Search Poetry

(Masnavi Book 3: 08) How Jesus came forth from his cell and healed the sick

How the smitten would assemble every morning at the door of the (monastic) cell of
Jesus, on whom be peace, craving to be healed through his prayer.

The table of the spiritual is (like) the cell of Jesus: O afflicted one, beware, beware! Do not forsake this door!
From all sides the people would gather—blind and lame and palsied and clothed in rags

300. At the door of the cell of Jesus in the morning, that he by his breath might deliver them from tribulation.
As soon as he finished his litanies, that man of goodly religion (Jesus) would go forth at morning
And would see troops of afflicted feeble folk seated at the door in hope and expectancy. (Then) he would say, O ye that are smitten, the wants of all you here present have been
granted by God.
Hark, set off and go without pain or trouble towards the forgiveness and kindness of God.”

305. All, like tethered camels whose knees you unbind with foresight,
At his prayer would begin to run on their feet, hastening gladly and joyously to their homes. (So too) you have experienced many maladies in yourself, and have gained health from these kings of religion (the saints).
How oft has your limping been turned into a smooth (easy) gait, how oft has your soul been made void of grief and pain!
O heedless one, tie a string to your foot, that you mayst not become lost to (unconscious of)
yourself even, O sluggard!

310. Thy ingratitude and forgetfulness did not call to mind your (former) drinking of honey. Necessarily, that way (by which spiritual blessings were conveyed) became barred to you, since the hearts of the “men of heart were made sore by you.
Quickly overtake them and ask pardon of God; weep lamentably like a cloud,
In order that their rose-garden may open its blossoms to you, and that the ripe fruits may burst and reveal themselves.
Pace round that same door: do not be less than a dog, if you have become (associated as) a
fellow-servant with the dog of the Cave,

315. Because even dogs admonish dogs, saying, “Fix your heart on your first home,
Hold fast to the first door where you didst eat bones, and fulfil your obligation: do not leave that
(debt unpaid).
They keep biting him (the strange dog), that from a sense of duty he may go thither and be prospered by his first abode.
They bite him, saying, O naughty dog, begone! Do not become an enemy to your benefactor. Be attached, like the door-ring, to that same door; keep watch and be nimble and ready to spring.

320. Do not be the type of our breaking faith, do not recklessly make (our) disloyalty notorious.
Since fidelity is the badge by which the dogs are known, begone and do not bring opprobrium and ill-fame upon the dogs.
Inasmuch as unfaithfulness has (always) been a disgrace (even) to dogs, how shouldst you deem it right to show unfaithfulness?
The high God has boasted of faithfulness: He has said, Who but I am most faithful in keeping a promise?
Know that faithfulness (to others when it is accompanied) with rejection of
God is unfaithfulness: no one has precedence over (has a prior claim to) God's rights.

325. Thy mother's right (only) arose after that Bounteous One had made her indebted (to
Him) for your embryo.
He bestowed on you a form within her body, He gave ease to her during pregnancy and accustomed her (to the burden).
She deemed you as a part joined (to herself); His providence separated (from her) that which
was joined.
God has prepared thousands of artifices and contrivances, so that your mother has thrown (her)
love upon you.
Therefore God's right is prior to (that of) the mother: whoever does not recognize that right is an ass.

330. (If you deny it), do not even admit that He created mother, teat, and milk, and united her with the father!
O Lord, O You whose beneficence is eternal, Yours is both that which I know and that which I
know not.
You didst command, saying, “Remember God, because My right shall never grow old. Remember the kindness which I did unto you that morn by protecting (you) in the ship (ark) of Noah.
At that time I gave to the stock of your fathers security from the Flood and from its waves.

335. Water, like fire in (its deadly) nature, had covered the earth: its waves were sweeping away the highest peaks of the mountains.
I protected you, I did not spurn you, in the bodies of the ancestors of the ancestors of your ancestors.
Now that you have come to the head, how should I smite the sole of your foot? How should I let
My workshop go to waste?
How are you becoming devoted to the unfaithful and going in that direction from ill thoughts (of
I am clear of negligence and infidelities, (yet) you come to Me and think evil.

340. Think this evil thought against the place where you cringe before one like yourself.

You got many powerful friends and companions: if I ask you, Where (is so and- so)? you will say, He is gone.’
Your good friend is gone up to the highest Heaven, your wicked friend is gone to the bottom of the earth.
You are left in the middle (between them) so helpless (as you are), like a fire (left behind) from a caravan.”
O valiant friend, lay hold of the skirt of Him who is exempt from above and “below.

