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(Masnavi Book 3: 49) The Vow made by the Dogs every winter













Story of the vow made by the dogs every winter that when next summer comes they will build a house for the winter.

2885. In winter the bones of the dog are drawn together: the blows of the frost make him so small
That he says, “Having such a little body, I must build a stone house.
When summer comes, I will build with my claws a stone house against the cold.
(But) when summer comes, his bones expand from the relief (which he feels), and his skin grows sleek,
And, when he sees himself stout, he says, In what house should I find room, O noble sir?

2890. He grows stout and slinks into a shady place—a lazy, full-fed, cowardly, self- opinionated (creature)!
His heart (conscience) says to him, “Build a house, O uncle! He says, How shall I find room in the house? Tell (me that).”
In the hour of pain the bones of your greed shrink together and diminish in compass,
And you say penitently, I will build a house: it will be a resting-place (refuge) for me in winter”; (But) when the pain is gone and your greed has grown stout, the desire for the house departs
from you, just as (in the case of) the dog.

2895. Thanksgiving for the bounty is sweeter than the bounty (itself): how should he that is addicted to thanksgiving go towards (direct his attention to) the bounty?
Thanksgiving is the soul of the bounty, and the bounty is as the husk, because thanksgiving
brings you to the abode of the Beloved.
Bounty produces heedlessness, and thanksgiving alertness: hunt after bounty with the snare of thanksgiving to the King.
The bounty of thanksgiving will make you contented and princely, so that you will bestow a
hundred bounties on the poor.
You will eat your fill of the viands and dessert of God, so that hunger and begging will depart from you.

How the unbelievers stopped the prophets, on whom be peace, from giving admonition and brought forward Necessitarian arguments.

2900. The people (of Sabá) said, O admonishers, what ye have said is enough, if there be any one in this village.
God has set a lock upon our hearts; none can prevail against the Creator.
That Artist made the picture of us to be this: this will not be altered by talking.
A hundred years you may tell the pebble to become a ruby, a hundred years you may tell the old to become new;
You may tell earth to assume the qualities of water, you may tell water to become honey or
milk—

2905. (It is all in vain): He is the Creator of the heavens and the heavenly ones, the Creator of water and earth and earthly beings.
To heaven He gave its circling motion and its purity; to (the mixed) water and earth its dark appearance and its (power of) growth.
How can heaven choose turbidity? How can (the mixed) earth and water buy purity?
To every one He has allotted a certain course: how should a mountain by any effort become as a straw?

The answer of the prophets, on whom be peace, to the Necessitarians.

The prophets said, “Yes: He has created some qualities from which it is impossible to withdraw one's self,

2910. And He has (also) created qualities (which are only) accidental, so that a hated person becomes acceptable.
If you bid a stone become gold, it is futile; (but) if you bid copper become gold, the way (of transmuting it) exists.
If you bid sand become clay, it is incapable (of doing so); (but) if you bid earth become clay, that
is possible.
He has given (ordained to us) maladies for which there is no remedy, such as lameness, flatness of the nose, and blindness;

He has given maladies for which there is a remedy, such as facial paralysis and headache.

2915. These medicines He has made for the sake of (restoring) harmony: these maladies and medicines are not in vain.
Nay, most maladies have a cure: when you seek in earnest, it will come to hand.

How the infidels repeated the Necessitarian arguments.

The people said, O company (of prophets), this malady of ours is not one of those that admit of cure.
For years ye uttered spells and admonitions of this kind, and by them our bondage was made sorer every moment.
If this disease were susceptible of cure, some particle of it would at last have been removed.

2920. When hepatitis occurs, water does not enter the liver: if he (the patient) should drink up the (whole) sea, it (the water) would go somewhere else;
Consequently the hands and feet become swollen: that water-drinking does not defeat the thirst.”

How the prophets, on whom be peace, answered them again.

The prophets said, “Despair is wicked: the grace and the mercies of the Creator are infinite.
It is not proper to despair of such a Benefactor: cling to the saddle-strap of this Mercy.
Oh, many a plight became hard in the beginning, (but) afterwards it was relieved, and the hardship passed away.

2925. After despair there are many hopes; after darkness there are many suns.
I grant indeed that ye have become stony and have put locks upon your ears and hearts; (But) we have naught to do with any acceptance (on your part): our business is to resign ourselves (to God) and fulfil His command.
He has commanded us (to perform) this service: we have not this office of proclaimer
(prophetship) from ourselves.
We possess life (only) for the purpose of (executing) the command of God: if He bid us (sow) in a tract of sand, we sow.

2930. The prophet's soul has no friend except God: he has naught to do with the acceptance or rejection of (his message by) the people.
The reward for delivering His messages comes from Him (God): we have become hateful and wear the aspect of enemies (to the people) for the Beloved's sake.
At this (Divine) Portal we are not weary, so that we should halt everywhere because of the
distance of the way.
Oppressed in heart and weary is that one (alone) who is in prison through being parted from the
Friend.
The Heart-ravisher and Desired One is present with us: amidst the largesse of His mercy our souls are giving thanks.

