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(Masnavi Book 2: 04) The Sufi who enjoined the servant to take care of his donkey

How the Súfí enjoined the servant to take care of his beast and how the servant said, “Lá hawl.”

A Súfí was wandering round the world till one night he became a guest at a monastery (for Súfís).

He had a beast (ass): he tied it in the stable, (while) he (himself) sat at the top of the dais with his friends.
Then he engaged with his friends in (mystical) meditation: the presence of the friend (of God) is a book, (and) more. The Súfí's book is not (composed of) ink and letters: it is naught but a heart white as snow.

160. The scholar's provision is (consists of) pen-marks (written letters and words). What is the Súfí's provision? Footmarks. He (the Súfí) stalks the game, like a hunter: he sees the musk-deer's track and follows the footprints.
For some while the track of the deer is (the) proper (clue) for him, (but) afterwards It is the navel (musk-gland) of the deer that is his guide.

When he has given thanks for (having been favoured with knowledge of) the track and has traversed the way, of necessity by means of that track he arrives at a goal.

To go one stage (guided) by the scent of the musk-gland is better than a hundred stages of (following) the track and roaming about.

165. The heart that is the rising-place of the moonbeams (of Divine light) is the opening of the doors (of Reality) for the gnostic.

To you it is a wall, to them it is a door; to you a stone, to (those) venerated ones a pearl. What you see plainly in the mirror—the Pír sees more than that in the brick.
The Pírs are they whose spirits, before this world existed, were in the Sea of (Divine) bounty.

Before (the creation of) this body they passed (many) lifetimes; before the sowing they took up (harvested) the wheat.

170. They have received the spirit before (the creation of) the form; they have bored the pearls before (the creation of) the sea.

(Whilst) consultation was going on as to bringing mankind into existence, their spirits were in the Sea of (Divine) Omnipotence up to the throat.

When the angels were opposing that (creation of man), they (the Pírs) were secretly clapping their hands (in derision) at the angels.

He (the Pír) was made acquainted with the (material) form of every existent being, before this Universal Soul became fettered
(by materiality).

Before the (creation of the) heavens they have seen Saturn, before the (existence of) seeds they have seen the bread.

175. Without brain and mind they were full of thought, without army and battle they gained victory.

That immediate intuition (intuitive knowledge) in relation to them is thought; else, indeed, in relation to those who are far
(from God) it is vision.

Thought is of the past and future; when it is emancipated from these two, the difficulty is solved.

The spirit has beheld the wine in the grape, the spirit has beheld thing (entity) in nothing (nonentity);

It has beheld every conditioned thing as unconditioned, it has beheld the genuine coin and the alloyed before (the existence of)
the mine;

180. Before the creation of grapes it has quaffed wines and shown the excitements (of intoxication). In hot July they (the Pírs) see December; in the sunbeams they see the shade.
In the heart of the grape they have seen the wine; in absolute faná (privation of objectivity) they have seen the object. The sky is draining draughts from their circling cup, the sun is clad in cloth of gold by their bounty.
When you see two of them met together as friends, they are one, and at the same time (they are) six hundred thousand.

185. Their numbers are in the likeness of waves: the wind will have brought them into number (into plurality from unity). The Sun, which is the spirits, became separated (broken into rays) in the windows, which are bodies.
When you gaze on the Sun's disk, it is itself one, but he that is screened by (his perception of) the bodies is in some doubt. Separation (plurality) is in the animal spirit; the human spirit is one essence.
Inasmuch as God sprinkled His light upon them (mankind), (they are essentially one): His light never becomes separated (in reality).

190. O my comrade on the way, dismiss your weariness for a moment, that I may describe a single mole (grain) of that

The beauty of His state cannot be set forth: what are both the worlds (temporal and spiritual)? The reflexion of His mole. When I breathe a word concerning His beauteous mole, my speech would fain burst my body.
Like an ant, I am so happy in this granary that I am dragging a burden too great for me.

How the explanation of the (inner) meaning of the tale was stopped because of the hearer's desire to hear the superficial form of it.

When will He who is envied by Light allow me to tell that which is obligatory and ought to be told?

