Search Poetry


(Masnavi Book 2: 17) The man who planted a thornbush in the road and delayed to uproot it

How the Governor commanded a certain man, saying, Root up the thorn bush which you have planted on the road.”

As (for example) that callous fair-spoken person planted a thorn bush in the middle of the road. The wayfarers reproached him and oftentimes told him to dig it up: he dug it not up.
Every moment the thorn bush was growing bigger: the people's feet were streaming with blood from its pricks.

1230. The people's clothes were being rent by the thorns: the feet of the poor were being wounded pitiably. When the Governor said to him with earnestness, “Dig this up,” he replied, “Yes, I will dig it up some day.
For a long while he promised (to dig it up) to-morrow and to-morrow; (meantime) his thorn bush became robust in constitution.

One day the Governor said to him, “O false promiser, go forward with my affair, do not creep back.”

He replied, “O uncle, the days are between us.” “Make hase,” said he, “do not put off payment of my debt.”

1235. You who say “To-morrow,” be aware of this, that with every day that time is coming (and going),

That evil tree is growing younger, while this digger is waxing old and sorely distressed.

The thorn bush (is) in (process of gaining) strength and (in) ascent; its digger (is) in (process of) aging and decline. The thorn bush every day and every moment is green and fresh; its digger is every day more sickly and withered.
It is growing younger, you older: be quick and do not waste your time!

1240. Know that every single bad habit of yours is a thorn bush: many a time, after all, have its thorns pierced your foot. Many a time have you been wounded by your own (evil) habits—you have no sense, you are very senseless.
If to the wounding of other persons, which comes to pass from your evil nature,

You are indifferent, at any rate you are not (indifferent) to your own wounds: you are the torment of yourself and of every stranger.

Either take up the axe and strike like a man—like ‘Alí, destroy this gate of Khaybar—

1245. Or unite these thorns with the rosebush: unite the light of the friend (of God) with the (sensual) fire, In order that his light may extinguish your fire, (and that) union with him may make your thorns roses.
You are like Hell, he is a true believer: the extinction of the fire (of Hell) by means of a true believer is possible.
Mustafá (Mohammed) said concerning the speech of Hell, that on account of fear it begins humbly to entreat the true believer, And says to him, “Pass quickly away from me, O king: hark, for your light has taken away the burning of my fire.”

1250. Therefore the true believer's light is the death of the fire, because without an opposite the removal of the (other)
opposite is impossible.

On the Day of Justice (Judgement) the fire will be the opponent of the light, since the former was aroused by (God's) wrath, the latter by (His) grace.
If you are wishing to remove the evil of the fire, direct the water of (Divine) mercy against the heart of the fire. The true believer is the fountain of that water of mercy: the pure spirit of the well-doer is the Water of Life. Hence your fleshly soul is fleeing from him, because you are of fire, (while) he (is) the water of the stream.

1255. Fire becomes fleeing from water for the reason that its fire (flame and heat) is ruined by water.

Your sense and thought are wholly of the fire; the sense of the Shaykh (spiritual guide) and his thought are the beauteous
When the water of his light trickles on the fire, chak chak (a gnashing sound) rises from the fire, and it leaps up (in fury). When it makes (the sound) chak chak, say you to it, “Death and woe (to you),” in order that this hell, (which is) your fleshly
soul, may become cold (quenched),

So that it may not burn your rose-garden, so that it may not burn your justice and well doing.

1260. After that, anything that you sow will yield fruit (or flowers); it will yield anemones and wild roses and thyme. Once more we are going wide of the straight way: turn back, O master—where is our way?
We were (engaged) in showing, O envious one, that your ass is lame and the place of alighting (journey's end) far off, (so you must be) quick.
The year has turned late; it is not sowing-time, (and you have produced) nothing except black shame and foul deeds. The worm has entered the root of the body's tree: it must be dug up and put in the fire.

