Search Poetry

(Masnavi Book 2: 42) The true believer’s stray camel

Story of the person who was seeking after his stray camel and inquiring about it.

(If) you have lost a camel and sought it busily, how should you not know,when you find it, that it is yours? What is the stray? You have lost a she-camel: (she has) fled from your herd into a veil (of concealment).
The caravaneers have begun to load, (but) your camel is lost (and has disappeared) from the midst (of the caravan).

You are running to and fro with parched lips; the caravan is (now) far away, and night is near.

2915. Your baggage is left on the ground, (lying) on the road of peril, (whilst) you are running about in search of the camel, Crying, “O Moslems, who has seen a camel which this morning escaped from a stable?
Whoever will tell (me) a clue to my camel, I will give so many dirhems as a reward (for the information).” You are requesting clues from every one: every rascal is making a mock of you on this account,

Saying, We saw a camel going in this direction, a reddish camel (going) towards yonder pasturage.”

2920. One (of them) says, It was crop-eared,” and another says, Its saddlecloth was embroidered.”

One says, “The camel had (only) one eye, and another says, It (was suffering) from mange (and) had no hair.” For the sake of the reward every rascal, (speaking) at random, sets forth a hundred clues.

On being perplexed amidst discordant doctrines and finding (a means of) escape and deliverance.

(This is) even as in the matter of knowledge (of God) every one describes (differently) the Unseen Object of description. The philosopher gives an explanation of another (a particular) kind; a scholastic theologian invalidates his statement;

2925. And some one else jeers at both of them, while another hypocritically tires himself to death (trying to prove that he has real knowledge of God).
Each one (of them) gives these indications of the Way, in order that it may be supposed that they belong to that Village. Know the truth to be this, (that) all these (various persons) are not in the right; nor (again) are this herd entirely astray, Because nothing false is shown without the True: the fool bought (desired) spurious coin in the hope of (its being) gold. If there were no current (genuine) coin in the world, how would it be possible to issue false coins?

2930. Unless there be truth, how should there be falsehood? That falsehood receives brilliance (prestige and reputation)
from truth.

They buy (desire) the wrong in hope of (its being) the right: (if) poison go into a piece of sugar, then (and then only) they eat

If there be no savoury wheat, what shall he get who sells barley, pretending that it is wheat?

Do not say, then, that all these utterances are false: the false (pretenders) are a snare to the heart on the ground of (because they give) hope of truth.

Do not say, then, that all (this) is phantasy and error: without truth phantasy exists not in the world.

2935. Truth is the Night of Power (which is) hidden amidst the (other) nights in order that the soul may make trial of every night.

Not all nights are (the Night of) Power, O youth, nor are all nights void of that (Night).

Amongst the wearers of the dervish-cloak there is one (true) dervish: make trial, and accept him that is true. Where is the sagacious and discerning believer, that he may distinguish effeminate wretches from men?
If there be no faulty things in the world, all fools would be (shrewd) merchants.

2940. Then it would be very easy to know (the value of) goods: when there is no defect, what (is the difference between) the incompetent and the competent (appraiser)?

And if everything is faulty, knowledge is of no advantage: since everything here is (common) wood, aloes-wood is not (to be found).

He that says, “All are true”—it is folly (on his part); and he that says, “All are false”—he is damned.

Those who trade with the prophets have gained (thereby); those who trade with colour and scent (worldly vanities) are blind and blue (miserable).

The snake (már) appears in the eye as riches (mál): rub both your eyes well!

2945. Do not consider the happiness of this (worldly) traffic and profit: consider the perdition of Pharaoh and Thamúd.

On making trial of everything, so that the good and evil which are in it may be brought to view.

The sky, which is beautiful and glorious—God saith, Then turn your gaze again (towards it).

As regards this roof of light, be not content with one look: look (many) times, see, Are there any flaws?

Since He has told you to look ofttimes at this goodly roof, as a man seeking faults,

You may know, then, how much seeing and discerning the dark earth needs, to gain approval.

2950. In order that we may strain the pure (folk) from the dregs, how much tribulation must our minds endure! The trials of winter and autumn, the heat of summer, spring like the spirit (of life),
Winds and clouds and lightnings(all these are to the end) that (such) happenings may bring distinctions into view; (To the end) that dust-coloured (dusky) earth may bring forth all that it holds in its bosom, (whether) ruby or stone.
Whatsoever this dark earth has stolen from the Treasury of God and the Sea of Bounty

2955. Providence, the (Divine) governor, says, “Tell the truth! Declare what you have carried off, hair by hair.” The thief, that is, the earth, says, “Nothing, nothing!” The Governor (then) puts it to the torture.
Sometimes the Governor speaks to it with kindness (sweet) as sugar; sometimes he hangs it up (in the air), and does his worst, In order that, between force and favour, those concealed things may be brought to sight through the fire of fear and hope.
Spring is the kindness of the Almighty Governor, and Autumn is God's intimidation and menace,

2960. And Winter is the allegorical crucifixion, to the end that thou, O hidden thief, mayst be exposed.

Then (again), he that wages the (spiritual) warfare has at one time (joyous) expansion of heart, at another time (grievous)
oppression and pain and torment,

Because this water and clay, which is (the stuff of) our bodies, is the denier (enemy) and thief of the light of (our) souls. The High God lays upon our body, O man of fortitude, heat and cold and grief and pain,
Fear and hunger and impairment of wealth and bodyall for the sake of the soul's coin being brought into sight (and use).