195. The sea casts foam in front (of it) and makes a barrier: it draws back and after drawing back flows in (again).

Hear what has interfered (hindered my exposition) at the present time: methinks the hearer's mind has wandered elsewhere. His thoughts have turned to the Súfí guest: he is sunk up to the neck (wholly absorbed) in that business.
(Therefore) it behoves me to go back from this discourse to that story in order to describe what happened (to him).

O dear friend, do not fancy the Súfí is the (external) form (which you behold): how long, like children, (will you be content)
with walnuts and raisins?

200. Our body is (as) walnuts and raisins, O son; if you are a man, relinquish these two things;

And (even) if you do not relinquish them (by your own act), the grace of God will enable you to pass beyond the nine tiers (of

Now listen to the outward form of the tale, but take heed to separate the grain from the chaff.

How the people of the caravan supposed the Súfí's beast was ill.

When at last (the meditation of) that circle of Súfís who were seeking (spiritual) profit came to an end (culminated) in ecstasy and enthusiasm,

They brought dishes of food for the guest, and he then bethought him of his beast.

205. He said to the famulus (the servant of the Súfís), “Go into the stable and make the straw and barley all right for the animal.”

Good gracious! he replied, “why this saying overmuch? These things have been my care since long ago.” The Súfí said, “First wet his barley, for It is an old ass, and his teeth are shaky.
Good gracious! said he, “why are you telling (me) this, Sir? They are taught by me (to make) these arrangements.”

The Súfí said, “First of all take off his saddle and (then) put the salve of manbal on his sore back.”

210. “Good gracious!” exclaimed the servant. “Why, O purveyor of wisdom, I have had a thousand guests of your sort, And all have departed from us well-pleased: the guest is (dear to us as) our life and our kinsman.”
The Súfí said, “Give him water, but (let it be) lukewarm.” “Good gracious! cried the other, “I am ashamed of you.” The Súfí said, “Put (only) a little straw in his barley. “Good gracious! Cut short this speech,” he replied.
The Súfí said, “Sweep his place (clear) of stones and dung, and if it is wet, sprinkle dry earth on it.”

215. “Good gracious!” cried he, “implore God's grace, O father and say little (give few instructions) to a messenger who knows his business.”

The Súfí said, “Take the comb and curry the ass's back.” “Good gracious! do have some shame, O father,” said he. The servant said this and briskly girded up his loins. I go,” said he; “first I will fetch the straw and barley.”
Off he went and never thought of the stable at all: he gave that Súfí (a pretence like) the sleep of the hare.

The servant went off to (join) some rascals and made a mockery of the Súfí's admonition.

220. The Súfí was fatigued by his journey and stretched his limbs (lay down to sleep): with his eyes closed he was dreaming

That his ass was left (helpless) in the clutch of a wolf, (which) was tearing pieces (of flesh) from its back and thighs. Good gracious! he exclaimed, “what sort of melancholy (madness) is this? Oh, where is that kindly servant?” Again he would see his ass going along the road and falling now into a well and now into a ditch.
He was dreaming various unpleasant dreams; he was reciting the tiha and the Qári‘a.

225. He said (to himself), “What can be done to help? My friends have hurried out: they have departed and made all the doors fast.”

Again he would say, “Oh, I wonder—that wretched servant! Did not he partake of bread and salt with us?

I showed him nothing but courtesy and mildness: why should he on the contrary show hatred towards me?
Every enmity must rest on some cause; otherwise, our common humanity would dictate faithfulness (in friendship).” Then he would say again, When had Adam, the kind and generous, done an injury to Iblís?

230. What was done by man to snake and scorpion that they wish (to inflict) death and pain upon him? To rend is the instinct of the wolf: after all, this envy is conspicuous in mankind.”

Again he would say, It is wrong thus to think evil: why have I such thoughts against my brother?”
Then he would say, “Prudence consists in your thinking evil: how shall he that thinks no evil remain unhurt?” The Súfí was in (this) anxiety, and (meanwhile) the ass was in such a plight that—may it befall our enemies!

235. That poor ass was amidst earth and stones, with his saddle crooked and his halter torn,

Killed (exhausted) by the journey, without fodder all the night long, now at the last gasp and now perishing.