2935. In our hearts is an anemone-field and rose-garden: there is no way (of entrance) for old age and decay;
We are ever fresh and young and gracious, unfaded and sweet and laughing and debonair. To us a hundred years are the same as a single hour, for long and short (time) is a thing
disjoined from us.
That length and shortness is in bodies (alone): where is that long and short in the soul?

The three hundred and nine years of the Men of the Cave seemed to them one day (that passed)
without grief and woe;

2940. And (only) then did it seem to them one day even, when their spirits came back from non-existence into their bodies.
When there is no day and night and month and year, how should there be satiety and old age
and weariness?
Since there is (for us) selflessness in the rose-garden of non-existence, there is (for us)
intoxication caused by the goblet of Divine grace.
Any one that has not drunk (thereof is in the same case as those to whom the saying, ‘Whoso) has not tasted does not know (is applicable): how should the dung-beetle conceive the (fragrant) breaths of the rose?
It is not conceivable: if it were conceivable, it would become non-existent, like (all) objects of conception.

2945. How should Hell conceive Paradise? Does a beauteous face shine (forth) at all from an ugly pig?
Hark, do not cut your own throat! Take heed, O despicable one, (when) such a morsel as this has reached your mouth.
We have brought the hard ways to an end; we have made the way easy for our own people.

How the people (of Sabá) repeated their resistance to the (prophets') hope (of converting them and set themselves) against the prophets, on whom be peace.

The people (of Sabá) said, If ye bring good luck to yourselves, ye are ill-starred for us and are opposed (to us) and rejected (by us).
Our souls were free from cares: ye have cast us into grief and trouble.

2950. Through your evil presage the delightful concord and agreement that existed (amongst us) has been turned into a hundred separations.


(Formerly) we were parrots eating sugar for dessert; (now) through you we have become birds that meditate on death.
Wheresoever is a grief-spreading tale, wheresoever is an odious rumour,
Wheresoever in the world is an evil presage, wheresoever is a monstrous transformation, a terrible punishment, an infliction of chastisement—
(All those things) are (contained) in the parable of your story and in your evil presage: ye have an appetite for rousing grief.

How the prophets, on whom be peace, answered them once more.

2955. The prophets said, The foul and evil presage has its support from within your souls.
If you are asleep in a perilous place, and a dragon is approaching you from a spot close at hand, And a kindly person has made you aware (of it), saying, Jump up quickly, or else the dragon will devour you’—
If you say, ‘Why are you uttering an evil presage? (he will reply), What (evil) presage? Jump up
and see in the light of day.
I myself will deliver you from the midst of the evil presage and will take you home.’

2960. He (such a person) is one that acquaints (you) with things hidden, like the prophet who has seen what the people of this world have not seen.
If a physician say to you, Do not eat unripe grapes, for such an illness (as is caused by them)
will produce (grave) trouble and mischief,’
And if you say, Why are you uttering an evil presage?’ then you are making out your sincere adviser to be culpable.
And if an astrologer say to you, ‘By no means set about such an affair to-day,
Though you see the falsehood of the astrologer a hundred times, (yet if) it (the prediction) come true once or twice, you are eager to trust him.

2965. These stars of ours are never at variance (with the truth): how does their truth remain concealed from you?
The physician and the astrologer inform (you) from (their own) opinion, and verily we (inform you) from clairvoyance:
We behold the smoke and fire rushing from afar towards the unbelievers.
You are saying,Be silent (and refrain) from these words, for the words of evil presage are hurtful to us.’”
O you who hearken not unto the admonition of the admonishers, the evil presage is with you wherever you go.

2970. A viper is walking on your back: he (the admonisher) sees it from a roof and makes
(you) aware;
You say to him, “Hush! do not vex me”: he says, “Be happy! Truly, the words have gone (have been spoken).”
When the viper darts its mouth at your neck, all your desire for happiness is made bitter.
Then you say to him,O so-and-so, was this all (the warning you gave me)? Why didn't you tear your collar in outcry,
Or why weren't you throwing a stone at me from above, in order that that grave calamity and
misfortune might be shown to me (plainly)?”

2975. He says, “(I refrained) because you were annoyed”; you say (ironically), “You have made me very happy!”
He says, I bestowed counsel generously, that I might deliver you from this sterile (unprofitable)
bondage.

From vileness you acknowledged no obligation for that (generosity): you made (it) a source of injury and insolence.
This is the nature of base villains: he (such a one) does evil to you when you doest good (to him).
As for the fleshly soul, bend it double (mortify it) by means of this renunciation, for it is vile, and kindness suiteth it not.

2980. If you show beneficence to a noble man, it is fitting: he will give seven hundred
(benefits) in exchange for every one (conferred upon him);
(But be merciless to the ignoble): when you treatest a villain with violence and cruelty, he becomes a very faithful servant to you.
The infidels in (their) prosperity sow (the seed of) cruelty; again (afterwards) in Hell their cry is
“O Lord, (deliver us)!”

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