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(Masnavi Book 5: 35) The Ascetic who made trial of his trust in God







Exposition of the meaning of trust in God, (which is illustrated by) the Story of the ascetic who, making trial of his trust in God, abandoned his property and (native) town and went far away from the beaten tracks and thoroughfares of men to the foot of a remote and inaccessible mountain, (where) in extreme hunger he laid his head upon a stone and fell asleep, saying to himself, I put trust in your providing the means (of livelihood) and daily bread; and I cut myself off from (all) means (secondary causes) in order that I may experience the causation of trust in God.

A certain ascetic had heard the saying of Mustafá (Mohammed) that the daily bread surely comes from God to the spirit,
(And that), whether you will or no, your daily bread comes running to you because it is (so) fond of you. By way of trial that man went into the desert and immediately lay down near a mountain,
Saying, I will see whether the daily bread will come to me: (my object is) that my belief in the daily bread may become firm.’

2405. A caravan lost its way and marched towards the mountain: (the travellers) saw lying (there) him who was making the trial.
(One) said (to another), How is this man destitute here in the wilderness, far from road and town?
Oh, I wonder, is he dead or alive? (Evidently) he has no fear of wolves or enemies.
They came on and touched him with their hands: that venerable man deliberately said nothing. He did not stir, he did not even move his head or open his eyes, because he was making a trial.

2410. Then they said, ‘This poor disappointed man has had a stroke of apoplexy caused by hunger.’ They fetched bread and (also) food in a kettle, that they might pour it into his mouth and (down) his throat. Thereupon the man purposely clenched his teeth, in order to see (test) the truth of that promise.
They felt pity for him and said, This man is starving and perishing with hunger and at the point of death’; (So) they brought a knife and hastily made a rift in his closed teeth.

2415. They poured soup into his mouth and forced into it fragments of bread.
He said (to himself), ‘O (my) heart, even though you art keeping silence, you knowest the secret and art showing a (great) disdain.

His heart replied, ‘I know (the secret) and am purposely behaving (thus): God is the provider for my soul and body.’
How should there be a trial more (perfect) than this? The daily bread comes with joy to those who have patience.

How the fox answered the ass and urged him to seek a livelihood.

The fox said, Leave these stories and apply all your poor efforts to earning a livelihood.

2420. God has given you hands: do some work, earn something, help a friend. Every one takes steps to earn something and (thereby) helps other friends (to earn),
Because all the earning is not done by one (craftsman): (there is) a carpenter and also a water-carrier and a weaver.
By means of this partnership (the order of) the world is maintained: every one, (being impelled) by want, chooses some work.
It is not right to be a lick-platter (idle parasite) in the midst (of them): the way of the Sunna is to work and earn.

How the ass answered the fox, saying, Trust in God is the best way of earning a livelihood, for every one needs to trust in God and cry, O God, bring this work of mine to success’; and prayer involves trust in God, and trust in God is the (only) means of livelihood that is independent of any other means, etc.

2425. He (the ass) said, In the two worlds I do not know any means of livelihood superior to trust in my
Lord.
I know nothing to be compared with the acquisition of thanksgiving to Him, in order that thanksgiving to
God may bring (in its train) the daily bread and the increase (thereof).”
Their dispute was prolonged in mutual altercation (till) they became incapable of (further) questioning and answering.
Afterwards he (the fox) said to him, “Mark in the (Divine) kingdom the prohibition, Do not cast yourselves into destruction.
In a barren desert covered with stones self-denial is folly: God's world is wide.

2430. Move from this place towards the meadow, and browse there on the verdure round about the river—
A meadow verdant like Paradise, where the verdure grows up to (as high as) the waist. Happy the animal that goes thither: amidst the verdure a camel would become invisible. There, on every side, is a running fountain; there the animals are in comfort and security.
From asininity he (the ass) did not say to him, O accursed one, you art (come) from there: how art you so wretched?

2435. Where is your gaiety and fatness and comeliness? What is (the meaning of) this lean starved body of yours?
If your description of the meadow is not (mere) falsehood and fiction, then why is yours eye not intoxicated
(enraptured) by it?
These greedy looks and this blindness are the result of your beggarliness, not of (spiritual) sovereignty.
Since you have come from the fountain, how art you dry (thirsty)? And if you art (fragrant like) the gland of the musk-deer, where is the fragrance of musk?
How is there no trace in you of that which you sayest and describest, O exalted one?”

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