2965. These threats and promises He has sent forth on account of this good and evil which He has mingled. Inasmuch as truth and falsehood have been mingled, and the good and bad coin have been poured into the travelling-bag, Therefore they need a picked touchstone, one that has undergone (many) tests in (assaying) realities,
So that it may become a criterion for these impostures; so that it may be a standard for these acts of providence.

Give him milk, O mother of Moses, and cast him into the water: be not afraid of (putting him to) the trial.

2970. Whoever drank that milk on the Day of Alast distinguishes the milk (in this world), even as Moses (distinguished and knew his mother's milk).

If you wishest fondly for your child's discrimination (and recognition), suckle (him) now, O mother of Moses,

That he may know the taste of his mother's milk, and that his head may not sink to (desire and accept the milk of) a bad nurse.

Explaining the moral of the story of the person seeking (the lost) camel.

You have lost a camel, O trusty (friend), and every one is giving you a clue to the camel.

You know not where the camel is, but you know that these clues are wrong.

2975. And he that has not lost a camel—he (too) in contention seeks a camel, just like him who has (really) lost it, Saying, “Yes; I too have lost a camel: I have brought a reward for any one who may find it.”
(He says this) that he may take a partner's share with you in the camel: he plays this trick because of coveting the camel. If you say to any one, “That clue was false,” he (the pretender), in imitation of you, says the same.
He does not know wrong clues from right, but your words are a cue to that imitator.

2980. When they mention right and likely clues, then comes to you the certainty in which there is no doubt.

That (clue) becomes balm to your sick soul; it becomes (brings) colour to your face and health and strength to you.
Your eye becomes bright, your foot nimble; your body becomes (the vital) soul, and your (vital) soul (the rational) spirit. Then you will say, “O trusted (friend), you have spoken the truth: these clues are a clear deliverance (communication and

Therein are (manifest) signs, sure informations, (distinct) evidences: this is a title-deed and an ordainment of salvation.”

2985. When he has given this clue, you will say, “Go before (me)! It is time for (setting out on) the enterprise: be you the leader!

I will follow you, O truth-teller: you have got scent of my camel: show (me) where (it is).”

(But) to that person who is not the owner of a camel, and who is (engaged) in this quest of the camel for contention's sake— His certainty is not increased by this right clue, save through reflexion from the true camel-seeker.
From his (the latter's) earnestness and ardour he (the imitator) gets a scent (inkling) that these wild outcries of his are not
(mere) babble.

2990. He (the imitator) had no just claim to this camel, but he too has lost a camel; yes, (he has). Desire for another's camel has become a veil to him, (so that) he has forgotten what he (himself) has lost.
Wherever he (the owner) runs, this one (the imitator) runs: from cupidity, he becomes a partner in the owner's pain. When a liar sets out (to journey) with a truthful man, his falsehood turns to truth of a sudden.
In the desert whither that camel had hasened, the other one (the imitator) also found his own camel.

2995. As soon as he saw it, he remembered his own, and ceased to covet the camels of friend and kinsman. That imitator became a true searcher when he saw his camel browsing there.
(Only) at that moment did he become a seeker of the camel: he was never (truly) seeking it till he saw it in the desert. After that, he began to go alone: he opened his eyes (and went) towards his own camel.
The sincere one said, “You have left me, (although) till now you were paying regard to me.”

3000. He replied, “Hitherto I have been an idle scoffer and, from cupidity, have been (engaged) in flattering (you);

(But) now, when corporeally I have become parted from you in the search, I have become sympathetic with you (in spirit). I was stealing the camel's description from you; (but when) my spirit saw its own camel, it had its eye filled (with seeing). Till I found it, I was not seeking it; now the copper is overcome, the gold overpowers it.
My evil deeds have become pious acts entirelythanks (to God)! Jest is vanished and earnest is realised—thanks (to God)!

3005. Since my evil deeds have become the means of (my) attaining unto God, do not, then, throw any blame on my evil deeds.

You your sincerity had made a seeker; for me, toil and search opened (the way to) a sincere feeling. your sincerity led you to seek; my seeking led me to a feeling of sincerity.
I was sowing the seed of fortune in the earth, (though) I fancied it was labour without wages and hire.

It was not labour without hire; it was an excellent earning: (for) every grain that I sowed, a hundred grew.

3010. The thief went underhand (by stealth) to a certain house: when he entered, he saw that it was his own house.” Be hot, O cold one, that heat may come: put up with roughness, that ease may come.
That (subject of my discourse) is not two camels; it is a single camel. Verbal expression is confined, the meaning (to be expressed) is very full.
The expression always fails to reach the meaning; hence the Prophet said, “(Whoso knows God), his tongue falters.” Speech is (like) an astrolabe in (its) reckoning: how much does it know of the sky and the sun?

3015. Especially, of that Sky whereof this heaven is (no more than) a blade of straw; (that Sky) of whose Sun the (terrestrial) sun is (but) a mote?

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