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(Masnavi Book 2: 01) Proem


This Mathnawí has been delayed for a while: an interval was needed in order that the blood might turn to milk. Blood does not become sweet milk until your fortune gives birth to a new babe. Hearken well (to my words). When the Light of God, Husámu’ddín, drew the reins (of his spirit) back from the zenith of Heaven—
(For) after he had gone in the ascension to (spiritual) realities, without his (life-giving) springtide the buds (of mystic knowledge) were unburst (in my heart)—

5. When (I say) he returned from the Sea towards the shore, the lyre of the poesy of the Mathnawí became attuned (again).

The Mathnawí, which was the burnisher (purifier) of spirits —his return was the day of (my) seeking (an auspicious)
commencement (for it).

The date of beginning this gainful (spiritual) traffic was in the year six hundred and sixty-two. A nightingale went hence and returned: it became a falcon for hunting these spiritual truths.

May this falcon's resting-place be the fore-arm of the King! May this gate (to the Truth) be open to (all) the people unto everlasting!

10. The bane of this gate is sensuality and lust; else, draught on draught (of spiritual knowledge) is (to be found) here. Gullet and mouth are the eye-bandage (which makes you blind) to yonder world: close this mouth, that you may see (it) plain. O mouth, verily you art the mouth of Hell; and, O world, you art like the intermediate state.
The everlasting light is beside this low world, the pure milk is beside rivers of blood.

When you take one step in it (the world) without precaution, your milk will be turned to blood through commixture.

15. Adam took one step in sensual pleasure: separation from his high place in Paradise became a collar on the neck of his
(fleshly) soul.

The angels were fleeing from him as from a devil: how many tears did he shed for the sake of a single loaf! Although the sin which he had compassed was (but) a hair, yet that hair had grown in his eyes.
Adam was the eye of the Eternal Light: a hair in the eye is a great mountain.

If Adam had taken counsel in that (matter), he would not have uttered excuses in penitence,

20. Because when one intellect is joined with another intellect, it prevents evil action and evil speech;
(But) when the fleshly soul is associated with another fleshly soul, the partial (individual) intellect becomes idle and useless. When because of loneliness you fall into despair, you become (bright as) a sun (if you go) under the shadow (protection) of the

Go, seek at once the friend of God: when you have done so, God is your friend.

He who has fixed his gaze upon seclusion (and made it his object), after all It is from the friend (of God) that he has learned that (lesson).

25. One must seclude one's self from strangers, (but) not from the friend: the fur-coat is for winter, not for spring. (If) the intellect is paired with another intellect, light increases and the way becomes plain;
(But if) the fleshly soul makes merry with another fleshly soul, darkness increases, the way becomes hidden. The friend is yours eye, O huntsman: keep him pure from (unsoiled by) sticks and straws.
Beware! Do not make a dust with your tongue's broom, do not make a present of rubbish to yours eye.

30. Since the true believer is a mirror for the true believer, his face is safe from defilement. The friend is a mirror for the soul in sorrow: breathe not on the face of the mirror, O my soul!
Lest it cover its face on account of your breath, you must swallow (suppress) your breath at every moment.
Art you less than earth? When a plot of earth finds a friend, that is, a springtide, it finds (gains) a hundred thousand flowers. The tree that is united with a friend, that is, the sweet air (of spring), blossoms from head to foot;

35. In autumn, when it sees (meets with) a repugnant companion, it withdraws its face and head under the coverlet
And says, “A bad comrade is (the means of) stirring up trouble: since he has come, my (best) course is to sleep. Therefore I will sleep, I will be (like) one of the Men of the Cave (the Seven Sleepers): that prisoner of woe (that sorely
distressed one) is better than Decianus.”

Their time of waking was expended by (was at the disposal of) Decianus; their sleep was the capital (fundamental source) of their renown.

