Search Poetry


(Masnavi Book 1: 10) The Lion and the Beasts of chase

Setting forth how the beasts of chase told the lion to trust in God and cease from exerting himself.

900. A number of beasts of chase in a pleasant valley were harassed by a lion.
Inasmuch as the lion was (springing) from ambush and carrying them away, that pasturage had become unpleasant to them all.
They made a plot: they came to the lion, saying, “We will keep thee full-fed by means of a (fixed) allowance.
Do not go after any prey beyond thy allowance, in order that this grass may not become bitter to us.”
How the lion answered the beasts and explained the advantage of exertion.
“Yes,” said he, “if I see (find) good faith (on your part), not fraud, for often have I seen (suffered) frauds from Zayd and Bakr.

905. I am done to death by the cunning and fraud of men, I am bitten by the sting of (human) snake and scorpion;
(But) worse than all men in fraud and spite is the man of the flesh (nafs) lying in wait within me.
My ear heard ‘The believer is not bitten (twice),’ and adopted (this) saying of the Prophet with heart and soul.”
How the beasts asserted the superiority of trust in God to exertion and acquisition.
They all said: “O knowing sage, let precaution alone: it is of no avail against the Divine decree.
In precaution is the embroilment of broil and woe: go, put thy trust in God: trust in God is better.

910. Do not grapple with Destiny, O fierce and furious one, lest Destiny also pick a quarrel with thee.
One must be dead in presence of the decree of God, so that no blow may come from the Lord of the daybreak.”
How the lion upheld the superiority of exertion and acquisition to trust in God and resignation.
“Yes,” he said; “(but) if trust in God is the (true) guide, (yet use of) the means too is the Prophet's rule (Sunna).
The Prophet said with a loud voice, ‘While trusting in God bind the knee of thy camel.’
Hearken to the signification of ‘The earner (worker) is beloved of God’: through trusting in God do not become neglectful as to the (ways and) means.”
How the beasts preferred trust in God to exertion.

915. The party (of beasts) answered him, saying, “Regard acquisition (work), arising from the infirmity of (God's) creatures,
as a mouthful of deceit proportionate to the size of the gullet.
There is no work better than trust in God: what, indeed, is dearer (to God) than resignation?
Often do they flee from affliction (only) to (fall into) affliction; often do they recoil from the snake (only) to (meet with) the dragon.
Man devised (something), and his device was a snare (wherein he was trapped): that which he thought to be life was (actually)
the drainer of his blood (his destroyer).
He locked the door while the foe was in the house: the plot of Pharaoh was a story of this sort.

920. That vengeful man slew hundreds of thousands of babes, while the one he was searching after was in his (Pharaoh's) house.
Since in our eyesight (foresight) there is much defect, go, let your own sight pass away (faná) in the sight of the Friend (God).
His sight for ours—what a goodly recompense! In His sight you will find the whole object of your desire.
So long as the child could neither grasp (exert strength) nor run, he had nothing to ride on but his father's neck;
When he became a busybody and plied hand and foot (exerted himself), he fell into trouble and wretchedness.

925. The spirits of created beings, before (the creation of) hand and foot, by reason of their faithfulness were flying in (the realm of) purity;
When they were constrained by the (Divine) command, Get ye down, they became engaoled in anger and covetousness and contentment.
We are the family of the Lord and craving after milk (like infants): he (the Prophet) said, ‘The people are God's family.’
He who gives rain from heaven is also able, from His mercy, to give us bread.”
How the lion again pronounced exertion to be superior to trust in God.
“Yes,” said the lion; “but the Lord of His servants set a ladder before our feet.

930. Step by step must we climb towards the roof: to be a necessitarian here is (to indulge in) foolish hopes.
You have feet: why do you make yourself out to be lame? you have hands: why do you conceal the fingers (whereby you grasp)?
When the master put a spade in the slave's hand, his object was made known to him (the slave) without (a word falling from his) tongue.
Hand and spade alike are His (God's) implicit signs; (our powers of) thinking upon the end are His explicit declarations.
When you take His signs to heart, you will devote your life to fulfilling that indication (of His will).

