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(Masnavi Book 2: 10) The greedy insolvent












How the criers of the Cadi advertised an insolvent round the town.


585. There was an insolvent person without house or home, who remained in prison and pitiless bondage.

He would unconscionably eat the rations of the prisoners; on account of (his) appetite he was (a burden) like Mount Qáf on the hearts of the people (in the gaol).

No one had the pluck to eat a mouthful of bread, because that snatcher of portions would carry off his entire meal. Any one who is far from the feast of the Merciful (God) has the eye of a (low) beggar, though he be a sultan.
He (the insolvent) had trodden virtue underfoot; the prison had become a hell on account of that robber of bread.


590. If you flee in hope of some relief, on that side also a calamity comes to meet you.

No corner is without wild beasts; there is no rest but in the place where you are alone with God.

The corner (narrow cell) of this world's inevitable prison is not exempt from the charges for visitors and (the cost of) housewarming.
By God, if you go into a mouse-hole, you will be afflicted by some one who has the claws of a cat. Man has fatness from (thrives on) fancy, if his fancies are beautiful;


595. And if his fancies show anything unlovely he melts away as wax (is melted) by a fire.

If amidst snakes and scorpions God keep you with the fancies of them that are (spiritually) fair,

The snakes and scorpions will be friendly to you, because that fancy is the elixir which transmutes your copper (into gold). Patience is sweetened by fair fancy, since (in that case) the fancies of relief (from pain) have come before (the mind).
That relief comes into the heart from faith: weakness of faith is despair and torment.


600. Patience gains a crown from faith: where one has no patience, he has no faith.

The Prophet said, “God has not given faith to any one in whose nature there is no patience.” That same one (who) in your eyes is like a snake is a picture (of beauty) in the eyes of another,
Because in your eyes is the fancy of his being an infidel, while in the eyes of his friend is the fancy of his being a (true)
believer;

For both the effects (belief and unbelief) exist in this one person: now he is a fish and now a hook.


605. Half of him is believer, half of him infidel; half of him cupidity, half of him patience (and abstinence).

Your God has said, (Some) of you (are) believing”; (and) again, (Some) of you (are) unbelieving” (as) an old fire-worshipper. (He is) like an ox, his left half black, the other half white as the moon.
Whoever sees the former half spurns (him); whoever sees the latter half seeks (after him).

Joseph was like a beast of burden in the eyes of his brethren; at the same time in the eyes of a Jacob he was like a houri.


610. Through evil fancy the (bodily) derivative eye and the original unseen eye (of the mind) regarded him (Joseph) as ugly.

Know that the outward eye is the shadow of that (inward) eye: whatever that (inward) eye may see, this (outward) eye turns to that (eye).

You are of where, (but) your origin is in Nowhere: shut up this shop and open that shop.

Do not flee to the (world of the) six directions, because in directions there is the shashdara, and the shashdara is mate, mate.

How the prisoners laid a complaint of the insolvent's high-handedness before the agent of the Cadi.



The prisoners came to complain to the Cadi's agent, (who was) possessed of discernment,


615. Saying, “Take now our salutations to the Cadi and relate (to him) the sufferings inflicted on us by this vile man; For he has remained in this prison continuously, and he is an idle gad-about, a lickspittle, and a nuisance.
Like a fly, he impudently appears at every meal without invitation and without salaam.

To him the food of sixty persons is nothing; he feigns himself deaf if you say to him, ‘Enough!’

No morsel reaches the (ordinary) man in prison, or if by means of a hundred contrivances he discover some food,


620. That hell-throat at once comes forward (with) this (as) his argument, that God has said, Eat ye.’ Justice, justice against such a three years' famine! May the shadow of our lord endure for ever!
Either let this buffalo go from prison, or make him a regular allowance of food from a trust-fund.
O you by whom both males and females are (made) happy, do justice! your help is invoked and besought.” The courteous agent went to the Cadi and related the complaint to him point by point.


625. The Cadi called him (the insolvent) from the prison into his presence, and (then) inquired (about him) from his own officers.

All the complaints which that flock (of prisoners) had set forth were proved to the Cadi.

The Cadi said (to him), “Get up and depart from this prison: go to the house which is your inherited property.
He replied, “My house and home consist in your beneficence; as (in the case of) an infidel, your prison is my Paradise. If you wilt drive me from the prison and turn me out, verily I shall die of destitution and beggary.”


630. (He pleaded) like the Devil, who was saying, “O Preserver, O my Lord, grant me a respite till the day of Resurrection; For I am happy (to be) in the prison of this world, in order that I may be slaying the children of mine enemy,
(And), if any one have some food of faith and a single loaf as provision for the journey (to the life hereafter), I may seize it, now by plot and now by guile, so that in repentance they may raise an outcry (of lamentation);
(And in order that) sometimes I may threaten them with poverty, sometimes bind their eyes with (the spell of) tress and mole.”


