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(Masnavi Book 5: 05) Description of the Peacock







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Description of the Peacock and its nature, and the cause of its being killed by Abraham, on whom be peace.

395. Now we come to the two-coloured (double-faced) peacock, who displays himself for the sake of name and fame.
His desire is to catch people: he is ignorant of good and evil and of the result and use of that (catching). He catches his prey ignorantly, like a trap: what knowledge has the trap concerning the purpose of its action?
What harm (comes) to the trap, or what benefit, from catching (its prey)? I wonder at its idle catching.
O brother, you have uplifted your friends with two hundred marks of affection, and (then) abandoned (them).

400. This has been your business from the hour of (your) birth: to catch people with the trap of love. From that pursuit (of people) and throng (of friends) and vainglory and self existence wilt you get any warp or woof? Try and see!
Most (of your life) is gone and the day is late; (yet) you art still busy in pursuit of people.
Go on catching one and releasing another from the trap and pursuing another, like mean folk; Then again release this one and seek the other! Here's a game of heedless children!

405. Night comes, and nothing is caught in your trap: the trap is naught but a headache (affliction) and shackle to you.
Therefore (in reality) you wert catching yourself with the trap, for you art imprisoned and disappointed of your desire.
Is any owner of a trap in the world such a dolt that, like us, he tries to catch himself?
Pursuit of the vulgar is like hunting pig: the fatigue is infinite, and it is unlawful to eat a morsel thereof. That which is worth pursuing is Love alone; but how should He be contained in any one's trap?

410. (Yet) perchance you mayst come and be made His prey, you mayst discard the trap, and go into
His trap.
Love is saying very softly into my ear, To be a prey is better than to be a hunter.
Make yourself My fool and be a dupe: renounce the (high) estate of the sun, become a mote! Become a dweller at My door and be homeless: do not pretend to be a candle, be a moth,
That you mayst see (taste) the savour of Life and contemplate the sovereignty hidden in servitude.”

415. In this world you see the shoes upside down: the title of kingsis conferred on (those who are really) bondsmen.
Many a one who deserves to mount the scaffold with a halter on his throat—a crowd (gathers) round him, crying, “Behold, an emperor!”
(They are) like the tombs of infidels, outwardly (resembling) the robes of Paradise, (while) within (them) is the wrath of God Almighty and Glorious.
He (the worldling) has been plastered like the tombs: the veil of self-conceit has been brought before him
(drawn over him).
Your miserable nature is plastered with virtues, like a palm-tree of wax without (real) leaves and fruit.

Explaining that every one knows the mercy of God, and every one knows the wrath of God; and all are fleeing from the wrath of God and clinging to the mercy of God; but the Most High God has concealed wraths in mercy and mercies in wrath. This is God's mystification and disguise and contrivance to the

end that the discerning who see by the Light of God may be separated from those who see (only) the present and the visible; for (He created death and life) that He might try you, which of you is most righteous in his works.

420. One dervish said to another, Tell (me), what was your vision of the Presence of God?
He replied,My vision was ineffable; but for the sake of argument I will briefly declare a parable thereof. I beheld Him with a fire on His left, and on the right a stream (like) Kawthar:
On His left an exceedingly world-consuming fire, on His right hand a sweet river.
One party put forth their hands towards the fire, (while) another party were rejoicing and intoxicated (with desire) for that Kawthar.

425. But it was a very topsy-turvy (mystifying) game in the path of every one doomed to perdition or blessed with salvation.
Whoever went into the fire and sparks was emerging from the midst of the water; Whoever went from the middle towards the water, he was at once found to be in the fire;
Whoever went towards the right (hand) and the limpid water would put forth his head from the fire on the left;
And he who went towards the fiery left, would emerge on the right.

430. Few were they who hit upon (understood) the mystery of this occult (matter); consequently, seldom would any one go into the fire;
(None would go) except him upon whom felicity was shed, so that he abandoned the water and took refuge in the fire.
The people made the pleasure that was actually present their object of worship; consequently the people were swindled by this game.
Troop by troop and rank by rank, (they were) on their guard against the fire and fleeing greedily and in haste towards the water.
Of necessity, they lifted up their heads (emerged) from (amidst) the fire. Take warning, take warning, O
heedless man!

435. The fire was crying, O crazy fools, I am not fire, I am a delectable fountain.
A spell has been cast on yours eyes, O sightless one: come into me and never flee from the sparks.
O (you who art as) Khalíl (Abraham), here are no sparks and smoke: it is naught but the sorcery and deceit of Nimrod.
If, like the Friend of God, you art wise, the fire is your water, and you art the moth.
The soul of the moth is always crying, Oh, alas, would that I had a hundred thousand wings,

440. That they might be consumed without mercy by the fire, to the blindness (confusion) of the eyes and hearts of the profane!
The ignorant man pities me from stupidity: I pity him from clairvoyance.
Especially this fire (of Love), which is the soul of (all) waters (delights); (but) the behaviour of the
(ignorant) moth is contrary to ours.
It sees the light and goes into a Fire; the heart (of the mystic) sees the fire and goes into a Light.”
Such a (deceptive) game is played by the Glorious God in order that you may see who belongs to the kin of
Khalíl (Abraham).

445. A fire has been given the semblance of water, and in the fire a fountain has been opened.
A magician by his art makes a dish of rice (appear to be) a dish full of (tiny) worms in the assembly;
(Or) by the breath (power) of magic he has caused a room to appear full of scorpions, though in truth there were no scorpions.
When sorcery produces a hundred such illusions, how (much greater) must be the cunning of the Creator of sorcery?
Of necessity, through the magic of God generation after generation have fallen down (been vanquished),
like a woman (lying) flat beneath (sub marito).

450. Their magicians were slaves and servants, and fell into the trap (of Divine cunning) like wagtails.

Hark, read the Qur’án and behold lawful magic (in) the overthrow of plots (huge) as the mountains.
I am not (like) Pharaoh that I should come to the Nile; I am going towards the fire, like Khal (Abraham).
It is not fire; (in reality) it is flowing water, (while) the other, through (Divine) cunning, is water whereof the (real) nature is fire.
Excellently well said the complaisant Prophet, A mote of intelligence is better for you than fasting and performing the ritual prayer,”

455. Because your intelligence is the substance, (whereas) these two (things) are accidents: these two are made obligatory in (the case of persons who possess) the full complement of it,
In order that the mirror (intelligence) may have (a bright) lustre; for purity comes to the breast (heart) from piety.
But if the mirror is fundamentally depraved, (only) after a long time does the polisher get it back (to purity);
While (in the case of) the fine mirror, which is (like) a goodly planting-ground, a little polishing is enough for it.

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