935. He will give you many hints (for the understanding) of mysteries, He will remove the burden from you and give you (spiritual) authority.
Do you bear (His burden)? He will cause you to be borne (aloft). Do you receive (His commands)? He will cause you to be received (into His favour).
If you accept His command, you will become the spokesman (thereof); if you seek union (with Him), thereafter you will become united.
Freewill is the endeavour to thank (God) for His beneficence: your necessitarianism is the denial of that beneficence.
Thanksgiving for the power (of acting freely) increases your power; necessitarianism takes the (Divine) gift (of freewill) out of your hand.

940. Your necessitarianism is (like) sleeping on the road: do not sleep! Sleep not, until you see the gate and the threshold!
Beware! do not sleep, O inconsiderate necessitarian, save underneath that fruit-laden tree,
So that every moment the wind may shake the boughs and shower upon the sleeper (spiritual) dessert and provision for the  journey.
Necessitarianism is to sleep amidst highwaymen: how should the untimely bird receive quarter?
And if you turn up your nose at His signs, you deem (yourself) a man, but when you consider (more deeply), you are (only) a woman.

945. This measure of understanding which you possess is lost: a head from which the understanding is severed becomes a tail,
Because ingratitude is wickedness and disgrace and brings the ingrate to the bottom of Hell-fire.
If you are putting trust in God, put trust (in Him) as regards (your) work: sow (the seed), then rely upon the Almighty.”
How the beasts once more asserted the superiority of trust in God to exertion.
They all lifted up their voices (to dispute) with him, saying, “Those covetous ones who sowed (the seed of) means,
Myriads on myriads of men and women—why, then, did they remain deprived of fortune?

950. From the beginning of the world myriads of generations have opened a hundred mouths, like dragons:
Those clever people devised plots (of such power) that the mountain thereby was torn up from its foundation.
The Glorious (God) described their plots (when He said): (though their guile be such) that the tops of the mountains might be
moved thereby.
(But) except the portion which came to pass (was predestined) in eternity, nothing showed its face (accrued to them) from their
scheming and doing.
They all fell from (failed in) plan and act: the acts and decrees of the Maker remained.

955. O illustrious one, do not regard work as aught but a name! O cunning one, think not that exertion is aught but a vain
How ‘Azrá‘íl (Azrael) looked at a certain man, and how that man fled to the palace of
Solomon; and setting forth the superiority of trust in God to exertion and the
uselessness of the latter.
One forenoon a freeborn (noble) man arrived and ran into Solomon's hall of justice,
His countenance pale with anguish and both lips blue. Then Solomon said, “Good sir, what is the matter?”
He replied, “Azrael cast on me such a look, so full of wrath and hate.”
“Come,” said the king, “what (boon) do you desire now? Ask (it)!” “O protector of my life,” said he, “command the wind,

960. To bear me from here to India. Maybe, when thy slave is come thither he will save his life.”
Lo, the people are fleeing from poverty: hence are they a mouthful for (a prey to) covetousness and expectation.
The fear of poverty is like that (man's) terror: know thou that covetousness and striving are (like) India (in this tale).
He (Solomon) commanded the wind to bear him quickly over the water to the uttermost part of India.
Next day, at the time of conference and meeting, Solomon said to Azrael:
965. “Didst thou look with anger on that Moslem in order that he might wander (as an exile) far from his home?”
Azrael said, “When did I look (on him) angrily? I saw him as I passed by, (and looked at him) in astonishment,
For God had commanded me, saying, ‘Hark, to-day do thou take his spirit in India.’
From wonder I said (to myself), ‘(Even) if he has a hundred wings, ’tis a far journey for him to be in India (to-day).’”
In like manner judge of all the affairs of this world and open your eye and see!

