STORY V. The Thirsty Man who threw Bricks into the Water.
A thirsty man discovered a tank of water, but could not drink of it because it
was surrounded by a high wall. He took some of the bricks off the top of the
wall and cast them over it into the water. The water cried out, "What
advantage do you gain by doing this?" He made answer, "The first
advantage is this, that I hear your voice; and the second, that the more bricks
I pull off the wall, the nearer I approach to you." The moral is, that so
long as the wall of the body intervenes, we cannot reach the water of life. The
abasement of the body brings men nearer to union with the Deity. Destroy,
therefore, the fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Then follows another
parable to illustrate the folly of procrastination in this important matter.
"It was not ye who shot, but God shot; and
those arrows were God's not yours". 1
'Tis God's light that illumines the senses' light,
That is the meaning of "Light upon light." 2
The senses' light draws us earthwards,
God's light carries us heavenwards.
As objects of sense are of base condition,
God's light is an ocean, and the senses' light a dewdrop.
But that light which is "upon this light" is not seen,
Save through signs and holy discourses.
Since the senses' light is gross and dense,
It lies hidden in the black pupil of the eye.
When you cannot see the senses' light with the eye,
How can you see with the eye the Light of the mind?
As the senses' light is hidden in these gross veils,
Must not that Light which is pure be also hidden?
Like the senses, this world is ruled by a hidden Power.
It confesses its impotence before that hidden Power,
Which sometimes exalts it and sometimes lays it low,
Sometimes makes it dry and sometimes moist.
The hand is hidden, yet we see the pen writing;
The horse is galloping, yet the rider is hid from view.
The arrow speeds forth, yet the bow is not seen;
Souls are seen, the Soul of souls (God) is hidden.
Break not the arrow, for it is the arrow of the King
Yea, it is an arrow from the bow of Wisdom.
"Ye shot not when ye shot," was said by God;
God's action has predominance over all actions.
Break your own passion, break not that arrow,
The eye of passion takes milk to be blood.
Kiss that arrow and bear it to the King,
Yea, though it be stained with your own blood.
Whatsoever is seen is weak and base and impotent;
What is hidden is equally fierce and headstrong.
We are the captured game; who is the snare?
We are the balls; where is the bat?
He tears and mends; who is this tailor?
He fans and kindles the flame; who is this kindler?
At one time He makes the faithful one an infidel,
At another He makes the atheist a devotee!
Next comes an anecdote of a dirty man who refused to bathe because he was
ashamed to go into the water, with the moral that "Shame hinders religion;"
3 and then another of Zu'l Nun, a celebrated Egyptian Sufi of the third
century A.H. Zu'l Nun appeared to his ignorant friends to be mad, and they
accordingly confined him in a madhouse. After a time they thought that he was
not really mad, but had feigned madness for some deep purpose, and they went to
the madhouse to inquire into the state of his health. When they arrived there,
Zu'l Nun asked them who they were, and they answered that they were his devoted
friends, who were now convinced that the story of his being mad was a calumny.
Zu'l Nun jumped up and drove them away with sticks and stones, saying that true
friendship would have been manifested in sharing his troubles, even as pure
gold is tried by fire.