night's departed; yet, my friend,
Our story's not yet at an end.
Some one said: Here is something
I have forgotten.
The Master said: There is one thing in this world
which must never be forgotten. If you were to forget
everything else, but did not forget that, then there
would be no cause to worry; whereas if you performed
and remembered and did not forget every single thing,
but forget that one thing, then you would have done
nothing whatsoever. It is just as if a king had
sent you to the country to carry out a specified
task. You go and perform a hundred other tasks;
but if you have not performed that particular task
on account of which you had gone to the country,
it is as though you have performed nothing at all.
So man has come in this world for a particular task,
and that is his purpose; if he does not perform
it, then he will have done nothing.
We offered the
trust to the heavens and the earth
and the mountains, but they refused to carry it
and were afraid of it; and man carried it. Sure
he is sinful, very foolish.
'We offered that trust
to the heavens, but they were unable to accept it.'
Consider ho may tasks are performed by the heavens,
whereas the human reason is bewildered. The heavens
convert common stone into rubies and cornelians;
they make mountain into mines of gold and silver;
they cause the herbs of the earth to germinate and
spring into life, making a veritable Garden of Eden.
The earth too receives the seeds and bears fruit;
it covers up blemishes; it accepts and reveals a
hundred thousand marvels such as can never be told
in full. The mountains too give forth all those
multifarious mines. All these things they do, yet
that on thing is not performed by them; that task
is performed by man.
And We honoured
the Children of Adam.
God id not say, 'And
We honoured heaven and earth.' So that task which
is not performed by the heavens and the earth and
the mountains is performed by man. When he performs
that task, 'sinfulness' and 'folly' are banished
If you say, 'Even if
I do not perform that task, yet so many tasks are
performed by me,' you were not created fore those
other tasks. It is as though you were to procure
a sword of priceless Indian steel such as is to
be found only in the treasuries of kings and were
to convert it into a butcher's knife for cutting
up putrid meat, saying, 'I am not letting this sword
stand idle, I am putting it to so may useful purposes.'
Or it is as though you were to take a golden bowl
and cook turnips in ti, whereas for a single grain
of that gold you could procure a hundred pots. Or
it is as though you were to take a dagger of the
fines temper and make of it a nail for a broke gourd,
saying, 'I am making good use of it. I am hinging
the gourd on it. I am not letting this dagger stand
idle.' How lamentable and ridiculous that would
be! When the gourd can be perfectly well served
by means of a wooden or an iron nail whose value
is a mere farthing, how does it make sense to employ
for the task a dagger valued at a hundred pounds?
God most High has set
a great price on you , for He says:
God has bought
from the believers their selves
and their possessions against the gift of Paradise.
The poet says;
You are more precious
than both heaven and earth:
What can I more? You know not your own worth
Sell not yourself
at little price,
Being so precious in God's eyes.
God says, 'I have bought
you, your moments, you breaths, you possessions,
your lives. If they are expended on Me, if you give
them to Me, the price of them is everlasting Paradise.
This is your worth in My sight.'If you sell yourself
to Hell, it is yourself you will have wronged, just
like the man who hammered the dagger worth a hundred
pounds into the wall and hung a jug or a gourd up
To return: you put
forward your excuse, saying, 'I expend myself upon
lofty tasks. I am studying jurisprudence, philosophy,
logic, astronomy, medicine and the rest.' Well,
for whose sake but your own are you doing all these
things? If it is jurisprudence, it is so that nobody
shall steal a loaf out of your hands or strip you
of your clothes or kill you, in short it is for
your won security. If it is astronomy, the phases
of the sphere and its influence upon the earth,
whether it is light or heavy, portending tranquillity
or danger, all these things are connected with your
own situation and server your ends; if the star
is lucky or unlucky, it is connected with your won
ascendant and likewise serves your own ends. When
you consider the matter well, the root of the whole
business is yourself; all these other things are
but branches of yourself.
If these things, which
are a branch of yourself, are so multifarious and
comprise so may marvels, phases and worlds both
wonderful and without end, consider what phases
you may pass through, who are the root! If you branches
have their ascensions and descensions, their lucky
and unlucky aspects, consider what may transpire
to you who are the root, what ascension and descension
in the world of spirits, what luck and unluck, what
profit and loss! Such a spirit possesses this property
and produces that; such as one is suitable for such
For you there is other
food, besides this food of sleep and eating. The
Prophet said, 'I pass the night in the presence
of my Lord, He giving me to eat and drink.' In this
lower world you have forgotten that heavenly food,
being occupied with this material sustenance. Night
and day you are nourishing your body. Now this body
is your horse, and this lower world is its stable.
The food of the horse is not the food of the rider;
the rider has his own kind of sleeping and eating
and taking enjoyment. But because the animal and
the bestial have the upper hand over you, you have
lagged behind with your horse in the stable for
horses and do not dwell in the ranks of kings and
princes of the world eternal. Your heart is there,
but inasmuch as the body has the upper hand you
are subject to the body's rule and have remained
Even so when Majnun
was making for Laila's dwelling-place, so long as
he was fully conscious he drove his camel in that
direction. But when for a moment he became absorbed
in the thought of Laila and forget his camel, the
camel which had a foal in a certain village profited
of the opportunity to return in its tracks and came
to that village. On coming to his senses Majnun
found that he had gone back a distance of two days'
journeying. For three months he continued on this
way thus. Finally he exclaimed, 'this camel is the
ruin of me!' So saying, he jumped off the camel
and continued on foot, singing:
My camel's desire
is behind me, and my desire is before:
She and I are at cross purposes, and agree no more.
The Master said: Saiyid
Burhan al-Din Muhaqqiq, God sanctify his lofty spirit,
declared: Someone came and said, 'I heard your praises
sung by So-and-so.' Burhan al-Din replied: 'Wait
until I see what sort of a man he is, whether he
is of sufficient rank to know me and to praise me.