635. In this prison (the world) the food of faith is scarce, and that which exists is in (danger of being caught in) the noose (of destruction) through the attack of this cur.

(If) from prayer and fasting and a hundred helplessnesses (utter self-abnegations) the food of spiritual feeling come (to any one), he (the Devil) at once carries it off.

I seek refuge with God from His Satan: we have perished, alas, through his overweening disobedience.
He is (but) one cur, and he goes into thousands (of people): into whomsoever he goes, he (that person) becomes he (Satan). Whoever makes you cold (damps your spiritual ardour) know that he (Satan) is in him: the Devil has become hidden beneath
his skin.


640. When he finds no (bodily) form, he comes into (your) fancy, in order that that fancy may lead you into woe: Now the fancy of recreation, now of the shop; now the fancy of knowledge, and now of house and home.
Beware! say at once “God help me!” again and again, not with tongue alone but from your very soul.

The Cadi said, “Show plainly that you are insolvent.” “Here are the prisoners,” he replied, “as your witnesses.”

They, said the Cadi, “are suspect, because they are fleeing from you and weeping blood (on account of your ill-treatment of them);


645. Also, they are suing to be delivered from you: by reason of this self-interest the testimony they give is worthless.”

All the people belonging to the court of justice said, “We bear witness both to his insolvency and to his (moral) degeneracy.” Every one whom the Cadi questioned about his condition said, “My lord, wash your hands of this insolvent.”
The Cadi said, “March him round the city for all to see, (and cry), ‘This man is an insolvent and a great rogue.

Make proclamations concerning him, street by street; beat the drum (as an advertisement) of his insolvency everywhere in open view.


650. Let no one sell to him on credit, let no one lend him a farthing.

Whosoever may bring here a claim against him for fraud, I will not put him in prison any more.

His insolvency has been proven to me: he has nothing in his possession, (neither) money nor goods.” Man is in the prison of this world in order that peradventure his insolvency may be proven.
Our God has also proclaimed in our Qur’án the insolvency of Iblís,


655. Saying, “He is a swindler and insolvent and liar: do not make any partnership or (play any) game with him.” And if you do so (and) bring (vain) pretexts to him, he is insolvent: how will you get profit from him?
When the trouble started, they brought on the scene the camel of a Kurd who sold firewood.
The helpless Kurd made a great outcry; he also gladdened the officer (appointed to seize the camel) with (the gift of) a dáng; (But) they took away his camel from the time of forenoon until nightfall, and his lamentation was of no use.


660. Upon the camel sat that sore famine (the insolvent), while the owner of the camel was running at its heels. They sped from quarter to quarter and from street to street, till the whole town knew him by sight.
Before every bath and market-place all the people gazed on his (features and) figure.

(There were) ten loud-voiced criers, Turks and Kurds and Anatolians and Arabs, (proclaiming),

This man is insolvent and has nothing: let no one lend him a single brass farthing;


665. He does not possess a single mite, patent or latent: he is a bankrupt, a piece of falsehood, a cunning knave, an oil-bag. Beware and beware! Have no dealings with him; when he brings the ox (to sell), make fast the knot.
And if ye bring this decayed fellow to judgement, I will not put a corpse in prison.

He is fair-spoken and his throat is very wide; (he is clad) with a new inner garment (of plausibility) and a tattered outer garment.

If he puts on that (inner) garment for the purpose of deceiving, it is borrowed in order that he may beguile the common folk.”


670. Know, O simple man, that words of wisdom on the tongue of the unwise are (as) borrowed robes.
Although a thief has put on a (fine) robe, how should he whose hand is cut off take your hand (lend you a helping hand)? When at nightfall he (the insolvent) came down from the camel, the Kurd said to him, “My abode is far (from here) and a long
way off.

You have ridden on my camel since early morning: I (will) let the barley go, (but I will not take) less than the cost of (some)
straw.”

Why, then,” he rejoined, “have we been going round (the city) until now? Where are your wits? Is nobody at home?


675. The (sound of the) drum (giving notice) of my insolvency reached the Seventh Heaven, and you have not heard the bad news!

Your ear has been filled with foolish hope; (such) hope, then, makes (one) deaf (and) blind, my lad.” Even clods and stones heard this advertisement—“he is insolvent, he is insolvent, this scoundrel.”
They (the criers) said it till nightfall, and it made no impression on the owner of the camel, because he was full of (idle) hope, full.

God's seal lies upon the hearing and sight: within the veils is many a form and many a sound.


680. He communicates to the eye that which He wills of beauty and of perfection and of amorous looks; And He communicates to the ear that which He wills of music and glad tidings and cries (of rapture).
The world is full of remedies, but you have no remedy till God opens a window for you. Though you are unaware of that (remedy) just now, God will make it plain in the hour of need.
The Prophet said that the glorious God has created a remedy for every pain;


685. But of that remedy for your pain you will not see (even) the colour or scent without His command.

Come, O you that seek the remedy, set your eye on non-spatiality, as the eye of one (about to be) killed (turns) towards the spirit.

