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(Masnavi Book 1: 51) The wolf and the fox who went to hunt with the Lion

How the wolf and fox went to hunt in attendance on the lion.

A lion, wolf, and fox had gone to hunt in the mountains in quest (of food),

That by supporting each other they might tie fast the bonds and fetters (of captivity) on the hunted animals,

3015. And all three together might seize much and great quarry in that deep wilderness.

Although the fierce lion was ashamed of them (the wolf and fox), yet he did them honour and gave them his company on the way.

To a king like this the (escort of) soldiers are an annoyance, but he accompanied them: a united party is a mercy (from God). A moon like this is disgraced by the stars: it is amongst the stars for generosity's sake.
The (Divine) command, Consult them, came to the Prophet, though no counsel is to be compared with his own.

3020. In the scales barley has become the companion of gold, (but that is) not because barley has become a substance like gold.

The spirit has now become the body's fellow-traveller: the dog has become for a time the guardian of the palace-gate. When this party (the wolf and fox) went to the mountains at the stirrup (side) of the lion majestic and grand,
They found a mountain-ox and goat and fat hare, and their business went forward (prosperously).

Whoever is on the heels of him that is a lion in combat, roast-meat does not fail him by day or by night.

3025. When they brought them (the animals which they had caught) from the mountains to the jungle, killed and wounded and dragging along in (streams of) blood,

The wolf and fox hoped that a division (of the prey) would be made according to the justice of emperors.

The reflexion of the hope of both of them struck the lion: the lion knew (what was) the ground for those hopes. Any one that is the lion and prince of (spiritual) mysteries, he will know all that the conscience thinks.
Beware! Guard yourself, O heart disposed to thinking, from any evil thought in his presence.

3030. He knows and keeps riding on silently: he smiles in your face in order to mask (his feelings).

When the lion perceived their bad ideas, he did not declare (his knowledge), and paid (courteous) regard (to them) at the time, But he said to himself, I will show you what (chastisement) ye deserve, O beggarly villains!
Was my judgement not enough for you? Is this your opinion of my bounty,

O ye whose understanding and judgement are (derived) from my judgement and from my world-adorning gifts?

3035. What else (but good) should the picture think of the painter, since he bestowed thought and knowledge upon it? Had ye such a vile opinion of me, O ye who are a scandal to the world?
I will strike off the hypocritical heads of them that think ill of God.
I will deliver the Sphere (of Time) from your disgrace, so that this tale shall remain in the world (as a warning).While thus meditating, the lion continued to smile visibly: do not trust the smiles of the lion!

3040. Worldly wealth is (like) the smiles of God: it has made us drunken and vainglorious and threadbare (deprived of the means of salvation).

Poverty and distress are better for you, O lord, for (then) that smile will remove its lure.

How the lion made trial of the wolf and said, “Come forward, O wolf, and divide the prey amongst us.”

The lion said, “O wolf, divide this (prey): O old wolf, make justice new (give it new life by your example). Be my deputy in the office of distributor, that it may be seen of what substance you art.”
O King,” said he, “the wild ox is your share: he is big, and you art big and strong and active.

3045. The goat is mine, for the goat is middle and intermediate; do thou, O fox, receive the hare, and no mistake!” The lion said, “O wolf, how have you spoken? Say! When I am here, do you speak of I’ and ‘thou’?
Truly, what a cur the wolf must be, that he regarded himself in the presence of a lion like me who am peerless and unrivalled!”

(Then) he said, “Come forward, O you self-esteeming ass!” He approached him, the lion seized him with his claws and rent him.

Inasmuch as he (the lion) did not see in him the kernel of right conduct, he tore the skin off his head as a punishment.

3050. He said, Since the sight of me did not transport you out of yourself, a spirit like this (yours) must needs die miserably. Since you wert not passing away (from yourself) in my presence, it was an act of grace to smite your neck (behead you).” Everything is perishing except His face: unless you art in His face (essence), do not seek to exist.
When any one has passed away (from himself) in my face (essence), (the words) everything is perishing are not applicable (to him),

Because he is in except, he has transcended not (nonentity): whosoever is in except has not passed away (perished).

3055. Whosoever is uttering I and ‘we’ at the door (of the Divine Court), he is turned back from the door and is continuing in not (nonentity).

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