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(Masnavi Book 1: 23) The harmfulness of being honoured by the people




The harmfulness of being honoured by the people and of becoming conspicuous.
The body is cage-like: the body, amidst the cajoleries of those who come in and go out, became a thorn to the soul.

1850. This one says to him, “I will be thy confidant,” and that one says, “Nay, I am thy partner.”
This one says to him, “There is none in existence like thee for beauty and eminence and for kindness and liberality.”
That one says to him, “Both the worlds are thine, all our souls are thy soul's parasites.”
When he sees the people intoxicated with (desire for) him, because of arrogance he loses self-control.
He does not know that the Devil has cast thousands like him into the water of the river (of destruction).

1855. The world's flattery and hypocrisy is a sweet morsel: eat less of it (eat it not), for it is a morsel full of fire.
Its fire is hidden and its taste is manifest: its smoke becomes visible in the end.
Do not say, “How should I swallow that praise? He is speaking from desire (for reward): I am on his track (and see quite well what he is after).”
If your belauder should satirise you in public, your heart would burn for (many) days on account of those scorches (of vituperation).
Although you know that he (only) said it in disappointment because the hopes he had of you brought him no gain,

1860. (Yet) the effect thereof is remaining within you. The same experience happens to you in the case of praise.
The effect of that too lasts for many days and becomes a source of arrogance and deception of the soul,
But it does not show itself, because praise is sweet; (in the case of blame) the evil shows itself, because blame is bitter.
It (blame) is like (bitter) decoctions and pills which you swallow and for a long time you are in disturbance and pain,
Whereas, if you eat halwá (sweetmeat), its taste is momentary: this effect, like the other, is not enduring for ever.

1865. Since it does not endure (perceptibly), it endures imperceptibly: recognise every opposite by means of its opposite.
When the effect of sugar endures (remains latent), after a while it produces boils that call for the lancet.
Pharaoh was made (what he was) by abundance of praises: be lowly of spirit through meekness, do not domineer.
So far as you can, become a slave, do not be a monarch. Suffer blows: become like the ball, do not be the bat.
Otherwise, when this elegance and beauty remains with you no more, you will be loathed by those companions.

1870. The set of people who used to flatter you deceitfully, when they behold you will call you a devil.
When they see you at their doors, they all will cry, “A dead man has risen from his grave.”
(You will be) like the beardless youth whom they address as “Lord” that by this hypocrisy they may make him infamous.
As soon as he has grown a beard in infamy, the Devil is ashamed to search after him.
The Devil approaches Man for the sake of wickedness: he does not approach you because you are worse than the Devil.

1875. So long as you were a man the Devil was running at your heels and bidding you taste (his) wine.
Since you have become confirmed in devilry, the Devil is fleeing from you, O good for- nothing!
At that (former) time they clung to your skirt: when you became like this they all fled.

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