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(Masnavi Book 1: 56) Joseph ؑ and the guest-friend who could find no suitable gift for him except a mirror









How the guest came to Joseph, on whom be peace, and how Joseph demanded of him a gift and present on his return from abroad.



The loving friend came from the ends of the earth and became the guest of Joseph the truthful, For they had been well acquainted in childhood, reclining (together) on the sofa of acquaintance.
He spoke to him (Joseph) of the injustice and envy of his brethren: Joseph said, “That was (like) a chain, and I was the lion.


3160. The lion is not disgraced by the chain: I do not complain of God's destiny. If the lion had a chain on his neck, (yet) he was prince over all the chain-makers.”
He asked, “How wert you in regard to the prison and the well?” Like the moon,” said Joseph, “in the interlunar period (when she is) on the wane.”
If in that period the new moon is bent double, does not she at last become the full moon in the sky? Though the seed-pearl is pounded in the mortar, it becomes the light of eye and heart and looks aloft.


3165. They cast a grain of wheat under earth, then from its earth they raised up ears of corn; Once more they crushed it with the mill: its value increased and it became soul invigorating bread;
Again they crushed the bread under their teeth: it became the mind and spirit and understanding of one endowed with reason;

Again, when that spirit became lost in Love, it became (as that which) rejoiceth the sowers after the sowing.

This discourse has no end. Come back, that we may see what that good man said to Joseph.


3170. After he (Joseph) had told him his story, he (Joseph) said, “Now, O so-and-so, what traveller's gift have you brought for me?”

To come empty-handed to the door of friends is like going without wheat to the mill.

God, exalted is He, will say to the people at the gathering (for Judgement), “Where is your present for the Day of
Resurrection?

Ye have come to Us and alone without provision, just in the same guise as We created you.

Hark, what have ye brought as an offering—a gift on homecoming for the Day when ye rise from the dead?


3175. Or had ye no hope of returning? Did the promise of (meeting Me) to-day seem vain to you?”

Do you (O reader) disbelieve in the promise of being His guest? Then from the kitchen (of His bounty) you wilt get (only)
dust and ashes.

And if you art not disbelieving, how with such empty hands art you setting foot in the Court of that Friend? Refrain yourself a little from sleep and food: bring the gift for your meeting with Him.
Become scant of sleep (like them that) were slumbering (but a small part of the night); in the hours of dawn be of (those who)
were asking pardon of God.


3180. Stir a little, like the embryo, in order that you mayst be given the senses which behold the Light, And (then) you art outside of this womb-like world: you goest from the earth into a wide expanse.
Know that the saying, “God's earth is wide,” refers to that ample region into which the saints have entered.

The heart is not oppressed by that spacious expanse: there the fresh boughs of the palm-tree do not become dry.

At present you art bearing (the burden of) your senses: you art becoming weary and exhausted and (ready to fall) headlong.


3185. Since, at the time of sleep, you art borne (on high), and art not bearing (the burden), your fatigue is gone and you art free from pain and anguish.

Regard the time of sleep as a (mere) taste (sample) in comparison with the state in which the saints are borne (on high). The saints are (like) the Men of the Cave, O obstinate one: they are asleep (even) in rising up and turning to and fro.
He (God) is drawing them, without their taking trouble to act, without consciousness (on their part), to the right hand and to the left.

What is that right hand? Good deeds. What is that left hand? The affairs of the body.


3190. These two (kinds of) actions proceed from the saints, (while) they are unconscious of them both, like the echo: If the echo causes you to hear good and evil, the mountain itself is unconscious of either.


How the guest said to Joseph, “I have brought you the gift of a mirror, so that whenever you lookest in it you wilt see yours own fair face and remember me.”



Joseph said, “Come, produce the gift.” He (the guest), on account of shame (confusion) at this demand, sobbed aloud.

How many a gift,” said he, “did I seek for you! No (worthy) gift came into my sight.

How should I bring a grain (of gold) to the mine? How should I bring a drop (of water) to the (Sea of) ‘Umán?

3195. I shall (only) bring cumin to Kirmán, if I bring my heart and soul (as a gift) to you. There is no seed that is not in this barn, except your beauty which has no equal.
I deemed it fitting that I should bring to you a mirror like the (inward) light of a (pure) breast,

That you mayst behold your beauteous face therein, O you who, like the sun, art the candle of heaven.

I have brought you a mirror, O light (of mine eyes), so that when you seest your face you mayst think of me.”


3200. He drew forth the mirror from beneath his arm: the fair one's business is with a mirror. What is the mirror of Being? Not-being. Bring not-being (as your gift), if you are not a fool. Being can be seen (only) in not-being: the rich bestow (exhibit) generosity on the poor.
The clear mirror of bread is truly the hungry man; tinder, likewise, is the mirror of that (the stick or flint) from which fire is struck.

Not-being and defect, wherever they arise (appear), are the mirror which displays the excellence of all crafts.


3205. When a garment is neat and well-stitched, how should it enable the tailor to exhibit his skill?

Trunks of trees must be unhewn in order that the woodcutter may fashion the stem or the branches (and thus exercise his craft). The doctor who sets broken bones goes to the place where the person with the fractured leg is.
How shall the excellence of the art of medicine be made manifest when there is no emaciated invalid?

How shall the (power of the) Elixir be shown if the vileness and baseness of coppers is not notorious?


3210. Defects are the mirror of the quality of perfection, and that vileness is the mirror of power and glory,

Because (every) contrary is certainly made evident by its contrary; because honey is perceived (to be sweet by contrast) with vinegar.

Whoever has seen and recognised his own deficiency has ridden post-haste (made rapid progress) in perfecting himself. The reason why he (any one) is not flying towards the Lord of glory is that he supposes himself to be perfect.
There is no worse malady in your soul, O haughty one, than the conceit of perfection.


3215. Much blood must flow from your heart and eye, that self-complacency may go out of you.

The fault of Iblís lay in thinking I am better (than Adam),” and this disease is in the soul of every (human) creature.

Though he regard himself as very broken (in spirit), know that it is (a case of) clear water (on the surface) and dung under the stream.
When he (the Devil) stirs you in trial, immediately the water becomes dung-coloured. There is dung in the bed of the stream, my man, though to you the stream appears pure.


3220. It is the Pír full of wisdom, well-acquainted with the Way, that digs a channel for (draining off) the streams of the flesh and the body.

Can the water of the (polluted) stream clear out the dung? Can man's knowledge sweep away the ignorance of his sensual self? How shall the sword fashion its own hilt? Go, entrust (the cure of) this wound to a surgeon.
Flies gather on every wound, so that no one sees the foulness of his wound.

Those flies are your (evil) thoughts and your (love of) possessions: your wound is the darkness of your (spiritual) states;


3225. And if the Pír lays a plaster on your wound, at once the pain and lamentation are stilled,

So that you fancy it (the wound) is healed, (whereas in reality) the (healing) ray of the plaster has shone upon the (wounded)
spot.

Beware! Do not (scornfully) turn your head away from the plaster, O you who are wounded in the back, but recognise that that
(healing of the wound) proceeds from the ray: do not regard it as (proceeding) from your own constitution.

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