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(Masnavi Book 3: 31) The Teacher who fancied he was ill

How the teacher was made ill by imagination.

The master became unnerved by imagination and dread; he sprang up and began to drag his cloak along,
Angry with his wife and saying, Her love is weak: I am in this state (of health), and she did not
ask and inquire.
She did not even inform me about my colour: she intends to be freed from my disgrace.

1565. She has become intoxicated with her beauty and the display (of her charms) and is unaware that I have fallen from the roof, like a bowl.”
He came (home) and fiercely opened the door—the boys (were following) at the master's heels. His wife said, “Is it well (with thee)? How have you come (so) soon? May no evil happen to
your goodly person!
He said, “Are you blind? Look at my colour and appearance: (even) strangers are lamenting my affliction,
(While) you, at home, from hatred and hypocrisy do not see the state of anguish I am in.

1570. His wife said,O sir, there is nothing wrong with you: it is (only) your vain unreal imagination and opinion.”
He said to her, O strumpet, are you still obstinately disputing (with me)? Don't you see this change (in my appearance) and (this) tremor?

If you have become blind and deaf, what fault of mine is it? I am in this (state of) pain and grief and woe.”
She said, O sir, I will bring the mirror, in order that you mayst know that I am innocent.” “Begone, said he; may neither you nor your mirror be saved! You are always (engaged) in hatred and malice and sin.

1575 Lay my bed at once, that I may lie down, for my head is sore.
The wife lingered; the man shouted at her, saying, “O hateful one, (be) quicker! This (behaviour)
is worthy of you.

How the master went to bed and moaned, imagining himself to be ill.

The old woman brought the bed-clothes and spread them. She said,There is no possibility (of speaking), and my heart is filled with burning (grief).
If I speak, he will hold me suspect; and if I say nothing, this affair will become serious.” A man who has not suffered any pain is made ill by a bad omen.

1580. It is obligatory to accept the saying of the Prophet, If ye pretend to be sick beside me, ye will become (actually) sick.”
If I tell him (that he is not ill), he will cast up (conceive) a vain fancy (and will think to himself),
‘My wife has an (evil) design, for she is making arrangements to be alone.
She is getting me out of the house, she is plotting and cajoling for the purpose of some wickedness.’”
She prepared his bed, and the master fell down (upon it): sighs and moans were arising from him.
The boys sat there, reciting their lesson with a hundred sorrows in secret,

1585. Thinking, “We have done all this and (still) we are prisoners: it was a bad building (a badly devised plan), and we are bad builders.”

How for the second time the boys made the master imagine (that he was ill), saying that their recitation of the Qur’án would increase his headache.

The clever boy said, O good fellows, recite the lesson and make your voices loud.”
When they were reciting (loudly), he said, “Boys, the noise we are making will do the master harm.
The master's headache will be increased by the noise: is it worth while that he should suffer pain for the sake of (a few) pence?”
The master said, He is speaking the truth: depart. My headache is worse: go out (of the house)!”

How the boys escaped from school by this trick.

1590. They bowed and said,O honoured sir, may illness and danger be far from you!” Then they bounded off to their homes, like birds in desire of grain.
Their mothers became angry with them and said,A school-day and you at play!”
They offered excuses (every one of them), saying, “Stop, mother! This sin does not proceed from us and is not caused by our fault.
By the destiny of Heaven our master has become ill and sick and afflicted.”

1595. The mothers said,It is a trick and a lie: ye bring forward a hundred lies because of your greed for buttermilk.

In the morning we will come to (visit) the master, that we may see (what is at) the bottom of this trick of yours.”
“Go in God's name, said the boys; “inform yourselves as to our lying or telling the truth.”

How the mothers of the boys went to visit the sick master.

At morning those mothers came; (they found) the master in bed like one who is gravely ill, Perspiring on account of the great number of coverlets, his head bandaged and his face enveloped in the quilt.

1600. He was moaning softly: they too all began to cry Lá hawl.”
They said, “Master, we hope all will be well. This headache by your soul, we were not aware of it.”
He replied,I also was not aware of it; the whoresons (the scoundrelly boys) made me aware (of
it), mark you.
I did not notice (it), through being busy with discourse (teaching), (but) within (me) there was such a severe malady.”
When a man is busy in earnest, he is blind to the sight of (unconscious of) his pain.

1605. It has become an oft-told tale concerning the women of Joseph's Egypt that consciousness departed from them on account of their pre-occupation (with the beauty of Joseph).
(Hence) they cut their fore-arms to pieces: (in such a case) the spirit is distraught, so that it
looks neither behind nor before.
Oh, many a brave man in battle whose hand or foot is cut by blows (of the sword), And he bears that same hand into the combat, thinking that it remains firm (intact).
(Afterwards) indeed he will see that his hand has been injured (and that) much blood has gone from him unawares.

Explaining that the body is as a garment to the spirit, and that this (bodily) hand is the sleeve of the spirit's hand, and that this (bodily) foot is the shoe of the spirit's foot.

1610. (I mention this insensibility to pain) that you may know that the body is like a garment. Go, seek the wearer of the garment, do not lick (kiss) a garment.
To the spirit the knowledge of the Unity (of God) is sweeter (than care for the body): it has a
hand and foot different from those which are visible.
You may behold in dream the (spiritual) hand and foot and their connexion (with the spiritual body): deem that (vision) a reality, deem it not to be in vain.
You are such that without the (material) body you have a (spiritual) body: do not, then, dread
the going forth of the soul from the body.

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