40-41.

Discourse 14

The present world is as it were a collection of samples of the other world. Man's origin is from the Beyond, and to the Beyond he must return. The eternal attributes, infinite in variety, are in themselves invisible; they only become visible through their association with matter.

p. 73. Shaikh Ibrahim: a disciple of Shams al-Din of Tabriz, mentioned again in Discourse 46.

Saif al-Din Farrukh: unknown.

'Naught there is': Koran XV 21.

'The bald man of Baalbek': the text presents a crux, and I owe this interpretation to Dr Sadiq Gauharin.

p. 74. 'Surely we belong to God': Koran II 151.

Discourse 15

This discourse ranges over many topics and clearly records an actual scene in the life of Rumi, enacted certainly after 1260.

The restlessness within the human soul, which men seek vainly to satisfy in various ways, is a symptom of the universal quest for God.

The question is asked whether it is lawful to accept property from the Mongols. Rumi gives an affirmative answer, developing an explanation of the reason why God first allowed the Mongols to prosper and is now slowly destroying them. He rebuts the rumour that the Tartars believe in the resurrection. From this he passes on to argue that the resurrection is enacted daily in the lives of men. God occupies His prophets in various ways.

Is there any changing God's eternal decrees? Rumi replies in the negative; except that the measure of the Divine reward and punishment varies according to men's individual actions.

Does a broken vow to fast on a certain day require expiation? Rumi states the views of the Shafi'i and Hanafi jurists, and gives his own verdict. He then answers a question on the meaning of the formulae of blessing the Prophet, that these are Divine and not human acts. He distinguishes between secondary causes and actualities; the former are apparent acts, the latter the Divine cause of those acts.

All men, prophets and saints and ordinary mortals, descend into this world from the Beyond; but they differ in the degree of their recollection of the other world, and the extent to which they are stimulated by the Word of God. The mystic must not reveal to other men truths vouchsafed to him which transcend the understanding of the uninitiated.

p. 75. 'There is no monkhood': a well known Tradition of Muhammad, see Masnavi V 574.

'The congregation is a mercy': a famous Tradition of Muhammad, see Masnavi I 3017.

p. 76. 'Certain of them came as merchants': Rumi refers to the events leading up to the Mongol invasion, see Encyclopaedia of Islam III, p. 1014.

p. 77. 'Because he turned a ring upon his finger': see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 51, 120.

'What, did you think': Koran XXIII 118.

p. 78. 'And whoso has done': Koran XCIX 7-8.

p. 79. 'Thou createdst me': Koran VII 11.

Shafi'i ... Abu Hanifa: founders of two of the four orthodox schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

p. 80. 'A camel came forth': Koran XI 64-71.

'Lord, said Zachariah': Koran III 35.

p. 81. 'Am I not your Lord': Koran VII 171, a passage frequently quoted by Sufi writers as referring to the Primaeval Covenant between God and man.

'Impart not wisdom': this saying, seemingly based on Matthew 7:6, is quoted again in Discourse 41.

p. 82. 'The earth has its share': these anonymous verses are quoted by al-Ghazzali in Ihya' IV, p. 71.

'The inhabitants of the Fire': Koran VII 48.

'Cover up your vessels': for this Tradition see Muslim, Sahih VI, pp. 105 ff. Rumi interprets the injunction after his own fashion.

Discourse 16

This discourse again touches on a variety of topics. First Rumi discusses the theme of love and beauty; it is love which makes things to appear desirable, therefore the mystic must cultivate a spiritual yearning so that 'in all being and space you may see the Beloved.' The ultimate quest behind all quests is God. From this Rumi passes to speak again about absorption, as in Discourse 3. The prophet and the saint are totally absorbed with God; men's attitude to them determines their attitude to God.

Rumi explains why he composes poetry, a thing extremely distasteful to him personally; but people in Ram like poetry, and he wishes to accord with their desire. A remark by the Parvana moves him to discuss the nature of action; he denies that action is fundamental; 'the root principle of all things is speech.' Thus, prayer is ineffective unless it is uttered.

In answer to a question Rumi justifies again the attitude of hope, as in Discourse I. He then speaks about the Perfect Man, who is a microcosm representing faithfully the macrocosm.

p. 83. 'In Majnun's time': this story is retold in Masnavi V 3286 ff.

p. 84. 'The abiding things': Koran XVIII 44.

p. 85. 'Whosoever sees him': this is based on a saying of Abu Yazid al-Bistami describing his mystical ascension into heaven, see al-Sahlaji, al-Nur min kalimat Abi Taifur, p. 139.

'None but the purified': Koran LVI 79.

'It is a habit with me': this section is reproduced word for word in Faridun, Risala, pp. 68 ff. See further, Discourse 54.

p. 87. 'His command, when He desires': Koran XXXVI 82.

p. 88. 'All game is in the belly': a famous Arabic proverb.

