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(Masnavi Book 3: 33) The far-seeing Goldsmith

How a goldsmith discerned the end of the affair and spoke in accordance with the end to one who wished to borrow his scales.

A certain man came to a goldsmith, saying, “Give me the scales, that I may weigh some gold.”

1625. The master (goldsmith) said, “Go, I have no sieve. “Give me the scales, he replied, “and don't stop to jest like this.”
He said,I have no broom in the shop. “Enough, enough! cried the other; “leave these jokes.
Give (me) the scales which I am asking for; don't make yourself out to be deaf, don't jump in every direction.”
He (the goldsmith) said, I heard what you said, I am not deaf; you must not think that I am nonsensical.
I heard this (request), but you are a shaky old man: your hand is trembling and your body is not erect;

1630. And moreover that gold of yours consists of little tiny filings: your hand trembles, so the fragments of gold will drop (from it);
Then you will say, ‘Sir, fetch a broom, that I may look in the dust for my gold.
When you sweep (with the broom), you will gather dust (along with the gold); you will say to me, I want the sieve, O gallant man.’
I from the beginning discerned the end complete. Go from here to some other place, and farewell!”

The rest of the Story of the ascetic of the mountain who had made a vow that he would not pluck any mountain fruit from the trees or shake the trees or tell any one to shake them, either plainly or in veiled terms, and that he would only eat what the wind might cause to fall from the trees.

On that mountain were trees and fruits; there were many mountain-pears- (they were)

1635. The dervish said, O Lord, I make a covenant with you (that) I will not pluck any of these during the time (of my life).
I will not pluck from the raised-up (lofty) tress (aught) but the fruit that the wind has caused to fall.”

For a while he kept his vow faithfully: (he kept it) till the tribulations of Destiny came on.
On this account He (God) has commanded, saying,Make the exception: attach (the words) ‘if
God will to your promise.
Every instant I give to the heart a different desire, every moment I lay upon the heart a different brand.

1640. At every dawn I have a new employment: nothing turns aside from that (course) which
I have willed.”
It has come down in the Traditions (of the Prophet) that the heart is like a feather in a desert, the captive of a violent blast.
The wind drives the feather recklessly in every direction, now left, now right, with a hundred
In another Tradition (the Prophet said), “Deem this heart to be as water boiling in a cauldron from (the heat of) fire.”
At every time the heart has a different resolution: that (resolution) is not (derived) from it, but from a certain place.

1645.Why, then, will you trust in the hearts resolution and make a covenant, that in the end you should be shamed?
This too is from the effect of the (Divine) ordinance and decree, (that) you see the pit and cannot take precaution.
It is no wonder, indeed, for the flying bird not to see the snare (and so) fall into destruction; The wonder is that it should see both the snare and the net-pin and fall (into the snare) willy-
(With) eye open and ear open and the snare in front, it is flying towards a snare with its own wings.

A comparison (showing that) the bonds and snares of Destiny, though outwardly invisible, are manifest in their effects.

1650. You may see a nobleman’s son in a tattered cloak, bareheaded, fallen into affliction.
(He is) consumed with passion for some ne’er-do-well, (he has) sold his furniture and properties. His household (is) gone, (he has) become ill-famed and despised; he walks along like (one in)
misfortune, to the joy of his foes.
(If) he sees an ascetic, he will say, O venerable sir, bestow on me a benediction for God’s sake, For I have fallen into this ugly misfortune and have let wealth and gold and happiness go from
my hand.

1655.(Give me) a benediction, so that maybe I shall be delivered from this (woe) and maybe escape from this dark clay.
He is begging this prayer of high and low, crying, Release and release and release!”
His hand is free and his foot free, and there is no chain, no custodian (standing) over him, no iron (gyve).
From what chain art you seeking release, and from what imprisonment art you seeking to escape?
(From) the hidden chain of fore-ordainment and destiny, which none but the elect spirit may behold.

1660. Though it is not visible, it is (there) in ambush; it is worse that prison and chains of iron,
Because that (iron chain) the ironsmith may break, and the excavator may even dig up the bricks
(foundations) of the prison;
(But), O wonder, this heavy hidden chain the ironsmiths are powerless to shatter.

Vision of that chain (of Destiny) belongs to Ahmad (Mohammad): (he saw it) on the throat bound wit a cord of palm-fibres.
He saw a load of firewood on the back of Abu Lahabs wife and said, the carrier of faggots (for

1665. The cord and the firewood no eye beheld but his, for to him every unseen thing becomes visible.
All the rest interpret it (falsely), for this (vision) arises from senselessness (spiritual rapture), and they are sensible-
But from the effect of that (chain) his (the sufferer’s) back has been bent double, and he is moaning before you,
(And crying),A prayer! A benediction !that I may be delivered and that I may escape from this
hidden chain.
He who sees these signs clearly, how should not he know the damned from the blest?

1670. He knows, and by command of the Almighty he conceals (it), for it would not be lawful to divulge the secret of God.
This discourse has no end. That dervish, through hunger, became feeble and his body a prisoner.

