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(Masnavi Book 1: 12) The Fall of Adam

The story of Adam, on whom be peace, and how the Divine destiny sealed up his sight so that he failed to observe the plain meaning of the prohibition and to refrain from interpreting it.

The father of mankind, who is the lord of He (God) taught (Adam) the Names, hath hundreds of thousands of sciences in every vein.

1235. To his soul accrued (knowledge of) the name of every thing, even as that thing exists (in its real nature) unto the end (of the world).
No title that he gave became changed: that one whom he called ‘brisk’ did not become ‘lazy.’
Whoso is (to be) a believer at the last, he saw at the first; whoso is (to be) an infidel at the last, to him it became manifest.
Do thou hear the name of every thing from the knower: hear the inmost meaning of the mystery of He taught the Names.
With us, the name of every thing is its outward (appearance); with the Creator, the name of every thing is its inward (reality).

1240. In the eyes of Moses the name of his rod was ‘staff’; in the eyes of the Creator its name was ‘dragon.’
Here the name of ‘Umar was ‘idolater,’ but in Alast. his name was ‘believer.’
That of which the name, with us, was ‘seed’ was, in the sight of God, thou who art at this moment beside me.
This ‘seed’ was a form (idea) in non-existence (potentiality), existent with God, neither more nor less (than the form in which it appeared externally).
In brief, that which is our end is really our name with God.

1245. He bestows on a man a name according to his final state, not according to that (state) to which He gives the name of ‘a loan.’
Inasmuch as the eye of Adam saw by means of the Pure Light, the soul and inmost sense of the names became evident to him.
Since the angels perceived in him the rays of God, they fell in worship and hastened to do homage.
The Adam like this whose name I am celebrating, if I praise (him) till the Resurrection, I fall short (of what is due).
All this he knew; (yet) when the Divine destiny came, he was at fault in the knowledge of a single prohibition,

1250. Wondering whether the prohibition was for the purpose of making unlawful (the thing prohibited), or whether it admitted of an interpretation and was a cause of perplexity.
When (the view that it admitted of) interpretation prevailed in his mind, his nature hastened in bewilderment towards the wheat.
When the thorn went into the foot of the gardener (Adam), the thief (Satan) found an opportunity and quickly carried off the goods.
As soon as he escaped from bewilderment, he returned into the (right) road; (then) he saw that the thief had carried off the wares from the shop.
He cried, ‘O Lord, we have done wrong,’ and ‘Alas,’ that is to say, ‘darkness came and the way was lost.’

1255. This Divine destiny is a cloud that covers the sun: thereby lions and dragons become as mice.
If I (the hoopoe) do not see a snare in the hour of Divine ordainment, ’tis not I alone who am ignorant in the course of Divine ordainment.”
Oh, happy he that clave to righteousness, he (that) let (his own) strength go and took to supplication!
If the Divine destiny shrouds thee in black like night, yet the Divine destiny will take thy hand (and guide thee) at the last.
If the Divine destiny a hundred times attempts thy life, yet the Divine destiny gives thee life and heals thee.

1260. This Divine destiny, if a hundred times it waylays thee, (nevertheless) pitches thy tent on the top of Heaven.
Know that this is from the loving kindness (of God), that He terrifies thee in order that He may establish thee in the kingdom of security.
This subject hath no end. ’Tis late. Hearken (now) to the story of the hare and the lion.
How the hare drew back from the lion when he approached the well.
When the lion came near the well, he saw that the hare lagged on the way and stepped back.
He said, “Why have you stepped back? Do not step back, come on!”

1265. The hare said, “Where is my (power to move a) foot? for (both) hand and foot are gone. My soul trembles and my heart (courage) has fled.
Seest thou not the colour of my face (pale) as gold? My colour indeed is giving knowledge of my inward state.
Since God has called the (external) sign (aspect) informative, the eye of the gnostic has remained turned towards the sign.
Colour and scent are significant like a bell: the neigh of a horse makes (one) acquainted with the horse.
The sound made by any thing conveys knowledge of it, so that you may distinguish the bray of an ass from the creak of a door.

1270. Touching the discrimination of persons (one from another), the Prophet said, ‘A man is hidden when his tongue is folded up.’
The colour of the face indicates the state of the heart: have pity on me, implant love of me in thy heart.
A red complexion has the sound of (declares and expresses) thankfulness (satisfaction); the sound (signification) of a pale complexion is patience and unthankfulness.
There has come upon me that which took away hand and foot, took away colour of face and strength and (every outward) mark;
That which shatters every thing it comes upon, tears up every tree from root and bottom;

1275. There has come upon me that by which man and animal, mineral and plant have been checkmated.
These indeed are (only) parts, (but) wholes (too) are by him (Doom) made yellow in hue and corrupt in odour,
So that the world is now patient, now thankful; the garden now puts on a robe (of verdure) and again is bare.
The sun, which rises fire-coloured, at another hour sinks headlong.
Stars shining in the four quarters (of the sky) are, from time to time, afflicted with (consumed by) burning.

