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(Masnavi Book 5: 29) The Story of Ayaz

The Story of Ayáz and his having a chamber for his rustic shoon and sheepskin jacket; and how his fellow-servants thought he had a buried treasure in that room, because the door was so strong and the lock so heavy.

Impelled by sagacity, Ayáz hung up his sheepskin jacket and rustic shoon.
Every day he would go into the private chamber, (saying to himself), These are your shoon: do not regard your (present) eminence.
They (his rivals) said to the King (Mahmúd), He has a chamber, and in it there is gold and silver and a jar
(of treasure).

1860. He admits no one into it: he always keeps the door locked.”
The King said, Oh, I wonder what in sooth that servant (of mine) has that is hidden and concealed from me.”
Then he gave orders to a certain Amír, saying, Go at midnight and open (the door) and enter the room. Whatever you find is yours: plunder him, expose his secret to the courtiers.
Notwithstanding such innumerable kindnesses and favours (as I have bestowed upon him), does he meanly hide silver and gold (from me)?

1865. He professes loyalty and love and enthusiasmand then (after all) he is one who shows wheat and sells barley!
To any one who finds life in love, aught but (devoted) service would seem infidelity.” At midnight the Amír with thirty trusted (officers) set out to open his chamber,
And all these valiant men, carrying torches, moved joyfully in that direction,
Saying, It is the Sultan's command: let us raid the room and each of us pocket a purse of gold.”

1870. “Hey!” cried one of them, “why trouble about gold? Talk (rather) of cornelians and rubies and
(all sorts of) jewels.
He is the most privileged (keeper) of the Sultan's treasury: nay, he is now (as dear) to the King (as) life itself.”
What worth should rubies and corundums and emeralds or cornelians possess in the eyes of this man (so)
beloved (of the King)?
The King had no evil thoughts of him: he was (only) making a mock (of the courtiers) by way of trial.
He knew him to be free from all deceitfulness and guile; (yet) again his heart was shaken with misgiving,

1875. Lest this (charge) might be (true) and he (Ayáz) should be wounded (in his feelings). I do not wish,(he said), “that shame should come over him.

He has not done this thing; and if he has, it is right: let him do whatever he will, (for) he is my beloved. Whatever my beloved may do, it is I have done (it). I am he, he is I: what (matter) though I am (hidden from view) in the veil?
Again he would say, “He is far removed from this disposition and (these bad) qualities: such wild accusations (on their part) are (mere) drivel and fancy.
(That) this (should proceed) from Ayáz is absurd and incredible, for he is an ocean whereof none can see the bottom.”

1880. The Seven Seas are (but) a drop in it: the whole of existence is (but) a driblet of its waves. All purities are fetched from that ocean: its drops, every one, are alchemists.
He is the King of kings; nay, he is the King-maker, though on account of the evil eye his name is Ayáz.” Even the good eyes are evil to him in respect of (their) jealousy, for his beauty is infinite.
I want a mouth as broad as heaven to describe the qualities of him who is envied by the angels;

1885. And if I should get a mouth like this and a hundred times as (broad as) this, it would be too narrow for (utterance of) this longing's distressful cry.
(Yet), if I should not utter even this (little) amount, O trusted (friend), the phial, (which is) my heart, would burst from weakness (inability to contain its emotion).
Since I have seen my heart's phial (to be) fragile, I have rent many a mantle in order to allay (my pain). Beyond doubt, O worshipful one, I must become mad for three days at the beginning of every month. Hark, to-day is the first of the triduum: it is the day of triumph (pírúz), not (the day of) the turquoise (pírúza).

1890. Every heart that is in love with the King, for it (for that heart) it is always the beginning of the month.
Since I have become mad, the story of Mahmúd and the description of Ayáz are now out of order.