If he knows me only by word of mouth, then he does
not truly know me. For these words do not endure;
these syllable and sounds do not endure; these lips
and this mouth do not endure. All these things are
mere accidents. But if he likewise knows me by my
works and if he knows my essential self, then I
know that he is able to praise me and that that
praise belongs to me.'
This is like the story
they tell of a certain king. This king entrusted
his son to a team of learned me. In due course they
had taught him the sciences of astrology, geomancy
and so forth so that he became a complete master,
despite his utter dullness of wit and stupidity.
One day the king took
a ring in his fist and put his son to the test.
'Come, tell me what I am holding in my fist.'
'The thing you are holding is round, yellow and
hollow,' the prince answered.
'Since you have given all
the signs correctly, now pronounce what thing it
is,' the king said.
'It must be a sieve,' the prince replied.
'What?' cried the king. 'You gave correctly all
the minute signs, such as might well baffle the
minds of men. Out of all your powerful learning
and knowledge how is it that this small point has
escaped you, that a sieve cannot be contained in
In the same way the
great scholars of the age split hairs on all manner
of sciences. They know perfectly and have a complete
comprehension of those other matters which do not
concern them. But as for what is truly of moment
and touches a man more closely than all else, namely
his won self, this your great scholar does not know.
He pronounces on the legality or otherwise of every
thing, saying. 'This is permitted and that is not
permitted, this is lawful and that is unlawful.'
Yet he knows not his own self, whether it is lawful
or unlawful, permissible or not permissible, pure
Now these attributes
of being hollow and yellow, inscribed and circular,
are merely accidental. Cast the object into the
fire, and none of them will remain. It will become
its essential self, purified of all these attributed.
So it is with the 'sings' they give of any things,
whether science, act or word; they have no connexion
with the substance of the thing, which alone continues
when all these 'signs' are gone. That is how it
is with their 'signs'; they speak of all these things,
expound them, and finally pronounce that what the
king has in his fist is a sieve, since they have
no knowledge at all of that which is the root of
I am a bird. I am a
nightingale. I am a parrot. If they say to me, 'Make
some other kind of sound,' I cannot. Since my tongue
is such as it is, I cannot speak otherwise; unlike
one who has learned the song of the birds. He is
not a bird himself; on the contrary, he is the enemy
of the birds and their fowler. He sings and whistles
so that they may take him for a bird. Order him
to produce a different kind of not and he is able
to do so since that not is merely assumed by him,
and is not truly his own. He is able to make other
notes because he has learned to rob men on their
household goods and to show a different kind of
linen filched from every home.
The root of the matter is that Ibn
Chavish should guard against backbiting in regard
to Shaikh Salah al-Din. Perchance that would profit
him, and these shadows and this overcovering would
be removed from him.
The root of the matter is that Ibn
Chavish should guard against backbiting in regard
to Shaikh Salah al-Din. Perchance that would profit
him, and these shadows and this overcovering would
be removed from him.
What does this Ibn Chavish say regarding
himself? Men have left their own country, their
fathers and mothers, their households and kinsmen
and families, and have journeyed from Hind to Sind,
making boots of iron until they were cut to shreds,
haply to encounter a man having the fragrance of
the other world. How may men have died of this sorrow,
not succeeding and not encountering such a man!
As for you, you have encountered such a man here
in your own house, and you turn your back on him.
This is surely a great calamity and recklessness.
He used to counsel me regarding
the Shaikh of Shaikhs Salah al-Haqq wa'l-Din, God
perpetuate his rule, that he was a great and mighty
man, as was manifest in his face. 'The least thing,
from the day I entered the service of our Master,
was that I never heard him any day mentioning your
name except as Our Master, Our Lord, Our Creator.
I never heard him change this expression on a single
day.' Is it not his evil ambitions that have now
inhibited him? Today he says of Shaikh Salah al-Din
that he is nothing.
What wrong has Shaikh Salah al-Din
ever done him? It is only that, seeing him falling
into the pit, he says to him, 'Do not fall into
the pit.' This he says out of compassion for him
above all other men; and he detests that compassion.
For when you do something displeasing to Salak al-Din,
you find yourself in the midst of his wrath; and
when you are plunged in his wrath, how will you
be cleared? But whenever you find yourself shrouded
and blackened by the smoke of Hell, and he counsels
you saying, 'Do not dwell in my wrath; move from
the house of my wrath and anger into the house of
my grace and my compassion; for if you do something
pleasing to me, you will enter the house of my love
and my grace'-then your heart is cleared of darkness
and becomes full of light.
He counsels you for your won sake
and for your own good; and you impute that compassion
and counsel to some ulterior motive. What ulterior
motive or enmity should a man like that have towards
you? Is it not the case, that whenever you are excited
by tasting forbidden drinks, or hashish, or by listening
to music, or by some other means, in that hour you
are pleased with your every enemy, forgiving him
and longing to kiss hi hands and feet? In that hour,
unbeliever and believer are all alike in your eyes.
Now Shaikh Salah al-Din is the very root of this
spiritual joy; all the seas of joy are in him. How
should he hate any man, or have designs against
him? I take pity for God's servants. And even if
it ere not so, what designs should he have against
such as locusts and frogs? How can he, who possesses
such empire and grandeur, be compared with these
Is it not the case, that they say
that the Water of Live is to be found in darkness?
That darkness is the body of the saints, in whom
is found the Water of Life. The Water of Life can
only be encountered in darkness. If you abhor this
darkness and fight shy of it, how will the Water
of Life ever come to you?
Is it not the case that if you seek
to learn sodomy from sodomites, or harlotry from
harlots you cannot that unless you put up with a
thousand disagreeable things, beatings, and thwarting
of your desires? Only so can you attain what you
desire, and learn that thing. How then, if you desire
to procure eternal and everlasting life, which is
the station of the prophets and the saints, and
nothing disagreeable ever occurs to yo, and you
never give up anything, how shall that come to pass?