'All, good and evil': Rumi quotes from his own poetry, see Divan (ed. Furazanfar) I 4476.

'Thyself a true transcription art': this quatrain has been attributed to Najm al-Din Daya, Baba Afdal and others.

Discourse 17

The Na'ib of Rum having remarked that the Muslims in serving the Mongols are no better than idolaters, Rumi rejoins that they are superior in that they are conscious of the unworthiness of such an attitude. He goes on to discourse of man as midway between the angels and the beasts, with the prophets and saints waiting to lead men back to God. Man's first step is to struggle; then God's grace supervenes to bring him to the end of the journey. The principle of opposites applies only to form, necessary for the display of God's power; in reality all things are one.

p. 89. The Na'ib: see Discourse 11.

'Things are made clear by their opposites': quoted from al-Mutanabbi, Diwan, I, p. 15.

'The bird flies with its wings': see Marzuban-nama, p. 137.

p. 90. 'He whose intelligence': this saying is variously attributed to 'Ali and Muhammad; for the latter attribution see Masnavi III 1497 ff., a passage closely modelled on the present discussion.

'The angel is saved': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan (ed. Furazanfar) II 9669.

'No fear shall be on them': Koran X 63.

'We desire this': see p. 69.

'When comes the help of God': Koran CX.

p. 92. 'I was a hidden treasure': a famous Tradition often quoted by Sufi writers, rejected by later critics.

'Go forth with My Attributes': quoted from al-Bistami, see al-Sahlaji, al-Nur, p. 139.

Abu Jahl: the bitter enemy of Muhammad.

'They desire to extinguish': Koran LXI 8.

'The moon sheds light': closely similar to some verses by Gasan Ghaznavi, see his Divan, p. 32.

p. 93. 'A dervish saw': according to Faridun, Risala, p. 124, the dervish was Shams al-Din of Tabriz.

Discourse 18

A comment on a Koran reciter leads to a discussion of the difference between 'form' and 'meaning'. The Koran is not the whole of God's Word. It is God's will that some men should be heedless, in order that the world may continue to exist. Rumi declares that he speaks as he does out of compassion and not out of envy, to draw his listeners on to higher truths.

p. 93. Ibn Muqri: Furazanfar identifies with Sa'in al-Din Muqri, mentioned by Aflaki in a number of anecdotes.

'Say, if the sea were ink': Koran XVIII 109.

p. 94. 'Many a Koran-reciter': this saying is attributed to Anas ibn Malik by al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 195.

'God has closed in heedlessness': the topic is repeated in Discourse 25 and is developed in Masnavi I 2063 ff., IV 1323 ff., 2608 ff., etc.

p. 95. 'Since greatness never once': quoted from the satire on Mahmud of Ghazna attributed to Firdausi.

'A great caravan': Furazanfar states that this story occurs in a prose Iskandar-nama of early date, a manuscript of which is in the possession of Professor Sa'id Nafisi.

Discourse 19

This brief discourse reports a remark by Taj al-Din Quba'i, and speaks on the topic of hypocrisy. Longwindedness is no substitute for sincerity.

p. 96. Taj al-Din Quba'i: unknown.

p. 97. 'So woe to those that pray': Koran CVIl 4-7.

Discourse 20

Women are intended for the purification of men, who by enduring their absurdities learn to control themselves. That is why the Prophet forbade celibacy. It is useless to argue with a woman.

The claim by certain men to have seen Shams al-Din of Tabriz provokes a statement on the 'veiled' saints of God. Some remarks on the relationship between lover and beloved lead on to the remark that the lover of God must forsake his own identity and become wholly absorbed in God.

p. 98. 'There is no monkhood': see p. 75.

'Surely thou art upon': Koran LXVIII 4.

'It is related that the Prophet': after the raid on Tabuk in 630.

p. 100. 'Man is passionate for what he is denied': a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Munawi, Kunuz, p. 31.

'While we proclaim Thy praise': Koran II 28.

p. 101. 'This time you will experience': Furazanfar sees in this a reference to the return of Shams al-Din from Damascus, and so dates the discourse among the earliest in the collection.

'Thou whose form is fairer far': untraced.

Baha' al-Din: either Rumi's son Sultan Valad, or Baha' al-Din Bahri who is mentioned many times by Aflaki as a member of Rumi's circle.

Discourse 21

Rumi quotes with disapproval some verses describing God as indifferent to the world. After a brief comment on a saying which appears to promote Moses over Muhammad, he ridicules the claim of a certain man to have proved the existence of God by logical reasoning. Rumi takes up again the theme of negligence being allowed by God to some men in order that the world may continue. Every man has his appointed task; the saints' part is the supreme role of contemplation. Rumi then answers those who complain when he is silent that he is running away from them; their charge reflects that precise thought within themselves. He concludes by recommending gradualness in mastering the Sufi discipline.

p. 102. Sharif Pay-sukhta: unknown.

p. 103. 'The Verse of Self-sufficiency': a reference to Koran XCII 8.

