Discourses of Rumi - Fihi ma Fihi - Fragments

08.01.09 | Xurshid


Discourses of Rumi - Fihi ma Fihi - Fragments
Author: Jalalu'D-Din Rumi
Based on The Original Translation by A.J.Arberry
Publisher: OMPHALOSKERSIS Ames,Lova
Publication date: 1961
Language: English


Recognized as perhaps the greatest mystical poet of Islam, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) communicated something through his writing that has attracted spiritual seekers from almost every religion in the world, for hundreds of years. Primarily famous for his poetry, Rumi has also left another manuscript that is not so well known - the collection of discourses given at the gatherings with his students. It Is What It Is (Fihi ma Fihi) is considered by some scholars to be an abbreviated prose companion to his far more famous six volume work, the Masnavi. “It is,” meaning his collected discourses, “what it is,” meaning, evidently, the Masnavi.

This present book is edited and rewritten by Doug Marman from A. J. Arberry’s original English translation, published in 1961 as Discourses of Rumi. Arberry himself admitted that his scholastic, literal, work “is not an easy book to read...and the original is by no means easy always to understand.” According to more recent studies of the original manuscript (Chittick and Shah, for example,) Arberry’s translation also has some technical errors, and better understandings of Rumi’s subtle spiritual teachings have come to light.


Discourse 4

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 from him.

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 it.

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 a task.

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 its prisoner.

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 the fist?'

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 or impure.

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 the matter.

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.

Discourse 22

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 miserable pauper?

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.


This discourse, 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.

Discourse 27

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 nocturnal emission.

'From whom did you bring that food?' he asked the disciple.

'A lovely girl gave it to me,' the disciple answered.

'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 that girl.

Discourse 30

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 the patients

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 his dispraiser.

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.

Discourse 33

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.

So 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!

Discourse 36

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 the branch.

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.

Notes: 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

Discourse 48

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 men
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 and All-forgiving.

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 gratitude?

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 administers.'

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.

Notes: 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, Hadiqa, p.582.
'And We tried them': Koran VII 166

Discourse 49

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 the man.

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.
Thy love made proclamation to the world
And every heart into confusion hurled,
Then burnt all up and into ashes turned
And 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?

Right well I know - and no wont of mine
Is hyperbole-
That he who is my soul's sustenance
Will come to see me.
If I run after him, hard's the quest
My love to attain;
But let me sit quiet, and he will come
Without my pain

'Right 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.'

The 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 part.

The 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 bedfellows.

They are with those whom God has blessed,
prophets, just men, martyrs, the righteous.

What 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.

There 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,
Our story's not yet at an end.

The 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 will.

People 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
And great thirst upon you lies,
Little use will be that deep
Draught you've taken whilst asleep.

'This 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.'

Notes: 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 life.

'Some of the Bedouins believe': Koran IX 100
'Thy love mad proclamation': not traced.
'Right well I know': Arabic verses by the Umayyad poet 'Urwa ibn Adhína, see Abu 'I-Faraj, al-Aghani XXI, p. 107
'Whosoever makes all his cares': a favourite Tradition with the Sufis.
'The are with those whom God; Koran IV 71
'I sit with him who remembers Me': see al-Ghazzali, Ihya' II, p. 141
'The night's departed': pat of a quatrain ascribed to Rumi, Ruba'iyat, p. 170

Discourse 51

Until you seek you cannot find-
That's true, save of the Lover:
You cannot see Him, being blind,
Until you shall discover.

The 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'.

Someone 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 not?

The mans said: Yes, by Allah,. I both believe and love.

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.

That 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.

The 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.

Someone said: The lover must be submissive and abject and long-suffering. And he enumerated the like qualities.

The 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 to be.

Jesus 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!

Someone 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?

The 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.

Sultan 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 prison.

Whoever 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'.

Abú 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?

Notes: 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.

'Until you seek you cannot find': quoted from Saná i, Divan, p. 466

'Be and it is': Koran II 3, etc.

Discourse 58

A 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.

'Fine', 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.'

I 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.

Discourse 62

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 of love.

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 danger.

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.

Notes: 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.

Discourse 69

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 me;
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.

Notes: 'King Solomon grew weary': Rumi quotes himself, see Divan, p. 151

Discourse 70

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 the treasure.

Discourse 71

'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 all directions.

Every horse has its stable, every beast its pen, every bird its nest. And God knows best.

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