What the Shaikh prescribes for you
is the same as what the Shaikhs of old prescribed,
that you leave your wife and children, your wealth
and position. Indeed, they used to prescribe for
a disciple, 'Leave your wife, that we may take her';
and they put up with that. As for you, when he counsels
you a simple thing, how is it that you do not put
up with that?
Yet it may happen that you
will hat a thing
which is better for you.
What do these people say? They are
overcome by blindness and ignorance, not considering
how a person, when he loves a youth or a woman,
will fawn and grovel and sacrifice all his wealth,
seeking somehow to trick her by expending his every
effort, if only he may conciliate her, night and
day not wearying of this, wearying of all else.
Then is the love of the Shaikh and the love of God
less than this?
As for him, at the least prescription
and counsel and boldness he objects and deserts
the Shaikh. Hence it is known that he is no lover
or seeker. Were he a true lover and seeker, he would
put up with many times what we have described. To
his heart, dung would be honey and sugar.
which is entirely in Arabic, is a reproof to a disciple
for backbiting against a certain member of the circle.
Ibn Chavish: Najm al-Din ibn Khurram Chavish, addressee
of a letter from Rumi, , see his Maktubat (theeran
1957), p. 56.
Salah al-Din: Faridun Zarkub, see Discourse 21.
'Yet it may happen': Koran II 213.
It is better not to question the
fakir, for that is as much as to urge an oblige
him to invent a lie. For when a materialist questions
him, he has to reply. He cannot answer him truthfully,
since he is not worthy of or receptive to such an
answer, and his mouth and lips are not suitable
to take such a morsel. So the fakir must answer
him appropriately to his capacity and ruling start,
namely by inventing a lie so as to get rid of him,
and though everything that the fakir says is true
and cannot be a le, yet in comparison with his former
answer and statement and truth that is a lie; except
that to the listener it is relatively right, and
more than right.
A certain dervish had a disciple
who used to beg for him. One day out of the yield
of his begging he brought some food to his mater.
The dervish are the food. That night he experienced
'From whom did you bring that food?'
he asked the disciple.
'A lovely girl gave it to me,' the
'By Allah,' rejoined the dervish,
'it is twenty years since I had a nocturnal emission.
This was the effect of her morsel.'
This shows that the dervish must
be cautious and not eat the morsel of everyone.
For the dervish is delicate; things have their effect
on him and become visible, just as a little blackness
shows on a clean white gown; as for a black gown
which has become black with grime for many years
and has lost all whiteness, if a thousand kinds
of filth and grease should trickle on it it would
not appear on it to the people. This being so, the
dervish must not eat the morsel of sinners and those
who live on iniquity, and of materialists. For the
morsel of such a man has an effect on the dervish,
and corrupt thoughts manifest under the influence
of that strange morsel - so that the dervish had
nocturnal emission through consuming the food of
There is a head which is adorned
by a golden cap; and there is a head, the beauty
of whose curls in concealed by a golden cap and
a jewelled crown. For the curls of the lovely ones
attract love; love is the throne-room of the hearts;
the golden crown is an inanimate thing, whereof
the wearer is the heart's beloved. We sought everywhere
Solomon's ring, peace be upon him; we found it in
poverty. In this beauteous one likewise took we
our repose, and she was pleased with nothing so
much as with this.
Well, I am a whoremonger; since
I was little, this has been my trade. I know that
this remove hindrances, this consumes veils; this
is the root of all acts of obedience, the rest are
mere branches. If you do not cut the throat of a
sheep, of what use is it to blow on its trotter?
Fasting lead to annihilation, where is the last
of all pleasures
And God is with
Whatever shop is in
the bazaar, or any potion, or merchandise, or trade,
the end of the thread of each one of these is the
need of the human soul, and that end of the thread
is hidden; until the need for those things arises,
the end of the thread is hidden; until the need
for those things arises, the end of the thread does
not stir or become visible. Similarly with every
religion, every faith, every grace, every miracle,
all the states of the prophets - the end of the
thread of every one of these is in the human spirit;
until the need arises, that end of the thread does
not stir or become visible.
We have numbered in a clear register.
The Master said: Is
the agent of good and evil one thing or two things?
The answer, from the point of view that in the time
of hesitation they are in dispute one with the other,
is categorically two; for one person cannot be opposed
to himself. From the point of view that evil is
inseparable from good - for good is the abandonment
of evil and the abandonment of evil is impossible
without evil: that good is incitement of evil, there
would be no abandonment of good - from this point
of view they are not two. The Magians said that
Yazdan is the creator of good things and Ahriman
is the creator of evil and hateful things. To this
we reply that desirable things are not apart from
hateful things. The desirable cannot exist without
the hateful, since the desirable is the cessation
of the hateful, and the cessation of the hateful
without the hateful is impossible. Joy is the cessation
of sorrow; the cessation of sorrow without sorrows
is impossible. So they are one and indivisible.
I said: Until a thing
passes away, its use does not become manifest. So,
until the letters of a word pass away into speech,
their use does not reach the listener. Whoever says
evil of the gnostic in reality says good reality
says good of the gnostic; for the gnostic shies
away from that quality, blame for which might settle
on him. The gnostic is the enemy of that quality;
hence, he who speaks evil of that quality speaks
evil of the enemy of the gnostic and praises the
gnostic; for the gnostic shies away from such a
blameworthy thing, and he who shies away from the
blameworthy is himself praiseworthy. 'Things become
clear through their opposites.' Hence the gnostic
knows that the critic is not really his enemy and
I am as a smiling garden
set about by a wall, and on that wall are all kinds
of filth and thorns. The passer-by does not see
the garden; he sees that wall and its uncleanness,
and speaks evil of it. Why then should the garden
by angry with him? Except that his evil speaking
is to his own detriment; for he must put up with
the wall in order to reach the garden. So by finding
fault with the wall he remains far from the garden;
hence h has worked his own destruction. Therefore
the prophet, God's blessing be upon him, said, 'I
laugh as I slay.' That is, 'I have no enemy'-that
he should be angry in chastising him. He kills the
unbeliever in one way, so that the unbeliever may
not kill himself in a hundred manners. So of course
he laughs as he slays.
