STORY III. The King and his Two Slaves.
A king purchased two slaves, one extremely handsome, and the other very ugly.
He sent the first away to the bath, and in his absence questioned the other. He
told him that the first slave had given a very bad account of him, saying that
he was a thief and a bad character, and asked if it was true. The second slave
replied that the first was everything that was good, his inward qualities
corresponding to the beauty of his outward appearance, and that whatever he had
told the king was worthy of credit. The king replied that beauty was only an
accident, and that, according to the tradition, accidents "endure only two
moments;" that at death the animal soul is destroyed, that the text,
"Whoso shall present himself with beauty shall receive tenfold
reward," I does not refer to outward accidents, but to the
"substance," the eternal soul. The slave in reply urged that the
accidents of good works and thoughts will in some way bear fruit in the next
world, pointing out that thought is always the precursor of the completed work,
as the plan of the architect precedes the building, and the gardener's design
the perfect fruit resulting from his labors. He added that the world is only
the realized thought of "Universal Reason" 2 The king then
sent away the slave with whom he had held this discourse, and summoned the
other, and told him that his fellow slave had given a bad account of him, and
asked what he had to say. He replied that his fellow slave was a liar and a
rascal, and the king then dismissed him, observing that, in accordance with the
tradition, "Every man is hidden under his own tongue," his tongue had
betrayed his inner vileness. "The safety of a man lies in holding his
The apostolical succession of the prophets and the saints.
With that "brightness of lightning" 3 He kindled their souls
So that Adam acquired knowledge from that light.
That, which shone from Adam was gathered by Seth,
Wherefore Adam made him his viceroy when he saw it.
When Noah received the gift of that lustre,
He became a soul bearing pearls in the tempest of the flood.
By that light the soul of Abraham was led,
Without fear he entered Nimrod's fiery furnace.
When Ishmael sought out that light,
He meekly laid his head beneath his father's bright knife.
The soul of David was warmed by its heat,
Iron became pliable by the force of his weaving. 4
When Solomon was nurtured by its fruition,
The devils became the submissive slaves of his will.
When Jacob bowed his head to the Divine decree,
He recovered his sight at the scent of his son. 5
When moonlike Joseph saw that brilliant sun,
He became so expert as he was in interpreting dreams.
When the staff drew might from the hand of Moses,
It devoured the realm of Pharaoh at a mouthful.
When the soul of Jirjis 6 became privy to its light,
He sacrificed his life seven times, and regained it.
When Zakhariah 7 boasted of his love for it,
He ransomed his life in the hollow of the tree.
When Jonah swallowed a draught from that cup,
He found repose in the belly of the fish.
When John the Baptist became filled with its unction,
He laid his head in the golden charger in ardour for it.
When Jethro became aware of this exaltation,
He risked his life to find it.
Patient Job gave thanks for seven years,
For in his calamities he saw signs of its approach.
When Khizr and Elias boasted of gaining it,
They found the water of life and were no more seen.
When Jesus. Son of Mary, found that ladder of ascent,
He ascended to the height of the fourth heaven.
When Muhammad gained that blessed possession,
In a moment he cleft asunder the disk of the moon. 8
When Abu Bakr became the exemplar of that grace,
He was companion of that Lord, and a 'c faithful witness."
When 'Omar was enraptured with that beauty,
Like a mind he discerned true and false. 9
When Osman viewed those brilliant sights,
He diffused light and became "Lord of the two lights." 10
When Martaza ('Ali) shined with its reflection,
He became the "Lion of God" in the soul's domain.
When his two sons were illumined by this light,
They became the "pearly earrings of highest heaven;" 11
One of them losing his life by poison,
The other losing his head as he went about his march.
When Junaid was succoured by the forces of that light,
His ecstatic states exceeded counting.
Bayazid saw his way to increased fruition thereof,
And gained from God the name "Polestar of Gnostics."
What time King Mansur became victorious, 12
He left his throne and hastened to the stake.
When Karkhi of Karkh became its keeper,
He became lord of love and of the breath of Jesus.
Ibrahim son of Adham rode his horse to that point,
And became king of kings of equity.
And that Shakik starting from that junction
Became a sun of wit and acute of genius.
Fazil from a highway robber became a sage of the way, 13
When he was regarded with esteem by the King.
To Bishr Hafi the doctrine, was announced,
And he set his face towards the desert of inquiry.
When Zu-1-Ntin became distraught with care for it,
Egypt (Milk) as sugar became the house of his soul.
When Sari 14 lost his head in seeking the way thereto,
His rank was exalted above the seats of the mighty.
A hundred thousand great (spiritual) kings
Exalted by this divine light approach the world.
Their names remain hidden through God's jealousy;
Every beggar tells not their names. 15