970. From whom shall we flee? From ourselves? Oh, absurdity! From whom shall we take (ourselves) away? From God? Oh, crime!
How the lion again declared exertion to be superior to trust in God and expounded the advantages of exertion.
“Yes,” said the lion; “but at the same time consider the exertions of the prophets and the true believers.
God, exalted is He, prospered their exertion and what they suffered of oppression and heat and cold.
Their plans were excellent in all circumstances: everything done by a goodly man is goodly.
Their snares caught the Heavenly bird, all their deficiencies turned to increment.”

975. O master, exert thyself so long as thou canst in (following) the way of the prophets and saints!
Endeavour is not a struggle with Destiny, because Destiny itself has laid this (endeavour) upon us.
I am an infidel if any one has suffered loss a single moment (while walking) in the way of faith and obedience.
Your head is not broken: do not bandage this head. Exert yourself (in doing good works) for a day or two (i.e. during this brief life), and laugh unto everlasting!
An evil resort sought he that sought this world; a good state sought he that sought the world to come.

980. Plots for gaining (the things of) this world are worthless, (but) plots for renouncing this world are inspired (by God).
The (right) plot is that he (the prisoner) digs a hole in his prison (in order to escape); if he blocks up the hole, that is a foolish plot.
This world is the prison, and we are the prisoners: dig a hole in the prison and let yourself out!
What is this world? To be forgetful of God; it is not merchandise and silver and weighing-scales and women.
As regards the wealth that you carry for religion's sake, “How good is righteous wealth (for the righteous man)!” as the Prophet recited.

985. Water in the boat is the ruin of the boat, (but) water underneath the boat is a support.
Since he cast out from his heart (the desire for) wealth and possessions, on that account
Solomon did not call himself (by any name) but “poor.”
The stoppered jar, (though) in rough water, floated on the water because of its windfilled (empty) heart.
When the wind of poverty is within (any one), he rests at peace on the surface of the water of the world;
Although the whole of this world is his kingdom, in the eye of his heart the kingdom is nothing.

990. Therefore stopper and seal the mouth of your heart, and fill it from the inward ventilator.
Exertion is a reality, and medicine and disease are realities: the sceptic in his denial of exertion practised (and thereby affirmed) exertion.
How the superiority of exertion to trust in God was established.
The lion gave many proofs in this style, so that those necessitarians became tired of answering (him).
Fox and deer and hare and jackal abandoned (the doctrine of) necessity and (ceased from) disputation.
They made covenants with the furious lion, (ensuring) that he should incur no loss in this bargain,

995. (That) the daily ration should come to him without trouble, and that he should not need to make a further demand.
Day by day the one on whom the lot fell would run to the lion as (swiftly as) a cheetah.
When this cup (of death) came round to the hare, the hare cried out, “Why, how long (are we to endure this) injustice?”
How the beasts of chase blamed the hare for his delay in going to the lion.
The company (of beasts) said to him: “All this time we have sacrificed our lives in troth and loyalty.
Do not thou seek to give us a bad name, O rebellious one! Lest the lion be aggrieved, go, go! Quick! Quick!”
How the hare answered the beasts.

1000. “O friends,” said he, “grant me a respite, that by my cunning ye may escape from calamity,
That by my cunning your lives may be saved and this (safety) remain as a heritage to your children.”
Every prophet amidst the peoples used to call them after this manner to a place of deliverance,
For he had seen from Heaven the way of escape, (though) in (their) sight he was contracted (despicable) like the pupil of the eye.
Men regarded him as small like the pupil: none attained to (understanding of) the (real) greatness (worth) of the pupil.
How the beasts objected to the proposal of the hare.
1005. The company (of beasts) said to him: “O donkey, listen (to us)! Keep thyself within the measure of a hare!
Eh, what brag is this—(an idea) which thy betters never brought into their minds?
Thou art self-conceited, or Destiny is pursuing us; else, how is this speech suitable to one like thee?
How the hare again answered the beasts.
He said: “O friends, God gave me inspiration: to a weakling there came a strong judgement (wise counsel).”
That which God taught to the bees is not (belonging) to the lion and the wild ass.
1010. It (the bee) makes houses of juicy halwá (sweetmeat): God opened to it the door of that knowledge;
That which God taught to the silkworm—does any elephant know such a device?
Adam, created of earth, learned knowledge from God: (his) knowledge shot beams up to the Seventh Heaven.
He (Adam) broke the name and fame (pride) of the angels, to the confusion of that one who is in doubt concerning God.
He (God) made the ascetic of so many thousand years (Iblís) a muzzle for that young calf (Adam),

