Masnavi 2C

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STORY VI. The Faqir and the Hidden Treasure.
Notwithstanding the clear evidence of God's bounty, engendering these spiritual
states in men, philosophers and learned men, wise in their own conceit,
obstinately shut their eyes to it, and look afar off for what is really close
to them, so that they incur the penalty of "being branded on the
nostrils," 1 adjudged against unbelievers. This is illustrated by
the story of a poor Faqir who prayed to God that he might be fed without being
obliged to work for his food. A divine voice came to him in his sleep and
directed him to go to the house of a certain scribe and take a certain writing
that he should find there. He did so, and on reading the writing found that it
contained directions for finding a hidden treasure. The directions were as
follows: "Go outside the city to the dome which covers the tomb of the
martyr; turn your back to the tomb and your face towards Mecca, place an arrow
in your bow, and where the arrow falls there dig for the treasure." But
before the Faqir had time to commence the search the rumor of the writing and
its contents had reached the king, who at once sent and took it away from the
Faqir, and began to search for the treasure on his own account. After shooting
many arrows and digging in all directions the king failed to find the treasure,
and got weary of searching, and returned the writing to the Faqir. Then the
Faqir tried what he could do, but failed altogether to hit the spot where the
treasure was buried. At last, despairing of success by his own unaided efforts,
he cast his care upon God, and implored the divine assistance. Then a voice
from heaven came to him, saying, "You were directed to fix an arrow on
your bow, but not to draw your bow with all your might, as you have been doing.
Shoot as gently as possible, that the arrow may fall close to you, for the
hidden treasure is indeed 'nearer to you than your neck-vein.' "2
Men overlook the spiritual treasures close to them, and for this reason it is
that prophets have no honor in their own countries, as is illustrated by the
cases of the saint Abu-'l-Hasan Khirqani and the Prophet Hud or Heber.
God rules men by alternations of hope and fear.
This sad Faqir too put up his cries for aid,
And bore off the ball of acceptance from the field.
But at times he distrusted the efficacy of his prayers,
On account of the delay in answering them.
Again, hope of the mercy of the Lord
Arose in his heart as an earnest of rejoicing.
When he was hopeless and ceasing to pray in weariness
He heard from God the word "Ascend!"
God is an Abaser and an Exalter
Without these two processes nothing comes into being.
Behold the abasement of earth and uplifting of heaven;
Without these two heaven would not revolve, O man!
The abasement and exaltation of earth is otherwise,
Half the year is barren, half green and verdant.
The abasement and exaltation of weary time
Is otherwise again, half day and half night.
The abasement and exaltation of this compound body
Is now health and now grievous sickness.
Know all the conditions of the world are in this wise,
Drought, famine, peace, war, and trials.
This world flies, as it were, with these two wings;
Through these all souls are homes of hope and fear;
So that the world keeps trembling like leaves,
In the cold and hot winds of death and resurrection.
Till tbe jar of pure wine of our 'Isa (Unity)
Shall supersede the jar of many-colored wine (plurality),
For that world (of unity) is as a saltpan;
Whatever enters it loses its varied hues.
On the text, "Verily I am about to place a Khalifa or Vicegerent on
earth" 3.
Whereas the aim and will of the Merciful God
Inclined to the revelation and manifestation of Himself,
And one opposite cannot be shown but by its opposite,
And that Unique King of kings has no opposite or peer, 4
Therefore that Lord of the heart set up a Khalifa,
To serve as a mirror to reflect His own sovereignty.
Therefore He gave him unlimited purity and light,
And on the other side He set darkness opposing the light. 5
God set up two standards, a white and a black one,
The one Adam and the other Iblis;
And between these two mighty armies
Ensued war and battle and all we have witnessed.
Thus, too, in the second generation lived pure Abel;
Cain was the opposite of his pure light.
In like manner these two standards of right and wrong
Were borne aloft till the age of Nimrod.
Nimrod was the opponent and adversary of Abraham,
And their opposing camps warred and fought one another.
When God grew weary of the length of this war,
His fire was appointed to arbitrate between them.