This (spatial) world has been produced from that which is without spatial relations, for the world has received (the relation of)
place from placelessness.

Turn back from existence towards non-existence, (if) you seek the Lord and belong to the Lord.

This non-existence is the place of income: do not flee from it; this existence of more and less is the place of expenditure.


690. Since God's workshop is non-existence, outside of the workshop there is (only) worthlessness. Put into our heart subtle words which may move you to mercy, O Gracious One!
From you (come) both the prayer and the answer; from you safety, from you also dread.
If we have spoken faultily, do you correct it: you art the Corrector, O you (who art the) Sultan of speech. you have the alchemy whereby you mayst transmute it, and though it be a river of blood, mayst make it a Nile.


695. Such alchemical operations are your work, such elixirs are your secrets.

You didst beat water and earth together: from water and clay you didst mould the body of Adam.

You gavest him (Man) lineage and wife and uncles, maternal and paternal, with a thousand thoughts and joys and griefs. Again, to some you have given deliverance: you have parted them from this grief and joy;
You have borne them away from kindred and relatives and (their own) nature, you have made every fair thing foul in his (such a one's) eyes.


700. He spurns all that is perceived by the senses, and leans for support on that which is invisible.

His love is manifest and his Beloved is hidden: the Friend is outside (of the world), (but) His fascination is in the world.

Give up this (belief). Loves (felt) for what is endued with form have not as their object the (outward) form or the lady's face. That which is the object of love is not the form, whether it be love for (the things of) this world or yonder world.
That which you have come to love for its form—why have you abandoned it after the spirit has fled?

705. Its form is still there: whence (then) this satiety (disgust)? O lover, inquire who your beloved (really) is. If the beloved is that which the senses perceive, every one that has senses would be in love (with it).
Inasmuch as constancy is increased by that (spiritual) love, how is constancy altered (impaired) by the (decay of the material)
form?

The sunbeam shone upon the wall: the wall received a borrowed splendour.

Why set your heart on a piece of turf, O simple man? Seek out the source which shines perpetually.


710. You who are in love with your intellect, deeming yourself superior to worshippers of form,

That (intellect) is a beam of (Universal) Intellect (cast) on your sense-perception; regard it as borrowed gold on your copper. Beauty in humankind is like gilding; else, how did your sweetheart become (as ugly as) an old ass?
She was like an angel, she became like a demon, for that loveliness in her was a borrowed (transient) thing.

Little by little He (God) takes away that beauty: little by little the sapling withers.


715. Go, recite (the text) to whom so We grant length of days, him We cause to decline.

Seek the heart (spirit), set not your heart on bones;

For that beauty of the heart is the lasting beauty: its lips give to drink of the Water of Life.
Truly it is both the water and the giver of drink and the drunken: all three become one when your talisman is shattered. That oneness you cannot know by reasoning. Do service (to God) and refrain from foolish gabble, O undiscerning man! Your reality is the form and that which is borrowed: you rejoice in what is relative and (secondary like) rhyme.


720. Reality is that which seizes (enraptures) you and makes you independent of form. Reality is not that which makes blind and deaf and causes a man to be more in love with form.
The portion of the blind is the fancy that increases pain; the share of the (spiritual) eye is these fancies (ideas) of dying to self (faná).

The blind are a mine (full) of the letter of the Qur’án: they do not see the ass, and (only) cling to the pack-saddle.

Since you have sight, go after the ass which has jumped (away from you): how long (will you persist in) stitching the saddle, O saddle-worshipper?


725. When the ass is there, the saddle will certainly be yours: bread does not fail when you have the (vital) spirit.

(On) the back of the ass is shop and wealth and gain; the pearl of your heart is the stock (which provides wealth) for a hundred bodies.

Mount the ass bare-backed, O busybody: did not the Prophet ride the ass bare-backed? The Prophet rode (his beast) bare-backed; and the Prophet, it is said, journeyed on foot.
The ass, your fleshly soul, has gone off; tie it to a peg. How long will it run away from work and burden, how long?


730. It must bear the burden of patience and thanksgiving, whether for a hundred years or for thirty or twenty. None that is laden supported another's load; none reaped until he sowed something.
It is a raw (absurd) hope; eat not what is raw, O son: eating raw brings illness to men.

(Do not say to yourself), “So-and-so suddenly found a treasure; I would like the same: neither work nor shop (for me)!”

That (discovery of treasure) is Fortune's doing (a piece of luck), and moreover it is rare: one must earn a living so long as the body is able.

735. How does earning a livelihood prevent the (discovery of) treasure? Do not retire from work: that (treasure), indeed, is (following) behind (the work).

See that you are not made captive by “if,” saying, If I had done this or the other (thing),” For the sincere Prophet forbade (people) to say “if,” and said, “That is from hypocrisy; For the hypocrite died in saying “if,” and from saying “if” he won nothing but remorse.

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