1265. Hark and hark (again), O wayfarer! It is late, life's sun is gone towards the pit (is about to set). (During) these (one or) two brief days when you have (some) strength, (be) quick, flap your wings generously.

Devote this (small) amount of seed that you have remaining, in order that long life may grow from these (one or) two moments.

Whilst this jewelled lamp is not (yet) extinguished, see you trim its wick and (supply it with) oil immediately.

Beware! Do not say “To-morrow”—for (many) to-morrows have passed. Let not the days of sowing pass away altogether.

1270. Listen to my admonition that the body is a strong bond: put off the old, if you have desire for newness. Shut the lips and open the palm filled with gold: leave off being a miser with the body, exhibit munificence. Munificence is the abandonment of lusts and pleasures; no one who is sunken in lust rises up (again).
This munificence is a branch of the cypress of Paradise: woe to him that lets such a branch go from his hand!

This abandonment of sensuality is the firmest handle: this branch draws the spirit up to Heaven.

1275. (So act) that the branch of munificence, O righteous man, drawing you aloft may bear you to its origin.

You are Joseph (full) of beauty, and this world is as the well, and this rope (to draw you forth) is patience with (submission to)
the command of God.
O Joseph, the rope is come: put your two hands upon it. Do not neglect the rope, (for) it has grown late. Praise be to God, that this rope has been dangled, (and that) grace and mercy have been blended together, So that you may behold the world of the new spirit, a world very manifest, (though) invisible.

1280. This (phenomenal) world of non-existence has become like (real) existence, while that world of (real) existence has become very hidden.

The dust is on the wind: it is playing, it is making a false show and forming a veil.

This, which is busy (in appearance), is (really) idle and (superficial, like) a husk; and that which is hidden is its core and origin. The dust is as a tool in the hand of the wind: deem the wind high and of high descent.
The gaze of the eye of dust falls on the dust; an eye that sees the wind is of another sort.

1285. A horse knows a horse, because it (one horse) is associated (homogeneous with other horses); likewise (only) a rider knows the things appertaining to a rider.

The sensuous eye is the horse, and the Light of God is the rider: without the rider the horse itself is useless. Therefore train the horse (so as to cure it) of bad habits; else the horse will be rejected before the King.
The horse's eye finds the way from the King's eye: without the King's eye its eye is in desperate plight.

The eye of horses, whithersoever you call it except to grass and pasture, says, “Nay, why (should we go)?”

1290. The Light of God mounts (as a rider) on the sensuous eye, and then the soul yearns after God.

How should the riderless horse know the marks of the road? The King is needed (to ride it) in order that it may know the King's road.
Go towards a sense on which the Light is riding: that Light is a good companion for the sense. The Light of God is an ornament to the light of sense: this is the meaning of light upon light. The light of sense draws (a man) towards earth; the Light of God bears him aloft,

1295. Because sensible things are a lower world: the Light of God is (as) the sea, and the sense as a dew-drop. But that which rides on it (on the sense) is not manifested save by good effects and words.
The sensuous light, which is gross and heavy, is hidden in the black of the eyes.

Inasmuch as you are not seeing the light of sense with (your) eye, how should you see the light of that religious one (the saint)

with (your) eye?

The light of sense is hidden notwithstanding this grossness: how (then) should not that radiance be hidden which is pure (and subtle)?

1300. This world, like straws in the hand (sway) of the wind, (which is) the (world) unseen, has adopted helplessness as its
(only) resource; and the dispensation of the Unseen

Makes it now lofty, now low; makes it now sound (and whole), now broken; Now carries it to the right, now to the left; now makes it roses, now thorns.
See (how) the Hand (is) hidden, while the pen is writing; the horse careering, while the Rider is invisible.

See the arrow flying, and the Bow not in sight; the (individual) souls manifest, and the Soul of souls hidden.

1305. Do not break the arrow, for it is the arrow of a King; it is not shot at long range (at random), it is from the thumb-stall of One who knows (how to hit the target).

