Wednesday, February 16, 2011

[Sunlight] God and the World


From William Chittick's "The Sufi Path of Love," chapter 5, entitled "God and the World," come these Mathnawi verses:


"The Sufi said to the judge, "He whose aid is
sought has the ability to to make our trading without loss.
He who turns fire into trees and rosegardens
can also make this world a place without harm.
He who produces roses from the midst of thorns
can make our December into spring.
He from whom every cypress grows straight and
free can turn our grief into joy.
He from whom every nonexistent thing has
come into existence--how would He be any less if He made
that thing everlasting?
He who gives the body a spirit so that it may
live--how would He lose if He did not cause it to die?
After all, what would happen if that Generous
One gave each servant his soul's desire without toil,
And kept far from His weak creatures the wiles
of the ego and the temptations of the devil waiting in
The judge replied, "If there were no bitter
commands, beauty and ugliness, stones and pearls,
If there were no satan and ego, and self-will,
and if there were no blows, battle and war,
Then by what means would the King call His
servants, oh abandoned man?
How could He say, 'Oh patient man! Oh
forbearing man!'? How could He say, 'Oh brave man! Oh wise
How could there be the patient, the sincere and
the spending without a highwayman and accursed
Rustam, Hamzah and a catamite would all be
one.* Knowledge and wisdom would be useless and abolished.
Knowledge and wisdom exist to distinguish the
right from the wrong: if everything were the right way, then
wisdom would be useless.
Do you consider it permissible to destroy both
worlds for the sake of keeping open the shop of your
worthless natural disposition?
Of course, I know that you are pure, not unripe,
and that your question is for the sake of the vulgar."

-- Mathnawi VI: 1739-55
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

* Rustam is the archetypal heroic champion of ancient Persia,
immortalized by Firdawsi in the Book of Kings. Hamzah is an uncle
of the Prophet and one of the great warriors of early Islam.




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