Shaikh-i Mahalla: a gloss names him as Fakhr-i Akhlati.

'Moses enjoyed converse'; see Koran VII 138-9.

p. 104. 'Nothing there is'; Koran XVII 46.

'Our great Master'; Rumi's father Baha' al-Din Valad, see his Ma'arif, p. 388.

p. 105. Shaikh Salab al-Din; Salah al-Din Faridun Zarkub, for whom see the Introduction.

'And those you fear': Koran IV 38.
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Re: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:28 am

Part 2 of 2

Discourse 22

This discourse, which is entirely in Arabic, is a reproof to a disciple for backbiting against a certain member of the circle.

p. 106. Ibn Chavish: Najm al-Din ibn Khurram Chavish, addressee of a letter from Rumi, see his Maktubat (Teheran 1957), p. 56.

Salah al-Din: Faridun Zarkub, see Discourse 21.

p. 108. 'Yet it may happen'; Koran II 213.

Discourse 23

This somewhat diffuse discourse begins with the theme of reacting to the spirit of spoken words though ignorant of their formal meaning, the main topic of Discourse 6. Though the ways to God are various, the ultimate goal is one, since God is the fashioner of all and is therefore beloved of all. At this level no difference exists between infidelity and faith; thoughts only differ when they are clothed in expression. God controls the world of ideas but is Himself beyond that world.

Rumi then discusses the formula 'If God wills,' which he interprets as a token of absorption in God. He passes to speak of the vision granted by God to Muhammad, and of visions and dreams in general. The mystic's vision is revealed in the other world. Rumi repeats that God is the ultimate quest beyond all quests. Then he touches on the doubts which beset the human soul, saying that in love they all vanish away. Finally he reminds his listeners that his words are attuned to their degrees of understanding.

p. 108. Tuqat: a town to the north-west of Konia.

p. 110. 'We judge by outward profession': a saying attributed to Muhammad, see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' IV, p. 151.

p. 111. 'If out of the veil appeared': Rumi quotes himself.

'God has indeed fulfilled': Koran XLVIII 27.

'If God wills': Rumi discusses this matter in Masnavi 149 ff., VI 3667 ff.

'The pen reached thus far': quoted from Khaqani.

p. 112. 'This world is as the dream': a saying of Muhammad according to al- hazzali, Ihya' III, p. 148. The idea is developed in Masnavi III 1300 ff., 1736 ff.

p. 113. 'Your love for a thing': a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' III, p. 25.

'Thou createdst me of fire': Koran VII 12.

p. 114. 'Speak to men according to the degree': a similar saying of Muhammad is admitted by al-Bukhari, Sahih I, p. 24; see also al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 74.

Discourse 24

The true mystic is indifferent to worldly advancement; like God himself, he is independent of all directions. Men's motives in building mosques and writing religious books may differ from God's purpose, but it is God's purpose that prevails.

p. 114. 'If a lamp desires': see Discourse 6.

'Do not prefer me above Jonas': see Muslim, Sahih VII, pp. 101 f. Rumi comments on this Tradition in Masnavi III 4512 ff.

p. 115. Zamakhshari: the famous grammarian and Koran commentator, a native of Khvarizm, born 1075, completed the Kashshaf in 1134, died in 1144.

Kiblah: the direction of Mecca towards which the faithful turn in their prayers.

Discourse 25

The Prophet Muhammad was a humble man, and humility is a great virtue yet he was the foundation of the world, comparable with the reason which controls all the body's members. The caliph exercises the same function in his time, though he is liable to error. Reason is the congener of the angels; man is a compound of angel and beast.

Rumi explains how the body's members will 'speak' at the resurrection, quoting the views of the philosophers and the theologians respectively. This leads him to discourse on his theory of the nature of speech. God gives to every man according to his needs. Some men have been created heedless, to secure the maintenance of the physical world.

p. 116. 'No man ever preceded': see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' II, p. 250.

p. 117. 'But for thee I would not have created': see p. 57. The theme is common among the Sufis; Rumi treats of it in Masnavi I 589 (see R. A. Nicholson's note), II 974.

'Reason is a congener of the angel': see Discourse 17, and compare Masnavi III 3193 ff.

p. 118. 'Reason lent to Jesus pinions': quoted from Sana'i Divan, p. 497.

p. 119. 'God gave us speech': Koran XLI 21, the context for the ascription of speech at the resurrection to the body's members.

'He inculcates wisdom'; this uncanonical Tradition is also quoted in Masnavi VI 1656 (heading).

'I am the shadow of a man': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan (Teheran 1958) II, p. 90.

p. 120. 'Do not suppose no travellers': untraced.

Discourse 26

This long and diffuse discourse covers a wide variety of topics. The connecting theme appears to be that there is One to whom all should be addressed, for He is the source of all Good and Power.

p. 121. Shaikh Nassaj of Bukhara: Rumi mentions him again in Divan (ed. Furazanfar) I 1534.

p. 122. Shaikh al-Islam Tirmidhi: this anecdote is repeated in Faridun, Risala, p. 121.