The main topic of this
discourse is that good and evil are one and indivisible,
being the creation of the one God. This paradox
leads, on to other paradoxes.
'And God is with the patient': Koran II 250.
'Everything We have numbered': Koran XXXVI 12.
'I laugh as I slay': also quoted in Discourse 48.
They said, 'Keep
away from us and approach us not':
How shall I keep
away, seeing you are my need?
It must of course be
realised that everyone, wherever he is, inseparably
alongside of his own need. Every living creature
is alongside of his own need and constantly attached
to it. 'His need is closer to him that his farter
and mother and cleaves to him.' That need is his
fetter, drawing him in this direction and that just
like a nose-ring or toggle. Now it absurd that anyone
should make a fetter for himself; for he is seeking
to escape from his fetters, and it is absurd that
one who seeks to escape should seek the fetter.
So it necessarily follows that someone else has
made the fetter for hi. For instance, he seeks after
health; so he would not have made himself sick,
for it would be absurd for him to be both a seeker
after sickness and a seeker after his own health.
If a man is alongside
of his own need, he will also be alongside of the
one who gives him that need; if he is constantly
attached to his own toggle, he will be constantly
attached tot he one who draws the toggle. Except
that his eyes are fixed on the toggle, so that he
is without might and strength; if his eyes were
fixed on him who draws the toggle, he would escape
from the toggle, the toggle now being the one who
draws his toggle. For he was toggled so that he
should not proceed towards the toggle-drawer without
the toggle. His eyes are not fixed upon Him who
draws the toggle, so of course
We shall brand him
upon the muzzle.
'We shall fix a toggle
upon his nose and raw him against his will, since
without a toggle he does not come towards Us.'
They say, 'When
a man is past eighty, shall he play?'
I said, 'Shall he
play before he is eighty, pray?'
God most High bestows
of His grace upon elders a youthful passion whereof
youths have no knowledge. For youthful passion brings
a freshness and causes a man to leap and laugh and
give him the desire to play, because he sees the
world as new and has not grown wear of the world.
When such an elder sees the world as new, he is
given a desire to play, and he bounds, and his skin
and flesh augment.
Great is the glory
of age, if the while gray hairs
Appear, the steed
of playfulness runs amok.
the glory of old age is greater than the glory of
God! For it is in the spring that the glory of God
appears, and in autumn old age prevails over that,
not abandoning its autumnal nature. So the frailty
of spring is the bounty of God; for with every shedding
of teeth the smile of God's spring diminishes, and
with every white hair the freshness of God's bounty
is lost; with every weeping of autumnal rain the
garden of Realities is despoiled. God is exalted
above what the evildoers say!
Form came as
a branch of Love; for without love this form would
have no worth. A branch is that which cannot exist
without the root. Therefore God is not called a
form; since form is the branch, He cannot be called
One said: love too
cannot take form and be compacted without form.
Hence it is the branch of form.
We say: Why cannot
Love take form without form? On the contrary, Love
is the artificer of form. A hundred thousand forms
are raised up by Love, pictured alike and realised.
Though the picture does not exist without the painter,
neither the painter without the picture, yet the
painting is the branch and the painter is the root.
It is like the moving of the finger with the moving
of the ring.
So long as there exists
no love for a house, no architect makes the form
and conception of the house. In like manner one
year corn is at the price of gold, another year
it is at the price of dust. The form of the corn
is the same; therefore the worth and value of the
form of the corn came through love. Again, that
science which you pursue with such love - in your
eyes it is valuable, but in times when no one pursues
any science no one learns and professes that science.
They say that Love
is after all the want and need for a certain thing;
hence the need is the root, and the thing needed
is the branch. I say: After all, these words which
you speak you speak out of need. After all, these
words came into existence out of your need. When
you had the inclination for these words, these words
were born. Therefore the need was prior, and these
words were born from it. Therefore need existed
without the words. Therefore love and need are not
a branch of the words.
One said: After all,
the object of that need was these words, so how
can the object be the branch?
I said: The object
is always the branch. For the object of the root
of the tree is the branch of the tree.
Form is a branch or derivative of love; need is
the root, the thing need is the branch. For similar
discussion in the Masnavi, see IV, 4440 ff
Gratitude is a hunting
and a shackling of benefits. When you hear the voice
of gratitude, you get ready to give more. When God
loves a servant He afflicts him; if he endures with
fortitude, he chooses him; if he is grateful, He
elects him. Some men are grateful to God for His
wrathfulness and some are grateful to Him for His
graciousness. Each of the two classes is good; for
gratitude is a sovereign antidote, changing wrath
into grace. The intelligent and perfect man is he
who is grateful for harsh treatment, both openly
and in secret; for it is he whom God has elected.
If God's will be the bottom reach of Hell, by gratitude
His purpose is hastened.
For outward complaining
is a diminution of inward complaining. Muhammad
said, peace be upon him, 'I laugh as I slay.' That
means, 'My laughing in the face of him who is harsh
to me is a slaying of him.' The intention of laughter
is gratitude in the place of complaining.
It is related that
a certain Jew lived next door to one of the Companions
of God's Messenger. This Jew lived in an upper room,
whence descended into the Muslim's apartment all
kinds of dirt and filth, the piddle of his children,
the water his clothes were washed in. Yet the Muslim
always thanked the Jew, and bade his family do the
same. So things continued for eight years, until
the Muslim died. Then the Jew entered his apartment,
to condole with the family, and saw all the filth
there, and how it issued from his upper room. So
he realised what had happened during the past years,
and was exceedingly sorry, and said to the Muslim's
household, 'Why on earth didn't you tell me? Why
did you always thank me? they replied, 'Our father
used to bid us be grateful, and chided us against
ceasing to be grateful.' So the Jew became a believer.