He commanded fire and its flaming torment
To settle the matter in dispute between them.
Age after age these two parties contended,
Even till the time of Pharaoh and gentle Moses.
Between these two the war was waged for years,
And when it passed all bounds and affliction increased
God made the water of the Nile a judge between them,
That the one who deserved preeminence should endure.
In like manner it went on till the time of Mustafa
And Abu Jahl, that prince of iniquity.
Likewise did God ordain a punishment for the Thamud,
Namely, an earthquake which destroyed their lives.
Likewise a punishment for the Adites,
Namely, a swiftly rising and violent wind.
Likewise God ordained acute punishment for Qarun;
For the earth concealed wrath under its mildness,
Till all its mildness was converted into wrath,
And it swallowed up Qarun and his wealth in its depth.
So with the mouthful which nourishes your body
And wards off the darts of hunger like a cuirass,
When God instils wrath into this mouthful of bread,
That same bread will choke you like a halter.
This same garment which protects you from the cold,
God may give it the quality of intense cold,
So that this warm vest may become to your body
Cold as ice and biting as frost;
So that you will cast off these furs and silks,
And seek for a refuge from cold with cold itself.
You have only one eye, not two (for these two possibilities).
You have forgotten the story of the "shadowing cloud." 6
God's command came to city and village,
And to house and wall, saying, "Afford no shade!
Ward not off the pouring rain and the sun's heat;"
Till those men hasted to listen to the prophet Shu'aib,
Saying, 'O king, have pity; most of us are dead!'
But read the rest of the tale in the commentaries.
When that Omnipotent hand made the staff a serpent,
If you have reason, that portent should suffice.
You have sight indeed, but fail to mark carefully;
Your eyes are dimmed and closed with fat.
The heavenly treasure lies "nearer to us than our neck-vein".
The Faqir was in this state when a divine voice came,
And God thus solved his difficulties,
Saying, "The voice told you to place an arrow on the bow,
It did not bid you draw the bowstring to the utmost;
It did not bid you draw the bow with all your might;
It said, 'Adjust an arrow,' not 'Draw the bow fully.'
You elevated the bow to excess,
You magnified unduly the bowman's art,
Go! abandon this strong bowmanship,
Fix an arrow on the string, but make it not fly far.
When it falls, dig in that spot and search,
Abandon force and seek the treasure with humility."
God is "what is nearer to you than your neck-vein,"
You have cast the arrow of speculation afar off.
O you, who have made ready your bow and arrows,
The game is close to you, and you shoot too far off.
The further a man shoots, the further off he is,
And the more removed from the treasure he seeks.
The philosopher kills himself with thinking,
Tell him that his back is turned to that treasure;
Tell him that the more he runs to and fro,
The Almighty says, "Make efforts in our ways," 7
Not "Make efforts away from us," O restless one.
Like Canaan, who went away, from shame to follow Noah,
Up to the top of that lofty mountain,
The more he sought safety on that mountain,
The further was he removed from the safe asylum.
So this Faqir, in search of that hidden treasure,
Day after day drew his bow stronger and stronger;
And the harder he drew his bow,
The further was he from the seat of that treasure.
This parable applies to all times,
For the soul of the ignorant is pledged to misfortune.
Because the ignorant man is ashamed of a master,
Perforce he goes and opens a new school for himself.
That school is higher than your true master, O beloved,
And hard of access, and full of scorpions and snakes.
Straightway overthrow it, and turn back again
To the green garden and sweet watered meadows.
Not like Canaan, who, through pride and ignorance,
Sought his ark of safety on a protecting mountain.
His far-shooting learning veiled his eyes,
While his heart's desire was all the while in his grasp.
Ah! oftentimes have learning and genius and wit
Proved to the traveler to be Ghouls and highwaymen!
"The majority of those in Paradise are the simple," 8
Who have escaped the snares of philosophy.
Strip yourself bare of overweening intellect,
That grace may ever be shed upon you from above.
Cleverness is the opposite of humility and submission,
Quit cleverness, and consort with simple-mindedness!