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(Masnavi Book 1: 21) The respect paid to Moses by Pharaoh’s magicians















How the magicians paid respect to Moses, on whom be peace, saying, “What dost thou command? Wilt thou cast down thy rod first, or shall we?”

1615. The magicians in the time of the accursed Pharaoh, when they contended with Moses in enmity,
Yet gave Moses the precedence—the magicians held him in honour—
Because they said to him, “’Tis for thee to command: (if) thou wishest to be the first, do thou cast down thy rod first (of all).”
“Nay,” said he, “first do ye, O magicians, cast down those tricks (objects of enchantment) into the middle (where all can see them).”
This amount of respect purchased their (belief in) (the true) religion, so that it (the true belief) cut off the hands and feet of their contention (prevented them from disputing further with Moses).

1620. When the magicians acknowledged his (Moses') right, they sacrificed their hands and feet (as a penance) for the sin of that (contention).
To the perfect man (every) mouthful (of food) and (every) saying is lawful. Thou art not perfect: do not eat, be mute,
Inasmuch as thou art an ear and he a tongue, not thy congener: God said to the ears, “Be silent.”
When the sucking babe is born, at first it keeps silence for a while, it is all ear.
For a while it must close its lips (and refrain) from speech, until it learns to speak;

1625. And if it is not (silent like) an ear but makes babbling sounds, it makes itself the dumbest creature in the world.
He that is deaf by nature, he that had no ear at the beginning, is dumb: how should he burst into speech?
Since, in order to speak, one must first hear, do thou come to speech by the way of hearing.
Enter ye the houses by their doors, and seek ye the ends in their causes.
There is no speech independent of the way of hearing except the speech of the Creator who is without want.

1630. He is the Originator, He follows no master; He is the support of all things, He hath no support,
(While) the rest, (engaged) in handicrafts and talk, follow a master and have need of a pattern.
If thou art not alien to (unfit to hear) this discourse, assume the frock of a dervish and (take to shedding) tears in some deserted
place,
Because Adam by means of tears escaped from that reproof: moist tears are the breath (speech) of the penitent.
For weeping's sake Adam came (down) to the earth, that he might be weeping and moaning and sorrowful.

1635. Adam, (cast out) from Paradise and from above the Seven (Heavens), went to the “shoe-row” for the purpose of excusing himself.
If thou art from the back of Adam and from his loins, be constant in seeking (forgiveness) amongst his company.
Prepare a dessert of heart-fire (burning grief) and eye-water (tears): the garden is made open (blooming) by cloud and sun.
What dost thou know of the taste of the water of the eyes? Thou art a lover of bread, like the blind (beggars).
If thou make this wallet empty of bread, thou wilt make it full of glorious jewels.

1640. Wean the babe, thy soul, from the Devil's milk, and after that make it consort with the Angel.
Whilst thou art dark and vexed and gloomy, know that thou art sucking from the same breast as the accursed Devil.
The mouthful that gave increase of light and perfection is obtained from lawful earnings.
The oil that comes and quenches our lamp—when it quenches a lamp, call it water.
From the lawful morsel are born knowledge and wisdom; from the lawful morsel come love and tenderness.

1645. When from a morsel thou seest (arise) envy and guile, (and when) ignorance and heedlessness are born (of it), know that it is unlawful.
Wilt thou sow wheat and will it produce barley? Hast thou seen a mare bring forth an ass's colt?
The morsel is seed, and thoughts are its fruit; the morsel is the sea, and thoughts are its pearls.
From the lawful morsel in the mouth is born the inclination to serve (God) and the resolve to go to yonder world.
How the merchant related to the parrot what he had witnessed on the part of the parrots
of India.
The merchant finished his trading and returned home glad at heart.

1650. He brought a present for every male slave, he gave a token to every slave-girl.
“Where is my present?” asked the parrot. “Relate what thou hast said and seen.”
“Nay,” said he, “indeed I am repenting of that (which I said), gnawing my hand and biting my fingers (in remorse).
Why, from ignorance and folly, did I idly bear (such) an inconsiderate message?”
“O master,” said the parrot, “what is thy repentance for? What is it that causes this anger and grief?”

1655. “I told thy complaints,” said he, “to a company of parrots resembling thee.
One parrot got scent of (understood) thy pain: her heart broke, and she trembled and died.
I became sorry, (thinking) ‘why did I say this?’ but what was the use of repenting after I had said it?”
Know that a word which suddenly shot from the tongue is like an arrow shot from the bow.
O son, that arrow does not turn back on its way: you must dam a torrent at the source.

1660. When it left the source behind, it swept over a world (of country): if it lays waste the world, ’tis no wonder.
There is an unseen bringing forth of effects to (our) action, and the results born of it are not in the control of (human) creatures:
Those results are all created by God without any partner, though they are imputed to us.
Zayd let fly an arrow in the direction of ‘Amr: his arrow gripped ‘Amr like a leopard.
During a long time, a (whole) year, it was producing pain: pains are created by God, not by man.