Burhan al-Din: Rumi's teacher Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq.

'These words are Syriac': i.e. unintelligible except to the initiated.

p. 123. Their mark is on their faces': Koran XLVIII 29.

'The man who has read the Wasit': by the Wasit Rumi evidently means al-Ghazzali's 'middle' treatise on Shafi'i jurisprudence. The reference to Mutawwal ('Extensive') is not clear. The Tanbih is presumably the Shafi'i manual by Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi (died 1083).

'Did We not expand': Koran XCIV I.

p. 124. 'In the time of the Prophet': this story is retold in Masnavi III 3055 ff. Rumi's source was his father's Ma'arif, p. 77.

'Every day He is upon some labour': Koran LV 29.

p. 125. 'It is We who have sent down': Koran XV 9.

'A certain man came to Muhammad': see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' IV, p. 209.

'In the time of Muhammad'; see al-Wahidi Asbab al-nuzul, p. 231.

'None but the purified': Koran LVI 78.

p. 127. 'I am amazed at a people': see Discourse 1, where the Prophet's words are paraphrased in Persian.

'Take him, and fetter him': Koran LXIX 30.

'God grasps, and outspreads': Koran II 246.

p. 128. 'The believer is sagacious': a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Munawi, Kunuz, p. 136.

p. 129. 'Just as at first you were earth'; see above, Discourse 5. Koran XXIII II ff. is the ultimate authority.

'A bowl full of poison': the story is retold in Masnavi V 4238 ff.

p. 131. The world subsists on a phantom': see Masnavi I 70.

Discourse 28

The prayers of God's elect are so exalted that they pass the understanding of ordinary mortals, who have their own stations according to their spiritual rank.

p. 132. 'We are the rangers'; Koran XXXVII 165-6.

'Postpone them': a Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Munawi, Kunuz, p. 5.

p. 133. 'Whom none knows but God': Koran XIV 10.

'And thou seest men': Koran CX 2.

'And the angels shall enter': Koran XIII 23.

'Take on the characteristics': see al-Ghazzali. Ihya' IV, p. 218.

'I am for him hearing and sight': part of a famous Tradition beloved of the Sufis.

'Kings, when they enter a city': Koran XXVII 34.

'Only in ruins': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 347.

p. 134. 'I hold it unlawful': quoted from Mu1:Jammadibn al-Munawwar, Asrar al-tauhid, p. 26.

Discourse 29

This discourse is wholly in Arabic. It is a refutation of a statement made by a Christian, that Muslims secretly believe that Jesus was God. Rumi goes on to condemn those who stubbornly adhere to their fathers' religion though the truth has been revealed to them.

p. 134. Shaikh Sadr al-Din: Sadr al-Din al-Qonawi, famous Sufi author, commentator on Ibn 'Arabi, who died in 1273.

p. 135. Yatash: Shams al-Din Yatash Beglerbeg, Saljuq prince, who died in 1258, mentioned by Rumi in his Maktubat, p. 252.

p. 136. 'To clothe the Kaaba': quoted from Sana'i, Sair al-'ibad, p. 101. The reference is to the custom of covering the Black Stone with a curtain.

'To apply eye-black to the eyes'; quoted from al-Mutanabbi, Diwan II, p. 72.

Discourse 30

The main topic of this discourse is that good and evil are one and indivisible, being the creation of the one God. This paradox leads on to other paradoxes. p. 137. 'And God is with the patient'; Koran II 250.

'Everything We have numbered': Koran XXXVI 12.

p. 138. 'I laugh as I slay'; also quoted in Discourse 48. For the Prophet laughing, see p. 14.

Discourse 31

A saying of Abu Yazid is quoted approvingly to argue that the absence of all desire is the high objective of the mystic in his progress towards God. The common statement that Divine revelation ceased with Muhammad is not strictly true; the mystic enjoys revelation, only it is called by another name. An anecdote of the caliph 'Uthman proves that silence can be as effective as any speech or action. Nothing is harder to endure than stupidity in a disciple; but the exercise is good for the saint, discipline being the high-road to victory over desire and the attainment of Divine detachment.

p. 138. 'God most High said to Abu Yazid'; see al-Sahlaji, al-Nur, p. 96.

p. 139. 'Say, the Truth has come'; Koran XVII 84.

'Enter, O believer': a Tradition of Muhammad referring to the day of resurrection, see al-Suyuti, al-Jami' al-saghir I, p. 132.

'The believer sees with the light of God': a favourite Tradition with the Sufis, see Masnavi I 1331; al-Ghazzali, Ihya' II, p. 201.

'When 'Uthman became caliph': see al-Jahiz, al-Bayan wa'l-tabyin I, p. 272; Masnavi IV 487 ff.

p. 140. 'My Companions are as stars'; for this Tradition see al-Munawi, Kunuz, p. 13, and compare Masnavi I 2925 f.