God said, You didst not throw when you threwest”: the action of God has precedence over (our) actions. Break your own anger, do not break the arrow: the eye of your anger reckons milk (to be) blood.
Give the arrow a kiss and bring it to the King—the blood-stained arrow, wet with your blood.

That which is seen is helpless and confined and feeble; and that which is unseen is so fierce and uncontrollable.

1310. We are the (hunted) prey: to whom belongs such a (fearful) snare? We are the ball (for the blows) of the polo-bat—
and where is the Batsman?

He tears, He sews: where is this Tailor? He blows, He burns: where is this Firekindler?

At one hour He makes the true saint an unbeliever; at another hour He makes the (impious) deist an (orthodox) ascetic; For the mukhlis (sincere worshipper) is in danger of the snare until he becomes entirely purged of self,
Because he is (still) on the Way, and the brigands are numberless: (only) he escapes who is under God's safeguard.

1315. (If) he has not become (selfless, like) a pure mirror, he is (no more than) mukhlis: (if) he has not caught the bird, he is
(still) hunting;

(But) when the mukhlis has become mukhlas, he is delivered: he has reached the place of safety and has won the victory. No mirror (ever) became iron again; no bread (ever) became the wheat in the stack.
No full-grown grape (ever) became a young grape; no mature fruit (ever) became premature fruit.

Become mature and be far from (the possibility of) change for the worse: go, become the Light, like Burhán-i Muhaqqiq.

1320. When you have escaped from self, you have become wholly the proof (of God): when the slave (in you) has become naught, you have become the King.

[And if you wish to behold (this mystery) plainly, Saláhu’ddín has shown it forth: he has made the eyes to see and has opened

From his eyes and mien every eye that has the Light of (God) has discerned (mystical) poverty.
The Shaykh (Saláhu’ddín) is one who, like God, acts without instrument, giving lessons to his disciples without anything said.] In his hand the heart is submissive like soft wax: his seal makes (the impression) now (of) shame, now (of) fame.

1325. The seal impressed on his wax is telling of the seal-ring; of whom, again, does the device tell, (which is) graven on the stone of the ring?

It tells of the thought of the Goldsmith—(all this) is a chain, every link (inserted) in another.

Whose voice is this echo in the mountains of (our) hearts? Sometimes this mountain is full of the voice, sometimes it is empty.

Wheresoever he is, he is the Sage, the Master—may his voice not forsake this mountain!

There is a mountain that (only) doubles the voice; there is a mountain that makes it hundredfold.

1330. At that voice and speech the mountain lets gush forth hundreds of thousands of springs of clear water. Inasmuch as that grace emanates (even) from the mountain, the waters in the springs become blood.
It was on account of that monarch of auspicious gait that Mount Sinai was (turned to) rubies from end to end. (All) the parts of the mountain received life and intelligence— after all, are we inferior to stone, O people?
Neither is there gushing from the soul a single spring, nor is the body becoming one of those clad in green;

1335. Neither is there in it the echo of the cry of longing, nor the purity (born) of the draught of (wine bestowed by) the

Where is (so great) zeal, that they should entirely dig up such a mountain as this with axe and with pick?
(In the hope that) maybe a Moon will shine upon its particles, (that) maybe the radiance of the Moon will find a way into it. Inasmuch as the (temporal) Resurrection shall dig up the mountains, how shall it cast the shadow (of protection) over us? How is this (spiritual) Resurrection inferior to that (temporal) Resurrection? That (temporal) Resurrection is the wound, and
this (spiritual) Resurrection is as the plaster.

1340. Every one that has seen (experienced) this plaster is safe from the wound: every evil one that has seen this good is a well-doer.

Oh, happy is the ugly one to whom the beauteous one has become a companion; alas for one of rosy countenance with whom autumn has consorted!

When lifeless bread is companioned with life, the bread becomes living and is turned into the substance of that (life). Dark faggots become the companions of fire: the darkness departed, and all was turned into light.
When the dead ass fell into the salt-mine, it put aside asininity and mortality.