1015. That he (Adam) might not be able to drink the milk of knowledge of religion, and that he might not roam around that
lofty castle.
The sciences of the followers of (external) sense became a muzzle, so that he (the believer in sense-perception) might not
receive milk from that sublime knowledge.
(But) into the blood-drop (core) of the heart there fell a jewel which He (God) gave not to the seas and skies.
How long (this regard for) form? After all, O form-worshipper, has thy reality-lacking soul not (yet) escaped from form?
If a human being were a man in virtue of form, Ahmad (Mohammed) and Bú Jahl would be just the same.

1020. The painting on the wall is like Adam: see from the (pictured) form what thing in it is wanting.
The spirit is wanting in that resplendent form: go, seek that jewel rarely found!
The heads of all the lions in the world were laid low when They (God) gave a hand to (bestowed favour on) the dog of the
Companions (of the Cave).
What loss does it suffer from that abhorred shape, inasmuch as its spirit was plunged in the ocean of light?
’Tis not in pens to describe (the outward) form: (what is written) in letters is (qualities like) “learned” and “just”;

1025. (And qualities like) “learned” and “just” are only the spiritual essence which thou wilt not find in (any) place or in front or behind.
The sun of the spirit strikes (with its beams) on the body from the quarter where (the relation of) place does not exist: it (that sun) is not contained in the sky.
An account of the knowledge of the hare and an explanation of the excellence and
advantages of knowledge.
This topic hath no end. Give heed! Listen to the story of the hare.
Sell your asinine (corporeal) ear and buy another ear, for the asinine ear will not apprehend this discourse.
Go, behold the foxy tricks played by the hare; behold how the hare made a plot to catch the lion.

1030. Knowledge is the seal of the kingdom of Solomon: the whole world is form, and knowledge is the spirit.
Because of this virtue, the creatures of the seas and those of mountain and plain are helpless before man.
Of him the pard and lion are afraid, like the mouse; from him the crocodile of the great river is in pallor and agitation.
From him peri and demon took to the shores (sought refuge): each took abode in some hiding-place.
Man hath many a secret enemy: the cautious man is a wise one.

1035. (There are) hidden creatures, evil and good: at every instant their blows are
striking on the heart.
If you go into the river to wash yourself, a thorn in the water inflicts a hurt upon you.
Although the thorn is hidden low in the water, you know it is there, since it is pricking you.
The pricks of (angelic) inspirations and (satanic) temptations are from thousands of beings, not (only) from one.
Wait (patiently) for your (bodily) senses to be transmuted, so that you may see them (the hidden beings), and the difficulty may be solved,

1040. So that (you may see) whose words you have rejected and whom you have made your captain.
How the beasts requested the hare to tell the secret of his thought.
Afterwards they said, “O nimble hare, communicate what is in thy apprehension.
O thou who hast grappled with a lion, declare the plan which thou hast thought of.
Counsel gives perception and understanding: the mind is helped by (other) minds.
The Prophet said, ‘O adviser, take counsel (with the trustworthy), for he whose counsel is sought is trusted.’”
How the hare withheld the secret from them.

1045. He said, “One ought not to say forth every secret: sometimes the even number turns out to be odd, and sometimes the odd number to be even.”
If from guilelessness you breathe words to a mirror, the mirror at once becomes dim to us.
Do not move your lip in explanation of these three things, (namely) concerning your departure and your gold and your religion;
For to these three there is many an adversary and foe standing in wait for you when he knows (about any of them).
And if you tell (only) one or two (a few people), farewell (to your secret): every secret that goes beyond the twain (who share it) is published abroad.

