The Masnavi, by Rumi, tr. by E.H. Whinfield, 
THE SPIRITUAL COUPLETS
MAULANA JALALU-'D-DlN MUHAMMAD RUMI
MAULANA JALALU-'D-DlN MUHAMMAD RUMI
O LIFE of the heart, Husamu-'d-Din,
My zeal burnt within me to write this sixth part!
The Masnavi became a standard through thy influence,
Thy sword (Husam) has made it an exemplar to the world
O spiritual one, I now offer it to thee,
This sixth part of the entire Masnavi.
Enlighten the world's six sides with its six parts,
That it may illuminate him who is not illuminated!
Love has naught to do with five senses or six sides,
Its only aim is to be attracted to the Beloved!
But haply leave may be given me hereafter
To tell those mysteries so far as they can be told,
In a discourse more closely approximating to the facts
Than these faint indications of those abstruse matters.
Mysteries are not communicable, save to those who know;
Mystery in the ear of infidels is no mystery.
Nevertheless, this is a call to you from God;
It matters not to Him whether ye accept or reject it.
Noah repeated His call for nine hundred years,
But his people only increased in rebellion.
Never did he draw back from admonishing them,
Never did he retire into the cave of silence.
He said, "At the barking and howling of the dogs
No caravan ever turned back in its road.
Nor does the full moon on a bright night cease shining
Because of the howling of dogs on earth.
The moon sheds her light, and the dogs howl;
Every one acts according to his nature.
To each one his office is allotted by the divine decree,
And he acts agreeably to his nature."
Art thou thirsting for the Ocean of spirituality?
Disport thyself on this island of the Masnavi!
Disport thyself so long as thou seest every moment
Spiritual verities revealed in this Masnavi.
When the wind blows the grass off the water,
The water then shows forth its own purity.
Behold the bright and fresh sprays of coral,
And the princely fruits growing in the water of life!
So, when the Masnavi is purged of letters and words,
It drops all these, and appears as the sea of Unity.
Then speaker and hearer and spoken words
All three give up the ghost in that consummation.
Bread-giver and bread-eater and bread itself
Are purified of their forms and turn to dust.
But their essences in each of these three grades
Are distinguished, as in those states, so eternally.
Their form turns to dust, but their essence not;
If one says it does, tell him it does not.
In the world of spirits all three await judgment,
Sometimes wearing their earthly forms, sometimes not.
The worth of a man depends on the objects of his aspiration.
One day a student asked a preacher,
Saying, "O most orthodox ornament of the pulpit,
I have a question to ask, O lord of learning;
Tell me the answer to it in this congregation.
A bird sat on the top of a wall;
Which was best, its head or its tail?"
He replied, "If its face was towards the town,
And its tail to the villages, then its face was best.
But if its tail was towards the town, and its face
Towards the villages, then prefer its tail to its face."
A bird flies with its wings towards its nest,
The wings of a man are his aspiration and aim.
If a lover be befouled with good and evil,
Yet regard not these; regard rather his aspiration.
Though a falcon be all white and unmatched in form,
If he hunts mice he is contemptible and worthless.
And if an owl fixes his affection on the king,
He is a falcon in reality; regard not his outward form.
Adam's clay was kneaded in the limits of a trough,
Yet was he exalted above heaven and stars.
"We have honored Adam" was not addressed to the sky,
But to Adam himself full of defects as he was.
Did one ever propose to earth or heaven to receive
Beauty, reason, speech and aspiration?
Would you ever offer to the heavens
Beauty of face and acuteness of thought?
O son, did you ever present your silver body
As an offering to the damsels pictured on bath walls?
Nay, you pass by those pictures though fair as Huris,
And offer yourself sooner to half-blind old women.
What is there in the old women which the pictures lack,
Which draws you from the pictures to the old women?
Say not, for I will say it in plain words,
'Tis reason, sense, perception, thought, and life.
In the old woman life is infused,
While the pictures of the bath have no life.
If the pictures of the bath should stir with life (soul),
They would uproot your love to all the old women.
What is soul? 'Tis acquainted with good and evil,
Rejoicing at pleasant things, grieving at His.
Since, then, the principle of soul is knowledge,
He who knows most is most full of soul.
Knowledge is the effect flowing from soul;
He who has most of it is most godlike.
Seeing then, beloved, that knowledge is the mark of soul,
He who knows most has the strongest soul.
The world of souls is itself entirely knowledge,
And he who is void of knowledge is void of soul.
When knowledge is lacking in a man s nature,
His soul is like a stone on the plain.
Primal Soul is the theatre of God's court,
Soul of souls the exhibition of God Himself.
All the angels were pure reason and soul,
Yet when the new soul of Adam came, they were as its body.
When in joy they crowded round that new soul,
They bowed before it as body does before soul.
Fear of men's censure the greatest obstacle to acceptance of the true faith.
O Husamu-'d-Din, I might tell some of thy many virtues,
Were it not for the fear of the evil eyes.
From evil eyes and malice-empoisoned breaths
Already have I suffered fatal wounds.
Therefore I cannot relate thy ecstatic states,
Save by hints of the ecstatic states of others.
This manoeuvre is one of the devices of the heart,
Whereby the heart's feet wend their way to the truth.
Many hearts and souls would become lovers of God
Did not evil eyes or evil ears hold them back.
Of these Abu Talib, the Prophet's uncle, was one;
The malice of the Arabs scared him from the faith.
He said, "What will the Arabs say of me?
That my own nephew has perverted me from my religion!"
Muhammad said, "O uncle, confess the faith to me,
That I may strive with God for thee!"
He said, "Nay; it will be published by them that hear;
'A secret known to more than two is known to every one.'
As I live in the midst of these Arabs,
It will cause me to lose caste with them.
Yet, had the mighty grace of God led the way,
How could this fear have vied with God's attraction?
O Granter of aid, lend us aid
In this dilemma of the feeble will.
Prayers for right guidance in the use of free will, which gift was refused by heavens and earth, but accepted by man to his own.
This flux and reflux of resolves came to me from Thee,
Else these tides of will had rested still, O God!
By the same fiat whereby Thou madest me thus irresolute,
Of Thy mercy deliver me from this irresolution!
Thou triest me; O give me aid!
For men are as women through this trial.
How long, O Lord, is this trial to last?
Give me one ruling principle, not ten principles!
The whole world flees away from its own will and being
Towards self-abandonment and intoxication.
In order to escape a while from self-consciousness,
Men incur the reproach of wine and strong drink;
For all know well this existence is a snare,
This thought and memory and will only a hell.
Therefore they flee from self to being beside themselves,
Call it intoxication or call it preoccupation, O guided one.
Ere it is annihilated, no single soul
Finds admittance to the divine hall of audience.
What is "ascension" to heaven? Annihilation of self;
Self-abandonment is the creed and religion of lovers.