Sleep, when it is accompanied by wisdom, is (spiritual) wakefulness; (but) alas for the man awake who consorts with the


40. When the crows pitch their tents on Bahman (January), the nightingales hide themselves and are mute,

Because the nightingale is silent without the rose-garden: the absence of the sun kills (the nightingale's) wakefulness. O sun, you takest leave of this rose-garden (the earth) in order to illumine (the region) below the earth;
(But) the Sun of Divine knowledge has no motion: its place of rising is naught but the spirit and the intellect;

Especially the perfect Sun which is of yonder (world of Reality): day and night its action is (giving) illumination.

45. If you art an Alexander, come to the Sun's rising-place: after that, wheresoever you goest, you art possessed of goodly splendour.

After that, wheresoever you goest, ’twill become the place of sunrise: (all) the places of sunrise will be in love with your place of sunset.

Your bat-like senses are running towards the sunset; your pearl-scattering senses are faring towards the sunrise.
The way of (physical) sense-perception is the way of asses, O rider: have shame, O you that art jostling (vying) with asses! Besides these five (physical) senses there are five (spiritual) senses: those (latter) are like red gold, while these (physical)
senses are like copper.

50. In the bazaar where they (the buyers) are expert, how should they buy the copper sense like (as though it were) the sense of gold?

The bodily sense is eating the food of darkness; the spiritual sense is feeding from a Sun.

O you that have borne the baggage of your senses to the Unseen, put forth your hand, like Moses, from your bosom.

O you whose attributes are (those of) the Sun of Divine knowledge, while the sun in heaven is confined to a single attribute,

Now you becomest the Sun, and now the Sea; now the mountain of Qáf, and now the ‘Anqá.

55. In yours essence you art neither this nor that, O you that art greater than (all) imaginations and more than (all) more! The Spirit is associated (endued) with knowledge and reason: what has the Spirit to do with Arabic and Turkish?
Both the muwahhid (who asserts the transcendence of God) and the mushabbih (who asserts His immanence) are bewildered by you, O you who, being without image (external appearance), art (appearing) in so many forms.

Sometimes the muwahhad (God regarded as the only real Being) is destroying the mushabbih (who asserts that God is immanent in forms); sometimes (these) forms are waylaying the muwahhid (so that he cannot gain access to God who transcends all forms).

Sometimes Abu ’l-Hasan in drunkenness (ecstasy) says to you, “O you whose teeth are small (whose years are few), O you whose body is tender!”

60. Sometimes he is laying waste (ruining and defacing) his own image: he is destroying (it) in order to assert the transcendence of the Beloved (God).

The doctrine held by the eye of sense is Mu‘tazilism, whereas the eye of Reason is Sunnite (orthodox) in respect of (its) union
(vision of God).
Those in thrall to sense-perception are Mu‘tazilites, (though) from misguidedness they represent themselves as Sunnites. Any one who remains in (bondage to) sense-perception is a Mu‘tazilite; though he may say he is a Sunnite, It is from

Any one who has escaped from (the bondage of) sense-perception is a Sunnite: the man endowed with (spiritual) vision is the eye of sweet-paced (harmonious) Reason.

65. If the animal sense could see the King (God), then the ox and the ass would behold Allah.

If, besides the animal sense, you hadst not another sense outside of (unconditioned by) the desire of the flesh,

Then how should the sons of Adam have been honoured? How by means of the common sense should they have become privileged (to know these mysteries)?

Your calling (God) “formless” (transcending forms) or “formed” (immanent in forms) is vain, without your liberation from form (unless you yourself are freed from sense perception).

(Whether God is) “formless” or “formed,” He is with him that is all kernel and has gone forth from the husk.

70. If you are blind, It is no crime in the blind; (but) if not, go (persevere in purifying yourself), for patience is the key to success.

The medicine of patience will burn the veils over your eye and will also effect the opening of your breast (to Divine knowledge).

When the mirror of your heart becomes clear and pure, you will behold images (which are) outside of (the world of) water and earth.