1050. If you tie two or three birds together, they will remain on the ground, imprisoned by grief;
(But in truth) they hold a consultation well-disguised and mingled, in its (apparent) significance, with that which casts error (into the mind of any one who observes them).
(Similarly) the Prophet used to take counsel, (speaking) cryptically, and they (his companions) would answer him and (would be) without knowledge (of his real meaning).
He would speak his opinion in a covert parable, in order that the adversary might not know foot from head.
He (the Prophet) would receive his answer from him (the adversary), while the other would not catch the smell (drift) of his question.
The story of the hare's stratagem.

1055. He delayed awhile in going, then he went before the lion who rends (his prey) with claws.
Because he tarried late in going, the lion was tearing up the earth and roaring.
“I said,” cried the lion, “that the promise of those vile ones would be vain—vain and frail and unfulfilled.
Their palaver has duped me: how long will this Time deceive me, how long?”
The prince that hath no strength in his beard is left sorely in the lurch when by reason of his folly he looks neither backwards nor forwards.

1060. The road is smooth, and under it are pitfalls: amidst the names there is a dearth of meaning.
Words and names are like pitfalls: the sweet (flattering) word is the sand for (the sand that sucks up) the water of our life.
The one sand whence water gushes is seldom to be found: go, seek it.
He that searches after wisdom becomes a fountain of wisdom; he becomes independent of acquisition and (ways and) means.
The guarding tablet becomes a Guarded Tablet; his understanding becomes enriched by the Spirit.

1065. When a man's understanding has been his teacher, after this the understanding becomes his pupil.
The understanding says, like Gabriel, “O Ahmad (Mohammed), if I take one (more) step, it will burn me;
Do thou leave me, henceforth advance (alone): this is my limit, O sultan of the soul!”
Whoever, through heedlessness, remains without thanksgiving and patience (selfcontrol), knows (no resource) but this, that he should follow in the heels of necessity (jabr).
Any one who pleads necessity (as an excuse) feigns himself to be ill, with the result that the (feigned) illness brings him to the grave.

1070. The Prophet said, “Illness (assumed) in jest brings (real) disease, so that he (the jester) dies like a lamp.”
What is (the meaning of) jabr? To bind up a broken (limb) or tie a severed vein.
Inasmuch as you have not broken your foot in this path, whom are you mocking? Why have you bandaged your foot?
But as for him who broke his foot in the path of exertion, Buráq came up to him, and he mounted (and rode).
He was a bearer of the (true) religion, and he became one who is borne; he was an accepter of the (Divine) command, and he became accepted.

1075. Until now, he was receiving commands from the King; henceforth he delivers the (King's) commands to the people.
Until now, the stars were influencing him; henceforth he is the ruler of the stars.
If (on this account) perplexity arise in thy sight (mind), then thou wilt have doubts
concerning The moon was cloven asunder.
Refresh thy faith, (but) not with talk of the tongue, O thou who hast secretly refreshed thy (evil) desire.
So long as desire is fresh, faith is not fresh, for ’tis this desire that locks (against thee) that gate.

1080. Thou hast interpreted (and altered the meaning of) the virgin (uncorrupted) Word: interpret (alter) thyself, not the (Divine) Book.
Thou interpretest the Qur’án according to thy desire: by thee the sublime meaning is degraded and perverted.
The baseness of the foul interpretation given by the fly.
The fly was lifting up his head, like a pilot, on a blade of straw and (a pool of) ass's urine.
“I have called (them) sea and ship,” said he; “I have been pondering over that (interpretation) for a long while.
Look! here is this sea and this ship, and I am the pilot and skilled (in navigation) and judicious.”

