The story of the greengrocer and the parrot and the parrot's spilling the oil in the shop.
There was a greengrocer who had a parrot, a sweet-voiced green talking parrot.
(Perched) on the bench, it would watch over the shop (in the owner's absence) and talk finely to all the traders. In addressing human beings it would speak (like them); it was (also) skilled in the song of parrots.
250. (Once) it sprang from the bench and flew away; it spilled the bottles of rose-oil.
Its master came from the direction of his house and seated himself on the bench at his ease as a merchant does.
(Then) he saw the bench was full of oil and his clothes greasy; he smote the parrot on the head: it was made bald by the blow.
For some few days it refrained from speech; the greengrocer, in repentance, heaved deep sighs,
Tearing his beard and saying, “Alas! the sun of my prosperity has gone under the clouds.
255. Would that my hand had been broken (powerless) at that moment! How (ever) did I strike (such a blow) on the head of that sweet-tongued one?”
He was giving presents to every dervish, that he might get back the speech of his bird.
After three days and three nights, he was seated on the bench, distraught and sorrowful, like a man in despair,
Showing the bird every sort of marvel (in the hope) that maybe it would begin to speak.
Meanwhile a bare-headed dervish, clad in a jawlaq (coarse woollen frock), passed by, with a head hairless as the outside of bowl and basin.
260. Thereupon the parrot began to talk, screeched at the dervish and said, “Hey, fellow!
How were you mixed up with the bald, O baldpate? Did you, then, spill oil from the bottle?”
The bystanders laughed at the parrot's inference, because it deemed the wearer of the frock to be like itself.
Do not measure the actions of holy men by (the analogy of) yourself, though shér (lion) and shír (milk) are similar in writing.
On this account the whole world is gone astray: scarcely any one is cognisant of God's Abdál (Substitutes).
265. They set up (a claim of) equality with the prophets; they supposed the saints to be like themselves.
“Behold,” they said, “we are men, they are men; both we and they are in bondage to sleep and food.”
In (their) blindness they did not perceive that there is an infinite difference between (them).
Both species of zanbúr ate and drank from the (same) place, but from that one (the hornet) came a sting, and from this other (the bee) honey.
Both species of deer ate grass and drank water: from this one came dung, and from that one pure musk.
270. Both reeds drank from the same water-source, (but) this one is empty and that one (full of) sugar.
Consider hundreds of thousands of such likenesses and observe that the distance between the two is (as great as) a seventy years' journey.
This one eats, and filth is discharged from him; that one eats, and becomes entirely the light of God.
This one eats, (and of him) is born nothing but avarice and envy; that one eats, (and of him) is born nothing but love of the One (God).
This one is good (fertile) soil and that one brackish and bad; this one is a fair angel and that one a devil and wild beast.
275. If both resemble each other in aspect, it may well be (so): bitter water and sweet water have (the same) clearness.
Who knows (the difference) except a man possessed of (spiritual) taste? Find (him): he knows the sweet water from the brine.
Comparing magic with (prophetic) miracle, he (the ignorant one) fancies that both are founded on deceit.
The magicians (in the time) of Moses, for contention's sake, lifted up (in their hands) a rod like his,
(But) between this rod and that rod there is a vast difference; from this action (magic) to that action (miracle) is a great way.
280. This action is followed by the curse of God, (while) that action receives in payment the mercy (blessing) of God.
The infidels in contending (for equality with the prophets and saints) have the nature of an ape: the (evil) nature is a canker within the breast.
Whatever a man does, the ape at every moment does the same thing that he sees done by the man.
He thinks, “I have acted like him”: how should that quarrelsome-looking one know the difference?
This one (the holy man) acts by the command (of God), and he (the apish imitator) for the sake of quarrelling (rivalry). Pour
dust on the heads of those who have quarrelsome faces!
285. That (religious) hypocrite joins in ritual prayer with the (sincere) conformist (only) for quarrelling's sake, not for supplication.
In prayer and fasting and pilgrimage and alms-giving the true believers are (engaged) with the hypocrite in (what brings) victory and defeat.
Victory in the end is to the true believers; upon the hypocrite (falls) defeat in the state hereafter.
Although both are intent on one game, in relation to each other they are (as far apart as) the man of Merv and the man of Rayy.
Each one goes to his (proper) abiding-place; each one fares according to his name.
290. If he be called a true believer, his soul rejoices; and if you say “hypocrite,” he becomes filled with fire (rage).
His (the true believer's) name is loved on account of its essence (which is true faith); this one's (the hypocrite's) name is loathed on account of its pestilent qualities.
(The four letters) mím and wáw and mím and nún do not confer honour: the word múmin (true believer) is only for the sake of denotation.
If you call him (the true believer) hypocrite, this vile name is stinging (him) within like a scorpion.
If this name is not derived from Hell, then why is there the taste of Hell in it?
295. The foulness of that ill name is not from the letters; the bitterness of that sea-water
is not from the vessel (containing it).
The letters are the vessel: therein the meaning is (contained) like water; (but) the sea of the meaning is (with God)—with Him is the Ummu ’l-Kitáb.
In this world the bitter sea and the sweet sea (are divided)— between them is a barrier which they do not seek to cross.
Know that both these flow from one origin. Pass on from them both, go (all the way) to their origin!
Without the touchstone you will never know in the assay adulterated gold and fine gold by (using your own) judgement.
300. Any one in whose soul God shall put the touchstone, he will distinguish certainty from doubt.
A piece of rubbish jumps into the mouth of a living man, and only when he ejects it is he at ease.
When, amongst thousands of morsels (of food), one little piece of rubbish entered (his mouth), the living man's sense (of touch or taste) tracked it down.
The worldly sense is the ladder to this world; the religious sense is the ladder to Heaven.
Seek ye the well-being of the former sense from the physician; beg ye the well-being of the latter sense from the Beloved.
305. The health of the former arises from the flourishing state of the body; the health of the latter arises from the ruin of the
The spiritual way ruins the body and, after having ruined it, restores it to prosperity:
Ruined the house for the sake of the golden treasure, and with that same treasure builds it better (than before);
Cut off the water and cleansed the river-bed, then caused drinking-water to flow in the river-bed;
Cleft the skin and drew out the iron point (of the arrow or spear)—then fresh skin grew over it (the wound);
310. Rased the fortress and took it from the infidel, then reared thereon a hundred towers and ramparts.
Who shall describe the action of Him who hath no like? This that I have said (is only what the present) necessity is affording.
Sometimes it (the action of God) appears like this and sometimes the contrary of this: the work of religion is naught but bewilderment.
(I mean) not one bewildered in such wise that his back is (turned) towards Him; nay, but one bewildered (with ecstasy) like
this and drowned (in God) and intoxicated with the Beloved.
The face of the one is set towards the Beloved, (while) the face of the other is just his own face (he is facing himself).
315. Look long on the face of every one, keep watch attentively: it may be that by doing service (to Súfís) you will come to
know the face (of the true saint).
Since there is many a devil who hath the face of Adam, it is not well to give your hand to every hand,
Because the fowler produces a whistling sound in order to decoy the bird,
(So that) the bird may hear the note of its congener and come down from the air and find trap and knife-point.
320. The work of (holy) men is (as) light and heat; the work of vile men is trickery and shamelessness.
They make a woollen lion for the purpose of begging; they give the title of Ahmad (Mohammed) to Bú Musaylim;
(But) to Bú Musaylim remained the title of Kadhdháb (Liar), to Mohammed remained (the title of) Ulu ’l-albáb (Endowed with understanding).
The wine of God, its seal (last result) is pure musk, (but) as for (the other) wine, its seal is stench and torment