STORY IV. Bayazid and his impious sayings when beside himself.
The holy saint Bayazid before his death predicted the birth of the saint
Abul-Hasan Khirqani, and specified all the peculiar qualities which would be
seen in him. And after his death it came to pass as he had predicted, and
Abul-Hasan, hearing what Bayazid had said, used to frequent his tomb. One day
he visited the tomb as usual, and found it covered with snow, and a voice was
heard saying, "The world is fleeting as snow. I am calling thee! Follow me
and forsake the world!"
How Bayazid cried out, when beside himself, "Glory be to me!" and how
his disciples were scandalized at this saying, and how Bayazid answered them.
Once that famous saint Bayazid came to his disciples,
Saying, "Lo, I myself am God Almighty."
That man of spiritual gifts being visibly beside himself;
Said, "There is no God beside me; worship me!"
Next morning, when his ecstatic state had passed,
They said, "You said so and so, which was impious."
He answered, "If I do so again,
Straightway slay me with your knives!
God is independent of me; I am in the body.
If I say that again you must kill me!"
When that holy person had given this injunction,
Each of his disciples made ready his knife.
Again that overflowing cup became beside himself,
And his recent injunctions passed from his mind.
Alienation came upon him, reason went astray,
The dawn shone forth and his lamp paled at its light.
Reason is like an officer when the king appears;
The officer then loses his power and hides himself.
Reason is God's shadow; God is the sun.
What power has the shadow before the sun?
When a man is possessed by an evil spirit
The qualities of humanity are lost in him.
Whatever he says is really said by that spirit,
Though it seems to proceed from the man's mouth.
When the spirit has this rule and dominance over him,
The agent is the property of the spirit, and not himself;
His self is departed, and he has become the spirit.
The Turk without instruction speaks Arabic; 1
When he returns to himself he knows not a word of it.
Seeing God is lord of spirits and of man,
How can He be inferior in power to a spirit?
When the eagle of alienation from self took wing,
Bayazid began to utter similar speeches;
The torrent of madness bore away his reason,
And he spoke more impiously than before.
"Within my vesture is naught but God,
Whether you seek Him on earth or in heaven."
His disciples all became mad with horror,
And struck with their knives at his holy body.
Each one, like the assassins of Kardkoh, 2
Without fear aimed at the body of his chief.
Each who aimed at the body of the Shaikh,
His stroke was reversed and wounded the striker.
No stroke took effect on that man of spiritual gifts,
But the disciples were wounded and drowned in blood.
Each who had aimed a blow at his neck,
Saw his own throat cut, and gave up the ghost;
He who had struck at his breast
Had cleft his own breast and killed himself.
They who knew better that lord of felicity,
Who had not courage enough to strike a deadly blow,
Their half-knowledge held their hands back;
They saved their lives but slightly wounded themselves.
On the morrow those disciples, diminished in number,
Raised lamentations in their houses.
They went to Bayazid, thousands of men and women,
Saying, "The two worlds are hidden in thy vesture;
If this body of thine were that of a man,
It would have perished of sword-wounds, like a man's."
The man in his senses fought with him 'beside himself,
And thrust the thorn into his own eyes."
Ah! you who smite with your sword him beside himself,
You smite yourself therewith; Beware!
For he that is beside himself is annihilated and safe;
Yea, he dwells in security forever.
His form is vanished, he is a mere mirror;
Nothing is seen in him but the reflection of another.
If you spit at it, you spit at your own face,
And if you hit that mirror, you hit yourself;
And if you see an ugly face in it, 'tis your own,
And if you see an 'Isa there, you are its mother Mary.
He is neither this nor that he is void of form;
'Tis your own form which is reflected back to you.
But when the discourse reaches this point, lip is closed;
When pen reaches this point, it is split in twain.
Close then your lips, though eloquence be possible.
Keep silence; God knows the right way!
This is followed by an anecdote of the Prophet appointing an Hudhaili youth to
be captain of a band of warriors amongst whom were many older and more
experienced soldiers, and of the objections made to this appointment, and of
the Prophet's answer to the objectors.
Why the Prophet promoted the youth to command his seniors.
The Prophet said, "O ye who regard only the outside,
Regard him not as a youth void of talents.
Many are they whose beards are black yet are old,
Many too have white beards and hearts like pitch.
I have made trial of his wisdom often and often,
And that youth has shown himself old in his actions.
Age consists in maturity of wisdom, O son,
Not, in whiteness of the beard and hair.
How can any one be older than Iblis?
Yet, if he has no wisdom, he is naught.
Suppose him an infant, if he has 'Isa's soul,
He is pure from pride and from carnal lust.
That whiteness of the hair is a sign of maturity
Only to purblind eyes whose vision is limited.
Since that shortsighted one judges by outward signs,
He seeks the right course by outward tokens.
For his sake I said that if ye desire counsel
Ye ought to make choice of an old man.
He who has emerged from the veil of blind belief
Beholds by the light of God all things that exist.
His pure light, without signs or tokens,
Cleaves for him the rind and brings him to the kernel.
To the regarder of externals, genuine and base coin are alike.
How can he know what is inside the basket?
Many are the gold coins made black with smoke,
So that they elude the clutches of greedy thieves;
Many are the copper coins gilded with gold,
And sold as gold to men of slender wits.
We who regard the inside of the world,
We look at the heart and disregard the outside.
The judges who confine their view to externals
And base their decisions on outward appearances,
As they testify and make outward show of faith, 3
Are straightway dubbed faithful by men of externals.
Therefore these heretics, who regard only externals,
Have secretly shed the blood of many true believers.
Strive then to be old in wisdom and in faith,
That, like Universal Reason, you may see within." 4