1085. He was propelling the raft on the “sea”: that (small) quantity appeared to him illimitable.
That urine was boundless in relation to him: where was the vision that should see it truly?
His world extends (just) as far as his sight reaches; his eye is so big, his “sea” is big in the same proportion.
So with the false interpreter (of the Qur’án): like the fly, his imagination is (foul as) ass's urine and his conception (worthless as) a straw.
If the fly leave off interpreting by (following his own) opinion, Fortune will turn that fly into a humáy.

1090. One who possesses this (Divine) indication (of the true meaning) is not a fly: his spirit is not analogous to his (outward) form.
How the lion roared wrathfully because the hare was late in coming.
As (for example) the hare who struck against the lion: how was his spirit analogous to his stature?
The lion from fury and rage was saying, “By means of my ear the enemy has bound up my eye.
The tricks of the necessitarians have bound me (in captivity); their wooden sword has wounded my body.
After this I will not hearken to their palaver: all that is (only meant to deceive, like) the cry of demons and ghouls.

1095. O my heart, tear them to pieces, do not lag; rend their skins, for they have naught but skin.”
What is skin? Specious words, like ripples on water which have no continuance.
Know that these words are as the skin (rind), and the meaning is (as) the kernel; these words are as the form, and the meaning
is like the spirit.
The skin hides the defect of the bad kernel; it (also) hides jealously the secrets of the good kernel.
When the pen is of wind and the scroll of water, whatever you write perishes speedily;

1100. It is written on water: if you seek constancy from it, you will return biting your hands (in disappointment).
The wind in men is vanity and desire; when you have abandoned vanity, (then) is (the time for) the message from Him (God).
Sweet are the messages of the Maker, for it (that message) from head to foot (from first to last) is enduring.
The khutbas for kings change (and pass), and their empire; (all will pass) except the empire and khutbas (insignia) of the
Because the pomp of kings is from (earthly) vanity, (while) the glorious privilege of the prophets is from (Divine) Majesty.

1105. The names of kings are removed from the dirhems, (but) the name of Ahmad (Mohammed) is stamped on them for ever.
The name of Ahmad is the name of all the prophets: when the hundred comes (is counted), ninety is with us as well.
Further setting forth the stratagem of the hare.
The hare made much delay in going; he rehearsed to himself the tricks (which he was about to play).
After long delay he came on (took) the road, that he might say one or two secrets into the ear of the lion.
Think, what worlds are in commerce with Reason! How wide is this ocean of Reason!

1110. In this sweet ocean our forms are moving fast, like cups on the surface of water:
Until they become full, (they float) like bowls on the top of the sea, (but) when the bowl is filled it sinks therein.
Reason is hidden, and (only) a world (of phenomena) is visible: our forms are the waves or a spray of it (of that hidden ocean).
Whatsoever (thing) the form makes (uses as) a means of approach to It (to Reason), by that (same) means the ocean (of
Reason) casts it (the form) far away.
So long as the heart does not see the Giver of (its) conscience, so long as the arrow does not see the far-shooting Archer,

1115. He (who is thus blind) thinks his horse is lost, though (all the while) he is obstinately speeding his horse on the road.
That fine fellow thinks his horse is lost, while his horse is sweeping him onward like the wind.
In lamentation and inquiry that scatterbrain (runs) from door to door in every direction, asking and searching:
“Where and who is he that stole my horse?” What is this (animal) under thy thigh, O master?
“Yes, this is the horse, but where is the horse?” O dexterous rider in search of thy horse, come to thyself!

1120. The Spirit is lost (to view) because of its being so manifest and near: how, having thy belly full of water, art thou drylipped
like a jar?
How wilt thou see red and green and russet, unless before (seeing) these three (colours) thou see the light?
But since thy mind was lost (absorbed) in (perception of) the colour, those colours became to thee a veil from (debarred thee from contemplating) the light.
Inasmuch as at night those colours were hidden, thou sawest that thy vision of the colour was (derived) from the light.
There is no vision of colour without the external light: even so it is with the colour of inward phantasy.