The mentioning of virtuous
Encourages to virtue then,
Just as the minstrel with his song.
Urges the wine to pass along.
For this reason God
has mentioned in the Koran His prophets and those
of His servants who were righteous, and thanked
them for what they did unto Him who is All-powerful
Gratitude for sucking
the breast is a blessing. Though the breast be full,
until you suck it the milk does not flow.
Someone asked: What
is the cause of ingratitude, and what is that prevents
The Master answered:
The preventer of gratitude is inordinate greed.
For whatever a man may get, he was greedy for more
than that. It was inordinate greed that impelled
him to that, so that when he got less than what
he had set his heart upon his greed prevented him
from being grateful. So he was heedless of his own
defect, and heedless also of the defect and adulteration
of the coin he proffered.
Raw and inordinate
greed is like eating raw fruit and raw bread and
raw meant; inevitably t generates sickness and begets
ingratitude. When a man realises that he has eaten
something unwholesome, a purge becomes necessary.
God most High in His wisdom makes him suffer through
ingratitude so that he may be purged and rid of
that corrupt conceit, lest that one sickness become
a hundred sicknesses.
And we tried them
with good things and evil, that
haply they should return.
That is to say: We
made provision for them from whence they had never
reckoned, namely the unseen world, so that their
gaze shrinks form beholding the secondary causes,
which are as it were partners to God. It was in
this sense that Abú Yazid said, 'Lord, I
have never associated any with Thee.' God most High
said, 'O Abú Yazid, not even on the night
of the milk? You said one night, "The milk
has done me harm." It is I who do harm, and
benefit.' Abú Yazid has looked at the secondary
cause, so that God reckoned him a polytheist and
said, 'It is I know do harm, after the milk and
before the milk; but I made the milk for a sin,
and the harm for a correction such as a teacher
When the teacher says,
'Don't eat the fruit,' and the pupils eats it, and
the teacher beats him on the sole of his foot, it
is not right for the pupil to say, 'I ate the fruit
and it hurt my foot.' On this basis, whoso preserves
his tongue from ascribing partners to God, God undertakes
to cleanse his spirit of the weeds of polytheism.
A little with God is much.
The difference between
giving praise and giving thanks is that thanks given
for benefits received. One does not say, 'I gave
thanks to him for his beauty and his bravery.' Praisegiving
is more general.
This discourse which is partly in Arabic and partly
in Persian touches on the merits of gratitude to
God and the causes of ingratitude.
'The mentioning of virtuous men': quoted from Sana'i,
'And We tried them': Koran VII 166
A certain person was
leading the prayers, and he chanted:
The Bedouins are more stubborn
in unbelief and hypocrisy.
By chance a Bedouin
chieftain was present. He gave the chanter a good
box on the ears. In the second genuflection he chanted:
Some of the Bedouins believe
in God and the Last Day.
The Bedouin exclaimed,
'Ha, that slap has taught you better manners!'
Every moment we receive
a slap from the unseen world. Whatever we propose
to do, we are kept away from it by a slap and we
take another course. As the saying goes, 'We have
no power of our own, it is all a swallowing up and
vomiting'. It is also said, 'It is easier to cut
the joints than to cut a connexion.' The meaning
of 'swallowing' is descending into this lower world
and becoming one of its people; the meaning of 'vomiting'
is dropping out of the heart. For instance, a man
east some food and it turns sour in his stomach,
and he vomits it. If that food had turned sour and
he not vomited it, it would have become a part of
Even so a disciple
courts and dances service so as to find a place
in the heart of the shaikh. Anything issuing from
the disciple (God be our refuge!) which displeases
the shaikh and is cast forth out of his heart is
like the food which the man eats and then vomits.
Just as that food would have become the shaikh,
and because of his displeasing conduct he cast him
out of his heart.
love made proclamation to the world
every heart into confusion hurled,
burnt all up and into ashes turned
to the indifferent wind those ashes spurned.
In that wind of indifference
the atoms of the ashes of those hearts are dancing
and making lament. If they are not so, then who
ever conveyed these tiding and who is it that ever
moment anew brings these tidings? And if the hearts
do not perceive their very life to consist in that
burning up and spurning to the wind, how is it that
they are so eager to be burned? As for those hearts
which have been burned up in the fire of worldly
lusts and become ashes, do your hear any sound or
see any lustre of them?
well I know - and no wont of mine
he who is my soul's sustenance
Will come to see me.
I run after him, hard's the quest
My love to attain;
let me sit quiet, and he will come
Without my pain
well I know the rule of God's providing man's daily
bread. It is no rule of mine to run about hither
and thither to no purpose and so exert myself
needlessly. Truly, when I renounce all thought of
silver and food and raiment and the fire of lust,
my daily portion will come to me. But when I run
after those daily portions, the quest of them pains
and wearies me and distresses me; if I sit in my
own place with patience, that will come to me without
paint and distress. For that daily portion is also
seeking after me and drawing me; when it cannot
draw me it comes to me, just as when I cannot draw
it I got after it.'
upshot of these words is this; occupy yourself with
the affairs of the world to come, that the world
itself may run after you. The meaning of 'sitting'
in this context is sitting in application to the
affairs of the world to come. If a man runs, when
he runs for the sake of the world to come he is
truly seated; if he is seated, if he is seated for
the sake of the present world he is running. The
Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, 'Whosoever makes
all his cares a single care, God will suffice him
as to all his others cares.' If a man is beset by
ten cares, let him choose the care for the world
to come and God most High will put right for him
those other nine cares without any effort on his
prophets cares nothing for fame and daily bread.
Their only care was to seek God's approval; and
they attained both daily bread and bread. Whosoever
seeks God's good pleasure, such men in this world
and the next will be with the prophets and be their
They are with those whom God has blessed,
just men, martyrs, the righteous.
place indeed in there for this, seeing that they
are sitting with God Himself? 'I sit with him who
remembers Me.' Did God not sit with him, the yearning
for God would never enter his heart. The scent of
the rose never exists without the rose; the scent
of musk never exists without the musk.
is no end to these words; if there were an end to
them, yet they would not be as other words.