'So let who will regard me'; quoted from al-Mutanabbi, Diwan II, p. 132.

p. 141. 'Greater struggle': see the Tradition quoted on p. 70.

'What eye has not seen': a famous Tradition of Muhammad admitted by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, evidently a reminiscence of I Corinthians 2:9.

Discourse 32

This short discourse discusses the certainty of faith which characterises the perfect mystic, and how it banishes all doubts.

p. 142. 'If the faith of Abu Bakr': this Tradition occurs in al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 39.

'In their hearts is a sickness'; Koran II 9.

'What, do they not consider': Koran LXXXVIII 17.

'Save him who repents': Koran XIX 61.

'Those, God will charge': Koran XXV 70.

Discourse 33

Rumi quotes snatches of an old poem on the topic of an old man still yearning for amorous play. He applies this profane theme to the mystic life.

p. 143. 'They said, Keep away': these verses, like the others quoted in this discourse, come from an ancient Arabic poem, see Ibn Qutaiba, 'Uyun al-akhhar IV, p. 53.

p. 144. 'Over eighty': in the original version, 'over thirty.'

Discourse 34

This strange account, which is in Arabic apart from the first five words, appears to represent an actual mystic experience in which Rumi saw a rebellious disciple in the form of a wild animal.

p. 144. Jalal al-Tibrizi: unknown.

p. 145. 'And God's earth is wide': Koran XXXIX 13.

'And they comprehend not': Koran II 256.

'The moaning pillar'; see Masnavi I 2113, with R. A. Nicholson's note.

'Iron in David's hand': see Koran XXXIV 10.

'The Kaaba, when you pray': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 112.

'The unbeliever eats in seven stomachs': part of a Tradition admitted by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, see Masnavi V 64 ff.

Discourse 35

This brief discourse describes the marvellous subtlety of the Koran, locked away from the enemies of religion.

p. 147. 'And obey thou not': Koran LXVIII 10.

'Backbiter': Koran LXVIII 11-12.

'God has set a seal': Koran II 6.

Discourse 36

Form is a branch or derivative of love; need is the root, the thing needed is the branch.

For a similar discussion in the Masnavi, see IV 4440 ff.

Discourse 37

Rumi refutes an allegation brought against a certain girl (thought by Furazanfar to be the wife of Shams al-Din of Tabriz). He passes on to speak of the nature of imagination. Then he discusses the old controversy whether the world is eternal or created in time, one of the principal quarrels between the philosophers and the theologians in Islam.

Discourse 38

A reminiscence of an incident in the Prophet's struggle against the unbelievers leads to a discussion of the relationship between the partial (or human) intellect and the universal intellect, which is the source of all inspiration. Rumi then turns to elaborate further the topic raised in Discourse 36.

p. 151. 'Unlettered': Rumi's interpretation of the much-discussed epithet ummi given to Muhammad in Koran VII 156, 158.

'The partial intellect': see also Masnavi IV 1295 ff., which is closely similar to the present passage.

p. 152. 'The story of the raven': Koran V 34, see Masnavi IV 1301 ff.

'There is no prayer without the heart': this Tradition of Muhammad is quoted by al-Ghazzali, Ihya', p. 110.

'And these continue at their prayers': Koran LXX 23.

Discourse 39

Disputation is set aside when one becomes a dervish. The way of poverty leads to the attainment of all one's desires; the Prophet's life is an example of this. Rumi declares that his words, as a Sufi, are true coin, whereas other men's words are a spurious imitation; discrimination is needed to distinguish between the two.

p. 153. Husam al-Din Arzanjani: unknown.

'It takes another love': a quotation from Fakhr al-Din Gurgani, Vis u Ramin, cited also in the rubric to Masnavi V 2228.

'Whoever desires to sit with God': an alleged Tradition of Muhammad, see al-Suyuti, al-La'ali' al-masnu'a II, p. 264, and compare Masnavi I 1529 ff.

'The present life is naught': Koran XLVII 38.

p. 154. 'Thou seest their eyes': Koran V 86.

p. 156. 'The believer is shrewd': see p. 128.

'Water unstaling': Koran XLVII 16.

'Water of the eyes': see Masnavi V 1265-70, a passage based on this paragraph.

p. 157. Abu Yazid: there is a serious anachronism in this story, since Abu Yazid died in about 877 whereas al-Junaid died in 910.

'There was a certain Shaikh': see al-Qushairi, Risala, p. 129; 'Attar, Tadhkirat al-auliya' I, p. 326.

Discourse 40

What is a question and what is an answer? These need not be spoken, action being itself vocal. The answer received is appropriate to the question asked; the world indeed is like a mountain which echoes back the speech of the speaker.

p. 158. Jauhar: unknown.

p. 159. 'The crucible tells you': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 382.