1125. This outward (light) is (derived) from the sun and from Suhá, while the inward (light) is from the reflexion of the
beams of (Divine) Glory.
The light which gives light to the eye is in truth the light of the heart: the light of the eye is produced by the light of hearts.
Again, the light which gives light to the heart is the Light of God, which is pure and separate from the light of intellect and sense.
At night there was no light: thou didst not see the colour; then it (the light) was made manifest by the opposite of light (by darkness).
(First) comes the seeing of light, then the seeing of colour; and this thou knowest immediately by the opposite of light (darkness).

1130. God created pain and sorrow for the purpose that happiness might be made manifest by means of this opposite.
Hidden things, then, are manifested by means of their opposite; since God hath no opposite, He is hidden;
For the sight fell (first) on the light, then on the colour: opposite is made manifest by opposite, like Greeks and Ethiopians.
Therefore thou knewest light by its opposite: opposite reveals opposite in (the process of) coming forth.
The Light of God hath no opposite in (all) existence, that by means of that opposite it should be possible to make Him manifest:

1135. Necessarily (therefore) our eyes do not perceive Him, though He perceives (us): see this (fact) from (the case of)
Moses and the mountain (Sinai).
Know that form springs from spirit (reality) as the lion from the jungle, or as voice and speech from thought.
This speech and voice arose from thought; thou knowest not where is the sea of thought,
But since thou hast seen that the waves of speech are fair, thou knowest that their sea also is noble.
When the waves of thought sped on from (the sea of) Wisdom, it (Wisdom) made (for them) the form of speech and voice.

1140. The form was born of the Word and died again, the wave drew itself back into the sea.
The form came forth from Formlessness and went back (thither), for Verily unto Him are we returning.
Every instant, then, thou art dying and returning: Mustafá declared that this world is (but) a moment.
Our thought is an arrow (shot) from Him (Hú) into the air (hawá): how should it stay in the air? It comes (back) to God.
Every moment the world is renewed, and we are unaware of its being renewed whilst it remains (the same in appearance).
1145. Life is ever arriving anew, like the stream, though in the body it has the semblance of continuity.
From its swiftness it appears continuous, like the spark which thou whirlest rapidly with thy hand.
If thou whirl a firebrand with dexterity, it appears to the sight as a very long (line of) fire.
The swift motion produced by the action of God presents this length of duration (Time) as (a phenomenon arising) from the rapidity of Divine action.
Even if the seeker of this mystery is an exceedingly learned man, (say to him), “Lo, Husámu’ddín, who is a sublime book
(where you will find the mystery revealed).”
The hare's coming to the lion and the lion's anger with him.
1150. The lion, incensed and wrathful and frantic, saw the hare coming from afar,
Running undismayed and confidently, looking angry and fierce and fell and sour,
For by coming humbly (he thought) suspicion would be (excited), while by boldness every cause of doubt would be removed.
When he came further on, near to the “shoe-row,” the lion shouted—“Ha, villain!
I who have torn oxen limb from limb, I who have rubbed the ear of (chastised and vanquished) the ferocious elephant—

1155. Who (what) is a half-witted (feeble) hare, that he should thus throw on the ground (disregard) my behest?”
Abandon the hare's slumber and heedlessness! Give ear, O donkey, to the roaring of this lion!
The hare's apology.
“Mercy!” cried the hare, “I have an excuse, if thy Lordship's pardon come to my aid.”
“What excuse?” said he. “Oh, the shortsightedness of fools! Is this the time for them to come into the presence of kings?
Thou art an untimely bird: thy head must be cut off. One ought not to hear the excuse of a fool.

1160. The fool's excuse is worse than his crime; the excuse of the ignorant is the poison that kills wisdom.
Thy excuse, O hare, is devoid of wisdom: what hare am I that thou shouldst put it in my ear?”
“O king,” he replied, “account a worthless one to be worthy: hearken to the excuse of one who has suffered oppression.
In particular, as an alms (thank-offering) for thy high estate, do not drive out of thy way one whose way is lost.
The ocean, which gives some water to every stream, lays on its head and face (surface) every piece of rubbish.

