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(Masnavi Book 5: 08) The Sage and the Peacock






Story of the Sage who saw a peacock tearing out his handsome feathers with his beak and dropping them (on the ground) and making himself bald and ugly. In astonishment he asked, Have you no feeling of regret? I have, said the peacock, but life is dearer to me than feathers, and these (feathers) are the enemy of my life.”

A peacock was tearing out his feathers in the open country, where a sage had gone for a walk. He said, O peacock, how art you tearing out such fine feathers remorselessly from the root?
How indeed is your heart consenting that you shouldst tear off these gorgeous robes and let them fall in the
mud?
Those who commit the Qur’án to memory place every feather of yours, on account of its being prized and acceptable, within the folding of the (Holy) Book.

540. For the sake of stirring the healthful air your feathers are used as fans.
What ingratitude and what recklessness is this! do not you know who is their decorator?
Or do you know (that) and art you showing disdain and purposely tearing out (such) a (fine) broidery? Oh, there is many a disdain that becomes a sin and causes the servant to fall from favour with the King (God).
To show disdain is sweeter than sugar; but chew it not, for it has a hundred perils.

545. The place of safety is the way of want (lowliness): abandon disdain and make up with (be satisfied with) that way.
Oh, many a disdainfulness flapped its wings and plumes, (but) in the end it became a bane to that (arrogant)
person.
If the sweetness of disdain exalts you for a moment, (yet) its latent fear and dread consumes you;
(While) this want (lowliness), though it make (you) lean, will make your breast (heart) like the brilliant full- moon.
Since He (God) draws forth the living from the dead, he that has become dead (to this world) keeps the right course;

550. (And) since He brings forth the dead from the living, the living (carnal) soul moves towards a state of death (self-mortification).
Become dead, that the Lord who brings forth the living may bring forth a (spiritually) living one from this dead one.
(If) you become December (Winter), you wilt experience the bringing forth of Spring; (if) you become night, you wilt experience the advent of day.
Do not tear out your feathers, for it is irreparable: do not rend your face in grief, O beauteous one. Such a face that resembles the morning sunit is sinful to rend a countenance like that.

555. It is (an act of) infidelity (to inflict) scratches upon a countenance (of) such (beauty) that the moon's countenance wept at parting from it.
Or do not you see (the beauty of) your face? Abandon that contumacious disposition (which prevents you from seeing it).

Explaining that the purity and simplicity of the tranquil soul are disturbed by thoughts, just as (when) you write or depict anything on the surface of a mirror, though you may (afterwards) obliterate it entirely, (yet) a mark and blemish will remain (on the mirror).

The face of the tranquil soul in the body suffers wounds inflicted by the nails of thought.
Know that evil thought is a poisonous nail: in (the case of) deep reflection it rends the face of the soul. In order that he (the thinker) may loose the knot of a difficulty, he has put a golden spade into ordure.

560. Suppose the knot is loosed, O adept (thinker): it is (like) a tight knot on an empty purse.
You have grown old in (the occupation of) loosing knots: suppose a few more knots are loosed (by you, what then?).
The knot that is (fastened) tight on our throat is that you shouldst know whether you art vile or fortunate. Solve this problem, if you art a man: spend your breath (life) on this, if you have the breath (spirit) of Adam (within you).
Suppose you knowest the definitions of (all) substances and accidents, (how shall it profit you?): know the
(true) definition of yourself, for this is indispensable.

565. When you knowest the definition of yourself, flee from this definition, that you mayst attain to Him who has no definition, O sifter of dust.
(your) life has gone (to waste) in (the consideration of logical) predicate and subject: (your) life, devoid of
(spiritual) insight, has gone in (study of) what has been received by hearsay.
Every proof (that is) without (a spiritual) result and effect is vain: consider the (final) result of yourself! you have never perceived a Maker except by means of a thing made: you art content with a syllogism. The philosopher multiplies links (consisting) of (logical) proofs; on the other hand, the elect (the mystic) is contrary to him (in this respect).

570. The latter flees from the proof and from the veil (between himself and God): he has sunk his head in his bosom for the sake of (contemplating) the Object of the proof.
If to him (the philosopher) the smoke is a proof of the fire, to us (mystics) it is sweet (to be) in the fire without the smoke,
Especially this Fire which, through (our) nighness and fealty (to God), is nearer to us than the smoke. Therefore it is black villainy to go (turn away) from the Soul (Reality) towards the smoke for the sake of (indulging) the phantasies (illusions) of the (animal) soul.

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