The night's departed; yet, my friend,
story's not yet at an end.
night and darkness of this world passes away, and
the light of these words every moment becomes clearer.
Even so the night of the life of the prophets departed,
peace be upon them, yet the light of their discourse
departed not and came not to an end, nor ever
said about Majnún, 'If he loves Lailá, what is so
strange in that, seeing that they were children
together and went to the same school?' Majnún said,
'These men are fools, What pretty women is not desirable?'
Is there any man whose heart is not stirred by a
lovely woman? Women are the same. It is love by
which a man's heart is bed and finds savior; just
as the sight of mother and father and brothers,
the pleasure of children, the pleasure of lust -
all kinds of delight are rooted in love. Majnún
was an example of all lovers, just as in grammar
Zaid and 'Amr are quoted.
Feast on sweetmeats or on roast,
Drink the wine that you love most:
What's that savour on your lips?
Water that a dreamer sips!
When tomorrow you arise
great thirst upon you lies,
use will be that deep
you've taken whilst asleep.
world is as the dream of a sleeper.' This world
and its delights is as thought a man has eaten a
thing whilst asleep. So for him to desire worldly
needs is as if he desired something whilst sleeping
and was given it; in the end, when he is awake,
he will not be profited by what he ate whilst asleep.
So he will have asked for something whilst asleep,
and have been given it. 'The present is proportionate
to the request.'
The unseen world intervenes at every moment of our
lives to keep us from disaster. The mystic should
surrender himself in confidence to God's care and
attend only to those things which appertain to eternal
of the Bedouins believe': Koran IX 100
love mad proclamation': not traced.
well I know': Arabic verses by the Umayyad poet
'Urwa ibn Adhína, see Abu 'I-Faraj, al-Aghani XXI,
makes all his cares': a favourite Tradition with
are with those whom God; Koran IV 71
sit with him who remembers Me': see al-Ghazzali,
Ihya' II, p. 141
night's departed': pat of a quatrain ascribed to
Rumi, Ruba'iyat, p. 170
Until you seek you cannot find-
That's true, save of the Lover:
You cannot see Him, being blind,
Until you shall discover.
human quest consist in seeking a thing which one
has not yet found; night and day a man in engaged
in searching for that. But the quest where the thing
has been found and the object attained, and yet
there is one who is seeking for that thing - that
is a strange quest indeed, surpassing the human
imagination, inconceivable to man. For man's quest
is for something new which he has not yet found;
this quest is for something on has found already
and the one seeks. This is God's quest; for God
most High has found all things, and all things are
found in His omnipotent power. 'Be and it is
- the Finder, the Bountiful'; for God has found
all things, and so he is the Finder. Yet for all
that God most High is the Seeker: 'He is the Seeker,
the Prevailer. The meaning of the saying quoted
above is therefore, 'O man, so long as you are engaged
n the quest that is created in time, which is human
attribute, you remain far from the goal. When your
quest passes away in God's quest and God's quest
overrides your quest, the you become a seeker by
virtue of God's quest'.
said: We have no categorical proof as to who is
a friend of God and has attained union with God.
Neither words nor deeds nor miracles nor anything
else furnishes such a proof. For words may have
been learned by rote: as for deeds and miracles,
the monks have these also. They are able to deduce
a man's inmost thoughts, and display many wonders
by means of magic. The interlocutor enumerated a
number of examples.
The Master answered: Do you believe in anyone or
The mans said: Yes, by Allah,. I both believe and
The Master said: Is this belief of yours in that
person founded upon a proof and token? or did you
simply shut your eyes and take up that person?
The man said: God forbid that my belief should be
without proof and token?
The Master said: Why then do you say that there
is no proof or token leading to belief? What you
said is self-contradictory.
Someone said: Every saint and great mystic asserts,
'This nearness which I enjoy with God and this Divine
favour which God vouchsafes to me is enjoyed by
no one and is vouchsafed to no one else'.
The Master answered: Who made this statement? Was
it a saint, or someone other that a saint? If it
was a saint who stated this, inasmuch as he knows
that every saint has this belief regarding himself,
he cannot be the sole recipient of this Divine favour.
If someone other than a saint made this statement,
then in very truth he is the friend and elect of
God; for God most High has concealed this secret
from all the saints and has not hidden it from him.
person propounded a parable. Once there was a king
who had ten concubines. The concubines said, 'We
wish to know which of is dearest to thee king.'
The king declared, 'Tomorrow this ring shall be
in the apartment of whomsoever I love best.' Next
day the king commanded then rings to be made identical
with that ring, and gave one ring to each maiden.
Master said: The question still stands, This is
no answer, and it is irrelevant to the issue. This
statement was made either by one of the ten maidens,
or by someone apart from the ten maidens. If it
was one of the ten maidens who made the statement,
then since she knew that the ring was not heirs
exclusively and that each of the maidens had the
like of it, it follows that she had no superiority
over the rest and was not the most beloved. If however
the statement was made by someone other than those
ten maidens, then that person was the king's favourite
and beloved concubine.
said: The lover must be submissive and abject and
long-suffering. And he enumerated the like qualities.
Master said: In that case the lover must be like
that, alike when the beloved wishes it or no. But
if he is so without the desire of the beloved, then
he is not truly a lover but is following his own
desire. If he accords with the desire of the beloved,
then when the beloved does not wish him to be submissive
and abject, how should he be submissive and abject?
Hence it is realised that the states affecting the
lover are unknown, only how the beloved wishes him
said, 'I wonder at a living creature, how it can
eat a living creature.' The literalist say that
man eats the flesh of animals, and both are animals.
This is an error. Why? Because man it is true eats
flesh; but that is not animal, it is inanimate,
for when the animal was killed animality no longer
remained in it. The true meaning of the saying is
that the shaikh mysteriously devours the disciple.
