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(Masnavi Book 4: 17) The Druggist and the Clay-eater







Story of the druggist whose balance-weight was clay for washing the head; and how a customer, who was a clay-eater, stole some of that clay covertly and secretly, whilst sugar was being weighed.

625. A certain clay-eater went to a druggist to buy (a quantity of) fine hard sugar-loaf.
Now, at the druggist's, (who was) a crafty vigilant man, in place of the balance-weight there was clay.
He said, “If you want to buy sugar, my balance-weight is clay.”
He (the customer) said, I am requiring sugar for an urgent affair: let the balance-weight be whatever you wish.”
To himself he said, What does the weight matter to one that eats clay? Clay is better than gold.

630. As the dallála (go-between) who said, O son, I have found a very beautiful new bride
(for you).
(She is) exceedingly pretty, but there is just one thing, that the lady is a confectioner's daughter.”
“(All the) better, said he; “if it is indeed so, his daughter will be fatter and sweeter.”
If you have no (proper) weight and your weight is of clay, this is better and better: clay is the fruit (desired) of my heart.”
He (the druggist) placed the clay, because of its being ready (to his hand), in one scale of the
balance instead of the (proper) weight;

635. Then, for the other scale, he was breaking with his hand the equivalent amount of sugar. Since he had no pick-axe, he took a long time and made the customer sit waiting.
(Whilst) his face was (turned) towards that (sugar), the clay-eater, unable to restrain himself, began covertly to steal the clay from him,
Terribly frightened lest his (the druggist's) eye should fall upon him of a sudden for the purpose
of testing (his honesty).
The druggist saw it, but made himself busy, saying, Come, steal more, O pale-faced one!

640. If you will be a thief and take some of my clay, go on (doing so), for you are eating out of your own side.
You are afraid of me, but (only) because you are a (stupid) ass: I am afraid you will eat less (too
little).
Though I am occupied, I am not such a fool (as to suffer) that you should get too much of my sugar-cane.
When you see (find) by experience the (amount of) sugar (which you have bought), then you will
know who was foolish and careless.”
The bird looks pleased at the bait; still, the bait, (though) at a distance (from it), is waylaying it.

645. If you are deriving some pleasure from the eye's cupidity, are not you eating roast-meat from your own side?
This looking from a distance is like arrows and poison: your fond passion is increased (thereby)
and your self-restraint diminished.
Worldly riches are a trap for the weak birds; the kingdom of the next world is a trap for the noble birds,
To the end that by means of this kingdom, which is a deep trap, the great birds may be
ensnared.
I, Solomon, do not desire your kingdom; nay, but I will deliver you from every destruction;

650. For at this time ye are indeed slaves to the kingdom; the owner of the kingdom is he that escaped from destruction.”
Preposterously, O prisoner of this world, you have named yourself prince of this world.
O you slave of this world, you whose spirit is imprisoned, how long wilt you call yourself lord of the world?

How Solomon, on whom be peace, showed affection and kindness to the envoys and removed (feelings of) resentment and injury from their hearts and explained to them the reason for declining the gift.

O envoys, I will send you as envoys (to Bilqis): my refusal (of the gift) is better for you than acceptance.
Relate to Bilqis what marvellous things ye have seen concerning the desert of gold,

655. That she may know we do not covet gold: we have gotten gold from the gold-Creator, At whose will the whole earths soil from end to end would become gold and precious pearls.” On that account, O you who choosest gold, God will make this earth silvern on the Day of Resurrection.
“We have no need of gold, for we are very skilful: we make earthly beings entirely golden. How shall we beg gold of you? We (can) make you (spiritual) alchemists.

660. Abandon (all) that, (even) if it is the kingdom of Saba, for beyond (this) water and earth there are many kingdoms.
That which you have called a throne is (really) a splint- bandage: you deemest (it) the seat of honour, but (in truth) you have remained at the door.
(If) you have not sovereignty over yours own beard, how wilt you exercise sovereignty over
good and evil?
Without your wish, your beard grows white: be ashamed of your bend, O you whose hopes are perverse.
He (God) is the Possessor of the Kingdom: whosoever lays his head before Him, to him He gives
a hundred kingdoms without the terrestrial world;

665. But the (inward) savour of a single prostration before God will be more sweet to you than two hundred empires:
Then you wilt cry (in humble entreaty), I desire not kingdoms: commit unto me the kingdom of that prostration.”
The kings of the world, because of their evil nature, got no scent of the wine of service (to God); Otherwise, dizzy and dumbfounded like (Ibráhim son of) Adham, without delay they would have dashed their sovereignty to pieces.
But (this they do not inasmuch as), for the maintenance of this world, God set a seal upon their
eyes and mouths,

670. To the end that throne and crown should be sweet to them, for they say) “we will exact tribute from the rulers of the world..
If by way of tribute you amass gold as (though it were) sand, at last it will be left behind you as an inheritance.
Sovereignty and gold will not accompany your spirit on its journey: give your gold away, get
collyrium for your sight,
In order that you mayst see that this world is a narrow well, and that, like Joseph, you mayst grasp that rope,
So that, when you comest from the well (up) to the roof, the Soul will say, Oh, good news for met This is a youth for me.”

675. In the well (of this world) there are optical inversions, the least (of which is) that stones appear to be gold.
To children at play-time, from infirmity (of mind), those potsherds (with which they play) appear to be gold and riches.
His (Gods) knowers have become alchemists, so that mines (of gold) have become worthless in their eyes.

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