All night the ass was repeating, “O God, I give up the barley; (but am I to have) less than one handful of straw?”

With mute eloquence he was saying, “O Shaykhs, (have) some pity, for I am consumed (with anguish) because of this raw impudent rogue.”

What that ass suffered of pain and torment, the land-bird suffers (the same) in a flood of water.

240. Then (all) that night till dawn the wretched ass, from exceeding hunger, rolled on his side. Day rose. The servant came at morn and quickly looked for the saddle and laid it on the ass's back.
After the fashion of ass-dealers he gave him two or three blows (with a goad): he did to the ass what is befitting from such a cur (as he was).

The sharpness of the sting set the ass jumping; where is the tongue (has an ass such a tongue) that he may describe his own state (feelings)?

When the Súfí mounted and got going, he (the ass) began to fall on his face every time,

245. (And) every time the people (the travellers) lifted him up: they all thought he was ill. One would twist his ears hard, while another sought for the (lacerated) part under his palate, And another searched for the stone in his shoe, and another looked at the dirt in his eye.
Also they were saying,O Shaykh, what is the cause of this? Were not you saying yesterday, ‘Thanks (to God), this ass is strong’?”

He replied, “The ass that ate Lá hawl during the night cannot get along except in this manner.

250. Inasmuch as the ass's food by night was Lá hawl, he was glorifying God by night and (is engaged) in prostrating himself by day.”

Most people are man-eaters: put no trust in their saying, “Peace to you.

The hearts of all are the Devil's house: do not accept (listen to) the palaver of devilish men.

He that swallows Lá hawl from the breath (mouth) of the Devil, like that ass falls headlong in the fight.

Whoever swallows the Devil's imposture in this world and (swallows) veneration and deceit from the foe that has the face
(semblance) of a friend,

255. In the Way of Islam and on the bridge Sirát he will fall upon his head from giddiness, like that ass. Beware! Do not hearken to the blandishments of the bad friend: espy the snare, do not walk securely on the earth. See the hundred thousand devils who utter Lá hawl! O Adam, in the serpent behold Iblís!
He gives (you) vain words, he says to you, “O my soul and beloved,” that he may strip the skin off his beloved, like a butcher.

He gives vain words that he may strip off your skin: woe to him that tastes opium from (the mouth of) enemies.

260. He lays his head at your feet (in flattery) and butcher-like gives (you) vain (wheedling) words, that he may shed your blood miserably.

Like a lion, hunt your prey yourself: leave (pay no heed to) the blandishment of stranger or kinsman.

Know that the regard of the base is like that servant; It is better to have nobody (as your friend) than (to accept) the flattery of nobodies (worthless people).
Do not make your home in (other) men's land: do your own work, don't do the work of a stranger. Who is the stranger? Your earthen body, for the sake of which is (all) your sorrow.

265. So long as you are giving your body greasy (rich) and sweet (food), you will not see fatness in your (spiritual) essence. If the body be set in the midst of musk, (yet) on the day of death its stench will become manifest.
Do not put musk on your body, rub it on your heart. What is musk? The holy name of the Glorious (God). The hypocrite puts musk on his body and puts his spirit at the bottom of the ash-pit.
On his tongue the name of God, and in his soul stenches (arising) from his infidel thought.

270. In relation to him praise of God is (like) the herbage of the ash-pit: it is roses and lilies (growing) upon a dunghill.

Those plants are certainly there on loan (and belong to somewhere else); the proper place for those flowers is the symposium and (the scene of) festivity.

The good women come to the good men; there is (also the text) to the wicked men the wicked women. Mark! Do not bear malice: they that are led astray by malice, their graves are placed beside the malicious.
The origin of malice is Hell, and your malice is a part of that whole and is the enemy of your religion.

275. Since you are a part of Hell, take care! The part gravitates towards its whole.

He that is bitter will assuredly be attached to those who are bitter: how should vain breath (false words) be joined with the truth?

O brother, you are that same thought (of yours); as for the rest (of you), you are (only) bone and fibre. If your thought is a rose, you are a rose-garden; and if it is a thorn, you are fuel for the bath-stove.
If you are rose-water, you are sprinkled on head and bosom; and if you are (stinking) like urine, you are cast out.