How the dervish who had made the vow was reduced (by hunger) to plucking the pears from the tree, and how Gods chastisement came (upon him) without delay.

For five days the wind did not cause a single pear to drop, and on account of the fire (pangs) of hunger his patience was fleeing (deserting him).
He espied several pears on a bough, (but) once more he acted with patience and restrained
The wind came and lowered the end of the bough and caused his carnal nature to prevail for the eating of that (fruit).

1675. Hunger and weakness and the strength of Destinys pull made the ascetic unfaithful to his vow.
When he had plucked fruit from the pear-tree, he became frail (false) in his vow and promise.
At the same instant God’s chastisement arrived: it opened his eye and pulled his ear.

How the Shaykh was suspected of being in company with thieves and had his hand cut off.

In that place there were twenty thieves and more, dividing the things they had stolen. The perfect had been apprised by an informer: the prefect’s men quickly fell upon them.

1680. He (the officer in charge) cut off on the spot the left feet and right hands of them all, and a great hubbub arose.
The ascetic’s hand too was cut off by mistake; he (the officer) was about to make his foot also fall (to the ground),
(When), just in time, a very elect cavalier came up and shouted at the officer, Look out, O dog! This is such-and-such a Shaykh and Abdal (exalted saint) of God: why have you severed his
The officer rent his garment and went speedily to the prefect and gave him the information at once.

1685. The prefect came bare-footed, begging pardon. I did not know, he said; God will bear me witness.

Pray now absolve me from this foul deed, O generous man and chief of the (destined)
inhabitants of Paradise!”
He (the Shaykh) said, I know the cause of this (wound inflicted by the) knife: I recognise my sin.
I violated the sanctity of His oaths: therefore His judgement (sentence) took my right hand away.
I broke my covenant and knew it was evil (to break it), so that (in consequence of my breaking it)
that ill-omened audacity reached (recoiled upon) my hand.

1690. May my hand and my foot and brain and skin be offered in sacrifice, O governer, to the decree of the Beloved!
It was my (destined) lot. I absolve you from this. You didst not know: you have no guilt (to
answer for).
And He that knew, He is the One whose command is (every-where) carried into execution: where is the power of struggling with God?”
Oh, many the bird that, through its belly (appetite) and pangs of hunger, was made captive in a
cage on the edge of a terrace!

1695. Oh, many the fish that, because of its gullets greed, was caught by a hook in water hard to reach!
Oh, many the chaste (woman) in a curtained bower that was brought to open shame by the misfortune of lust and gluttony!
Oh, many the learned and honest judge that was disgraced by greed and bribery!
Nay, in the case of Harut and Marut that wine (of lust) debarred them from ascending to Heaven. On this account Bayazid took precaution: he observed in himself remissness in (the performance of) the ritual prayer.

1670. (When) that possessor of the marrow (of spiritual knowledge) meditated concerning the cause, he perceived that the cause was (too) much water-drinking.
He said, “For a year I will not drink water. He acted accordingly, and God bestowed on him the
power (to abstain).
This was his least penance for the Religions sake: he became a (spiritual) sultan and the Pole of the Gnostics.
Since the ascetic’s hand had been cut off by reason of his gullet (appetite), he closed the door of complaint.
His name amongst the people came to be Shaykh Aqta:the calamities (which he suffered
because) of his gullet made him well-known by this (name).

The miraculous gifts of Shaykh Aqta, and how he used to weave palm-leaf baskets with both hands.

1705. A visitor found him in his hut, (and saw) that he was weaving a basket with both hands.
He (the Shaykh) said to him, O enemy of yours own life, you have come putting your head into my hut.
Why have you made such hot haste? He replied, From excess of love and longing.
Then he (the Shaykh) smiled and said, Now come in, but keep this (thing) secret, O noble sir. Till I die, do not tell this to any one, neither to a comrade nor to a beloved nor to a worthless

1710. Afterwards other folk, (looking) through his window, became acquainted with his weaving.

He said, O Creator, You knowest the wisdom (the purpose in this). I conceal (my secret), You have revealed it.”
The Divine inspiration came to him: There were a number of people who were beginning to disbelieve in you in (consequence of) this affliction,
Saying, ‘Perchance he was a hypocrite in the Way (of God), so that God made him infamous among humankind.
I don not wish that that party should become infidels and in thinking evil (of thee) fall into perdition;

1715. (Hence) We divulged this miracle- (namely), that We give you a hand in your working- time-
To the end that these wretched evil-thinking men may not be turned back from the Lord of
Erstwhile, indeed, without these miracles I was giving you consolation from My Person;
This miracle I have given you for their sake, and on that account have I bestowed on you this
(spiritual) lamp.
You art past being afraid of bodily death and dismemberment of the limbs.

1720. Vain imagination concerning the dismemberment of head and foot has gone from you:
there has come to you, for a defence against imagination, a shield exceeding strong.

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