'Do you not know': see Masnavi III 1490, heading.

'A king read a letter': this story is retold in Masnavi III 1490 ff.

'If only when Our might': Koran VI 43.

'And Satan decked out fair': Koran VI 43.

p. 160. 'A man said, Why': retold in Masnavi II 776 ff.

'Everything is from God': Koran IV 80.

'That is like the story': retold in Masnavi V 3077 ff.

'Speak pleasantly': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 145.

'The azure sky sends back': quoted from Sana'i, Divan, p. 51.

Discourse 41

Men are compared with bowls carried about on the surface of a river; the mystic surrenders himself to the direction of God and does not dispute. Rumi distinguishes between true and false ecstasy.

p. 161. 'The heart of the believer': for this Tradition, admitted by Muslim, see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 76.

'The All-Merciful has taught': Koran LV 1-2.

'Who created the heavens and the earth': Koran VI I.

p. 162. 'Impart not wisdom': see p. 81.

'O monarch of all truthful men': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan (Teheran 1958) II, p. 13.

p. 163. 'Abraham was a man who sighed': Koran IX 115.

Discourse 42

Rumi rebuts the charge that attendance at his discourses destroys the good results of orthodox studies. His teachings give a soul to formal learning. Knowledge is based not on words and sounds but derives from the other world; God does not speak by words and sounds. Men yearn after the ineffable, provided that they are spiritually healthy; in sickness they crave for what will increase their distemper. It is better that women should unveil before mystics, to deliver them out of temptation.

p. 164. 'And unto Moses God spoke': Koran IV 162.

'I was sent as a teacher'; this Tradition of Muhammad is quoted by al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 8.

p. 166. Hasan and Husain; sons of the caliph 'Ali.

Qadi Abu Mansar Harawi; a leading literary figure of Khurasan in the eleventh century, dying in 1048; see Yaqat, Mu'jam al-udaba' VII, no. 107.

Mansur; i.e. al-Hallaj.

Discourse 43

This section, which appears to commemorate the departure of a disciple, is in Arabic. Rumi speaks of the 'mirror' which the true believer is to his brother in the faith, and the reverence due to spiritual directors.

p. 167. Saif al-Bukhari: unknown.

Discourse 44

This long discourse ranges over a variety of Rumi's favourite topics, the connecting thread being the mystic's journey to the object of his desire.

p. 169. 'Ignoring Fate': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan (ed. Furazanfar) II 6800.

p. 170. 'God stands between'; Koran VIII 24.

Ibrahim ibn Adham: the story of the conversion of the Prince of Balkh, who died in 783, is a favourite theme of the Sufi writers.

'Before becoming a Muslim'; this story has no historical foundation.

'Ta Ha'; Sura XX I.

p. 172. 'Omar, the Prophet for to slay'; Rami quotes himself, see Divan II 6303.

'And when We appointed'; Koran II 118-9.

'My covenant shall not reach': Koran II 117.

p. 174. 'God has likened His light'; a reference to Koran XXIV 35.

p. 175. 'I pray that moon-faced idol'; this quatrain occurs in Rumi's Ruba-'iyat (Istanbul edition), p. 130.

p. 176. 'Not equal are the blind': Koran XXXV 20.

p. 177. 'The leanness of my body': quoted from al-Mutanabbi, Diwan II, p. 434.

p. 178. 'I said to my heart'; see Rumi, Ruba'iyat, p. 354.

'Your name is upon my tongue': see p. 55.

Discourse 45

The discourse begins with a pun on the name of a certain man. Rumi passes to the theme of the mystic quest, and declares that God is very near to man and that man should always be begging of God; indeed He is invisible because of His extreme propinquity, yet the evidence of His omnipotence is to be seen on every side.

p. 179. 'Begin with yourself'; this Tradition of Muhammad is given by al-Suyuti, al-Jami' al-saghir I, p. 4.

'He has not begotten'; Koran CXII 3.

'God is the All-sufficient'; Koran XLVII 40.

p. 181. 'Call upon Me'; Koran XL 61.

p. 182. 'When the mother of Mary bore Mary'; see Koran III 31 ff.

p. 183. 'They continue at their prayers'; Koran LXX 23.

'Light upon Light'; Koran XXIV 35.

Discourse 46

Personal effort is useless unless it is accompanied by Divine favour; yet even those apparently rejected by God may be rejected for a good purpose and may in fact be under Divine favour. God's purpose is revealed in all men's acts. All believers are as a single soul in their devotion to God and to one another.

p. 183. Shaikh Ibrahim; see p. 73.

p. 184. I was a hidden treasure'; see p. 92.

p. 185. 'The believers are as it were'; see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' II, p. 228.

p. 186. 'They said, There is no harm'; Koran XXVI 50.

'Poison is right good to sup'; not traced.

Discourse 47

God wills both good and evil, but approves only the good. This discussion of the problem of evil is spoken in Arabic.

p. 188. 'In retaliation there is life'; Koran II 175.

