STORY XV. Counsels of Reserve given by the Prophet to his Freedman Zaid.
At dawn the Prophet said to Zaid,
"How is it with thee this morning, O pure disciple?"
He replied, "Thy faithful slave am I." Again he said,
"If the garden of faith has bloomed, show a token of it."
He answered, "I was athirst many days,
By night I slept not for the burning pangs of love;
So that I passed by days and nights,
As the point of a spear glances off a shield.
For in that state all faith is one,
A hundred thousand years and a moment are all one;
World without beginning and world without end are one;
Reason finds no entrance when mind is thus lost."
The Prophet again urged Zaid to deliver to him a present from that celestial region,
as a token that he had really been there in the spirit. Zaid answered that he
had seen the eight heavens and the seven hells, and the destinies of all men,
whether bound to heaven or hell. The body, he said, is as a mother, and the
soul as her infant, and death is the time of parturition, when it becomes
manifest to what class the infant soul belongs. As, on the day of judgment it
will be manifest to all men whether a soul belongs to the saved or to the lost,
so now it was plain and manifest to him. He went on to ask the Prophet if he
should publish this secret knowledge of his to all men, or hold his peace. The
Prophet told him to hold his peace. Zaid, however, proceeded to detail the
vision of the last judgment, which he had seen when in the spirit; and the
Prophet again commanded him to pause, adding that" God is never ashamed to
say the truth," 1 and allows His Prophet to speak forth the truth,
but that for Zaid to blab forth the secrets seen in ecstatic vision would be
wrong. Zaid replied that it was impossible for one who had once beheld the Sun
of "The Truth" to keep his vision a secret. But the Prophet in reply
instructed him that all men are masters of their own wills, and that he must
not reveal what God has determined to keep secret till the last day, in order
to leave men till then under the stimulus of hope and fear, and to give them
the credit of "believing what is not seen." 2 More honour is
given to the warder of a castle who faithfully executes his trust at a distance
from the court than to those courtiers who serve constantly under the king's
own eye. Zaid submitted to tho Prophet's injunctions, and remained
self-contained in his ecstatic visions. Anecdotes of the sage Luqman, of King
Solomon, and of a conflagration in the days of the Khalifa 'Omar complete the
The Prophet's final counsels of "Reserve".
The Prophet said, "My companions are as the stars,
Lights to them that walk aright, missiles against Satan.
If every man had strength of eyesight
To look straight at the light of the sun in heaven,
What need were there of stars, O humble one,
To one who was guided by the light of the sun?
Neither moon nor planets would be needed
By one who saw directly the Sun of 'The Truth.'
The Moon 3 declares, as also the clouds and shadows,
' I am a man, yet it hath been revealed to me.' 4
Like you, I was naturally dark,
'Twas the Sun's revelation that gave me such light.
I still am dark compared to the Sun,
Though I am light compared to the dark souls of men.
Therefore is my light weak, that you may bear it,
For you are not strong enough to bear the dazzling Sun.
I have, as it were, mixed honey with vinegar,
To succour the sickness of your hearts.
When you are cured of your sickness, O invalid,
Then leave out the vinegar and eat pure honey.
When the heart is garnished and swept clear of lust,
Therein 'The God of Mercy sitteth on His throne.' 5
Then God rules the heart immediately,
When it has gained this immediate connection with Him.
This subject is endless; but where is Zaid,
That I may tell him again not to seek notoriety?
'Tis not wise to publish these mysteries,
Since the last day is approaching to reveal all things."
Now you will not find Zaid, for he is fled,
He sprang from the place where the shoes were left, 6
Scattering the shoes in his hurry.
If you had been Zaid, you too would have been lost,
As a star is lost when tho sun shines on it;
For then you see no trace or sign of it,
No place or track of it in tho milky way.
Our senses and our endless discourses
Are annihilated in the light of the knowledge of our King.
Our senses and our reason within us
Are as waves on waves "assembled before us." 7
When night returns and 'tis the time of the sky's levee,
The stars that were hidden come forth to their work.
The people of the world lie unconscious,
With veils drawn over their faces, and asleep;
But when the morn shall burst forth and the sun arise
Every creature will raise its head from its couch;
To the unconscious God will restore consciousness;
They will stand in rings as slaves with rings in ears;
Dancing and clapping hands with songs of praise,
Singing with joy, "Our Lord hath restored us to life!"
Shedding their old skins and bones,
As horsemen stirring up a cloud of dust.
All pressing on from Not-being to Being,
On the last day, as well the thankful as the unthankful.