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(Masnavi Book 3: 64) The Woman whose twenty children all died in infancy





Story of the woman whose children never lived (long), and how, when she made lamentation (to God), the answer came“That is instead of your (unpractised) ascetic discipline and is for you in lieu of the self-mortification of those who mortify themselves.”

That woman used to bear a son every year, (but) he never lived more than six months;

3400. Either (in) three months or four months he would perish. The woman made lamentation, crying, Alas, O God,
For nine months I have the burden (of pregnancy), and for three months I have joy: my happiness is fleeter than the rainbow.
That woman, because of the terrifying anguish (which she suffered), used to make this plaintive outcry before the men of God.
In this wise twenty children (of hers) went into the grave: a fire (of destruction) fell swiftly upon their lives,
Till, one night, there was shown to her (the vision of) a garden everlasting, verdant, delectable, and ungrudged.

3405. I have called the Unconditioned Bounty a garden, since it is the source of (all) bounties and the assembly of (all) gardens;
Otherwise, (it is that which) no eye has beheld: what place is there for (how is it proper to speak of) a garden? (Yet the term “garden may be applied to it): God has called the Light of
the Unseen a lamp.
It is not a comparison, it is a parable thereof, (which is used) in order that he who is bewildered may get a scent (of the reality).
In short, the woman saw that (Bounty) and became intoxicated: at that revelation the weak
(creature) fell into an ecstasy.

She saw her name written on a palace: she who was of goodly belief knew that it (the palace)
belonged to her.

3410. After that, they said (to her), This Bounty is for him who has risen up with constant sincerity in self-devotion.
You must needs have done much service (to God), in order that you might’st partake of this
repast;
(Hence), as you wert remiss in taking refuge (with God), God gave you those afflictions instead.”
O Lord, cried she,give me such-like (afflictions) for a hundred years and more! Do You shed my blood!”
When she advanced into that garden, she saw there all her children.

3415. She said, “They were lost to me, (but) they were not lost to Thee. Without
(possessing) the two eyes of the Unseen, no one becomes the Man (pupil of the eye).
You did not let blood (by cupping), and (therefore) the superfluous blood ran from your nose, to the end that your life might be saved from fever.
The core of every fruit is better than its rind: deem the body to be the rind, and its friend (the
spirit) to be the core.
After all, Man has a goodly core: seek it for one moment, if you are of (if you belong to those inspired by) that (Divine) breath.

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