How the deaf man went to visit his sick neighbour.
3360. One possessed of much wealth said to a deaf man, “A neighbour of yours is fallen ill.”
The deaf man said to himself, “Being hard of hearing, what shall I understand of the words spoken by that youth?— Especially (as) he is ill and his voice is weak; but I must go thither, there's no escape.
When I see his lips moving, I will form a conjecture as to that (movement) from myself.
When I say, ‘How are you, O my suffering (friend)?’ he will reply, ‘I am fine’ or ‘I am pretty well.’
3365. I will say, ‘Thanks (to God)! What posset have you had to drink?’ He will reply, ‘Some sherbet’ or ‘a decoction of kidney-beans.’
(Then) I will say, ‘May you enjoy health! Who is the doctor attending you?’ He will answer, ‘So-and-so.’
‘He is one who brings great luck with him,’ I will remark; ‘since he has come, things will go well for you. I have experienced (the luck of) his foot: wherever he goes, the desired object is attained.’”
The good man made ready these conjectural answers, and went to see the invalid.
3370. “How are you?” he asked. “I am at the point of death,” said he. “Thanks (to God)!” cried the deaf man. At this, the patient became resentful and indignant,
Saying (to himself), “What (cause for) thanksgiving is this? He has been my enemy.”—The deaf man made a conjecture, and
(as now appears) it has turned out to be wrong.
After that, he asked him what he had drunk. “Poison,” said he. “May it do you good and give you health!” said the deaf man. His (the invalid's) wrath increased.
Then he inquired, “Which of the doctors is it that is coming to attend you?”
He replied, “Azrael (the Angel of Death) is coming. Get you gone!” “His foot (arrival),” said the deaf man, “is very blessed: be glad!”
3375. The deaf man went forth. He said gaily, “Thanks (to God) for that! Now I will take leave.” The invalid said, “This is my mortal foe: I did not know he was (such) a mine of iniquity.”
The mind of the invalid was seeking a hundred abusive terms, that he might send him a message (filled with abuse) of every description,
As, when any one has eaten bad (indigestible) food, it is turning his heart (stomach) until he vomits. Suppression of anger is (like) this: do not vomit it, so that you may gain sweet words in recompense.
3380. Since he had no patience, he was tormented. “Where,” he cried, “is this cur, this infamous cuckold,
That I may pour upon him what he said (make a retort in his own style)?—for at that time the lion of my thought was asleep (I
was too weak to contend with him).
Inasmuch as visiting the sick is for the purpose of (giving them) tranquillity, this is not a visit to the sick: it is the satisfaction of an enemy's wish.
(His motive was) that he should see his enemy enfeebled and that his wicked heart should be at peace.” Many are they that do works of devotion and set their hearts on being approved and rewarded for the same.
3385. It is in truth a lurking sin: that which he (the pietist) thinks pure is (really) foul,
As (in the case of) the deaf man, who fancied that he did a kindness, but it had the opposite result.
He sits down well-pleased, saying, “I have paid my respects, I have performed what was due to my neighbour”; (But) he has (only) kindled a fire (of resentment) against himself in the invalid's heart and burned himself.
Beware, then, of the fire that ye have kindled: verily ye have increased in sin.
3390. The Prophet said to our desert Arab, “Pray, for indeed you have not prayed (aright), my man.” As a means of preventing these dangers, “Guide us” comes in every (ritual) prayer,
That is to say, “O God, do not mingle my prayer with the prayer of the erring and the hypocrites.” By the analogical reasoning which the deaf man adopted a ten years' friendship was made vain.
Especially, O master, (you must avoid) the analogy drawn by the low senses in regard to the Revelation which is illimitable.
3395. If your sensuous ear is fit for (understanding) the letter (of the Revelation), know that your ear that receives the occult (meaning) is deaf.