Explaining that what is related (here) is (only) the outward form of the Story, and that it is a form befitting these (hearers) who apprehend (no more than) the external form and suitable to the mirror of their imagination, whereas the real essence of the Story is so transcendent that speech is ashamed to reveal it, and from (being overcome with) confusion (the writer) loses head, beard, and pen. And a hint is enough for the wise.

Forasmuch as my elephant has dreamed of Hindustán, abandon hope of (receiving) the tax: the village is ruined.
How should poesy and rhyme come to me after the foundations of sanity are destroyed?
It is not (merely) one madness I have amidst the sorrows of love; nay, but madness on madness on madness.

1895. My body is wasted away by secret in dications of the mysteries, ever since I beheld eternal life
(baqá) in dying to self (faná).
O Ayáz, from love of you I have become (thin) as a hair: I am unable to tell (your) story, do you tell my story.
Many a tale of your love have I recited with (all) my soul: (now) that I have become (unsubstantial as) a tale, do you recite mine.
Verily you art reciting, O model (for all), not I: I am Mount Sinai, you art Moses, and this (discourse) is the echo.
How should the helpless mountain know what the words are? The mountain is empty of that (meaning)
which Moses knows.

1900. The mountain knows (only) according to its own measure: the body has (only) a little of the grace of the spirit.
The body is like the astrolabe in respect of (the use of the latter in) calculation (of altitudes): it is a sign (for seekers) of the sun-like spirit.
When the astronomer is not keen-sighted, an astrolabe-moulder is required,

To make an astrolabe for him in order that he may gain some knowledge concerning the state of the sun. The soul that seeks (to learn) the truth from the (bodily) astrolabehow much should it know of the (spiritual) sky and sun?

1905. You who observe (them) with the astrolabe of the eye are certainly very far short (of perfection) in your view of the (spiritual) world.
You have seen the (spiritual) world according to the measure of your eye, (and) where is the (spiritual)
world (in relation to that)? Why, (then), have you twisted your moustache (so boastfully)?
The gnostics (mystics) possess a collyrium: seek it, in order that this eye which (now) resembles a river may become an ocean.
If a single mote of reason and consciousness is (remaining) with me, what is this melancholy madness and distracted speech?
Since my brain is empty of reason and consciousness, how then am I at fault in this raving?

1910. No; the fault is his, for he robbed me of my reason: in his presence the reason of all rational beings is dead.
O you who causest the reason to wander and the understanding to go astray, intelligences have no object of hope but you.
I have never desired reason since you mad’st me mad: I have never envied beauty since you didst adorn me.
Is my madness for love of you approved? Say Yes, and God will reward you.
Whether he speak Arabic or Persian, where is the ear and mind by means of which you should attain to the apprehension of it?

1915. His wine is not suitable to every mind, his ring is not subject to every ear. Once again I have become mad-like: go, go, my (dear) soul, quickly fetch a chain;
(But if you bring any) except the chain of my beloved's curl— though you bring two hundred chains, I will burst them (all).

The wise purpose (of Ayáz) in looking at his rustic shoon and sheepskin jacket—then let Man consider from what he was created.

Bring back (to my mind) the story of Ayáz's love; for it is a treasure full of mystery.
Every day he is going into the uppermost chamber to see his rustic shoon and sheepskin jacket,

1920. Because (self-)existence produces grievous intoxication: it removes intelligence from the head and reverence from the heart.
From this ambush this same intoxication of (self-)existence waylaid a hundred thousand generations of old. By this (self-)existence an Azázíl was made to be Ibs, saying, “Why should Adam become lord over me? I too am noble and nobly-born: I am capable of receiving and ready for (receiving) a hundred excellences. In excellence I am inferior to none, that I should stand before my enemy to do him service.

1925. I am born of fire, he of mud: what is the position (rank) of mud compared with fire? Where was he in the period when I was the Prince of the World and the glory of Time?

(On the words of God) “He created the Jinn from smokeless fire,and His words concerning Iblís: “verily he was one of the Jinn, and he transgressed.”