I wonder at a procedure so extraordinary!
propounded the following question. Abraham, upon
whom be peace, said to Nimrod, 'My God brings the
dead to life and turns the living into the dead.'
Nimrod said, 'I too, when I banish a man, as good
as cause him to die, and when I appoint a man to
a post it is as though I bring him to life.' Abraham
abandoned the argument, being compelled to yield
the point. He then embarked on another line of reasoning,
saying, 'My God brings the sun up from the east
and sends it down in the west. Do the opposite of
at!' Is not this statement manifestly at variance
with the other?
Master answered: God forbid that Abraham should
have been silenced by Nimrod's argument and left
without any answer to it! The truth is that he used
these words to represent another idea, namely that
truth is that he used these words to represent another
idea, namely that God most High brings the fetus
out of the east of the womb and sends it down into
the west of the tomb. Abraham's proof, peace be
upon him, was thus presented with perfect consistency.
God most High created a man anew every moment, sending
something perfectly fresh into his inner heart.
The first is in no way like the second, neither
is the second like the third. Only man is unconscious
of himself and odes not know himself.
Mahmúd, God have mercy on him, was brought a sea-horse,
a fine beat with a most lovely shape. Next festival
day he rode out on that horse and all the people
sat on the rooftops to see him and to enjoy that
spectacle. One drunken fellow however remained seated
in his apartment. By main force they carried him
up to the roof, saying, 'You come too and look at
the sea-horse!' He said, 'I am busy with my
own affairs. I don't want and don't care to see
it.' In short, he could not escape. As he sat there
on the edge of the roof, extremely drunk, the Sultan
passed by. When the drunken fellow saw the Sultan
on the horse he cried out, 'What store do I set
by this horse? Why, if this very moment some minstrel
were to sing a song and that horse were mine, immediately
I would give it to him.' Hearing this, the Sultan
became extremely angry and commanded that he should
cast into prison. A week passed. The this man sent
a message to the Sultan, saying, 'After all, what
sin did I commit and what is my crime? Let the King
of the World command that his servant be informed.'
The Sultan ordered him to be brought into his presence.
He said, 'You insolent rogue, how did you come to
utter those words? How dared you speak so?' The
man answered, 'King of the World, it was not I who
spoke those words. That moment a drunken mannikin
was standing on the edge of the roof and spoke those
words, and departed. This hour I am not that fellow;
I am an intelligent and sensible man.' The Sultan
was delighted by his words; he conferred on him
a robe of honour and ordered his release from the
takes up connexion with us and becomes drunk with
this wine, wherever he goes, with whomsoever he
sits, with whatever people he converses, in reality
he is sitting with us and mingling with this tribe.
For the company of strangers is the mirror to the
graciousness of the friend's company, and mingling
with one who is not a congener stimulates love and
commingling with the congener. 'Things are made
clear by their opposites'.
Bakr Siddíd, God be well pleased with him, gave
the name of ummi to sugar, that is to say,
congenital sweet. Now men prize other fruits above
sugar, saying, 'We have tasted so much bitterness
until we attained the rank of sweetness.' What do
you know of the delight of sweetness, when you have
not suffered the hardship of bitterness?
Man's quest is for a thing not yet found, whereas
God's quest is for that which has already been found.
What is the proof that a man has attained union
with God? The proof is that he is in perfect accord
with God's will. Rúmí answers a question about Abraham's
argument with Nimrod.
you seek you cannot find': quoted from Saná i, Divan,
and it is': Koran II 3, etc.
certain gnostic once said: I went into the bath-stove
that my heart might be dilated, for it had been
the place of retreat of certain of the saints. I
saw that the master of the stove had an apprentice
who was working with girded loins. The master was
telling him, 'Do this and do that.' The apprentice
was labouring briskly, and the stove gave off a
fine heat on account of the nimbleness with which
he obeyed his orders.
said the master. 'Be nimble like this. If you are
always energetic and mind your manners, I will give
you my own position and appoint you in my own place.'
was overcome with laughter, and my knot was resolved,
for I saw that the bosses of this world all behave
like this with their apprentices.
Some have said that
love is the cause of service. This is not so. Rather
it is the inclination of the beloved that is the
requisite of service. If the beloved desires that
the lover should be occupied with service, then
service proceeds from the lover; if the beloved
does not desire it, then the lover abandons service.
The abandonment of service is not contrary to love;
after all, even if the lover does no service, love
does service in him. No; on the contrary, the root
of the matter is love, and service is the branch
If the sleeve moves,
that happens because the hand moves. On the other
hand it does not necessarily follow that if the
hand moves the sleeve also moves. For instance,
a man has a large gown, so that he rolls about in
his gown and the gown does not move. that can happen;
but what is not possible is that the gown should
move without the person himself moving.
Some people have deemed
the gown itself a person, have considered the sleeve
a hand an imagined the boot and breeches a foot.
This hand and foot are the sleeve and boot of another
hand and foot. They say, 'So-and-so in under the
hand of So-and-so' and 'So-and-so has a hand in
so many things,' and 'You have to hand it to So-and-so
when he speaks'. Certainly what is meant by that
hand and foot is not this hand and foot.
That prince came and
assembled us, and himself departed. In the same
way the bee united the wax with the honey and itself
departed and flew away. Because his existence was
a condition, after all his continuance is not a
condition. Our mothers and fathers are like bees,
uniting the seeker with the sought and assembling
together the lover and the beloved. They then suddenly
fly away. God most High has made them a means for
uniting the way and the honey, and then they fly
away; but the way and honey remain, and the garden.
They themselves do not go out of eh garden; this
is not such a garden that it is possible to go out
of it; but they depart from one corner of the garden
to another corner of the garden.