1165. By this bounty the sea will not become less: the sea is neither increased nor diminished by its bounty.”
The lion said, “I will bestow bounty in its (proper) place, I will cut every one's clothes according to his stature.”
“Listen,” cried the hare, “if I am not a fit object for (thy) grace, I lay my head before the dragon of (thy) violence.
At breakfast-time I set out on the way, I came towards the king with my comrade.
That party (of beasts) had appointed, for thy sake, another hare to go along with me as consort and companion.

1170. On the road a lion attacked thy humble slave, attacked both the companions in travel who were coming (to thee).
I said to him, ‘We are the slaves of the King of kings, the lowly fellow-servants of that (exalted) court.’
He said, ‘The King of kings! Who is he? Be ashamed! Do not make mention of every base loon in my presence.
Both thee and thy king I will tear to pieces, if thou and thy friend turn back from my door.’
I said to him, ‘Let me behold once more the face of the king and bear the news of thee (to him).’

1175. He said, ‘Place thy comrade with me (in my keeping) as a pledge; otherwise, thou art a sacrifice (thy life is forfeit)
according to my law.’
We entreated him much: it was no use. He seized my friend and left me to go alone.
My friend, from his plumpness, made three of me both in comeliness and beauty and (size of) body.
Henceforth this road is barred by that lion: the thread of our covenants is broken.
Cut off (abandon) hope of the allowance henceforth; I am telling thee the truth, and truth is bitter.

1180. If thou want the allowance, clear the way! hey, come on and repel that irreverent one!”
How the lion answered the hare and set off with him.
“Come on in God's name,” said he, “let me see where he is! Go thou in front, if thou art speaking truth,
That I may give him and a hundred like him the punishment they deserve, or if this is a lie, that I may give thy deserts to thee.”
The hare set out on the way, (going) in front like a guide, that he might lead him towards his snare,
Towards the well which he had designated: he had made the deep well a snare for his (the lion's) life.

1185. (Thus) were these twain going till (they arrived) near the well. Look, you, (this was) a hare (deceitful) as a (pool of) water (hidden) under straw.
The water bears a blade of straw (down) to the plain: how, I wonder, will the straw bear away a mountain?
The snare of his (the hare's) guile was a noose for the lion: a marvellous hare (he), who was carrying off a lion (as his prey)!
A Moses draws Pharaoh, with his army and mighty host, into the river Nile;
A single gnat with half a wing cleaves intrepidly the suture of Nimrod's skull.

1190. Behold the state of him who hearkened to the words of his enemy, and the retribution of him who became the friend of the envious one—
The state of a Pharaoh who hearkened to Haman, and the state of a Nimrod who hearkened to Satan.
Albeit the enemy speak to thee in friendly wise, know (his words to be) the snare, though he speak to thee of the grain (bait).
If he give thee some candy, regard it as poison; if he do a kindness to thy body, regard it as cruelty.
When the (Divine) destiny comes to pass, you see naught but the skin (outward appearance): you do not distinguish enemies from friends.

1195. Since the case is thus, begin humble supplication; set about lamenting and glorifying (God) and fasting.
Lament continually, crying, “O Thou who well knowest the hidden things, do not crush us beneath the stone of evil contrivance.
O Creator of the lion, if we have wrought currishness, do not set the lion (to spring) on us from this covert.
Do not give to sweet water the form of fire, do not put upon fire the form of water.
When Thou makest (us) drunken with the wine of Thy wrath, Thou givest to things non-existent the form of existence.”

1200. What is (this) drunkenness? That which binds (prevents) the eye from (true) eyesight, so that a (common) stone
appears a jewel, and wool (pashm) a jasper (yashm).
What is (this) drunkenness? The perversion of the senses, the change of tamarisk-wood into sandal-wood in the (perverted) sight.

No comments:

Post a Comment