The fire (of pride and jealousy) was flaming in the soul of the fool (Ibs), because he was (born) of fire: the son is (endued with) the inward nature of his father.
No; I have spoken in error; it was the compelling might of God: why, (then), adduce any cause (for it)? The causeless action (of God) is quit of (all) causes: it is lasting (without change) and firmly stablished from eternity.

1930. In the perfection of the holy work sped on (by Him) what room is there for (any) temporal cause or temporal thing?
What is (the real meaning of) the inward nature of (his) father? His (God's) work (creative energy) is our father: (His) work is the kernel, and the formal (physical) father is the skin (shell).
O nut-like body, know that Love is your friend: your soul (inspired by Love) will seek your kernel and batter your shell (to pieces).
The man doomed to Hell whose skin is his friend—(God who has said) We will give them (other) skins in
exchange bestows a (new) skin upon him.
Your spiritual principle and kernel is dominant over the Fire, but your skins (sensual faculties) are fuel for the

1935. (In the case of) a wooden pot in which river-water is (contained), the power of fire is entirely
(directed) against the vessel containing it.
Man's spiritual principle is a ruler over the Fire: when is Málik (the Ruler) of Hell destroyed therein?
Do not, then, increase (pamper) your body; increase (cherish and cultivate) your spiritual principle, in order that you mayst be the Fire's sovereign, like lik.
You have ever been adding skins to your skin: necessarily you art (black) as a skin (enveloped) in (layers of) soot.
Since the Fire has no fodder (fuel) except the skin, the vengeance of God will tear the skin off that pride
(of yours).

1940. This arrogance is a product of the skin; hence power and riches are friends to that pride.
What is this arrogance? (It consists in) being oblivious to the essential principle and frozen (insensible)
like the oblivion of ice to the sun.
When it (the ice) becomes conscious of the sun, the ice does not endure: it becomes soft and warm and moves on rapidly.
From seeing the kernel (essential principle) the whole body becomes (filled with) desire: it becomes miserable and passionately in love, for “Wretched is he who desires.
When it does not see the kernel, it is content with the skin: (then) the bondage of Glorious is he who is content is its prison.

1945. Here glory is infidelity, and wretchedness is (true) religion: until the stone became naughted, when did it become the gem set in a ring?
(To remain) in the state of stoniness and then (to say) I (is absurd): it is time for you to become lowly and naughted (dead to self).
Pride always seeks power and riches because the bath-furnace derives its perfection from dung;
For these two nurses increase (foster) the skin: they stuff it with fat and flesh and pride and arrogance.
They have not raised their eyes to the kernel of the kernel: on that account they have deemed the skin to be the kernel.

1950. Ibs was the leader on this way, for he fell a prey to the net (temptation) of power (eminence). Riches are like a snake, and power is a dragon: the shadow (protection and guidance) of (holy) men is the emerald (which is fatal) to them both.
At (the sight of) that emerald the snake's eye jumps (out of its head): the snake is blinded and the traveller is delivered (from death).
When that Prince (Iblís) had laid thorns on this road, every one that was wounded (by them) cried, “Curse
Meaning to say, “This pain is (fallen) upon me through his treachery”: he (Iblís) who is taken as a model
(by the wicked) was the first to tread the path of treason.

1955. Truly, generation on generation came (into being) after him, and all set their feet on his way
(followed his practice).
Whosoever institutes an evil practice, O youth, in order that people may blindly fall in after him,
All their guilt is collected (and piled) on him, for he has been (as) a head (to them), while they are (like) the root of the tail.
But Adam brought forward (and kept in view) the rustic shoon and sheepskin jacket, saying, I am of clay.”

By him, as by Ayáz, those shoon were (often) visited: consequently he was lauded in the end.

1960. The Absolute Being is a worker in non-existence: what but non-existence is the workshop
(working material) of the Maker of existence?
Does one write anything on what is (already) written over, or plant a sapling in a place (already) planted? (No); he seeks a sheet of paper that has not been written on and sows the seed in a place that has not been sown.
Be you, O brother, a place unsown; be a white paper untouched by writing,
That you mayst be ennobled by Nún wa ’l-Qalam, and that the Gracious One may sow seed within you.

