STORY XII. The Devotee who broke the noble's wine-jar.
A certain noble, who lived under the Christian dispensation when wine was
allowed, sent his servant to a monastery to fetch some wine. The servant went
and bought the wine, and was returning with it, when he passed the house of a
very austere and testy devotee. This devotee called out to him, "What have
you got there?" The servant said, "Wine, belonging to such a
noble." The devotee said, "What! does a follower of God indulge in
wine? Followers of God should have naught to do with pleasure and drinking; for
wine is a very Satan, and steals men's wits. Your wits are not too bright
already, so you have no need to render them still duller by drink." In
illustration of this, he told the story of one Ziayi Dalaq, a very tall man,
who had a dwarfish brother. This brother one day received him very
ungraciously, only half rising from his seat in answer to his salutation, and
Ziayi Dalaq said to him, "You seem to think yourself so tall that it is
necessary to clip off somewhat of your height." Finally the devotee broke
the wine-jar with a stone, and the servant went and told his master. The noble
was very wrathful at the presumption of the devotee in taking upon himself to
prohibit wine, as condemned by the law of nature, when it had not been
prohibited by the Gospel, and he took a thick stick and went to the devotee's
house to chastise him. The devotee heard of his approach and hid himself under
some wool, which belonged to the ropemakers of the village, He said to himself,
"To tell an angry man of his faults one needs to have a face as hard as a
mirror, which reflects his ugliness without fear or favor." Just so the
Prince of Tirmid was once playing chess with a courtier, and being checkmated,
got into a rage and threw the chessboard at his courtier's head. So before
playing the next game the courtier protected his head by wrappings of felt.
Then the neighbors of the devotee, hearing the noise, came out and interceded
for him with the noble, telling him that the devotee was half-witted, and could
not be held responsible for his actions; and moreover, that as he was a
favorite of God, 1 it was useless to attempt to slay him before his
time, for the Prophet and other saints had been miraculously preserved in
circumstances fatal to ordinary persons. The noble refused to be pacified; but
the neighbors redoubled their entreaties, urging that he had so much pleasure
in his sovereignty that he could well dispense with the pleasure of wine. The
noble strenuously denied this, saying that no other pleasure of sovereignty, or
what not, could compensate him for the loss of wine, which made him sway from
side to side like the jessamine. The prophets themselves had rejected all other
pleasures for that of spiritual intoxication, and he who has once embraced a
living mistress will never put up with a dead one. The moral is, that spiritual
pleasures, typified by wine, are not to be bartered away for earthly pleasures.
The Prophet said, "The world is carrion, and they who seek it are dogs;"
and the Koran says, "The present life is no other than a pastime and a
sport; but the future mansion is life indeed." 2
Description of a devotee who trusted to the light of nature.
His brain is dried up; and as for his reason,
It is now less than that of a child.
Age and abstinence have added infirmity to infirmity,
And his abstinence has yielded him no rejoicing.
He has endured toils, but gained no reward from his Friend;
He has done the work, but has not been paid.
Either his work has lacked value,
Or the time of recompense is not decreed as yet.
Either his works are as the works of the Jews, 3
Or his reward is held back till the appointed time.
This grief and sorrow are enough for him,
That in this valley of pain he is utterly friendless.
With sad eyes he sits in his corner,
With frowning face and downcast looks.
There is no oculist who cares to open his eyes, 4
Nor has he reason enough to discover the eye-salve.
He strives earnestly with firm resolve and in hope,
His work is done on the chance of being right.
The vision of "The Friend" is far from his course,
For he loses the kernel in his love for the shell.