Sadr al-Islam; probably the man intended is Abu 'l-Yusr al-Pazdawi, famous Hanafi jurist, teacher of al-Nasafi, who died in 1100.

'And expend in the way of God'; Koran II 191.

Discourse 48

This discourse which is partly in Arabic and partly in Persian touches on the merits of gratitude to God and the causes of ingratitude.

p. 189. 'I laugh as I slay': see p. 138.

'The mentioning of virtuous men': quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 582.

p. 190. 'And We tried them': Koran VII 166.

Discourse 49

The unseen world intervenes at every moment of our lives to keep us from disaster. The mystic should surrender himself in confidence to God's care and attend only to those things which appertain to eternal life.

p. 191. 'The Bedouins are more stubborn': Koran IX 98.

'Some of the Bedouins believe': Koran IX 100.

'Thy love made proclamation': not traced.

p. 192. 'Right well I know': Arabic verses by the Umayyad poet 'Urwa ibn Adhina, see Abu 'l-Faraj, al-Aghani XXI, p. 107.

'Whosoever makes all his cares': a favourite Tradition with the Sufis. p. 193. 'They are with those whom God': Koran IV 71.

'I sit with him who remembers Me': see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' II, p. 141.

'The night's departed': part of a quatrain ascribed to Rumi, Ruba'iyat, p. 170.

'Feast on sweetmeats': not traced.

p. 194. 'This world is as the dream': see p. 112.

Discourse 50

It is the essential element in man which survives death, being the element by virtue of which man is superior to all the animals. The secret heart must be kept occupied with the remembrance of God. Though the thoughts are secret, God manifests them on a man's face and in his actions.

p. 195. 'A friend of Joseph': this story is retold in Masnavi 13158 ff. 'God looks not at your forms': a Tradition admitted by Muslim, Sahih VIII p. I I.

'A city where you found': quoted from al-Mutanabbi, Diwan II, p. 341. p. 198. 'We offered the trust': Koran XXXIII 72.

'Begin with yourself': see Discourse 45.

p. 197. 'Their mark is on their faces': Koran XLVIII 29.

'We shall brand him': Koran LXVIII 16.

Discourse 51

Man's quest is for a thing not yet found, whereas God's quest is for that which has already been found. What is the proof that a man has attained union with God? The proof is that he is in perfect accord with God's will. Rumi answers a question about Abraham's argument with Nimrod.

p. 197. 'Until you seek you cannot find': quoted from Sana'i, Divan, p. 466.

p. 198. 'Be and it is': Koran II 3, etc.

p. 199. Abraham said to Nimrod: see p. 179.

Discourse 52

The quotation of a verse leads to the statement that friendship and enmity, like all dualities, become one and the same in the state of union with God. Rumi then answers a question on the function of words, which he sees as a veil over God's insupportable beauty.

p. 202. Mansur: al-Hallaj and his famous utterance Ana' l-Haqq.

p. 203. 'When heaven is rent': Koran LXXXIV I.

'When earth is shaken': Koran XCIX I.

Discourse 53

Rumi comments on a couplet of his own in which he expresses the idea that thought is the true substance of a man. He proceeds to discuss the nature of speech in relation to thought.

p. 204. 'You are that very thought': quoted from Masnavi II 277.

p. 205. 'He is the All-Subtle': Koran VI 103.

Discourse 54

God is the creator of men's acts, contrary to the doctrine of the heterodox Mu'tazilites.

p. 207. 'The Lord of the East': Koran XXVI 28.

p. 208. 'Man is heedless of the cup': a reminiscence of Koran XII 70 ff.

Discourse 55

To praise another man is to praise oneself; to speak ill of another is to surround oneself with evil thoughts; good and evil actions revert upon oneself. A quotation from the Koran leads to a discussion of the nature of the angels. A saying attributed to Muhammad is explained as meaning that the Prophet regretted ever being separated from God. Abraham's argument with Nimrod is rehearsed and explained. Believer and unbeliever alike proclaim God's praise.

p. 208. Qagi 'Izz al-Din; vizier to Kal-Ka'as II, who built a mosque in Konia for Rumi, died in 1256 or 1258.

p. 209. 'Meadows of Iram'; see Koran LXXXIX 6.

'Whoso does righteousness'; Koran XLI 46.

'And whoso has done'; Koran XCIX 7-8.

'I am setting in the earth'; Koran II 27.

p. 210. 'What, wilt Thou set therein'; Koran II 27.

'But for thee I would not have created'; see p. 57.

p. 212. 'Gives life, and makes to die'; Koran II 260.

'I give life, and make to die'; Koran II 260.

p. 213. 'God brings the sun from the east'; Koran II 261. See p. 200.

Discourse 56

Happiness consists in keeping a wise moderation in one's earthly relationships. All things are in love with God, who in His wisdom suffers some men to be forgetful of Him so as to maintain the world in being. God created both belief and unbelief. The physical sun is a symbol of that eternal Sun towards Whom all creatures are returning.

p. 215. 'Nothing there is'; Koran XVII 45.