1280. The moon, which excels the stars in beauty, becomes like a phantom from the malady of a hectic fever.
This earth, quiet and controlled, is thrown by earthquakes into feverish tremors.
Oh, from this inherited woe many a mountain in the world has become tiny fragments and (grains of) sand.
This air is conjoined with the (vital) spirit, (but) when the Divine destiny comes, it turns foul and stinking.
The sweet water that was a sister (congenial) to the spirit, (after standing) in a pool, became yellow and bitter and turbid.

1285. The fire that has wind in its moustache—a single puff of wind calls death upon it.
The state of the sea (is such that) from its agitation and commotion (you may) perceive the changes of its mind.
The whirling heaven, which is (ever engaged) in seeking and searching—its state is like the state of its children;
Now nadir, now middle, now zenith: therein are host on host of stars fortunate and unlucky.
From thyself, O part made up of wholes, apprehend the state of every simple (uncompounded) thing.

1290. Inasmuch as wholes suffer grief and pain, how should their part not be pale-faced (sick and subject to decay)?
Especially a part which is composed of contraries—of water and earth and fire and air.
It is no wonder that the sheep recoiled from the wolf; the wonder is that this sheep set its heart on (became friendly with) the wolf.
Life is the peace (harmony) of contraries; death is the fact that war arose between them.
The grace of God has given amity to this lion and wild-ass— these two far distant contraries.

1295. Since the world is sick and a prisoner, what wonder if the sick one is passing
From this point of view he (the hare) recited counsels to the lion. “I have lagged behind,” said he, “because of these bonds.”
How the lion asked the reason of the hare's drawing back.
The lion said to him, “Amongst (all) the causes of your malady tell (me) the special cause, for this is my object.”
“That lion,” he said, “lives in this well: within this fortress he is safe from harms.”
Every one who is wise chose the bottom of the well (to live in), because spiritual joys are (to be attained only) in solitude.

1300. The darkness of the well is better than the dark shades of the world: he that followed at the heels of the world never saved his head.
“Come on,” said the lion; “my blow subdues him: see thou whether that lion is in the well at present.”
The hare answered, “I am consumed with (dread of) that fieriness (wrath): perhaps thou wilt take me beside thee,
That with thy support, O mine of generosity, I may open my eyes and look into the well.”
How the lion looked into the well and saw the reflexion of himself and the hare in the
When the lion took him to his side, under the lion's protection he began to run towards the well.

1305. As soon as they looked at the water in the well, there shone forth in the water the light (reflected) from the lion and him (the hare).
The lion saw his own reflexion: from the water shone the image of a lion with a plump hare at his side.
When he beheld his adversary in the water, he left him (the hare) and sprang into the well.
He fell into the well which he had dug, because his iniquity was coming (back) on his own head.
The iniquity of evil-doers became (for them) a dark well: so have said all the wise.

1310. The more iniquitous one is, the more frightful is his well: (Divine) Justice has ordained worse (punishment) for worse (sin).
O you who from iniquity are digging a well (for others), you are making a snare for yourself.
Do not weave (a cocoon) round yourself, like the silkworm. You are digging a well for yourself (to fall in): dig with moderation (not too deep).
Deem not the weak to be without a champion: recite from the Qur’án (the words), When the help of God shall come.
If you are an elephant and your foe fled from you, lo, the retribution came upon you, birds in flocks.

1315. If any poor man on the earth beg for mercy, a loud tumult falls on (arises among) the Host of Heaven.
If you bite him with your teeth and make him bleed, toothache will attack you—how will you do (then)?
The lion saw himself in the well, and in his fury he did not know himself at that moment from the enemy.
He regarded his own reflexion as his enemy: necessarily he drew a sword against himself.
Oh, many an iniquity that you see in others is your own nature (reflected) in them, O reader!

1320. In them shone forth all that you are in your hypocrisy and iniquity and insolence.
You are that (evil-doer), and you are striking those blows at yourself: ’tis yourself you are cursing at that moment.
You do not see clearly the evil in yourself, else you would hate yourself with (all) your soul.
You are assaulting yourself, O simpleton, like the lion who made a rush at himself.
When you reach the bottom of your own nature, then you will know that that vileness was from yourself.

