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(Masnavi Book 3: 01) Proem


 1. O Light of the Truth, Husámu’ddín, bring (into verse and writing) this Third Book, for “three times has become a sunna.
Open the treasury of mysteries; in respect of the Third Book leave excuses alone.
Thy power flows from the power of God, not from the veins which throb because of (bodily)
This lamp, the sun, which is bright—it is not (made bright) by means of wick and cotton and oil.

5. The vault of heaven, which is so enduring, is not supported by any tent-rope or pillar.
The power of Gabriel was not from the kitchen; it was from beholding the Creator of existence. Likewise, know this power of the Abdál of God to be (derived) from God, not from viands and from trays (of food).
Their bodies too have been moulded of the Light, so that they have transcended the Spirit and the Angel.
Inasmuch as you art endowed with the qualities of the Almighty, pass beyond the fire of the maladies (of the sensual self), like Khalíl.

10. To you also the fire will become coolness and safety, O you to whose complexion
(constitution) the elements are slaves.
The elements are the substance of every complexion, but this complexion of yours is superior to every grade.
This complexion of yours is of the simple (uncompounded) world; it has now gathered up
(amassed and absorbed) the attributes of Unity.
Oh, alas, the area of the people's understandings is exceeding narrow: the people have no throat.
O Light of the Truth, through the keenness of your perception your sweetmeat bestows a throat
(even) on (one dull as) stone.

15. Mount Sinai in the (Divine) epiphany gained a throat, so that it quaffed the wine; but it could not bear the wine.
Thereby the mountain was shattered and cloven asunder: have ye seen a mountain amble like a camel?
Bestowal of mouthfuls comes (to pass) from every clustered fruit-tree (well-to do person), (but)
bestowal of a throat is the work of God alone.
He bestows a throat on the body and on the spirit; He bestows a separate throat for every part of you.
This He bestows at the time when you become Majestical and become void of vanity and deceit,

20. So that you will not tell the King's secret to any one nor pour out sugar before flies.
The secrets of the (Divine) Majesty are drunk in by the ear of that one who, like the lily, has a hundred tongues and is dumb.
The grace of God bestows a throat on the earth, to the end that it may drink water and make a
hundred herbs to grow.
Again, He bestows on the creature of earth (the animal) a throat and lip, in order that it may eat its (the earth's) herbage in desire.

When the animal has eaten its herbage, it becomes fat: the animal becomes a mouthful for Man and goes (disappears).

25. In turn it becomes earth and becomes a devourer of Man, when the spirit and the sight are separated from Man.
I beheld the atoms (of created existence) with their mouths all open: if I should tell of their food,
it (the tale) would become long.
Provisions have (their) provision from His bounty; His universal grace is the nourisher of them that nourish.
He bestoweth gifts (of sustenance) on the gifts (which sustain life), for how should wheat spring forth without (receiving) any sustenance?
There is no end to the explanation of this matter. I have told a portion: you may know the
(remaining) portions (by analogy).

30. Know that all the world is eating and eaten; know that those who have everlasting life (in
God) are fortunate and accepted.
This world and its inhabitants are (in the end) dispersed; that (other) world and its travellers are continuing (for ever).
This world and its lovers are cut off; the people of that (other) world are eternalised and united.
The (truly) noble, then, is he that gives to himself the Water of Life that remains unto everlasting.
The noble one is (the very essence of) the good works which endure: he has been freed from a hundred banes and perils and fears.

35. If they (the noble) are thousands (externally), there is no more than one (in reality): it is not like the fancies of him that thinks of number.
(Both) the eater and the eaten have a throat and windpipe: (both) the victor and the vanquished have understanding and mental perception.
He (God) bestowed a throat on the rod of justice, (so that) it devoured all those many rods and ropes;
And in it was no increase from all that eating, because its eating and its form were not animal. To Faith also He gave a throat like (that of) the rod, so that it devoured every vain fancy that was born.

40. Hence the spiritual and intelligible things, like the concrete (sensible) things, have throats, and the giver of food to the throat of the spiritual and intelligible things is also (none but) God. Therefore from the Moon to the Fish there is nothing in creation that has not a throat in respect of its drawing sustenance (from God).
(When) the spirit's throat is emptied of thought for the body, then its apportioned sustenance becomes Majestical.
Know that the necessary condition (for gaining this sustenance) is the transformation of the
(sensual) nature, for the death of evil men is (arises) from (their) evil nature.
When it has become natural to a human being to eat clay, he grows pale and ill-complexioned and sickly and miserable;

45. (But) when his ugly nature has been transformed, the ugliness departs from his face, and he shines like a candle.
Where is a nurse for the suckling babe?—that with kindness she may sweeten the inner part of its mouth,
And, though she bar its way to her teat, may open up for it the way to a hundred gardens (of
Because the teat has become to that feeble (infant) a barrier (separating it) from thousands of pleasures and dishes (of food) and loaves (of bread).

Our life, then, depends on weaning. Endeavour (to wean yourself) little by little. The discourse is
(now) complete.

50. When man was an embryo his nourishment was blood: in like fashion the true believer draws purity from filth.
Through (his) being weaned from blood, his nourishment became milk; and through (his) being
weaned from milk, he became a taker of (solid) food.
And through (his) being weaned from food he becomes (a sage) like Luqmán; he becomes a seeker (hunter) of the hidden game.
If any one were to say to the embryo in the womb, Outside is a world exceedingly well-ordered, A pleasant earth, broad and long, wherein are a hundred delights and so many things to eat,

55. Mountains and seas and plains, fragrant orchards, gardens and sown fields, A sky very lofty and full of light, sun and moonbeams and a hundred stars.
From the south-wind and from the north-wind and from the west-wind the gardens have (the appearance of) wedding-feasts and banquets.
Its marvels come not into (are beyond) description: why art you in tribulation in this darkness? (Why) do you drink blood on the gibbet of this narrow place (the womb) in the midst of confinement and filth and pain?

60. It (the embryo), in virtue of its present state, would be incredulous, and would turn away from this message and would disbelieve it,
Saying, This is absurd and is a deceit and delusion, because the judgement of the blind has no
Inasmuch as its (the embryo's) perception has not seen anything of the kind, its incredulous perception would not listen (to the truth);
Just as in this world the Abdál speak of that (other) world to the common folk,
Saying, This world is an exceeding dark and narrow pit; outside is a world without scent or colour”:

65. Naught (of their words) entered into the ear of a single one of them, for this (sensual)
desire is a barrier huge and stout.
Desire closes the ear (and hinders it) from hearing; self-interest closes the eye (and hinders it)
from beholding,
Even as, in the case of the embryo, desire for the blood which is its nourishment in the low abodes
Debarred it from (hearkening to) the news of this world: it knows no breakfast but blood.

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