'Both unbelief and faith'; quoted from Sana'i, Hadiqa, p. 60.

Saiyid Burhan al-Din; Rumi's teacher, who in fact quotes often from the poems of Sana'i in his Ma'arif.

p. 216. 'Those -- they are called'; Koran XLI 44.

'Light upon Light': Koran XXIV 35.

Discourse 57

Love is all-comprehending and all things are implicit in love. Man is under the complete control of God, but stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the fact.

p. 127. Akmal al-Din: Akmal al-Din Tabib, prominent physician and disciple of Rumi who treated him in his last illness.

'A beautiful dancing-girl': see Ibn Qutaiba, 'Uyun IV, p. 111.

p. 218. 'God created Adam': a famous Tradition, theme of Discourse 67.

Discourse 59

Rumi answers the astronomer's challenge. God, though invisible, exists beyond and transcending heaven; He becomes visible in the effects of His creative power. Ignorance is good as well as knowledge; evil and good are one thing and the creation of one Creator.

p. 220. 'What, have they not beheld': Koran L 6.

'And when thou threwest': Koran VIII 17, a reference to Divine intervention in the battle of Badr.

p. 221. 'Do those not think that they': Koran LXXXIII 4-5.

Discourse 60

The superiority of Abu Bakr over the other Companions was owing to God's grace and love within him. Rumi urges his disciples to augment the love within them and to be ever in quest of God; for grace does not dispense with the necessity of effort. Suffering too is a Divine grace, in that it reminds men of the existence and power of God.

p. 222. 'Abu Bakr': a famous Tradition, see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' I, p. 17.

'In movement is blessing': a well-known proverb.

Discourse 61

Statements transmitted by a succession of reliable informants have the same authority as actual witnessing of the event reported. The quest blinds a man to all other considerations; passionate love is necessary in the quest for God. Rumi then touches briefly on a variety of familiar topics.

p. 225. 'Say: Journey in the land': Koran VI 11.

p. 226. 'Since he is Mu'in al-Din': evidently a criticism of the Parvana, playing on his name.

'Any addition to perfection': a well-known proverb.

Burhan al-Din: Rumi's teacher Muhaqqiq.

Discourse 62

The lover's service to the beloved springs not from love but from the inclination of the beloved. So it is in the relationship between man and God. God joined the soul with the body, which may be compared with a beehive, in order to display His omnipotence. Physical death was designed by God to strike fear into men's hearts.

Discourse 63

Rumi speaks of the powerful influence of the society of a true believer. The saint, who is accorded a special vision, controls his fellow-men though they may be unaware of the fact. Men should not be wholly occupied with mundane affairs. Muhammad is the guide of mankind, having pioneered the fearful way to God. All earthly pleasures and joys derive from secondary causes, and the mystic will therefore not cling to them. A few words are sometimes more effective than long speeches.

p. 229. 'Meet the friend': an Arabic proverb.

p. 230' 'When they meet those who believe': Koran II 14.

'Heavens there are': quoted from Sana'i, cited also in Masnavi I 2035, heading.

p. 231. 'Nay, but they marvel': Koran L 2.

p. 232. 'A certain jester': repeated from Discourse 6.

'Therein are clear signs': Koran III 91.

p. 233. 'The best words': a well-known proverb.

'Say, He is One': Koran CII.

'Sura of the Cow': Koran II.

p. 234. 'The she-camel of Salih': see Koran XI 64 ff.

'And lend to God a good loan': Koran LXXIII 20.

Discourse 65

p. 236. 'Pour upon us water': Koran VII 47.

p. 237. 'Enter thou among My servants': Koran LXXXIX 29-30.

Discourse 66

p. 237. Siraj al-Din: presumably Rumi's disciple Siraj al-Din 'Mathnavikhvan'; possibly Siraj al-Din Mahmud ibn Abi Bakr Urmawi.

p. 238. 'You are in one valley'; an Arabic proverb.

'Pharaoh's magicians'; see Masnavi III 1721 ff.

Hajjaj: unlikely to be intended as the famous governor of Iraq.

Discourse 67

p. 238. 'He created Adam'; this Tradition is admitted by Muslim and al-Bukhari.

'I was a hidden treasure': see p. 92.

p. 239. 'You have been given of knowledge': Koran XVII 87.

Discourse 68

p. 239. 'Repel thou the evil'; Koran XXIII 98.

p. 240. 'And pardon the offences': Koran III 128.

'Though they are powerful': quoted from Sana'i, Divan, p. 151.

Discourse 69

p. 241. 'Drunkenness'; not traced.

'King Solomon grew weary': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan (ed. Furazanfar) II 11178.

Discourse 71

p. 242. 'On what': not traced.

'The difference between'; see Masnavi VI 134.
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