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(Masnavi Book 2: 56) The mouse and the camel






How the mouse pulled (the rope attached to) the camel's nose-ring and became self conceited.



A little mouse caught in his forelegs a camel's leading-rope and from emulation went off (with it).

By reason of the readiness with which the camel set out along with him, the mouse was duped into thinking himself a hero. The ray of his thought struck the camel. He (the camel) said (aside), I will show you (presently)! Enjoy yourself!”
(All went well) till he (the mouse) came to the bank of a great river, at which any lion or wolf would have lost heart.


3440. There the mouse stopped and became paralysed. The camel said, “O my companion o’er hill and plain, What is this standing still (for)? Why art you dismayed? Step (forward) like a man! Go into the river!
You art my guide and leader: don't halt midway and be dumbfounded!”
He (the mouse) said, “This is a huge and deep river: I am afraid of being drowned, O comrade.” Said the camel, Let me see the limit (depth) of the water,” and he quickly set foot in it.


3445. “The water,” he said, “is (only) up to the knee. O blind mouse, wherefore didst you become dismayed and lose your wits?

He (the mouse) replied, It is (as) an ant to you, but to me it is a dragon, for there are differences between one knee and another.

If it is (only) up to your knee, O excellent one, it is a hundred ells higher than the crown of my head.”
He (the camel) said, “Another time, do not[#] behave (so) boldly, lest your body and soul be consumed by these sparks. Contend with mice like yourself: a mouse has nothing to say to a camel.”


3450. He (the mouse) said, I repent. For God's sake, get me across this deadly water!” The camel took pity. “Hark, said he, “jump up and sit on my hump.
This passage has been vouchsafed to me: I would take across hundreds of thousands like you.”

Since you are not a prophet, go on the road (after the prophets), that one day you may come from the pit (of fleshliness) to (spiritual) place and power.

Be a vassal since you are not a lord: do not steer (the boat) yourself, since you are not the boatman.


3455. Since you are not (spiritually) perfect, do not take a shop (by yourself) alone. Be pliant to the hand, in order that you may become leavened (like dough).

Give ear to (the Divine command), Keep silence,” be mute; since you have not become the tongue (mouthpiece) of God, be an ear.

And if you speak, speak in the form of a request for explanation: speak to the (spiritual) emperors as a lowly beggar. The beginning of pride and hatred is in (worldly) lust, and the rootedness of your lust is from habit.
When an evil disposition becomes confirmed by habit, you are enraged with any one who restrains you.

3460. After you have become an eater of clay, any one who restrains you from (eating) clay is your enemy. Since idolaters are accustomed to the idol, they are foes to them that stop the way to the idol.
Since Iblís had become accustomed to being leader, he looked on Adam with disbelief (and denial), Saying, Is there another leader superior to me, so that he should be worshipped by one like me?
Leadership is poison, except to the spirit that from the beginning has (in himself) abundance of the antidote.


3465. If the mountain is full of snakes, have no fear, for it is a mine of antidote within.

When leadership has become a bosom-friend to your brain, any one who breaks (thwarts) you becomes (as) an ancient adversary.

When any one contradicts your disposition (habit of mind), many feelings of hatred against him arise in you.

He is tearing me (you say) from my (engrained) disposition, he is making me a pupil and follower (of himself).”

Unless the evil disposition has become strongly implanted, how should the fire-temple (of passion) blaze up through being opposed?


3470. He may show some feigned courtesy to the opponent, he may make a place for himself in his heart,

(But he really hates him), because the evil disposition has waxed strong: the ant of (worldly) lust has through habit become as a snake.

Kill the snake of lust at the beginning; else, look you, your snake is become a dragon.

But every one deems his own snake an ant: do you (then) seek the explanation of yourself (your real state) from him that is lord of the heart.

Until copper becomes gold, it does not know itself to be copper: until the heart becomes a king, it does not know itself to be an insolvent.


3475. Do service to the elixir, like copper: endure oppression, O heart, from him that holds the heart in fee.

Who is it that holds the heart in fee? Know well, it is the lords of the heart who, like day and night, are recoiling from the world.

Do not find fault with the Servant of God: do not suspect the King of being a thief.

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