1665. If Zayd who shot (the arrow) died of fright at the moment (when ‘Amr was wounded), (nevertheless) pains are
continually being produced there (in ‘Amr's body) until (‘Amr's) death.
Inasmuch as he (‘Amr) died from the results of the hurt (inflicted on him), for this cause call Zayd, who shot (the arrow), the murderer.
Impute those pains to him, though all of them are the work of the Creator.
So with sowing and breathing (speaking) and (laying) snares and sexual intercourse: the results of those (actions) are amenable
to (determined by the will of) God.
The saints possess power (derived) from God: they turn back from its course the arrow that has sped.

1670. When the saint repents, he closes the doors of the results (shuts off the results) from the cause by that hand (power) of the Lord.
Through the opening of the door (of Divine grace), he makes unsaid what has been said, so that neither spit nor roast-meat is burnt thereby.
He wipes out the saying from all the minds that heard it, and makes it imperceptible.
O sire, if thou must needs have demonstration and proof (of this), recite “(Whatever) verse (We cancel) or cause to be forgotten. ”
Read the verse “They made you forget My warning”: acknowledge their (the saints') power to put forgetfulness (in men's hearts).

1675. Since they are able to make (you) remember and forget, they are mighty over all the hearts of (God's) creatures.
When he (the saint) has blocked the road of (your) mental perception by means of forgetfulness, it is impossible (for you) to act, even if there be virtue (in you).
Think ye those exalted ones are a laughing-stock? Recite from the Qur’án as far as (the words) “They made you forget.”
He that owns a village is king over bodies; he that owns a heart is king over your hearts.
Without any doubt, action (practice) is a branch of (subordinate to) seeing (theory): therefore Man is nothing but “the little man” (the pupil of the eye).

1680. I dare not expound the whole of this (subject): hindrance thereto is coming from those who are at the centre.
Inasmuch as the forgetfulness and recollection of (God's) creatures are with him (depend on the perfect saint), and he comes at their call for help,
Every night that glorious one is emptying from their hearts hundreds of thousands of good and evil (thoughts),
(While) in the daytime he is filling their hearts therewith— he is filling those oystershells with pearls.
By (Divine) guidance (after sleep is past) all those thoughts of former things recognize the spirits (to which they were attached).

1685. Your handicraft and skill come (back) to you, that they may open to you the door of (ways and) means.
The goldsmith's craft did not go to the ironsmith; the disposition of the good-natured man did not go to the disagreeable one.
On the day of Resurrection the handicrafts and dispositions will come, like articles of property, to the claimant (owner).
After sleep also, the handicrafts and dispositions come back in haste to him that claims them as his.
At the hour of dawn the handicrafts and thoughts went to the same place where that good and evil (formerly) were.

1690. Like carrier pigeons, they bring things useful (to know) from (other) cities to their own city.
How the parrot heard what those parrots had done, and died in the cage, and how the
merchant made lament for her.
When the bird heard what that (other) parrot had done, she trembled exceedingly, fell, and became cold.
The merchant, seeing her thus fallen, sprang up and dashed his cap on the ground.
When he saw her in this guise and in this state, the merchant sprang forward and tore the breast of his garment.
He said, “O beautiful parrot with thy sweet cry, what is this that has happened to thee? Why hast thou become like this?

1695. Oh, alas for my sweet-voiced bird! Oh, alas for my bosom-friend and confidant!
Oh, alas for my melodious bird, the wine of my spirit and my garden and my sweet basil!
Had Solomon possessed a bird like this, how indeed should he have become occupied with those (other) birds?
Oh, alas for the bird which I gained cheaply, and (so) soon turned my face away from her countenance!
O tongue, thou art a great damage to me, (but) since thou art speaking, what should I say to thee?

1700. O tongue, thou art both the fire and the stack: how long wilt thou dart this fire upon this stack?
Secretly my soul is groaning because of thee, although it is doing whatsoever thou biddest it.
O tongue, thou art a treasure without end. O tongue, thou art also a disease without remedy.
Thou art at once a whistle and decoy for birds, and a comforter in the desolation of absence (from the Beloved).
How long wilt thou grant me mercy, O merciless one, O thou who hast drawn the bow to take vengeance on me?

1705. Lo, thou hast made my bird fly away. Do not browse (any more) in the pasture of injustice!
Either answer me or give redress or mention to me (what will be) the means of (producing) joy.
Oh, alas for my darkness-consuming dawn! Oh, alas for my day-enkindling light!
Oh, alas for my bird of goodly flight, that has flown from my end (my last state) to my beginning (my first state).
The ignorant man is in love with pain unto everlasting. Arise and read (in the Qur’án) I swear as far as (the words) in trouble.

1710. With thy face I was free from trouble, and in thy river I was unsoiled by froth.
These cries of ‘Alas’ are (caused by) the phantasy (idea) of seeing (the Beloved) and (by) separation from my present existence.
’Twas the jealousy of God, and there is no device against God: where is a heart that is not (shattered) in a hundred pieces by God's love?
The jealousy (of God) is this, that He is other than all things, that He is beyond explanation and the noise of words.
Oh, alas! Would that my tears were an ocean, that they might be strewn as an offering to the fair charmer!

