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(Masnavi Book 4: 32) Majnun and his she-camel




The battle of the reason against the flesh is like the contention of Majnún with his she camel: Majnún's inclination is towards the noble woman (Laylá), while the she camel's inclination is (to go) back towards her foal, as Majnún said (in verse): My she-camel's love is behind me, while my love is in front of me; and verily I and she are discordant.

Assuredly they (the reason and the flesh) are like Majnún and his she-camel: that one is pulling forward and this one backward in (mutual) enmity.
Majnún's desire is speeding to the presence of that (beloved) Lay; the she camel's desire is running back after her foal.

1535. If Majnún forgot himself for one moment, the she-camel would turn and go back. Since his body was full of love and passion, he had no resource but to become beside himself. That which is regardful was (ever) reason: passion for Laylá carried (his) reason away.
But the she-camel was very regardful and alert: whenever she saw her toggle slack
She would at once perceive that he had become heedless and dazed, and would turn her face back to the foal without delay.

1540. When he came to himself again, he would see on the spot that she had gone back many leagues.
In these conditions Majnún remained going to and fro for years on a three days' journey.
He said,O camel, since we both are lovers, therefore we two contraries are unsuitable fellow- travellers.
Thy affection and toggle (propensity) are not in accord with me: it behoves (me) to choose
parting from your companionship.”
These two fellow-travellers (the reason and the flesh) are brigands waylaying each other: lost is the spirit that does not dismount from the body.

1545. The spirit, because of separation from the highest Heaven, is in a (great) want; the body, on account of passion for the thorn-shrub (of sensual pleasure), is like a she-camel. The spirit unfolds its wings (to fly) upwards; the body has stuck its claws in the earth.
“So long as you art with me, O you who art mortally enamoured of your home, then my spirit will remain far from Laylá.
From experiences of this kind my life-time, for many years, has gone (to waste), like (that of) the
people of Moses in the desert.
This journey to union was (only) a matter of two steps: because of your noose I have remained sixty years on the way.

1550. The way is near (not far), but I have tarried very late: I have become sick of this riding, sick, sick.”
He (Majnún) threw himself headlong from the camel. He said, I am consumed with grief: how long, how long?

The wide desert became (too) narrow for him: he flung himself on the stony place.
He flung himself down so violently that the body of that courageous man was cracked.
When he flung himself to the ground thus, at that moment also by (Divine) destiny his leg broke.

1555. He tied up his leg and said,I will become a ball, I will go rolling along in the curve of
His bat.”
For this cause the sweet-mouthed Sage utters a curse on the rider who does not dismount from the body.
How should love for the Lord be inferior to love for Lay? To become a ball for His sake is more
worthy.
Become a ball, turn on the side which is sincerity, (and go) rolling, rolling in the curve of the bat of Love,
For henceforth this journey is (accomplished by means of) the pull of God, while that (former)
journey on the she-camel is our progression (made by our own efforts).

1560. Such is the extraordinary mode of progression which transcends the utmost exertion of the Jinn and mankind.
Such is the pull—not every common pull—to which Ahmad (Mohammed) awarded the pre- eminence. And (now) farewell!

How the slave wrote to the King a statement complaining of the reduction of his allowance

Cut short the discourse (on these topics) for the sake of (re turning to the story of) the slave who has written a message to the King
He is sending to the gracious King a statement filled with wrangling and self-conceit and hatred.
The body is (like) a letter: look into it (and see) whether it is worthy of the King; then take it (to
Him).

1565. Go into a corner, open the letter, read (it), see whether its words are suitable to kings. If it be not suitable, tear it in pieces and write another letter and remedy (the fault).
But do not think it is easy to open the letter which is the body; otherwise every one would plainly see the secret of the heart.
How hard and difficult is it to open the letter! It is a task for men, not for children playing at knuckle
We have all become satisfied with (reading) the table of contents, because we are steeped in
cupidity and vain desire.

1570. The table of contents is a snare for the vulgar, that they may think the text of the scroll is like that (table).
Open the title-page, do not turn your neck aside from these words—and God best knoweth the right course.
That title is like a declaration made by the tongue: examine the text of the scroll, namely, the
bosom (your inward self),
(And see) whether it is in agreement with your declaration, in order that your actions may not be hypocritical.
When you are carrying a very heavy sack, you must not fail to look into it,

1575. (To see) what of sour and sweet you have in the sack. If it is worth bringing along, bring it;
Otherwise, empty your sack of the stones (in it), and redeem yourself from this fruitless toil and disgrace.
Put in the sack that (only) which must be brought to righteous sultans and kings.

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