1325. At the bottom (of the well) it became manifest to the lion that he who seemed to him to be another was (really) his own image.
Whoever tears out the teeth of a poor wretch is doing what the falsely-seeing lion did.
O you who see the bad reflexion on the face of your uncle, it is not your uncle that is bad, it is you: do not run away from yourself!
The Faithful are mirrors to one another: this saying is related from the Prophet.
You held a blue glass before your eye: for that reason the world seemed to you to be blue.

1330. Unless you are blind, know that this blueness comes from yourself: speak ill of yourself, speak no more ill of any one (else).
If the true believer was not seeing by the Light of God, how did things unseen appear naked (plainly revealed) to the true believer?
Inasmuch as you were seeing by the Fire of God, you did not discern the difference between good and evil.
Little by little throw water on the fire, that your fire may become light, O man of sorrow!
Throw Thou, O Lord, the purifying water, that this world-fire may become wholly light.

1335. All the water of the sea is under Thy command; water and fire, O Lord, are Thine.
If Thou willest, fire becomes sweet water; and if Thou willest not, even water becomes fire.
This search (aspiration) in us is also brought into existence by Thee; deliverance from iniquity is Thy gift, O Lord.
Without (our) seeking Thou hast given us this search, Thou hast given (us) gifts without number and (without) end.
How the hare brought to the beasts of chase the news that the lion had fallen into the
When the hare was gladdened by deliverance (from the lion), he began to run towards the beasts until (he came to) the desert.

1340. Having seen the lion miserably slain in the well, he was skipping joyously all the way to the meadow,
Clapping his hands because he had escaped from the hand of Death; fresh and dancing in the air, like bough and leaf.
Bough and leaf were set free from the prison of earth, lifted their heads, and became comrades of the wind;
The leaves, when they had burst (forth from) the bough, made haste to reach the top of the tree;
With the tongue of (seed that put forth) its sprouts each fruit and tree severally is singing thanks to God,

1345. Saying, “The Bounteous Giver nourished our root until the tree grew big and stood upright.”
(Even so) the spirits bound in clay, when they escape glad at heart from their (prisons of) clay,
Begin to dance in the air of Divine Love and become flawless like the full moon's orb,
Their bodies dancing, and their souls—nay, do not ask (how their souls fare); and those things from which comes the soul's
delight—nay, do not ask (of those things)!
The hare lodged the lion in prison. Shame on a lion who was discomfited by a hare!
1350. He is in such a disgrace, and still—this is a wonder—he would fain be addressed by the title of Fakhr-i Dín.
O thou lion that liest at the bottom of this lonely well, thy hare-like soul (nafs) has shed and drunk thy blood;
Thy hare-soul is feeding in the desert, (whilst) thou art (lying) at the bottom of this well of “How?” and “Why?”
That lion-catcher (the hare) ran towards the beasts, crying, “Rejoice, O people, since the announcer of joy is come.
Glad news! Glad news, O company of merry-makers! That hell-hound has gone back to Hell.

1355. Glad news! Glad news! The enemy of your lives—his teeth have been torn out by the vengeance of his Creator.
He who smote many heads with his claws—him too the broom of Death has swept away like rubbish.”
How the beasts gathered round the hare and spoke in praise of him.
Then all the wild beasts assembled, joyous and laughing gleefully in rapture and excitement.
They formed a ring, he (the hare) in the midst like a candle: all the animals of the desert bowed (in homage) to him.
“Art thou a heavenly angel or a peri? No, thou art the Azrael of fierce lions.

1360. Whatever thou art, our souls are offered in sacrifice to thee. Thou hast prevailed. Health to thy hand and arm!
God turned this water into thy stream. Blessing on thy hand and arm!
Explain how thou didst meditate with guile, and how thou didst guilefully wipe out that ruffian.
Explain, in order that the tale may be the means of curing (our malady); explain, that it may be a salve for our souls.
Explain! for in consequence of the iniquity of that tyrant our souls have myriads of wounds.”

1365. “O Sirs,” said he, “it was (by) God's aid; else, who in the world is a hare (who am I, that I should have been able to do this)?
He (God) bestowed power on me and gave light to my heart: the light in my heart gave strength to hand and foot.”
From God come preferments (to high position), from God also come changes (which bring one to low estate).
God in (due) course and turn is ever displaying this (Divine) aid to doubters and seers (alike).
Take heed! Do not exult in a kingdom bestowed in turns (passing from one to another).
O thou who art the bondsman of Vicissitude, do not act as though thou wert free!

1370. (But) those for whom is prepared a kingdom beyond Vicissitude, for them the drums (of sovereignty) are beaten beyond the Seven Planets.
Beyond Vicissitude are the kings everlasting: their spirits are circling with the Cupbearer perpetually.
If thou wilt renounce this drinking (of worldly pleasures) for a day or two (for thy brief lifetime), thou wilt dip thy mouth in the drink of Paradise.

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