280. Look at the trays in front of druggists—each kind put beside its own kind,

Things of each sort mixed with things of the same sort, and a certain elegance produced by this homogeneity; If his (the druggist's) aloes-wood and sugar get mixed, he picks them out from each other, piece by piece.
The trays were broken and the souls were spilled: good and evil ones were mingled with each other.

God sent the prophets with scrolls (of Revelation), that He might pick out (and sort) these grains on the dish.

285. Before this we were one community, none knew whether we were good or bad.

False coin and fine (both) were current in the world, since all was night, and we were as night-travellers, Until the sun of the prophets rose and said, “Begone, O alloy! Come, O you that art pure!”
The eye can distinguish colours, the eye knows ruby and (common) stone.

The eye knows the jewel and the rubbish; hence bits of rubbish sting the eye.

290. These vile counterfeiters are enemies of day, those pieces of gold from the mine are lovers of day,

Because day is the mirror that makes it (the fine gold) known, so that the ashrafí (the coin of sterling gold) may see (receive)
its (day's) gift of honour.

Hence God bestowed the title of “Day on the Resurrection, (for) day displays the beauty of red and yellow.

In reality, then, day is the inmost consciousness of the saints, (though) beside their moon day is (dim) as shadows.

Know that day is the reflexion of the mystery (the illumined consciousness) of the man of God, while eye-sealing night is the reflexion of his occultation.

295. For that reason God said, By the morn: by the morn is (refers to) the light of the hidden mind of Mustafá (Mohammed).

The other view, that the Beloved (God) meant this morn (in the literal sense), is (held) just for the reason that this too is the reflexion of him;

Else it is wrong to swear by a transient thing: how indeed is transiency proper to the speech of God?
That Friend (Abraham) said, I love not them that set”: how should the glorious Lord mean transiency by this (oath)? Again, and by the night is (refers to) his occultation and his earthen rust-dark body.

300. When his sun rose from that sky, it said to the night of the body, Lo, He has not forsaken you.

Union was made manifest out of the essence of affliction: that sweetness (of union) was expressed by (the words) He has not hated (you).

In fact, every expression is the symbol of a state: the state is as a hand, while the expression is a tool. The goldsmith's tool in the hand of a shoemaker is like a seed sown in sand;
And the cobbler's tool (put) before the husbandman is (as) straw before a dog (or) bones before an ass.

305. “I am God” on the lips of Mansúr was the light (of truth); I am Allah” on the lips of Pharaoh was a lie.

In the hand of Moses the rod became a witness (to the truth); in the hand of the magician the rod became (worthless as) motes in the air.

On this account Jesus did not teach his fellow-traveller that Name of the Lord,

For he would not know (its proper use) and would attribute imperfection to the tool (which he misused). Strike stone on clay, and how should fire leap forth?

Hand and tool are as stone and iron; there must be a pair: (the existence of) a pair is the condition (necessary) for bringing to birth.

310. The One is He who has no consort and no tool; in number there is doubt, and that One is beyond doubt.
Those who say “two” or “three” or more than these (numbers) are certainly agreed in (affirming the existence of) One. When squinting has been put aside (so that they see correctly), they become alike: the assertors of two or three become
assertors of Unity.

If you are a ball in His polo-field, keep spinning round from (the blows of) His polostick.

The ball becomes right and flawless (only) at the time when it is made to dance by the stroke of the King's hand.

315. Give ear heedfully to these (sayings), O squinting one: apply the eye-salve by way of the ear. Holy words, then, do not abide in blind hearts, (but) go to the Light whence they came,
While the (guileful) spell of the Devil goes into crooked (perverse) hearts as a crooked shoe on to a crooked foot. Though you may learn Wisdom by rote, it becomes quit of you when you are unworthy (to receive it);
And though you write it and note it (down), and though you brag (about it) and expound it,

320. It withdraws its face from you, O disputatious one: it snaps its bonds and (takes) flight from you.

(But) if you read not and it sees your ardour (of love), Knowledge will be a bird docile (and obedient) to your hand. It does not abide with every unskilled tiro: (it is) like a peacock (which does not stay) in the house of a peasant.

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