345. Neither doth He ascend to Heaven, like Jesus, nor go (down) into the earth, like Qárún
He is with you in space and in the spaceless (world) when you leave house and shop behind.
He brings forth purity from defilements, He takes your acts of wrong as faithful performance (of duty).
When you commit wrong, He sends chastisement, to the end that you may go back from
imperfection towards perfection.
When you have neglected a part of your orisons in the Way, there comes over you a painful and hot feeling of contraction.

350. That is the corrective act (of God), meaning, “Do not make any change in the ancient covenant
Before (the day when) this contraction shall become a chain, (and when) this which (now) grips the heart shall become a fetter gripping the foot.”
Your mental pain shall become perceptible to the senses and manifest. See (therefore) that you
do not hold this indication as naught.
The (spiritual) contractions (which occur) in (the case of) sins affect (only) the heart; after death
(these) contractions become (actual) chains.
“Whosoever here (in this world) shall turn his back upon Our commemoration, We shall give him a straitened life (hereafter) and reward him with blindness.”

355. When a thief is carrying off people's property, contraction and straitness of heart prick his heart (conscience),
(And) he says,I wonder what this contraction is”: (say), The contraction (distress) of the injured person who wept at your wickedness.
When he pays no regard to this contraction, the wind of perseverance (in evil) blows (fans) its
(the evil's) fire.
The contraction that grips the heart turns into the grip of the policeman: inevitably those ideas become sensible (materialised) and display themselves.
The pangs have become prison and the cross (crucifixion): the pang is (as) the root, and the root
produces boughs.

360. The root was hidden, it is (now) revealed. Consider (your) inward contraction and expansion as a root.
When it is a bad root, smite it quickly, so that an ugly thorn may not grow in the garden.
You have felt the contraction: seek a remedy for it, because all heads (excrescences) grow from the bottom (root).
You have felt the expansion: water your expansion, and when the fruit appears, give it to your friends.

The remainder of the Story of the people of Saba.

Saba were folk given over to dalliance and foolish; it was their practice to show ingratitude to the generous.

365. By was of illustration, it would be ingratitude to dispute with your benefactor, Saying, O do not want this kindness, I am annoyed by it: why art you troubling (about it)? Do (me) a favour, take away this kindness; I do not desire an eye: blind me at once!”
Hence the people of Saba said, “ (O Lord), put a far distance between us: our blemish is better for us, take away our adornment.
We do not desire these palaces and orchards, nor fair women nor that safety and ease (which we
now enjoy).

370. Towns near to each other are bad; the desert, where the wild beasts are, is good.Man craves winter in summer, and when winter comes, he likes it not,
For he is never content with any state (of things), neither with poverty nor with a life of plenty
May Man be killed! How ungrateful he is! Whenever he obtains guidance, he spurns it.
The carnal soul is of this sort, hence it ought to be killed : that Exalted One has said, “Kill yourselves.”

375. It is a triagonal thorn: however you may place it, it will pierce, and how will you escape from its stab?
Set the thorn on fire with renunciation of sensual passion, and cling to the righteous friend. When the people of Saba carried (their ingratitude) beyond bounds, saying, “In our opinion,
pestilence is better than the zephyr,”
Their counselors began to admonish (them) and restrain (them) from impiety and ingratitude; (But) they sought to take the lives of their counselors, and sowed the seed of impiety and unthankfulness.

380. When the (Divine) decree comes to pass, this (whole) world becomes cramped (so that there is no escape); by the (Divine) decree sweetmeat becomes anguish to the mouth.
He ( the Prophet) said, When the Decree comes, the (widest) expanse is narrow; when the
Decree comes, the eyes are veiled.”
The eye is bandaged at the time if the Decree, so that the eye does not see the eye’s collyrium. When the cunning of that Horseman has raised the dust, the dust keeps you off from calling for
Go towards the Horseman, go not towards the dust; else the cunning of the Rider will beat upon you.

385. God said, “He whom this wolf devoured, he saw the wolf’s dust; how did not he make piteous moan?
Did not he know the wolfs dust? (Then), with such knowledge, why did he graze? Sheep know the smell of the harmful wolf and creep away in every direction.
The brain of animals knows the smell of the lion and bids farewell to grazing.
You have smelt the lion of (God’s) wrath. Turn back! Consort with prayer and dread!