Our body is like a
beehive in which are the way and honey of the love
of God. Though the bees, our mothers and fathers,
are the means, yet they too are tended by the gardener;
the gardener also makes the beehive. God most High
gave those bees another form; at the time when they
were doing this work they had another garment appropriate
to that work, but when they departed into the other
world they changed garment, for there another work
proceeds from them. Yet the person is the same as
he was in the first place. Thus for example: a man
went into battle, and put on battledress, girded
on armour and placed a helmet on his head, because
it was the time of combat. But when he comes to
the feast he puts off those garments, for he will
be occupied with another business. Yet he is the
same person. But since you have seen him in that
garment, whenever you bring him to mind you will
picture him in that shape and that garment, even
though he may have changed garments a hundred times.
A man has lost a ring
in a certain place. Though the ring has been transported
from that place, nevertheless he circles around
that place, implying, 'It was here that I lost it.'
So a bereaved person circles around the grave and
ignorantly circumambulates about the earth and kisses
it, implying, 'I lost that ring here'; yet how should
it be left there?
God most High has performed
so may wonderful works to display His omnipotence.
It was here for the sake of Divine wisdom that He
composed for a day or two spirit with body. If a
man should sit with a corpse in a tomb even for
a moment, there is fear that he may go mad. How
then, when he escapes from the trap of form and
the ditch of the bodily mould, how should he remain
there? God most High has appointed that to strike
fear into men's hearts and as a token to renew that
striking of fear again and again, so that a terror
may be manifest in the hearts of men because of
the desolation of the tomb and the dark earth. In
the same way, when a caravan has been ambushed in
certain place on the road, two or three stones are
placed together there to act as a waysign, as much
as to say, 'Here is a place of danger.' These graves
too are a visible waysign indicating a place of
Fear makes its mark
on men; though it does not necessarily follow that
it should be realised. For instance if people say
to you, 'So-and-so is afraid of you', without any
cat issuing form him, an affection manifests
in you in regard to him without doubt. If on the
contrary they say, 'So-and-so is not in the least
afraid of you,' and 'There is no terror of you in
his heart,' by the mere fact of this being said
an anger towards him appears in your heart.
This running about
is the effect of fear. All the world is running;
but the running of each one is appropriate to his
state. The running of a man is of one kind, the
running of a plant is of another kind, the running
of a spirit is of another kind. The running of the
spirit is without step and visible sign. After all,
consider the unripe grape, how much it runs until
it attains the blackness of the ripe grape; the
moment it has become sweet, at once it reaches that
station. Yet that running is invisible and imperceptible;
but when it reaches that stage, it becomes realised
that it has run very much until it arrived there.
Similarly a man enters the water, and nobody has
seen him go; when suddenly he brings his head out
of the water, then it is realised that entered the
water, for he has reached this point.
The lover's service to the beloved springs not form
love but from the inclination of the beloved. So
it is in the relationship between man and God. God
joined the soul with the body, which may be compared
with a beehive, in order to display His omnipotence.
Physical death was designed by God to strike fear
into men's hearts.
Between a man and God
there are just two veils, and all other veils manifest
out of these: they are health, and wealth. The man
who is well in body says, 'Where is God? I do not
know, and I do not see.' As soon as pain afflicts
him he begins to say, 'O God! O God!' communing
and conversing with God. So you see that health
was his veil, and Go was hidden under that pain.
As much as a man has wealth and resources, he procures
the means to gratifying his desires, and is preoccupied
night and day with that. The moment indigence, appears,
his spirit is weakened and he goes round about God.
Drunkenness and emptyhandedness brought Thee to
I am the slave of Thy drunkenness and indigency!
God most High granted
to Pharaoh four hundred years of life and rule and
kinship and enjoyment. All that was a veil which
kept him far from the presence of God. He experienced
to a single day of disagreeableness and pain, lest
he should remember God. God said 'Go on being preoccupied
with your own desire, and do not remember me. Goodnight!'
King Solomon grew weary of his reign,
But Job was never sated of his pain.
'King Solomon grew weary': Rumi quotes himself,
The Master said:
This that men say, that in the human soul there
is an evil which does not exist in animals and wild
beasts - it is not from the standpoint that man
is worse that they; it is explained by the fact
the evil character and wickedness of soul and vileness
which are in man are according to a secret essential
element which is in him. Those characteristics and
vileness and evil are a veil over that element.
The more precious and venerable and noble that element
is, the greater are its veils. So vileness and evil
and bad character are the cause of the veil over
that element; and these veils cannot be removed
save with grave strivings.
Those strivings are
of various kinds. The greatest of them is to mingle
with friends who have turned their faces to God
and turned their backs on this world. For there
is no more difficult striving than this, so sit
with righteous friends; for the very sight of them
dissolves and naughts that carnal soul. It is for
this reason that they say that when a snake has
not seen a man for forty years it becomes a dragon;
that is, because it sees no one who would be the
means of dissolving it s evil and vileness.
Wherever men put a
big lock, that is a sign that there is to be found
something precious and valuable. So you see, the
greater the veil the better the element. Just as
a snake is over the treasure, so do you not regard
our ugliness, but regard the precious things of
'On what,' My darling cried,
'Does so-and-so abide'?
The difference between
birds and their wings, and the wings of the aspirations
of intelligent men, is that birds fly on their wings
towards a certain direction, whereas intelligent
men fly on the wings of their aspirations away from
Every horse has its
stable, every beast its pen, every bird its nest.
And God knows best.
Discourses of Rumi,
by A.J. Arberrys
of the Unseen : The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi
by Jalal Al-Din Rumi, Wheeler
M. Thackston (October 1999)
As We Are : Selected Rubais from Divan-Kebir by
Jalal Al-Din Rumi, et al. (December 1992)
Life and Work of Jalaluddin Rumi, Afzal Iqbal
Paperback (August 1999) Oxford University
Am Wind Your Are Fire: The Life and Work of Rumi
Annemarie Schimmel, (December 1992) Shambhala
Love Poems of Rumi Deepak
Chopra (Editor), Fereydoun Kia, Jalal Al-Din
Rumi, et al Published 1998