1345. The baptism of Allah is the dyeing-vat of (the Absolute God): therein (all) piebald things become of one colour. When he (the mystic) falls into the vat, and you say to him, “Arise,” he says in rapture, “I am the vat: do not blame (me).” That I am the vat” is the (same as) saying I am God”: he has the colour of the fire, albeit he is iron.
The colour of the iron is naughted in the colour of the fire: it (the iron) boasts of (its) fieriness, though (actually) it is like one who keeps silence.

When it has become like gold of the mine in redness, then without tongue its boast is I am the fire.”

1350. It has become glorified by the colour and nature of the fire: it says, I am the fire, I am the fire. I am the fire; if you have doubt and suspicion, make trial, put your hand upon me.
I am the fire; if it seem dubious to you, lay your face upon my face for one moment.”
When Man receives light from God, he is worshipped by the angels because of his being chosen (by God). Also, (he is) worshipped by that one whose spirit, like the angel, has been freed from contumacy and doubt.

1355. What fire? What iron? Close your lips: do not laugh at the beard of the assimilator's simile.

Do not set foot in the Sea, speak not of It: on the shore of the Sea keep silence, biting your lips (in amazement).

Though (one equal to) a hundred like me would not have the strength to bear the Sea, yet I cannot refrain from the drowning waters of the Sea.

May my soul and mind be a sacrifice to the Sea: this Sea has paid the blood-price of mind and soul.

I will march in It as long as my feet move; when feet remain not, I am (plunged) in It, like ducks.

1360. An unrespectful person present is better than one absent: though the ring be crooked, is it not on the door? O defiled in body, frequent the tank: outside of the tank, how shall a man be cleansed?
The pure one who has been banished from the tank becomes far also from his purity. The purity of this tank is infinite; the purity of bodies is of little weight,
Because the heart (though it) is a tank, yet in ambush (out of sight) it has a hidden channel to the Sea.

1365. Your finite purity wants reinforcement; otherwise, number is diminished in (the course of) expenditure.

The water said to the defiled one, “Hasten (to come) into me.” The defiled one said, I feel shame before the water.” Said the water, “Without me how shall this shame go? Without me how shall this defilement be removed?”
Every defiled one who hides from the water is (an example of the saying that) “Shame hinders Faith.”

The heart is muddied by the steps of the body's tank; the body is cleansed by the water of the heart's tanks.

1370. Haunt the steps of the heart's tank, O son; take heed and always beware of the steps of the body's tank.

The sea of the body is dashing against the sea of the heart, (but) between them is a barrier which they shall not cross.

Whether you be straight (righteous) or crooked, always creep forwards to Him; do not creep backwards.
If in the presence of kings there be danger to life, yet they that aspire cannot refrain from (presence with) Him. Since the King is sweeter than sugar, It is better that life should go (as a sacrifice) to (that) sweetness.

1375. O blamer (of lovers), safety be yours! O seeker of safety, you art infirm.

My soul is a furnace: it is happy with the fire: It is enough for the furnace that it is the fire's house.

For Love, as (for) the furnace, there is something to be burned: any one that is blind to this is not a furnace.

When the provision of unprovidedness has become your provision, you have gained life everlasting, and death is gone.

When the pain (of love) has begun to increase your (spiritual) joy, roses and lilies have taken possession of the garden of your soul.

1380. That which is the dread of others is your safety (safeguard): the duck is (made) strong by the river, the domestic fowl weak.

Once more have I become mad, O Physician! Once more have I become frenzied, O Beloved! The rings (links) of your chain are multiform: every single ring gives a different madness.
The gift of every ring is (consists in) different forms: therefore I have a different madness at every moment.

So “Madness is of different forms”—this has become a proverb; especially (is it true) as regards the chain of this most glorious Prince.

1385. Such a madness has broken the bonds (of my reason) that all madmen would give me admonition.

No comments:

Post a Comment