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(Masnavi Book 1: 19) The Spiritual Birds that are Divine Intelligences




Description of the wings of the birds that are Divine Intelligences.

1575. Such-like is the tale of the parrot which is the soul: where is that one who is the confidant of (the spiritual) birds?
Where is a bird, weak and innocent, and within him Solomon with (all) his host?
When he moans bitterly, without thanksgiving or complaint, a noise of tumult falls on (arises in) the Seven Spheres (of Heaven).
At every moment (there come) to him from God a hundred missives, a hundred couriers: from him one (cry of) “O my Lord!”
and from God a hundred (cries of) “Labbayka” (“Here am I”).
In the sight of God his backsliding is better than obedience; beside his infidelity all faiths are tattered (worthless).

1580. Every moment he hath an ascension (to God) peculiar to himself: He (God) lays upon his crown a hundred peculiar crowns.
His form is on earth and his spirit in “no-place,” a “no-place” beyond the imagination of travellers (on the mystic Way):
Not such a “no-place” that it should come into thy understanding (or that) a fancy about it should be born in thee every moment;
Nay, place and “no-place” are in his control, just as the four (Paradisal) rivers are in the control of one who dwells in Paradise.
Cut short the explanation of this and avert thy face from it: do not breathe a word (more)—and God knows best what is right.

1585. We return from this (matter), O friends, to the bird and the merchant and India.
The merchant accepted this message (and promised) that he would convey the greeting from her (the parrot) to her congeners.
How the merchant saw the parrots of India in the plain and delivered the parrot's
message.
When he reached the farthest bounds of India, he saw a number of parrots in the plain.
He halted his beast; then he gave voice, delivered the greeting and (discharged) the trust.
One of those parrots trembled exceedingly, fell, and died, and its breath stopped.

1590. The merchant repented of having told the news, and said, “I have gone about to destroy the creature.
This one, surely, is kin to that little parrot (of mine): they must have been two bodies and one spirit.
Why did I do this? Why did I give the message? I have consumed the poor creature by this raw (foolish) speech.”
This tongue is like stone and is also fire-like, and that which springs from the tongue is like fire.
Do not vainly strike stone and iron against each other, now for the sake of relating (a story), now for the sake of boasting,

1595. Because it is dark, and on every side are fields of cotton: how should sparks be amongst cotton?
Iniquitous are those persons who shut their eyes and by such (vain) words set a whole world ablaze.
A single word lays waste a (whole) world, turns dead foxes into lions.
Spirits in their original nature have the (life-giving) breath of Jesus, (but while they remain embodied) one breath of it (the spirit) is a wound, and the other a plaster.
If the (bodily) screen were removed from the spirits, the speech of every spirit would be like (the breath of) the Messiah.

1600. If you wish to utter words like sugar, refrain from concupiscence and do not eat this sweetmeat (the desires of the flesh).
Self-control is the thing desired by the intelligent; sweetmeat is what children long for.
Whoever practises self-control ascends to Heaven, whoever eats sweetmeat falls farther behind.

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