1965. Assume, indeed, that you have never licked (tasted) this pálúda (honeycake); assume that you have never seen the kitchen which you have seen,
Because from this pálúda intoxications arise, and the sheepskin jacket and the shoon depart from your memory.
When the death-agony comes, you wilt utter a (great) cry of lamentation: in that hour you wilt remember your ragged cloak and clumsy shoon;
(But) until you art drowning in the waves of an evil plight in which there is no help (to be obtained) from any refuge,
You wilt never call to mind the right ship (for your voyage): you wilt never look at your shoon and sheepskin jacket.

1970. When you art left helpless in the overwhelming waters of destruction, then you wilt incessantly make (the words) we have done wrong your litany;
(But) the Devil will say, “Look ye at this half-baked (fool)! Cut off the head of this untimely bird (this cock that crows too late)!”
Far from the wisdom of Ayáz is this characteristic, (namely), that his prayer should be uttered without
(being a real) prayer.
He has been the cock of Heaven from of old: all his crowings are (taking place) at their (proper) time.

On the meaning of this (Tradition), “Show unto us the things as they are (in reality); and on the meaning of this (saying), “If the covering were lifted, my certainty would not be increased”; and on his (the poet's) verse: “When you regardest any one with a malign eye, you art regarding him from the hoop (narrow circle) of your (self-)existence. (Hemistich): The crooked ladder casts a crooked shadow.”

O cocks, learn crowing from him: he crows for God's sake, not for the sake of pence.

1975. The false dawn comes and does not deceive him: the false dawn is the World with its good and evil.
The worldly people had defective understandings, so that they deemed it to be the true dawn. The false dawn has waylaid (many) caravans which have set out in hope of the daybreak.
May the false dawn not be the people's guide! for it gives many caravans to the wind (of destruction). O you who have become captive to the false dawn, do not regard the true dawn also as false.

1980. If you (yourself) have no protection (art not exempt) from hypocrisy and wickedness, wherefore shouldst you impute the same (vices) to your brother?
The evil-doer is always thinking ill (of others): he reads his own book as referring to his neighbour. The wretches who have remained (sunk) in (their own) unrighteous qualities have called the prophets magicians and unrighteous;
And those base Amírs, (who were) forgers of falsehood, conceived this evil thought about the chamber of
(Supposing) that he kept there a buried hoard and treasure. Do not look at others in the mirror of yourself!

1985. The King, indeed, knew his innocence: (only) on their account was he making that investigation, Saying, O Amír, open the door of the chamber at midnight, when he (Ayáz) will be unaware of it,
In order that his (secret) thoughts may come to light: afterwards it rests with me to punish him.

I bestow the gold and jewels upon you: of those riches I desire naught but the information (concerning them).”
Thus he spoke, while his heart was throbbing on account of the incomparable Ayáz,

1990. (Thinking), Is it I who am uttering this (command)? How (grieved) he will be if he hear of this injustice!”
Again he says (to himself), By the truth of his religion, (I vow) that his constancy is too great
For him to be annoyed by my foul aspersion and heedless of my purpose and meaning.
When an afflicted person has perceived the (true) interpretations (reasons) of his pain, he sees the victory:
how should he be vanquished by the pain?
The (true) interpreter (of suffering) is (like) the panent Ayáz, for he is contemplating the ocean of ends
(ultimate consequences).

1995. To him, as to Joseph, the interpretation of the dream of these prisoners (in the world) is evident. How should the goodly man who is aware of the meaning of the dreams of others be ignorant of (the meaning of) his own dream?
If I give him a hundred stabs with my sword by way of trial, the union (concord) of that loving one (with me) will not be diminished.
He knows I am wielding that sword against myself: I am he in reality and he is I.

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