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(Masnavi Book 2: 14) The King’s retainers who envied his favourite slave











How the (King's) retainers envied the favourite slave.



A King had, of his grace, preferred a certain slave above all his retinue.

His allowance was the stipend of forty Amírs; a hundred Viziers would not see (receive) a tenth of its amount.

Through the perfection of (his) natal star and prosperity and fortune he was an Ayáz, while the King was the Mahmúd of the time.


1050. His spirit in its origin, before (the creation of) this body, was near-related and akin to the King's spirit.

(Only) that matters which has existed before the body; leave (behind you) these things which have newly sprung into being. That which matters belongs to the knower (of God), for he is not squinting: his eye is (fixed) upon the things first sown.
That which was sown as wheat (good) or as barley (relatively evil)—day and night his eye is fastened on that place (where it was sown).

Night gave birth to nothing but what she was pregnant withal: designs and plots are wind, (empty) wind.

1055. How should he please his heart with fair designs who sees the design of God (prevailing) over them?

He (who trusts in his own devices) is laying a snare within the snare (of God): by your life, neither this (snare) will escape
(destruction) nor will that (man).

Though (in the meanwhile) a hundred herbs grow and fade, there will grow up at last that which God has sown.

He (the cunning man) sowed new seed over the first seed; (but) this second (seed) is passing away, and (only) the first is sound
(and enduring).

The first seed is perfect and choice; the second seed is corrupt and rotten.


1060. Cast away this contrivance of yours before the Beloved— though your contrivance indeed is of His contriving. That which God has raised (and that alone) has use: what He has at first sown at last grows.
Whatever you sow, sow for His sake, inasmuch as you are the Beloved's captive, O lover.

Do not hang about the thievish fleshly soul and its work: whatsoever is not God's work is naught, naught.

(Sow the good seed) ere the Day of Resurrection shall appear and the night-thief be shamed before Him whose is the Kingdom,


1065. With the goods stolen by his contrivance and craft (still) remaining on his neck at the Day of Judgement. Hundreds of thousands of minds may jump together (conspire) to lay a snare other than His snare;
(But) they only find their snare more grievous (to themselves), (for) how can straws show any power (of resistance) against the wind?
If you say, “What was the profit of (our created) being?” (I reply), “There is profit in your question, O contumacious one. If this question of yours has no profit, why should I listen to it in vain and fruitlessly?


1070. And if there are many profits in your question, then why, pray, is the world unprofitable?

And (again), if from one standpoint the world is unprofitable, from other standpoints it is advantageous. If your profit is no profit to me, (yet) since it is a profit to you, do not withdraw from it.”
The beauty of Joseph profited a (whole) world (of people), though to his brethren it was a vain superfluity.

The melodies of David were so dear (to the faithful), but to the interdicted (unbeliever) they were (no more than) the noise of wood.



1075. The water of the Nile was superior to the Water of Life, but to the interdicted and unbelieving it was blood. To the true believer martyrdom is life; to the hypocrite it is death and corruption.
Tell (me), what single blessing is there in the world, from which some group of people is not excluded?

What profit have the ox and the ass in sugar? Every soul has a different food;

But if that food is accidental to it (and not according to its real nature), then admonition is the (proper) correction for it.


1080. As (in the case of) one who from disease has become fond of (eating) clay— though he may suppose that that (clay) is indeed his (natural) food,

He has (in reality) forgotten his original food and has betaken himself to the food of disease.

Having given up honey, he has eaten poison; he has made the food of disease (to be his nourishment) as (though it were) fat. Man's original food is the Light of God: animal food is improper for him;
But, in consequence of disease, his mind has fallen into this (delusion), that day and night he should eat of this water and clay.

1085. (He is) pale-faced, weak-footed, faint-hearted—where is the food of by Heaven which has (starry) tracks?

That is the food of the chosen ones of the (Divine) sovereignty; the eating thereof is (done) without throat or instrument.

The food of the (spiritual) sun is (derived) from the light of the (celestial) Throne; (the food that belongs) to the envious and devilish is (derived) from the smoke of the (terrestrial) carpet.

God said concerning the martyrs, they are (alive with their Lord) receiving sustenance.

For that food there was neither mouth nor dish.