You will behold both the image and the image-Maker, both the carpet of (spiritual) empire and the carpet-Spreader.

The phantom (seen in mystical vision) of my Friend seemed (to me) like Khalíl (Abraham)—its form an idol, its reality a breaker of idols.

75. Thanks be to God that when he appeared, my spirit beheld in his phantom its own phantom (reflected image). The dust of your threshold was bewitching my heart: dust (woe) on him that was patient without your dust!
I said, If I am beautiful, I shall receive this (dust of Divine grace and love) from him; and if not, he has indeed laughed at ugly me.

The (best) plan is this, that I look at myself (to see whether I am worthy of him); otherwise (if I am not worthy), he will laugh at me: how shall I buy (gain his love)?”

He is beautiful and a lover of beauty: how should a fresh young man choose a decrepit old woman?

80. The Beautiful attracts the beautiful (to itself): know this (for sure). Recite thereon (the text) the good women for the good men.

In this world everything attracts something: the hot draws the hot (to itself) and the cold the cold.

The worthless sort attract the worthless; the lasting (those of lasting worth) are rejoiced by the lasting. Those of the Fire attract those of the Fire, those of the Light seek those of the Light.
When you shut your eye, you felt uncomfortable: how could the light of the eye do without the light of the window?

85. Your discomfort was (caused by) the light in your eye straining to be joined speedily with the daylight.
If you feel distress (within) while your eyes are unclosed, know that you have shut the eye of your heart, (and) open it. Recognise that that (distress) is the craving of the eyes of your heart which is seeking the immeasurable Light. Inasmuch as separation from those two impermanent lights brought you discomfort, (so that) you opened your eyes, Separation, then, from those two steadfast (everlasting) lights will bring you discomfort: guard them (well)!

90. Since He is calling me, I will look to see whether I am worthy to be drawn (to Him) or whether I am ill-favoured. If a charming person makes an ugly one (follow) at his heels, It is (but) a mockery that he makes of him.
How, I wonder, shall I behold my own face, so as to see what complexion I have and whether I am like day or like night? For a long while I was seeking the image of my soul, (but) my image was not displayed (reflected) by any one.
After all,” I said, “what is a mirror for? (The use of it is this), that every one may know what and who he is.”

95. The mirror of iron is (only) for husks (external forms); the mirror that shows the aspect of the heart is of great price. The soul's mirror is naught but the face of the friend, the face of that friend who is of yonder country (the spiritual land).
I said, “O heart, seek the Universal Mirror, go to the Sea: the business will not succeed (be successfully accomplished) by means of the river.”
In this quest your slave (at last) arrived at your dwelling-place, (as) the pains (of childbirth) drew Mary to the palm-tree. When yours eye became an eye for my heart, my blind heart went and became drowned in vision.

100. I saw that you art the Universal Mirror unto everlasting: I saw my own image in yours eye. I said, “At last I have found myself: in his eyes I have found the shining Way.”
My false instinct said, “Beware! That (image) is (only) your phantom: distinguish your essence from your phantom”; (But) my image gave voice (spoke) from yours eye (and said), “I am you and you art I in (perfect) oneness;
For how should a phantom find the way into this illumined eye which never ceases from (contemplating) the (Divine)

105. (You saidst), If you behold your image in the eyes of any other than me, know that It is a phantom and reprobate,

Because he (every one except me) is applying (to his eye) the collyrium of nonexistence (unreality) and is imbibing the wine of
Satan's illusion-making.

Their eye is the home of phantasy and non-existence: necessarily it sees as existent the things which are non-existent;
(But) since my eye saw (got) collyrium from the Glorious (God), it is the home of (real) existence, not the home of phantasy.So long as a single hair of you is before your eye, in your phantasy a pearl will be as jasper.

110. You will know jasper from pearls (only) at the time when you pass away from (abandon) your phantasy entirely. O connoisseur of pearls, listen to a story, that you may distinguish actual seeing from (mere) inference.

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