Masnavi 17

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STORY VI. The Lover who read Sonnets to his Mistress.

A lover was once admitted to the presence of his mistress, but, instead of
embracing her, he pulled out a paper of sonnets and read them to her,
describing her perfections and charms and his own love towards her at length.
His mistress said to him, "You are now in my presence, and these lover's
sighs and invocations are a waste of time. It is not the part of a true lover
to waste his time in this way. It shows that I am not the real object of your
affection, but that what you really love is your own effusions and ecstatic
raptures. I see, as it were, the water which I have longed for before me, and
yet you withhold it. I am, as it were, in Bulgaria, and the object of your love
is in Cathay. One who is really loved is the single object of her lover, the
Alpha and Omega of his desires. As for you, you are wrapped up in your own
amorous raptures, depending on the varying states of your own feelings, instead
of being wrapped up in me."
The true mystic must not stop at mere subjective religious emotions, but seek absolute
union with God. 1
Whoso is restricted to religious raptures is but a man;
Sometimes his rapture is excessive, sometimes deficient.
The Sufi is, as it were, the "son of the season,"
But the pure (Safi) is exalted above season and state.
Religious raptures depend on feelings and will,
But the pure one is regenerated by the breath of Jesus.
You are a lover of your own raptures, not of me;
You turn to me only in hope of experiencing raptures.
Whoso is now defective, now perfect,
Is not adored by Abraham; he is "one that sets."
Because the stars set, and are now up, now down,
He loved them not; "I love not them that set." 2
Whoso is now pleasing and now unpleasing
Is at one time water, at another fire.
He may be the house of the moon, but not the true moon;
Or as the picture of a mistress, but not the living one.
The mere Sufi is the " child of the season;"
He clings to seasons as to a father,
But the pure one is drowned in overwhelming love.
A child of any one is never free from season and state.
The pure one is drowned in the light cc that is not begotten,"
"What begets not and is not begotten" is God. 3
Go I seek such love as this, if you are alive;
If not, you are enslaved by varying seasons.
Gaze not on your own pictures, fair or ugly,
Gaze on your love and the object of your desire.
Gaze not at the sight of your own weakness or vileness,
Gaze at object of your desire, O exalted one.