1715. My parrot, my clever-headed bird, the interpreter of my thought and inmost consciousness,
She has told me from the first, that I might remember it, whatsoever should come to me as my allotted portion of right and wrong.”
The parrot whose voice comes from (Divine) inspiration and whose beginning was before the beginning of existence—
That parrot is hidden within thee: thou hast seen the reflexion of her upon this and that (the things of the phenomenal world).
She takes away thy joy, and because of her thou art rejoicing: thou receivest injury from her as though it were justice.

1720. O thou who wert burning the soul for the body's sake, thou hast burned (destroyed) the soul and illumined (delighted) the body.
I am burning (with love of God): does any one want tinder, let him set his rubbish ablaze with fire from me.
Inasmuch as tinder is combustible, take tinder that catches fire (readily).
O alas, O alas, O alas that such a moon became hidden under the clouds!
How should I utter a word?—for the fire in my heart is grown fierce, the lion of separation (from the Beloved) has become raging and blood-shedding.

1725. One that even when sober is violent and furious, how will it be when he takes the wine-cup in his hand?
The furious Lion who is beyond description is too great for (cannot be contained in) the wide expanse of the meadow.
I am thinking of rhymes, and my Sweetheart says to me, “Do not think of aught except vision of Me.
Sit at thy ease, My rhyme-meditating (friend): in My presence thou art rhymed with (attached to) felicity.
What are words that thou shouldst think of them? What are words? Thorns in the hedge of the vineyard.

1730. I will throw word and sound and speech into confusion, that without these three I may converse with thee.
That word which I kept hidden from Adam I will speak to thee, O (thou who art the) consciousness of the world.
(I will tell to thee) that word which I did not communicate to Abraham, and that pain (love) which Gabriel does not know.”
That word of which the Messiah (Jesus) breathed not a word God, from jealousy, did not utter even without má.
What is má in language? Positive and negative. I am not positive, I am selfless and negated.

1735. I found (true) individuality in non-individuality: therefore I wove (my) individuality into non-individuality.
All kings are enslaved to their slaves, all people are dead (ready to die) for one who dies for them.
All kings are prostrate before one who is prostrate before them, all people are intoxicated with (love for) one who is intoxicated with them.
The fowler becomes a prey to the birds in order that of a sudden he may make them his prey.
The hearts of heart-ravishers are captivated by those who have lost their hearts (to them): all loved ones are the prey of (their) lovers.

1740. Whomsoever thou didst deem to be a lover, regard (him) as the loved one, for relatively he is both this and that.
If they that are thirsty seek water from the world, (yet) water too seeks in the world them that are thirsty.
Inasmuch as He is (thy) lover, do thou be silent: as He is pulling thine ear, be thou (all) ear.
Dam the torrent (of ecstasy) when it runs in flood; else it will work shame and ruin.
What care I though ruin be (wrought)? Under the ruin there is a royal treasure.

1745. He that is drowned in God wishes to be more drowned, (while) his spirit (is tossed) up and down like the waves of the sea,
(Asking), “Is the bottom of the sea more delightful, or the top? Is His (the Beloved's) arrow more fascinating, or the shield?”
O heart, thou art torn asunder by evil suggestion if thou recognise any difference between joy and woe.
Although the object of thy desire has the taste of sugar, is not absence of any object of desire (in thee) the object of the Beloved's desire?
Every star of His is the blood-price of a hundred new moons: it is lawful for Him to shed the blood of the (whole) world.

1750. We gained the price and the blood-price: we hastened to gamble our soul away.
Oh, the life of lovers consists in death: thou wilt not win the (Beloved's) heart except in losing thine own.
I sought (to win) His heart with a hundred airs and graces, (but) He made excuses to me (put me off) in disdain.
I said, “After all, this mind and soul (of mine) are drowned in Thee.” “Begone,” said He, “begone! Do not chant these spells over Me (do not seek thus to beguile Me).
Do not I know what thought thou hast conceived? O thou who hast seen double, how hast thou regarded the Beloved?

1755. O gross-spirited one, thou hast held Me in light esteem, because thou hast bought Me very cheaply.
He that buys cheaply gives cheaply: a child will give a pearl for a loaf of bread.”
I am drowned in a love (so deep) that therein are drowned the first loves and the last.
I have told it summarily, I have not explained it (at length), otherwise both (thy) perceptions and (my) tongue would be consumed.
When I speak of “lip,” ’tis the lip (shore) of the Sea; when I say “not,” the intended meaning is “except.”

1760. By reason of (inward) sweetness I sit with sour face: from fullness of speech I am silent,
That in the mask of sour-facedness my sweetness may be kept hidden from the two worlds.
In order that this subject may not come to every ear, I am telling (only) one out of a hundred esoteric mysteries.

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