390. That multitude (of Saba) did not turn back from the wolfs dust, and after the dust the wolf of tribulation came on his might.
In wrath he tore to pieces those sheep which shut their eyes to the shepherd, Wisdom. How oft did the shepherd call them! And they came not: they were throwing the dust of resentment in the eyes of the shepherd,
Saying, Begone: we ourselves are better shepherds than thou.
How should we become (your) followers? We are chieftains, every one (of us).
We are food for the wolf, and we are not for the Friend; we are fuel for the Fire, and we are not for dishonour.”

395. A heathen pride was in their brains: the raven croaked disaster over the traces of their habitation.

They were digging a pit for the oppressed they (themselves) fell into the pit, cryingAlas!
They tore the coats of the Josephs (the prophets and saints), and that which they gave they got, piece by piece.
Who is that Joseph? Thy God-seeking heart, bound as a captive in your abode.
You have bound a Gabriel on a pillar, you have wounded his wings and plumes in a hundred places.

400. You settest before him a roasted calf, you fetchest (ground) straw and bringest him to the straw-barn,
Saying, Eat; this is a dainty meal for us, (although) for him there is no food but meeting God face to face.
On account of this torment and tribulation that afflicted (heart) is complaining of you to God,
Crying, O God, deliver (me) from this old wolf! He (God) saith to it, Lo, the hour is (wellnigh)
come: have patience.
I will demand justice for you from every heedless one: who gives justice but God, the Dealer of justice?”

405. It (the heart) says, My patience is lost in separation from Thy face, O Lord.
I am (like) Ahmad ( Mohammad) left forsaken in the hands of the Jews, I am (like) Salih fallen into prison (amongst the people) of Thamud.
O You that bestowed felicity on the souls of the prophets, either slay me or call me back (to
Thee) or come (Thyself).
(Even) the infidels cannot endure to be separated from Thee: he (every infidel) is saying, O
would that I had been dust!
This is the state of him (the infidel) who in sooth belongs to that side (is beyond the pale): how
(then) should one that belongs to you be (patient) without Thee?”

410. God saith, “Yea, O pure (heart); but hearken (unto Me) and have patience, for patience is better.
The dawn is near. Hush, do not wail! I am striving for you, do not you strive.”

The rest of the Story of the Khwajas going to the village on the invitation of the countryman.

It (this digression) has passed beyond bounds: return, O valiant friend. The countryman, mark you, took the Khwaja to his house.
Put aside the story of the people of Saba: tell how the Khwaja came to the village.
The countryman used blandishments in ingratiating himself, until he made the Khwaja’s prudence crazy.

415. He ( the Khwaja) was distracted by message upon message, till the clear water of his prudence became turbid.
On the same side his children in approval (of the country-man’s invitation) were joyously striking
upLet us frolic and play,”
Like Joseph, whom by the wondrous (act of Divine) predestination (the words). Let us frolic and play carried off from his father’s shadow (protection).
That is not (joyful) play; nay, it is play with one’s life, it is cunning and deceit and contrivance of
Whatsoever would fling you asunder from the Friend, do not listen to it, for it holds loss, loss.

420. (Even) if the gain be a hundred hundredfold, do not accept it: do not, for the sake of the gold, break with the Treasurer, O dervish!

Hear how many a rebuke, hot and cold (kindly and severe), God addressed to the Companions of the Prophet,
Because, in a year of distress (famine), at the sound of the drum they (quitted) without tarrying
(and) made void the Friday congregation,
“Lest” (so they said) “others should buy cheap and get the advantage over us in respect of those imported goods.”
The Prophet was left alone in prayer with two or three poor men firm (in their faith) and full of supplication.

425. He (God) said, How did the drum and the pastime and a trading affair sunder you from a man of God?
Ye have dispersed (and run) madly towards the wheat, and left a Prophet standing (in prayer).
On account of the wheat ye sowed the seed of vanity and forsook that Messenger of God. Companionship with him is better that pastime and riches: (look and ) see whom you have forsaken, rub an eye!
Verily, to your greed did not this become certain, that I am the Provider and the best of them
that provide?”

430. He that giveth sustenance from Himself unto the wheat, how should He let your acts of trust (in Him) be wasted?
For the sake of wheat you have become parted from Him who has sent the wheat from Heaven.

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