The heart is eating a (particular) food from every single companion; the heart is getting a (particular) excellence from every single (piece of) knowledge.


1090. Every human being's (outer) form is like a cup; (only) the (spiritual) eye is a percipient of his (or her) reality.

You eat (receive) something from meeting with any one, and you carry away something from conjunction with any associate. When planet comes into conjunction with planet, the effect appropriate to them both is assuredly produced,
As (for example) the conjunction of man and woman brings to birth the human being, and (as) sparks arise from the conjunction of stone and iron;

And (as) from the conjunction of earth with rains (there are produced) fruits and greenery and sweet herbs;


1095. And (as) from the conjunction of green things (plants and verdant spots) with man (there is produced) joy of heart and carelessness and happiness;

And (as) from the conjunction of happiness with our souls are born our goodness and beneficence.

Our bodies become capable of eating and drinking when our desire for recreation (in the open air) is satisfied.

Redness of countenance is (derived) from the conjunction of blood (with the face); blood is (derived) from the beautiful rose- coloured sun.

Redness is the best of (all) colours, and that is (born) of the sun and is arriving (to us) from it.


1100. Every land that has been conjoined with Saturn has become nitrous and is not the place for sowing. Through concurrence power comes into action, as (in the case of) the conjunction of the Devil with hypocrites.
These spiritual truths without (possessing) any (worldly) pomp and grandeur, have pomp and grandeur from the Ninth Heaven.

The pomp and grandeur belonging to (the world of) creation is a borrowed (adventitious) thing; the pomp and grandeur belonging to the (world of) Command is an essential thing.

For the sake of (earthly) pomp and grandeur they endure abasement; in the hope of glory they are happy in (their) abasement.


1105. In the hope of a ten days' (transient) glory (full) of annoyance, they have made their necks, from anxiety, (thin) as a spindle.

How do not they come to this place where I am?—for in this (spiritual) glory I am the shining Sun.

The rising-place of the sun is the pitch-coloured tower (of heaven), (but) my Sun is beyond (all) rising-places. His “rising-place” (is only) in relation to His motes: His essence neither rose nor set.
I who am left behind (surpassed in eminence) by His motes am (nevertheless) in both worlds a sun without shadow.


1110. Still, I am revolving round the Sun—it is wonderful; the cause of this is the majesty of the Sun.

The Sun is acquainted with (all secondary) causes; at the same time the cord of (all secondary) causes is severed from Him. Hundreds of thousands of times have I cut off (abandoned) hope—of whom? Of the Sun? Do you believe this?
Do not believe of me that I can endure to be without the Sun, or the fish to be without water;

And if I become despairing, my despair is the objective manifestation of the Sun's  work, O goodly (friend).

1115. How should the objective manifestation of the work be cut off from the very self of the Worker? How should any object of (contingent) being pasture on (derive existence from) aught but (Absolute) Being?

All (contingent) beings pasture on this Meadow, whether they be Buráq or Arab horses or even asses;

And he that has not regarded (all) becomings (movements and changes) as (proceeding) from that Sea, at every instant turns his face towards a new point of orientation.

He has drunk salt water from the sweet Sea, so that the salt water has made him blind.

The Sea is saying, “Drink of my water with the right hand, O blind one, that you mayst gain sight.”


1120. Here “the right hand” is right opinion, which knows concerning (both) good and evil whence they are. O lance, there is a Lancer, so that sometimes you becomest straight, sometimes (bent) double.
Through love of Shams-i Dín (the Sun of the Religion) I am without claws (powerless); else would not I make this blind one see?
Hark, O Light of the Truth, Husámu’ddín, do you speedily heal him, to the confusion of the eye of the envious; (Heal him with) the quick-acting tutty of majesty, the darkness-killing remedy of the recalcitrant,


1125. Which, if it strikes on the eye of the blind man, will dispel from him a hundred years' darkness. Heal all the blind ones except the envious man who from envy is bringing denial against you.
To your envier, though it be I, do not give life, (but let me alone) so that I may be suffering the agony of (spiritual) death even as he is.

(I mean) him that is envious of the Sun and him that is fretting at the existence of the Sun.

Look you, this is the incurable disease which he has, alas; look you, this is one fallen for ever to the bottom of the pit.

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