STORY X. The Old Man who made no Lamentation at the Death of his Sons.
After short anecdotes of Pharaoh's magicians, of the mule who complained to the
camel that he was always stumbling, and of the prophet Ezra, comes the story of
the old man who wept not for the death of his sons.
An old man who was noted for sanctity, and who realized the saying of the
Prophet, "The 'ulama of the faith are as the prophets of Israel,"
lost all his sons, but showed no grief or regret. His wife therefore rebuked
him for his want of feeling, whereupon he replied to her as follows:
He turned to his wife and said, "O dame,
The harvest of December is not as that of July;
Though they be dead or though they be living,
Are they not equally visible to the eyes of the heart?
I behold them clearly before me,
Wherefore should I disfigure my countenance like you?
Though they have gone forth by revolution of fortune,
They are with me still, playing round me.
The cause of lamentation is separation or parting,
But I am still with my dear ones, and embrace them.
Ordinary people may see them in dreams,
But I see them clearly, though wide awake.
I conceal myself a while from this world,
I shake down the leaves of outward sense from the tree.
Know, O wife, outward sense is captive to reason,
And reason, again, is captive to spirit.
Spirit unlooses the chained hands of reason;
Yea, it opens all things that are closed.
Sensations and thoughts resemble weeds
Which occupy the surface of pure water.
The hand of reason puts these weeds aside,
And the pure water is then visible to the wise.
Weeds in plenty cover the stream like bubbles;
When they are swept aside, the water is seen;
But when God unlooses not the hands of reason,
The weeds on our water grow thick through carnal lust;
Yea, they cover up your water more and more,
While your lust is smiling and your reason weeping.
When fear of God binds the hands of lust,
Then God unlooses the two hands of reason.
Then the powerful senses are subdued by you,
When you submit to reason as your commander
Then your sleepless sense is lulled into sleep,
That mysteries may appear to the soul.
You behold visions when broad awake,
And the gates of heaven are open before you."